How to Make Your Own Trestle Table

Updated February 21, 2017

Trestle tables have been around at least since medieval times. And even now, whether your home is furnished in modern or Early American or minimalist, there is a trestle table that will look good with it. It will look good with chairs or benches (either upholstered or bare wood), and decked out with either simple shapes or ornate carvings.

This simple design will fit in with many different styles, and it is not difficult to build.

Make a I-shaped assembly using one of the 2 x 8s (trestle), four each of the 2 x 4s and 1 x 4s, and two of the feet. Start by laying the 2 x 8 on your work surface. At one end, put glue on one end of a 2 x 4, and butt this piece at a right angle against the end of the 2 x 8, forming one of the "stems" of the I. Repeat this on the other side of the 2 x 8, using another 2 x 4 and forming a straight line with the first stem.

Spread glue on one side of a 1 x 4, then use it to cover the "bottom of the I" you created in the last step. Carefully flip this assembly over onto its other side; then repeat the process with another 1 x 4 on this side. You should now have three layers: two 1 x 4s, with the end of the 2 x 8 and its two stems sandwiched in-between. Clamp this "sandwich" together until the glue dries.

Repeat this process on the other end of the 2 x 8. This will complete one of the leg assemblies.

Glue and clamp a 3 x 3 foot to the bottom of each of the leg's bottom stems. When you stand the leg upright, it will sit on these two feet.

Repeat these first four steps with the remaining 2 x 8, 2 x 4s, 1 x 4s and feet to make a second leg assembly.

Join the leg assemblies using the 2 x 6. Measure 12 inches from the bottom of each leg; this is how high the bottom of the 2 x 6 should be. Drill two holes through each leg into the end of the 2 x 6, countersinking each screw halfway into the leg. Use four screws, two in each leg, to attach the legs to the 2 x 6.

Mitre both ends on all four of the 2 x 2 pieces. Glue and nail each of these pieces onto the edges of the plywood panel, creating a tabletop with a 3/4-inch cavity in the bottom. (Framing the panel this way creates a thicker-looking tabletop.)

Position the tabletop, cavity down, on top of the legs; the legs should fit snugly into the cavity. Drill holes through the 2 x 2 edges into the end of the legs, countersinking them halfway into the 2 x 2s. Using four screws, attach the top to the legs; then drive six nails, three nails for each leg, through the tabletop and into the top of the legs. Space the nails evenly across the tabletop -- one nail at the midpoint, and the other two halfway between the first nail and the tabletop's edge. Use the nailset to set the nail heads just below the surface.

Fill the screw and nail holes with wood putty. Let it dry, then sand and finish the table as you please.


You can taper the edges of the table legs if you like. Cut a triangle measuring 2 3/4 x 6 inches from the inside of each leg's stem -- the bottom of the top stems, and the top of the bottom stems. See the table in the reference plans if necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • Clamps
  • Saw
  • Mitre box
  • Drill and bit
  • Hammer
  • Nailset
  • 3-inch screws
  • 2-inch finishing nails
  • Carpenter's glue
  • Sandpaper
  • 2 x 8s -- (2) 28 inches
  • 2 x 6s -- (1) 40 inches
  • 2 x 4s -- (8) 12 3/4 inches
  • 1 x 4s -- (8) 33 inches
  • Feet -- (4) 3 x 3 x 3/4-inches
  • 2 x 2s -- (2) 36 inches, (2) 60 inches
  • 3/4-inch plywood, (1) 33 x 57 inches
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About the Author

North Carolina native Mike Southern has been writing since 1979. He is the author of the instructional golf book "Ruthless Putting" and edited a collection of swashbuckling novels. Southern was trained in electronics at Forsyth Technical Community College and is also an occasional woodworker.