135 – Trestle Table (Part 2 of 3)

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Now that the leg pieces are cut to their rough shape, we need to focus on blending the parts using an assortment of tools including a router, a ball mill, and a cabinet-maker’s rasp. You’ll notice that much of the sculpting work is done before the glueup. I find it much easier to work on these parts in smaller pieces rather than trying to work the entire finished leg at once.


The first step in sculpting the leg parts is rounding over with the router. The router removes a great deal of material in a short amount of time and it gives me a nice jump start on the visualization process. A dry assembly after the roundover helps me strategize my next move, which happens to be thinning out the “ankles” of the legs. The vertical post of the leg is slightly narrower than the feet so I need to blend the pieces gracefully. This is where the ball mill comes in handy. The ball mill can remove material quick or it can be used for fine finesse work. It’s all in how you approach the wood. Because of it’s round shape, the ball mill leaves a ribbed surface. So I follow up with some rasp work. The rasp levels the surface and helps blend the various angles and contours. There’s still some finesse work to do but we’ll handle that after the glueup.

The Glueup

Because of the odd angle of our legs, this could be a tricky glueup. The key is to run the clamp parallel to the vertical leg member. In order to do that, we’ll need some way of giving the clamp heads purchase on a flat surface. Fortunately, I remembered that I had some off-cuts from the initial bandsaw work. These off-cuts, with the addition of a notch, make the perfect contoured cauls for this clamping operation.

The glue I’m using is West System Epoxy. The long working time is perfect for complex glueups. Furthermore, the leg joint has a lot of end grain to long grain glue surface which is inherently weak. Using epoxy should help strength the joint.

Final Finessing

After the glue dries, we can look at the legs as a single entity and begin fine-tuning the appearance. Remember, the goal is to make these pieces look as if there were carved from a single piece of wood. So my number one mission is to blend the parts smoothly. I use everything from a rasp to a card scraper to a random orbit sander to get the job done.

The Top

The top is going to be made from two very large 14″ wide boards. Trying to mill heavy rough timbers like this can be quite a challenge, so I am employing the skip planing technique. Skip planing involved passing the rough boards through the planer taking very light passes and flipping the board each time. If the boards are fairly straight to begin with, the end result will be a nearly perfect flat board.

Once milled, the two halves are jointed using a hand plane, a circular saw, or a jointer, and then glued together. I use Dominos to help keep the boards aligned during glueup. The ends of the top receive a slight curve for visual appeal. With the top upside down and sanded thoroughly, there will never be a better time to apply the finish there. So I throw on a few quick coats of Arm-R-Seal Satin. Sometimes it just makes sense to finish the hidden parts of a project first, rather than worrying about it after final assembly.

Category: Projects


  1. MolecularCarperter December 10, 2010


    Great segment, I was really looking forward to this one. I recently found your site and have been devouring the episodes – you’ve reignited my shop passion. We just bought a new home and I’ve begun to build the shop. I really appreciate the science background, looking forward to a more in depth segment on hardwoods.

    I also appreciate the added detail to this page (products used), more of that is welcome unless of course these bonus features are reserved for guild members, lol!

  2. Devon S December 10, 2010

    Thanks for another great Video. I really like this table, you made, What is the woman singing at the end of the latest video. Is she just saying Marc S,…The WW? I can only make out the end of it.


      I really need to talk about this in the video at some point. She says, By Marc Spagnuolo, The Wood Whisperer…..”

      We have a fan in Venezuela that goes by the name El Saxofonista. He’s like a Venezuelan Kenny G but cooler. He offered to make us a theme song. Although the song makes me laugh, I knew I HAD to use it in the show somewhere. How often does one get a custom song made by a Venezuelan saxophone player?!?! Only problem is the woman’s accent is so thick, its hard to tell what she is saying. So its a bit of a easter egg right now. :)

      • Devon S December 11, 2010

        Oh, that explains it. Thanks for the DL on your voice talent. Ah, the benefits of having a world wide fan club…

  3. Lori December 11, 2010

    Great idea with using the scraps for the glue up of the legs…Genius!!! I really liked what you said about the smoothing process being therapeutic…I felt the same thing just watching you and I wanted to go grab a block of wood just to smooth over the edges!!! ha ha…I have the woodworking bug alright! :) Great demo Marc….thanks for sharing it with us. I’m really enjoying this project and am eagerly awaiting the next video. Merry Woodworking!!!


