A butterfly extension dining table with a pedestal base.
By Glen Walling
This table was born from an inability to find an extension table that
was rectangular, and had a pedestal base. At the time the trend was for
oval tables or square tables with corner legs so I decided to try and
make one from scratch.
I was unable to find plans either on the internet or in the local
library so I had to piece together the design features from other
tables I had looked at. With some fiddling and on the run alterations I
eventually managed to put together something that works and I think
This was the project that got me interested in making things out of
wood and I teamed up with an acquaintance who had more experience and
equipment than me. Over time we developed a firm friendship and did a
lot of work together. Unfortunately Glenn passed away in June 2004
before the table was completed so he never got to see it finished.
My first prototype table showed both my inexperience and some major
design flaws. The table shown above is actually my second prototype but
this worked well and is the design I will use for the next one to be
made at a later date. I made this table out of a pine packing crate
kindly donated by some friends after they had a new pump and solar
panels delivered in it. The first one was made out of old pallets we
got from the rubbish dump. The next one will be made out of hardwood,
either Jarrah or Wandoo that was a shearing shed floor in a previous
This table was made from an old pine packing crate that was full of
nail holes knot holes and cracks. This sort of timber is not the
easiest to work with, but the flaws add character to the finished
project in my opinion.
After taking the crate apart I was surprised by
the amount of timber I recovered. Mostly it was 6"X 1" boards 11 feet
long and 3 1/2" X 2" X 5 1/2 feet.
All of the timber was cut slightly over length before Jointing and
The boards to be used for
the table top were wet and then
clamped together for some time to try and remove the worst of the bow
The boards for the table top
clamped after wetting to try and remove
Reasonably flat boards after being
removed from clamps.
The stock was then jointed and passed through the thicknesser until the
dimensions were 80mm X 40mm and the planks were 20mm X 145mm, square
As I mentioned earlier
roughly cut most of the material before
Frame Top, Feet and Cross Piece X 2
Legs X 4
All cut from 80mm X 40mm
Hinge Mount Pieces X 2
Slides X 4 of each
Hinge Mount Pieces and Slides from 20mm.
Pedestal brace X 1 (I made this by laminating 3 planks together and
then planing to size)
154mm slats X 12
100mm slats X 2
Click on image to enlarge.
Recessed Hinges X 2
Cupboard Hinges X 2
Case Latches X 4
The recessed hinges were difficult to find. None of the hardware stores
I tried carried them or could find them from suppliers. I eventually
managed to order them through my local cabinet maker.
The cupboard hinges are standard but I had to remove the hinge rivet
and turn them around.
The case latches are to stop the table sections from moving apart.
After preparing the timber to size cut to proper length and mark out
joints, channels and such.
I used a router to prepare all of the joints
because I couldn't cut a straight line by hand if my life depended on
I also cut all of the joints a little small and finished them to
size with a file and sand paper for a more precise fit being sure to
mark the joints.
The joint between the top cross pieces and the rails was a little
tricky because it did not go all of the way through the timber. I did
this purely for cosmetic reasons so the joint was less visible.
The inside curve and rebate
of the feet was cut with a 12mm straight
router bit. The outside curve was cut with a cut off saw and rounded
using a belt sander.
After cutting all of the base pieces I routed the outside edges of the
legs and the top of the feet with a round over bit.
Once the shape of all of the pieces for the base I needed to fill the
holes and cracks in the timber. Because I was using recycled timber
there was a fair number of these and I wanted to make them a feature
instead of covering them up. I have used a number of different things
to fill them with, with varying effects. Putty is very difficult to
match exactly and unless matched perfectly I think looks a bit scruffy.
I have tried filling the holes with PVA glue but it tends to remain
milky. Varnish just keeps soaking into the timber and cores are also
not the look I was trying for.
Instead I used hot glue. If
carefully it cures completely clear, it is cheap and sands well. When I
made this table I used a different brand hot glue which did not cure
completely clear after having varnish applied as some I have used
previously did. It is OK for nail holes and small cracks but was a
little milky when filling larger holes.
I then sanded the pieces down to 180 grit paper before assembly.
The table top was assemble as 3 separate pieces using biscuits.
the table was made from packing timber the wood was back sawn which
lends to wood cupping, for this reason I tried to join the wood with
the grain rings in alternate directions.
The end panels were made from 5 planks each and the centre panel from
two 145mm and two 100mm planks giving two pieces 730mm wide and one
490mm (this is the centre piece).
One end of each of the panels is then cut square.
The centre is cut in
half and 6mm slots are cut using the router in both halves 120mm from
either edge for the hinges, but only to the depth of the hinges not
right through the wood.
Once the hinges are fixed the other ends of all three panels are cut to
length. This way the centre doesn't end up shorter than the ends.
At this stage cut matching biscuit slots in the joining edge of the two
ends and the centre inserts. Cut two slots to each flap of the centre
for a total of four and glue biscuits into one end and the opposite
edge of the centre. These are the locating slots for mating the table
sections. Dowel or brass pins could be used instead.
