The table should be “completely contained.” That is, the
parts required for expanding the table should be included as
part of the table. No closet storage necessary.
The table should have a significant expansion factor. I
wanted a table that could expand to a full 72 inches in
length, but could serve as a table for two to four in the
kitchen when closed.
The base should maintain its proportion to the top when open
or when closed. Leaf type tables do this but certain other
types of expansion tables do not.
The apron should be continuous when open or closed for
visual appeal. Some leaf-type expansion tables have the
apron parts attached to the leaves so that there will not be
any apron gaps when the leaves are installed, but this
requires more space for storage of the leaves.
The requirement for being
completely contained eliminated leaf type expansion tables. I
reviewed the literature on expansion tables before designing my
own but didn’t find exactly what I was looking for.
One type of completely contained
table is the “butterfly leaf” expansion table where the leaf
folds in two and tucks under the table top (see FWW #94, pages
50-54). However, this type of table works like a pedestal table,
so its base does not maintain its proportion between open and
closed. That is, the base stays the same size no matter whether
the table is open or closed. Additionally, the expansion of the
table is limited to one leaf.
Antique fold-over top card tables
were interesting but the technique for supporting the top did
not work well. Two techniques are used, an accordion fold apron
and a gate leg. The gate leg tends to wind up in the place where
people sit, while the accordion fold apron is just too weak to
work as a kitchen table. An accordion table works well for the
light loads of a card table but would not be safe for
Thanksgiving dinner. See “An Expanding Table” in FWW #165, pages
38-40 and “Convertible Furniture” in FWW #93, pages 68-71 for
two fold-top tables.
The design I eventually developed
includes the fold over top of an antique card table but uses
table extenders (or slides), as are used on leaf-type extension
tables. Let me see if I can describe the construction with the
help of pictures.
Figure 1 – Table closed.
Note the fold over top.
Figure 1 shows the table in its
closed form. The top is a fold-over, which makes the top double
thickness when closed. Ebony strips have been inlaid in the side
to break up the thick appearance. The size of the top is 36 by
42 inches. The top is pecan veneer with a border of 1/2 inch
I wanted to do an inlay in the
center of the table, a geometric design based on a quilt
pattern, but Norma talked me out of it. If I had done it, I
would have reflected the same design in the open table, with
half of the inlay on each section of the top, so the inlay would
be centered on the open top. I think she was right, that the
table would have been too busy, but I may use the idea in a
future less formal (fun) table - maybe a Formica top table with
a wood veneer inlay.
Figure 2 – The table open. Note that the apron is
continuous and the proportion
of the base to the top is maintained – there is the same
overhang as with the top closed.
In figure 2, the table is shown
open. When open, the top is 42 by 72 inches, double the size
when closed. Soss hidden hinges are used to hinge the tops. The
apron is continuous when open and the table top has the same
overhang as when the table is closed. In effect, the table looks
“finished” whether it is open or closed.