      Great to see you again Lori! Where ya been?

      • Lori December 13, 2010

        Quite a busy bee…but this time of the year really gets me wanting to be in my shop. I actually managed to make some Holiday gifts this year… YAY!! I’m gonna post my silly gifts on the holiday gift blog…but they are simple and easy and not my own design, but classic idea!!! :) Have fun this holiday season and Merry Woodworking!!! :)

  4. Dave Manley December 11, 2010

    Marc, I have just recently found your site as well. I have enjoyed it. I have a question on the latest video. You used epoxy for glueing the legs. Could you explain why you chose this over yellow glue? Is it due to strength? Or just for the color in case of a gap as you indicated in the video? Just curious. Thank you!


      Hey Dave. I actually did mention my primary reason for using epoxy at about 13:00 in the video. It was mostly because I wanted to give the end grain to long grain bond some strength in and of itself. Yellow glue really wouldn’t offer much strength in that situation (other than on the dominos).

      • MolecularCarperter December 11, 2010


        I’m still working my way through the past video’s – have you ever done an episode on adhesives? Beyond the basic chemistries of the ‘glues’ (PVAs to Polyurethanes to Cyanoacrylates to Epoxies) there must be some sort of decision/selection tree as it relates to the type of joint and load requirements.

        Your use of West Systems was interesting, especially with an additive (of which there are many). Which fillers have you employed in your work? In addition to added strength and UV protection, some fillers also make sanding a dream while others are a nightmare.

        • Dan Drabek December 11, 2010

          Boat building epoxies are the best. Plus, you can buy them by the gallon.
          Cab-O-Sil is an excellent thickener.


      • Hi Marc,

        You chose epoxy because of its strength. Do you know just HOW much it will endure before failure in this long-grain-to-end-grain situation with Dominoes? Would you be willing to try to break your prototype to test the strength?

  5. Aaron B.(dalsaw) December 11, 2010

    Great video Marc, where did you get that monster pattern bit?

  6. Ray December 11, 2010

    Hey Marc, would it be possible to straighten the edge out for the table top with a router and a straight edge to possibly prepare it for jointing? Or even use the router to joint the edges together?

  7. Great looking table Marc. Well done! Looking forward to the next one!

  8. Rob December 11, 2010

    Great fun and a spectacular table. But this leaves me wishing for one thing: A top made of not two pieces but a single piece. And not just any single piece, but a slab with a live edge.

    Seriously, live edges both fascinate and terrify me. Here’s hoping we see a future vid that tackles some of the design and work process challenges of leaving part of the tree au naturel.

    Keep up the good work.

  9. Dan Drabek December 11, 2010

    Marc, you need a bigger rasp.


  10. Steve December 11, 2010

    That was a really good video marc,

  11. Mike M (http://www.mmader.com) December 12, 2010

    Great video! It is always interesting watching you shaping the wood. For me it is great reminder that the work only begins at the table saw and router table. I am working on a small project for my daughter, and it is amazing how the wood seems to come alive when you start using hand tools to make the project have that polished look.

  12. Tim December 12, 2010

    Hi Marc, awesome video once again. When you were tapering the feet and table supports down to the profile of the vertical leg pieces it reminded me of a really cool rasp set I picked up a few years back and thought you might enjoy checking out. Maybe you?ve heard of them before, but they?re called ?Dragon Rasps? and are high-quality hand cut rasps that come in coarse and fine cuts that taper to a point for varying radii. They?re semi common in the luthier arena, but I haven?t seen them anywhere else. I put the link in a previous post, but the site put me under “moderation”;). Check out Stewmac dot you know what, then click “tools,” then “files,” then “Dragon Hand-cut Rasps.”

