207 – Tilt-Top Table

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Small tables are great skill-building projects. You can pack a lot of joinery and techniques into a very confined space while using a small amount of material. The Tilt-Top Table is a great example of this as it contains a turned post, sliding dovetails, curved and tapered legs, an elliptical top, and a classic shop-made tilt mechanism.

While this video summarizes the entire build, I have a lot more footage available for folks who actually want to build the project. In the Guild, this project is represented by 12 videos with over 4 hours of HD video footage. Of course we also have a detailed project plan and SketchUp diagrams for you as well. Get access to the full project series here.

Tools & Materials
– Pre-milled wood kits will be made available!
– Jointer, Planer, Tablesaw, Bandsaw
– Miter Saw, Drill, Router
– Lathe (for a turned post)
– Die Grinder and Rasps (for a sculpted post)

Techniques Demonstrated
– Cutting an ellipse
– Turning a table post
– Creating a “Poor Man’s Lathe” router jig
– Routing sliding dovetails
– Cutting curved/tapered legs
– Designing a tilt mechanism
– Carving an alternative spiral post

ttt-cherry-02 copy ttt-cherry-05 copy ttt-cherry-03 copy ttt-cherry-06 copy

ttt-walnut-02 copy ttt-walnut-05 copy ttt-walnut-04 copy ttt-walnut-03 copy

Category: Projects


  1. Jeremy Crawford September 2, 2013

    Does this cover the version with the baseball bat and none tilting action? I haven’t had the chance to watch it, but will soon.

  2. Brian September 2, 2013

    You look so intimidating with a deadpool shirt. JOIN NOW!

  3. Tom Collins September 3, 2013

    Great video! I really liked the production quality and amount of information. It was very informational without the need to provide explainations of things someone capable of building this project should already know. If I want to build the table and know what size dovetail you cut in the leg, I will buy the project. And did learn something new with the ellipse technique you demonstrated. Thank you.

  4. Ben September 4, 2013

    The two points used to draw the ellipse are also used to calculate an ellipse in Geometry. They are known as vertices. I like seeing the mathematical principle used even if is isn’t fully understood.

    I geeked out a bit when I saw you using it.

  5. Christian Kuhl September 4, 2013

    Those of you who have to make a lot of differently sized ellipses mal want to check out this pretty cool router jig: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....ata_player. Once built it allows for routing out ellipses of basically any dimension without the need to draw, cut out and hand-finess a template. Though the video is in German, you will get a pretty good idea of how the jig works. I even think I have seen a discussion of this jig at festoolusa.com (or somewhere similar) some time ago…

  6. Robert S. September 11, 2013

    Marc, I was tickled to see these tables! I have a similar tilt-top table in my living room; one my Dad make in high school over 80 years ago. I’m sure he would have been impressed. One thing I couldn’t make out clearly: the tilt-top should be oriented so that when it is down, two of the legs will be against the wall. This not only makes it look better against a wall, but gives more stability with the remaining leg supporting the extra weight of the top. You probably show this in the Guild version.

  7. Will Halliday September 17, 2013

    Awesome demonstration Marc, thanks! I notice you like to prep your rough stock on the bandsaw rather than the table saw – is there a specific reason for this?


      I do this because it’s generally safer than the tablesaw. Especially for long rips on boards that are new to me. If the board has any hidden stress in it, the bandsaw would be nearly as risky at the tablesaw. So I can rip the board down in a very rough state quickly and easily.

  8. Ray Dunn October 11, 2013

    What is the metal T-square you used for layout? I’ve been looking for one like that for years.

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