The first part to be assembled is the top section of the base. The
rails are glued to the cross pieces so that the channels
inwards and positioned towards the top and the slots for the legs on
the cross pieces are facing downwards. The rebates on the end of the
cross pieces are to allow the slides on the top to move in and out as
the table is extended. It is important to make sure the this is square
and that the rails are true and parallel. When assembled clamp firmly
until the glue is dry.
Prepare the slide by gluing the 50mm slat to the 30mm slat so you have
an "L" shaped piece 40mm thick with a 20mm tail.
Place the two end pieces of table top on a flat surface with the best
side down making sure the join is aligned properly. Place the top part
of the base centrally on the table top with the slides in situ making
sure the ends of the slides meet at the join between the top panels.
When everything is positioned as square and central as possible
carefully mark the positions of the slides where they rest on the table
After removing the base fix the slides to the table top with glue and
When the glue has dried try to slide the top onto the base from
either end. You may find that it will not slide in easily and will
require some sanding or planing to get the slides to fit and slide
Mark the centre of the top rail and then measure 245mm either side of
centre, this is when the centre extension will sit when table is open.
Slide the two end pieces together so they meet at the centre mark and
fit the case latches to both ends. Separate the ends and insert the
extension at the place marked and fit the matching latch parts onto the
This is where things start getting a bit tricky!
The hinge mount pieces need to be set at such a height that when open
the extension must rest flat and level with the ends and at the same
time will allow the folded extension to turn over without hitting the
On my table the hinge mount pieces sat 45mm from the top of the rail
and on those the hinge was placed 165mm from the top rail. The other
part of the hinge was 140mm from the hinged edge of the extension.
hinge mount struts were set 160mm from one cross piece and 165mm from
the other, the difference is to allow clearance for the biscuits.
The position of the pivot hinge
folded down (above) half way up (left)
and fully opened (right). Note the biscuit slots in the extension to
align it with the ends.
A piece of scrap 100mm long and 110mm from the rail attached to the
underside of the hinge strut for the folded extension to rest on. The
small piece screwed to the rail is to help support the hinge strut. I
did this because I was making this part of the plan up as I went along
and wasn't able to mortice or dowel them in place.
When the top assembly of the base and the table top are set up properly
the top should be fairly level and flat. If they are not they need to
be sanded flat and level. I would suggest sanding the with the ends
mated and when they are flay sanding the extension to level with them.
Why? Because the table is more likely to be left without the extension
in place it would look better if they are well mated whereas the
extension is only used occasionally so any difference is less
noticeable ( there was very heavy rain between when I assembled the top
panels and fitted them to the base. The change in weather cause the
panels to warp badly and though I was able to flatten them with
clamping the centre piece remained quite warped need more sanding to
get flat than the ends. There is a cross piece screwed to the underside
of the extension, this was to try and remove some of the warping).
Once I had the table top
all set and locked in place I then rounded the
corners of the top (I used a dinner plate as the
radius) and routed the
edge with a roman ogive bit.
Now it is time to put it all together!
Firstly I assembled the base dry to make sure it would all go together
well. Then I picked a section of veranda that I knew to be flat and
level. Using PVA glue I joined the legs to the feet then placed the
cross piece in place and attached the top assembly to the legs. Because
the joints are made so close fitting the table could stand free as it
was but due to my lack of skill the base was not automatically level
and square. With the assistance of a spirit level and square this was
rectified and the whole thing was clamped until the glue had dried. It
is more important to get the top of the base level than that everything
is absolutely square.
When the base was finished I looked at the gap between the legs and
thought that it looked a bit bodgy so I decided to fill the gap between
the legs and to cover the end of the cross support above the feet.
I measured the gap between the legs and cut pieces to fill each end. I
cut them slightly over size and sanded them down to fit so as to get as
an exact fit as I was able.
After assembling all of
parts of the table I took them apart and
removed all of the hinges and such.
I filled all of the holes and cracks with hot glue as I stated before.
(If I ever find out which brand it is that is truly clear I will alter
this article to name it.)With the base and the underside of the table
top I sanded them down to 200 grit sand paper and applied 2 coats of
Bondall's Monocel Gloss polyurethane varnish.
is the same knot as shown earlier when being filled
this is after 2 coats of varnish.
It is important not to apply
varnish to the channels and slides
wise the tops will not slide smoothly.
With the table top I put a lot more care into it as this is the thing
that most people see and it also suffers the most punishment. I sanded
them back to 150 grit then applied a sealer of 75% Monocel and 25%
turps. When the sealer had dried I sanded down to 320 grit and applied
5 coats of Monocel Gloss sanding with 320 grit between each coat.
After it was all sealed I replaced all of the hardware and the table
was then put into service.
I was going to apply 8 coats sanding with steel wool between coats but
my brother and his family arrived to stay and the bigger table was
needed so it didn't happen.....maybe one day?
The first meal on the new table
(note the step from the extension to
the far end. This is due to the extension piece warping).