Author Topic: Draw-leaf table  (Read 20724 times)

Jeff L Headley

  • Forum Master
  • ***
  • Posts: 1129
  • Running a fifth generation cabinetmaking business
    • Mack S Headley & Sons
Draw-leaf table
« on: February 02, 2011, 06:17:07 PM »
I am building an English Jacobian draw-leaf table and have a question on the supports which raise and lower the main top. I restored another of these a few years ago but didn't pay attention on how the internal workings of the table were executed.

Jeff L Headley

  • Forum Master
  • ***
  • Posts: 1129
  • Running a fifth generation cabinetmaking business
    • Mack S Headley & Sons
Re: Draw-leaf table
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2011, 09:13:19 PM »
My main concern is how does this mechanism work so it does not scar up the tops of the extension as the are deployed?

Michael Armand

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 34
  • Full time cabinet maker since 1992
    • www.Louisianafurnituremaker.com
Re: Draw-leaf table
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2011, 09:12:15 AM »
Jeff,
       I'm not sure exactly how the original unit worked but if you are interested in changing the tracts some I am in the process of building a similar table 90" by 45" with 20" Draw- Leafs on each end. The slides allow the leaf to be pulled out and popped up without lifting the top, because of the size of the top.  I designed the slides out of wood originally but went to 1" by 2"aluminum because of droop at the end. Some felt will be mounted under the top just as a safety precaution to stop any wood on wood rubbing.  They work great. This might not be for you but I wanted to give you the option...
                                                           
                                                                                         Good luck,
                                                                                                     Michael

jacon4

  • Forum Master
  • ***
  • Posts: 216
  • collector/ student of early american furniture
Re: Draw-leaf table
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2011, 05:11:17 PM »
Good question, i am not exactly sure. I think in medieval times the leafs were cantilevered from a center board which was attached to table frame, the top of table though was not attached and tilted up as leaf was extended. Heres one from the 16th century
http://www.marhamchurchantiques.com/antique/elizabethan-oak-draw-leaf-table
Naturally, this would mar the leafs so it might not be a bad idea to apply some newer tech as described by M Armand.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2011, 05:34:40 PM by jacon4 »

Jeff L Headley

  • Forum Master
  • ***
  • Posts: 1129
  • Running a fifth generation cabinetmaking business
    • Mack S Headley & Sons
Re: Draw-leaf table
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2011, 07:35:44 PM »
Michael and James, Thank you! It is cantilevered off of the center block. I was thinking to hard or maybe not hard enough. This is to live in a period atmosphere so I can't use anything modern. Thanks again, Jeff   

Jack Plane

  • Forum Master
  • ***
  • Posts: 223
  • UK antiques dealer, now residing in Australia.
    • Pegs and 'Tails
Re: Draw-leaf table
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2011, 10:53:36 PM »
Jeff, there are two methods of constructing draw-leaf mechanisms; taper up bearers and taper down bearers.

Taper up bearers are tapered at their outer upper ends with the draw leaves attached to the tapered edges of the bearers. The bearers run through cut-outs in the end frames and down under a central, horizontal member which is affixed to the top of the table's side rails. There is no clearance between leaves and the main table top and old table leaves usually show the scars of being dragged out and pushed back in. The cut line for the taper is an extension of the underside of the central top (with the bearers in the withdrawn position). Early tables were utilitarian and didn't posses delicate patinated or polished surfaces.

To protect the surfaces of the leaves from scratches, it's possible to glue strips of baize (not felt!) to the underside of the central top. If doing this, make sure to cut recesses into the underside of the top for the ends of the baize strips to reside in. If you don't, chances are that some day when a leaf is being pushed back in, it will catch the end of the baize and mush it between the leaves.

Taper down bearers are perfectly flat on top and horizontal, the requisite taper being on the outer bottom edges. Again, the draw leaves are attached to the ends of the bearers and the bearers run through cut-outs in the end frames, the tapers forcing the leaves up as they are withdrawn. The inner ends of the bearers in this instance run directly against the underside of the central top. They also run through a vertical central support with similar cut-outs to the end frames. The central support is either attached to the side rails via sliding dovetails or multiple through, or blind tennons. The cut line for the taper is (lets say for the RH leaf) a line extending from the left side of the central support to about an inch beyond the outer face of the RH end rail (or how ever far out you desire the bearer to extend (an inch is a good figure for a table with the top extending 4" over the frame) and vertically, by the thickness of the leaf/top.

Only with the taper down bearers can the central top be caused to lift slightly to clear the leaves. This is achieved by ensuring the taper extends just beyond the central support. To make the centre top drop back down to the correct height once the leaf has been withdrawn, secondary, short, shallow tapers must be cut into the underside of the inner end of the bearers. Obviously the central top must be allowed to rise and fall without altering its relative position on the table frame. This is achieved by gluing blocks to the underside of the top, either side of the central support.

In both cases, pegs are normally inserted (often dry) into the sides of the bearers which stop against the inside faces of the end frames to prevent the leaves being withdrawn too far.

