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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Folding Card Table Resurrected

Chris Schwarz clued me in to a cool folding card table on his Popular Woodworking blog.  Here is the post in question.  The table appears in John C. Hodges' book English Furniture.

I like the table in question so much that I hit the series of tubes in my computer that lead to Amazon and purchased a copy.  I got the book in my grubby little hands and promptly found the table on page 90 of my edition.  My first thought was, 'dang, Chris has a really good scanner'.  My second thought was 'that's it?'.  I expected to find build plans in the book.  Unfortunately, English Furniture is more a treatise on furniture in time than a how to build reference.  But I am not daunted.

I wrote previously about George Walker and Tim Tolpin's By Hand And Eye.  The book is an introduction to designing stuff; ostensibly furniture, but the principles apply to any structure.  I put what I learned from Walker and Tolpin together with my own experience to come up with a design.  Also, it's just a table.

I guess I have tables on the brain lately.  I just finished building the Civil War Folding table from Woodworker's Journal.  Barely hours after sinking the last fastener I read about a folding card table in volume 3, page 836 of The Practical Woodworker.  The TPW table top pivots on a narrow base to support the bisected top when open; when closed the whole top is rotated to cover a nice side table.  On the heels of the first two tables came the Schwarz post on this table.

I don't have a nice scanner, so here is a photo of my copy of the folding card table:
Folding Card Table From English Furniture

Below here is my theorized design of the table.  Things will probably change when I actually build it.  The next task toward an actual assembled piece is to locate the brass fixtures; leave suggestions in the comments below.  Please.  Pretty please?

The base of the table is a 28" square broken down as follows (letters refer to graphic above):

A.  Fixed panel, 9 10 inches long UPDATE: panel should be 10" long with a one inch overlap with B.
B. and C.  Folding hinge panels 8 inches long
D.  Leg, 29 inches long, 1.5 inch square.  I have not decided on the taper yet, but there will be one.
E.  Fixed panel 25 inches long

Parts A, B, C, and E are 4 1/4" wide and 3/4" thick.  I would prefer a 5/8" depth on the skirt, but the sliding groove prevents it.

The top is not shown in English Furniture, but there is a description:

"The corners of the top, instead of being square, were formed as projecting segments of a circle, and circles in walnut were slightly sunk on the surface as positions for candlesticks.  On all four sides an elliptical sinking was provided for money or counters".

Here is where George and Jim's book helped me out.  The top is generally a 30 inch square.  However, each corner actually projects three fourths of a circle outside the square.  The projecting circle has a five inch diameter.  I arrived at 5 inches because it is an even proportion of the overall top (30 inches).  I originally tried a six inch circle, but after actually cutting one out and laying on a similar table it was obviously overkill.  A five inch circle looks nice and is plenty of room for the base of a small candelabra.  Here is a crude rendering if you can't picture the corner of the table.
Table Corner Mock Up
I don't have any idea how to manufacture the top, yet, but I haven't given it much thought either.

I can imagine sitting in a dark room with nothing but candles on each corner of the table for light.  Beyond the ample opportunity for cheating, the surreal ambiance would make for a pretty intense game.

The folding card table should be a very fun build.  Hopefully my skill level won't ruin what should be a striking piece of furniture.

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