I have made several of these using recycled redgum timber. The tops are usually 800mm wide by 1.8m long and about 760mm high which is a good height for a dining table. Variations in size are easy to accommodate subject to the timber being available. Since they come apart they can be delivered and moved around easily.
The design is based on an antique Swedish shipwright’s bench from the book “The Workbench Book” by Scott Landis. The charm is that two large wood joints hold the entire frame together so strongly that the table is solid as the proverbial rock. The frame can be taken apart or reassembled with only a hammer knocking in the wedges. The original flatpack furniture. The proof is that the first one I made sat outside at a beach house for 5 years with no maintenance whatsoever and remains as solid as the day I knocked it together. Now I have it back as my “demo”.
The redgum timber is getting more difficult to source, I have to buy even one plank when I see it and store it in the hope of getting some more. The planks for the top I select carefully so that they have a good face for the top without holes. The planks must also be straight, which is problematical with redgum as they were always cut green straight after felling, and then seasoned after they were used. Often the wood twists or bends, and is is impossible to straighten out.
I have always built them 4 planks wide, making the width around 800mm. The length is dependent on getting the timber in the required length.
The top is held together with three or so stainless steel rods that run across the width. These have nuts on the end and are tightened up to close the gaps in the top between the planks. The nuts are located in holes in the top with wooden plugs to hide them. The edges are also located with stainless steel pins, making the top strong enough that I have used it as a loading ramp for a truck. The stainless steel is shafting from junked photocopiers, an excellent source of parts.
The frame is made of similar timber to the top, but using the timber as found with twists, knotholes and similar “defects” that add to the quality of the table and do not detract from the strength of the frame, redgum being so strong. This makes marking out the joints quite a challenge as every piece must be cut to fit around it’s mate.
If you want I can make matching benches to a similar style. One is shown on the photo. I use a plank that is solid but not usable for a seat, the one in the photo has quite a bend but is perfectly usable as a seat.
Basically the tables are made with hand tools and a small circular saw. A lot of the fitting involving removing small amounts of wood is done with an adze, an antique tool like an axe but with a curved blade mounted at right angles to the handle. I like using hand tools, mistakes are made more slowly giving you a chance to correct them!
Finish & Care
I suppose you could oil it with furniture oil but I have never bothered, the beautiful grey colour that redgum changes to on exposure to the weather is too good to cover up. I would suggest that if you put your table somewhere which might be wet for months on end, put the bottom of the legs on something to keep them out of the wet, then it will last forever.