  13. Matt R. December 12, 2010

    great design Marc! now that is something right up my alley

  14. Alex December 12, 2010

    That looks like one nice massive table. What is the weight of that thing approximately? Also, have you ever made any pieces that were so big and heavy that you have to consider the weight of the whole thing during the construction?


      I honestly have no clue what the total weight is. But to answer your question, I never really made anything so heavy that I was concerned about it. I did make a few pieces out of solid wenge that took a few people to move safely. But I pretty much expected it.

  15. Bruno C December 12, 2010

    Hi Marc,

    Great looking table. I would like to know where I can buy the monster flush trim bit .


  16. Joe December 13, 2010

    Great as always, Marc. So is the die grinder basically like a more powerful Dremel/rotary tool, or does it have other functionality to it as well? Would a rotary tool work for this as well (although slower I’m sure) It seems like a reasonably priced tool, I’m just wondering how much use you get out of such a thing.

  17. Joseph Corda December 13, 2010

    Another great video!
    Funny I think there was a part in the video that you actually might have been rasping the table leg joints “in unison” with the background music .. LOL

    I also had a great time at the Holiday Party the other night (even though I didn’t win anything ;-) it was a fun night and historic, maxing out the chat room at 200…. Woot Woot!

    Anyways… I can’t wait to see your next video, keep up the great work!

    Merry Christmas to both you and Nicole!

  18. Andrew Raastad December 13, 2010

    Lots of great info and tips. As always, love the videos, looking forward to the conclusion of this project!

  19. Tom Collins December 13, 2010

    Hi Marc,
    Another great video and project. Something that might be of interest to you is using a spoke shave to shape parts. I recently used my Veritas spoke shave to shape parts on a stool and I was amazed how fast and easy it was to get great results that required very little sanding even on end grain. I thought there would be a steep learning curve for this type of tool, but I was able to get great results the first time. I would recommend trying a spoke shave for any project that requires shaping.

  20. Kyle Rinkenberger December 13, 2010


    Great video! One question from a newb. After you planed the 2 boards did you make sure they were the same thickness? I ask this because you didn’t (and could not) put completed (glued) top through your planer. So how did you make sure they were flush and perfectly flat between the two boards? Do you do this with the dominos? If this is a basic question that most should know I’m sorry but I am a beginner and the most instruction I have had is your videos and Norm Abram when I was a youngin :).

    Also why do you have to make the videos a week apart? The suspense is KILLING ME!!!



      Hey Kyle. The thickness was determined with calipers. Both boards took a similar number of passes on both sides so they were already pretty close. But I had the calipers there to double check. And I can’t recall if I showed it in the video, but I also used my drum sander for the final pass to get some initial smoothing done. So by the end the boards were pretty much perfectly matched.

  21. Charlie December 14, 2010

    Marc- I enjoyed both Part I and II on the trestle table. I like the longer format as it gives a lot of time for teaching- I know this takes more of your time and planning but it is well worth it to me as a novice. I hope that you have an excellent holiday season.

  22. Ken F December 14, 2010


    I’m glad you have Honduras connections to get wood like that.

    How much a board ft was the two large pieces.

  23. Ken Rubenstein December 15, 2010

    I watch all your videos but for some reason this one seems to address the art of design and wood more than any other. I sense a more intuitive feel towards a simplistic but absolutely artistic piece. Very inspirational. Thank you.

  24. Ben December 15, 2010

    @Ken F: He mentioned the boards were 12′ long, one 14″ wide and one 12″ wide. I believe Marc said they ended up about 1 1/4″ thick, so I would guess they started as 6/4. That would be 39bf.

    Marc, I’d also like to know about your thicknessing procedure. If it were me I would have skip planed both boards before adjusting the planer so they ended at exactly the same thickness (you appeared to totally thickness one board and presumably then thickness the next one). Did your glue joint require any hand work to make it perfect?


