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Drop leaf end table.

A furniture reproduction doesn't have to be a carbon copy of the original, it just has to retain the same spirit. Our mahogany drop-leaf end table, based on one commissioned by Welsh royalty over 200 years ago, captures the high-quality, refined look of the original. The tapered legs, oval top and hinged side leaves are all features from that very first table.

To make our table easier to build, we used dowel pins and eliminated some decorative details. You'll need a table saw, band saw, router table and fairly advanced woodworking skills to do this project.

The rule joint, which connects the top and leaves, may not yet be in your woodworking bag of tricks. Constructing it requires special drop-leaf hinges and careful planning, but when properly crafted, this joint moves gracefully--making this table equally attractive with the leaves raised or resting at its side.


We selected mahogany for our table to maintain a traditional look.

The wide top (B), leaves (C), and drawer bottom (H) are made by edge-gluing together narrow boards. Choose these boards carefully so their color and grain match. Glue the boards together so the joined pieces are slightly wider and longer than the dimensions given in the Cutting List.

Cut the two side apron pieces (D) oversize (around 5-1/4 in. x 20-1/4 in. for now). The pivoting leaf supports and end pieces will be cut from these pieces in the next step.

Cut the remaining pieces A, E, F, G, and J through Q to size.


Draw center lines dividing the length of both side aprons (D). Mark all your length measurements relative to these center lines.

Rip one 7/8-in. wide strip from each oversized side apron for constructing the flip-out leaf supports. Cut these 7/8-in. wide strips into three pieces; the 11-in. leaf support (with a 30-degree angle at each end) and the two shorter end pieces. Rip the leaf supports one more time to 3/4 in. so they can pivot freely when in place. Rip the remaining section of side apron to 3-7/8 in., countersink and drill the pivot screw holes, then screw the leaf supports to the side aprons. Glue the 7/8-in. wide end pieces back on the side aprons so their mitered ends act as stops for the leaf supports (Photo 1). Cut the side aprons to their finished 19-1/4 in. lengths.


Lay out and drill the dowel holes in the two side aprons (D), four legs (A), top and bottom drawer rails (G), and the inner back apron piece E (Photo 2). Glue together the two back apron pieces (E) and the two drawer face pieces (F). Countersink and drill the drawer face for the brass pull.

Transfer the grids and shapes from our drawings to 1/4-in. scrap plywood, then cut out the shapes. Set aside the pattern for the top for later use.

Trace the curved template shapes onto the edges of the back apron and drawer face pieces (E,F) and the face of the two drawer rails (G). Cut out the shapes (Photo 3), then sand smooth.


We spent $20 (see Shopping List) for a taper-cutting jig to cut the leg tapers on our table saw. A simple shop-made jig will work just as well.

Mark out the taper-cut starting points on the sides of the legs and mark the taper-cut ending points on the legs' ends. Set the taper jig to 1-1/2 degrees, place a scrap test leg in the jig, and with the jig against the saw fence, make a trial run. Adjust the fence as necessary. When the setup is correct, cut two adjoining sides of each leg (Photo 4).

Set the taper jig to 3 degrees and run your trial scrap leg through. Adjust the saw fence, then cut the two remaining sides of each leg. Sand smooth starting with coarse paper and working up through finer grits.


Try out your rule-joint building skills on scrap lumber before beginning your actual workpieces--for your joint to look and operate smoothly, the profiles where top and leaves join must mesh exactly.

First rout the profile on the two parallel edges of the table top that will join the leaves. Mount a 1/2-in. radius round-over bit in a router table and adjust the cutting depth so a small squared-off lip remains (Photo 5). Run both edges of the top through.

Mount a 1/2-in. dia. cove bit in the router. Set the depth so the cut mates perfectly with the rounded-over edges of the top, then rout the cove profile along the one edge of each leaf where it joins the top.


Before beginning work on your actual piece, test the procedure for hinge mortising and alignment on the scrap rule-joint pieces you previously routed.

When the leaf is down, its edge should hide the hinge mortise on the underside of the top. As it's raised, there should be no binding in the joint. And when it's completely up, there should be no gap along the top surface of the joint. Slight adjustments in the distance the hinge knuckle is set in from the top's edge will greatly offset the joint.

Start by routing a groove for the hinge knuckle using a 3/8-in. core box bit set to cut 1/4 in. deep. Using an edge guide on your router, cut the grooves 7/16 in. in from the top's rounded-over edge (see Detail 4). Butt the rule-joint sections of the top and leaves together, center the hinge knuckle in its groove, then temporarily screw the hinge in place. Mark the outline of the hinge mortises (Photo 6), remove the hinges, rout or chisel out the mortises, then fasten the hinges.


Set the opened, hinged top across two sticks to provide clearance for the protruding hinge knuckles. Sand flat any unevenness that may exist at the rule joints on the top surface. Lightly draw center lines splitting the top into four equal sections. Align the 1/4-oval template you made earlier with the center lines and trace the oval shape onto the top and leaves.

Disassemble the top, then cut out the curved edges of the top and two leaves on a band saw. Reassemble the top, then sand into a smooth oval shape. Remove the hinges entirely so you can edge-rout the top and leaves.


Set the rear fence of the router table 3/16 in. away from the center of the V-groove router bit, then add an extra front fence.

Keep the edge perpendicular to the router bit as the cuts are made. Make several passes, checking your progress as you go. The goal is grooves of uniform depth along the curved edges. Rout both the V-grooves as shown in Detail 2, along the front and back edges of the top (B); rounded leaf edges (C); and bottom drawer rail edge (G).

Remove the front fence of the router table and rout the grooves along the bottom of the back and side aprons (E and D). Shift the fence back 3/8 in. to cut the second groove.


Miter the ends of the corner blocks (M) and drill the holes for the screws that secure the top. Finish-sand all the table base pieces. Glue and dowel together the legs, side aprons, back apron and drawer rails. Glue and nail on the corner blocks, then glue and screw on the drawer guides.

Cut the rabbets and dadoes in the drawer sides (J), drawer front (K), and drawer bottom (H). Check the fit of the drawer guide dadoes and the drawer guides, and widen the dadoes as needed. Drill the holes in the drawer front for the screws that attach the drawer face, then fasten. Finish-sand and assemble the drawer.

Drill the screw hole in the drawer stop (P). Place a couple of washers over the drawer-stop screw so it doesn't penetrate the inside of the drawer back, then screw it in place.

Finish-sand the top and leaves, then rejoin them with the hinges. Align and screw the top to the base. Glue the leaf wedges to the underside of the leaves. Taper the leading edges of the wedges so the leaf supports ride up the wedges as they are turned to support the leaves (Photo 8).

Disassemble the parts that can be unscrewed. Sand and smooth any sharp edges. Apply the stain and then two coats of varnish (be sure to varnish the underside). Consider giving the top a third coat for durability. Reassemble the table and install the brass pull -- you're ready for tea.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes cutting and shopping lists
Author:Kieffer, Bruce
Publication:The Family Handyman
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Previous Article:Working alone.
Next Article:Using radial arm saws.

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