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Prairie Style Table Tops

Neegan's picture



Its been quite a while since my last posts but glad to be back. Here's my question... I'm building a prairie style table with all the usual cues including a seemingly thick top. I had read somewhere that the builders had a way of simulating extra thickness and in addition creating almost a wrap around effect of grain and figure. Whilst realizing the look does not occur naturally it lends itself to other elements that when applied would look odd on end grain.

Has anyone built a top such as this? I think the technique involves miter cutting all the edges, then re mitering the off cuts to whatever dimension and applying back on to the edges. 

I may be completely wrong but if anyone out there has done something like this I sure would like to hear your technique before I go ahead and commit saw to board.




RalphBarker's picture

I haven't done it, but . . . (post #170718, reply #1 of 1)

 . . . I could see certain aesthetic, and perhaps practical advantages to a faux-thick top, depending on the design of the table. If, for example, the design incorporates a drop-side with a central pillar structure, the faux-thick edge would make the drop section easier to handle. If the design uses the more traditional four heavy legs, and no drop side, the added visual thickness on the top might be less attractive.

Edge mitering the top strikes me as being similar to the technique used to wrap the ray fleck grain of quarter-sawn oak around all four surfaces of square legs on mission-style furniture. It can't happen in nature, but no one really cares about that.

The trick, I would think, would be in achieving a perfect mitered edge along the entire edge of the table and the wrap piece. I'd be dubious about accomplishing that level of accuracy on just a table saw. A shaper or router table with a long bed might work better.

I'm also guessing that "prairie" is a marketing euphanism added long after the fact. Folks who actually migrated to the prairie in covered wagons more likely had plain tables with four legs (possibly detachable) and skirts.