      Hey Ben. Just by counting the number of rotations on the handle, I can thickness my boards separately and stil wind up with a pretty close match in thickness. And given the size of the boards, it was much easier to do this one at a time, then taking one pass with each board. Now for smaller boards, of course I would run them all together in a batch. I can’t recall if the video showed the use of the drum sander, but each board did get an initial pass to help remove milling marks and snipe. So that also ensured the thickness was pretty much dead on. No work was needed to level the surfaces afterward.

  25. Ken F December 15, 2010

    Let me rephrase the question

    What did it Cost for the wood ?

  26. Gary December 17, 2010

    Love the table and that Mahogany really looks great. Looking forward to part 3.

  27. Thomas Tieffenbacher/Doc Savage 45 December 18, 2010

    Charles Neil was talking about your excellent work dude! Don’t know if anyone has asked how you determined the balance of the piece? One thing I really appreciate Marc is that you do your best to make it simple! Keep up the great job.


      Thanks Doc! Honestly, I didn’t do much to test the balance. Kind of went by gut once I saw the drawing at full size. Also knowing that it was going to go right against a wall gave me a little more confidence that even it was a little off, it would be safe. But fortunately, there are no balance issues at all. Thanks for checking out the video. I am very glad to call Charles Neil a friend!

  28. Hi Marc,

    I posted this question way up there as a reply to a reply and think you may have missed it:

    You chose epoxy because of its strength. Do you know just HOW much it will endure before failure in this long-grain-to-end-grain situation with Dominoes? Would you be willing to try to break your prototype to test the strength?


      Hey Chris. You’re right, I did miss it. :) I would be happy to break the prototype, but it won’t tell us much about the joint since I don’t think I used epoxy. Bottom line, I think the joint is more than strong enough to last on this particular piece. And frankly I think the wood would split before that joint comes apart.

      • “Bottom line, I think the joint is more than strong enough to last on this particular piece. And frankly I think the wood would split before that joint comes apart.”

        In the end, that’s all that counts. Keep the woodwork flowing!

  29. Kevin December 18, 2010

    Hey Marc, when you’re using a pattern bit like you did, to what height do you set the bit? You know how there’s usually a small gap between the bearing and where the cutters start on the bit, do you set the height of the bit so that the cutters are slightly on the pattern?
    I had a problem once with one of those acrylic circle templates… somehow I started gouging into the template. It was ugly.


      Hey Kevin. I do aim for the blade to touch the pattern ever so slightly. Even if something happens and causes the blade to actually remove some pattern material, its ok since most of the pattern is still intact. Hard to saw what happened in your situation there, but it could be a bad bit with a jammed bearing. If the bearing doesn’t spin, the friction along the acrylic is enough to melt and burn it. That would definitely be no fun!

  30. Lars Palmqvist December 20, 2010

    Hi Marc I have been trying to move arounf in your stream and then it stalls, i think you need to hint. the stream wich makes it scrollable.

    Chear’s Palmqvist

  31. JP December 20, 2010


    I found your 1″ ball mill readily available from McMaster-Carr
    Double Cut
    PN 4292A123 $47.48
    Single Cut
    PN 43035A223 $47.48

    Kind of expensive but they are available. The double cut will give a better finish with less stock removal, and the single cut will really attack the wood and leave a rougher surface.

  32. Tony Harmon December 20, 2010

    Okay. Not a comment about this episode but the next. On the 19th I noticed part 3 was coming on the 20th. I wake up early and check the site all day and no part 3. Then I just came in from the shop and it now says it is coming on the 21st? Dirty pool, sir! Can’t wait!


      You mean people actually look at the calendar?!?! :) Well, I’ll tell you the gory details and perhaps you will forgive the delay. I threw my back out yesterday and have been in terrible pain since then. Finally got to the doctor this afternoon and I had to pick up a prescription for muscle relaxers. On top of that, we recently discovered that we have once again outgrown our home on our current server. So tonight we are preparing to move the entire Wood Whisperer site (Guild site and store included), to a totally new server. We’ll be doing that this evening after our live Guild interview with Rob Cosman. So hopefully that’s a good enough excuse to grant me an extra day. :)

      The video is transcoding as we speak. If all goes well with the server transfer tonight, I’ll have the video up for tomorrow AM.