« Last Edit: February 05, 2011, 02:06:27 AM by Jack Plane »
Regards, Jack.

jacon4

  • Forum Master
  • ***
  • Posts: 216
  • collector/ student of early american furniture
Re: Draw-leaf table
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2011, 05:42:38 AM »
Yeah, what Jack said!! LOL. I would be interested in seeing pics/comments of building process if you have time. One doesnt often see this type of early table as gate leg tables which came in during the 17th century pretty much put these grand draw leaf tables outa biz. I dont think i have ever seen a period American draw leaf table.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2011, 05:46:47 AM by jacon4 »

Follansbee

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 23
Re: Draw-leaf table
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2011, 07:53:33 AM »
There is a New England draw table at Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford. It's quite large, but has lost its inner workings & leaves.

The Dutch examples I have seen in New England museums have short frames really, compared to the CHS one. There's a Dutch one now on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Its top (& presumably leaves) are made up of perfect quartered oak, consisting of a series of narrow boards, the outer ones are mitered to the end piece, running across the end of the leaf. I'll look later to see if I have a picture.

From what I understand, you do pull the leaves out, and there is some friction = probably results in marring the surface of the leaves. In the period, tables this grand would have a turkey carpet on them when not in use, and maybe the carpet and a tablecloth when in use. so you wouldn;t much see the wood anyway.
Follansbee

Jeff L Headley

  • Forum Master
  • ***
  • Posts: 1129
  • Running a fifth generation cabinetmaking business
    • Mack S Headley & Sons
Re: Draw-leaf table
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2011, 05:24:16 PM »
Jack and Peter: Thank you so much for all the information. The table I am building, or I should say Steve Hamilton and myself are building, looks to have the taper down bearers (Thanks to Jack's most excellent description) because they are broader than the taper up bearer seems to be. The bearer look to be 1 1/2" wide or wider plus the skirt is not real wide so the taper up bearers would probably show the back ends extending below our narrow skirt when closed.
I would be more than happy to post my progression pictures and comments although I would prefer not to talk about my customer for business reasons. I have been given the option to make this table look like a period table but where it can not be seen I can make what changes I like. With that said I will try to keep it as true to form as possible. My lumber requires some changes because of what I have and the price I quoted to get the job. I will let everyone judge for themselves our decisions.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2011, 06:32:32 PM by Jeff L Headley »

Follansbee

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 23
Re: Draw-leaf table in Dutch painting
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2011, 08:14:09 PM »
OK, I found four pictures; so here I will barrage the forum. Sorry for the onslaught...
first is a Dutch painting, I've forgotten the painter, showing a man counting coins. Note that he has pulled the carpet back to use the wooden tabletop...

I think the stretchers should be flush with the faces of the stiles.
Follansbee

Follansbee

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 23
Re: Draw-leaf table
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2011, 08:16:11 PM »
Then there's this one I saw in Yorkshire. It shows iron bolts to fix the end frames to the long rails, like a period bedstead. I assume the table is assembled in the room it's made for, and then there it stays.

PF

Follansbee

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 23
Re: Draw-leaf table
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2011, 08:19:27 PM »
I'll quit soon. It's just that how often do we get 17th-c stuff here at SAPFM?

Here is the Dutch one now on loan to the MFA in Boston. The bearers in this one cut through the stiles, not the aprons. This table is an absolute masterpiece. I have not seen it in detail, but only as a regular passing visitor to the gallery. I'd like to really look it over some day...

PF

Follansbee

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 23
Re: Draw-leaf table
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2011, 08:22:35 PM »
"Here is the Dutch one now on loan to the MFA in Boston. The bearers in this one cut through the stiles, not the aprons"

But as I think about it, it might be that the bearers at the opposite end cut through the aprons, because one set of bearers passes inside the other - they sorta nest within the frame of the table when the leaves are closed.

Done for now.
PF

Jack Plane

  • Forum Master
  • ***
  • Posts: 223
  • UK antiques dealer, now residing in Australia.
    • Pegs and 'Tails
Re: Draw-leaf table
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2011, 02:08:31 AM »
Sorry, late to the party as usual (I'm in Australia, so when you're all awake and typing, I'm in bed and ... you get it). Unfortunately I can't find the pictures of the tables I've made (too many house moves), but they look more or less the same as those posted by Peter above.

Jeff, I seem to remember making the bearers 1-3/4" to 2" high by 1-1/2" wide ? furniture was chunky in the seventeenth century.

I edited my last post so the taper up bearer cut line makes more sense (I hope!).
Regards, Jack.

jacon4

  • Forum Master
  • ***
  • Posts: 216
  • collector/ student of early american furniture
Re: Draw-leaf table
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2011, 03:02:11 AM »
Really fabulous pics of early draw leaf tables, I went to CHS to see if they had a pic of the American one PF mentioned, it's below hopefully. CHS claims there were many draw leaf tables in 17th century inventories, i suspect because of their size, they just didnt survive, much like 17th century frame & panel tester beds.