      • Tony Harmon December 20, 2010

        You get a pass… This time! :)

        Sorry to hear you threw your back out; hopefully it was doing something manly, not like when I threw my back out reaching for a cup. (Too many airborne jumps, etc. when I was young and am now dearly paying for)

        Looking forward to the Rob interview; I find him interesting. I like him, but I don’t, but I do…

        • MolecularCarperter December 21, 2010

          I’ve been watching the calendar too. Judging from the weight estimates, he probably threw out his back moving the trestle table…j/k Marc. I know the lower back issues well. If the muscle relaxers affect your ability to work, try getting a toradol shot, good stuff in an emergency. BTW i just saw the gorilla grips segment, very timely as i’m planning a large built-in with 3/4 walnut ply – you just saved my back.

  33. pat o December 21, 2010

    I just found your site and love it. I recently made some end grain cutting boards so I was interested in that. And then, my next project is a trestle table with Qrtr Sawn Oak, so I was again excited to see your version and the process. When can I expect to see part three? I’m really looking forward to it.
    Also, do you ever make end grain cutting boards from Walnut? I’d like to contrast the walnut with other woods but I’m not sure if the juglan (compound in walnut found to be toxic to plants and sometimes pets) in the walnut would be ok for a cutting board. Any help with this would be great. Thanks, Pat.


      Hey pat. I have seen many walnut cutting boards out there and I am of the opinion the the allergy concerns are a little overblown. So I probably wouldn’t hesitate to make a walnut cutting board myself. But do your research and make your own judgement for yourself. In matters of food safety, I don’t like to make “official” recommendations when its based on speculation and opinion.

  34. Steven H December 26, 2010

    Hey Marc,

    What circular saw blade do you recommend using?


  35. Kurt December 31, 2010

    Can you say where you got the mahogany? I’m a woodworking newbie here in the valley and am on the lookout for good local sources of quality hardwood. We can’t just pop into a local sawmill down here, alas.

  36. victor March 30, 2011

    Hello mark,
    The hardner you used seemed to be brown in color.
    The West systems hardners that i know of only come in clear…
    Did you add dye to it or thats the way you can get it?

  37. Brian May 14, 2011

    So this is how they “carve” pieces to make those rockers I’ve been seeing all over the internet. I’d love to add flowing curves into a future project. Nice work on the pre planning to avoid the knee knocking against the table.

  38. Josh R. October 9, 2012


    Just curious why you did the round over on the top and bottom portions of the leg on the router table and the round over on the vertical portions using the handheld router?
    Thanks for all of the time and effort you put into helping the rest of us out. As a complete beginner your videos have been such an inspiration and help to me. Can’t thank you enough!


      Hey Josh. I certainly could have done the vertical pieces on the router table too, but it was just easier at the time to mount the bit in the hand held router and go. Probably just an artifact of the filming process, really.

  39. Paul Rooprai January 11, 2014

    Hey Marc
    Where Did you get the Pattern router bit building trestle table ?

  40. Marty September 8, 2014

    Hey Marc,

    Nice WoW teeshirts! Now I know what you guys play, or used to play, on that table. :D

    Now a question. You mentioned in the last video that the wood naturally turns a deeper color over time. What causes this? Are you not worried about setting some stationary things on it that will not get moved that often, like your computer screens? I know I read about cherry wood dong this in some woodworking mag. For instance if you place a lamp on an end table you will get a lighter ring over time where the UV rays don’t quite hit it like the rest of the exposed surfaces. Is this a problem in mahogany? Or just cherry?


      Hey Marty. We do still play, just not as often as we’d like. :)

      Generally speaking, there are some woods whose color changes over time. As you pointed out, it’s due to UV exposure but also oxidation. So yes, over time you’ll have light spots wherever you place semi-permanent objects like monitors and mousepads. But there isn’t much you can do about it. So I do indeed have spots on my desk. It’s only an issue if I move the monitor or get one with a different sized base. But I’m still using the same setup I had back then so there are no issues. But this is always a concern when using woods like cherry and mahogany.

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