Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Hayrake Table


The Hayrake Table



The hayrake table is one of three furniture projects from Nancy Hiller’s most recent book, English Arts and Crafts Furniture (published by Popular Woodworking Books, 2018). The table is based on original 1908 drawings by English architect Ernest Gimson, one of the most highly respected designers of Arts and Crafts furniture, a style that spans a broad range of forms and includes designers and makers from many countries.

Nancy is the one to lead you through the joinery, construction and decoration of the hayrake table. The table’s distinctive feature is a stretcher based on the design of traditional wooden hay rakes used in the Middle Ages.

Nancy trained in England, earning a City and Guilds of London Certificate in furniture making in 1980. A woodworker for over three decades, she opened her business, NR Hiller Design, in 1995; she specializes in period-style work and has written extensively on that subject for periodicals such as Fine Woodworking, Popular Woodworking, and Old-House Journal. She has taught a variety of courses at Kelly Mehler’s School of Woodworking, the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, and the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild, over the past 12 years. Please welcome her as a first-time instructor to the Port Townsend School of Woodworking.

Class Description

This six-day class is intended for intermediate and advanced-level woodworkers. While you need not be familiar with all the techniques the class will cover, you should have a basic familiarity with mortise and tenon joinery and be able to cut a tenon by hand using a backsaw.
The course will cover the following, in addition to other skills and techniques:

  • Using a rod (also known as a story stick) to determine dimensions of parts and angles for joinery

  • Notched stretcher-to-leg joinery incorporating a hidden mortise and tenon

  • Chamfering with a spokeshave and drawknife

  • Mortise and tenon joinery, including exposed tenons

  • Drawboring

  • Scribing tenon shoulders

  • Inlaid butterfly keys

  • Routing a thumbnail bead

  • Shaping legs to make lambs’ tongues

  • Optional: decorative gouging

  • Attaching a solid wood table top with traditional wooden buttons

Students will have the opportunity to use whichever wood species they prefer, though the thicknesses of various parts will be uniform when we dimension parts to final size. Students are required to purchase their wood for this project. Because this class is intended for non-beginners, I hope students will choose their own overall dimensions – for example, you may want a table to seat ten guests or one sized to fit in an eat-in kitchen. Different proportions mean different geometry for the hayrake stretcher system; this in turn means we’ll have opportunities to really understand how the joinery of the hayrake stretcher is affected by such changes. Another point of variation will be the decorative details (gouging on the legs is optional; the beaded edge for the table top and apron is optional; the butterfly keys are optional). 

The idea is that students will be able to get most of the table done in a week. However, I found the most time-consuming part to be the carving and gouging. It is easy to do and quite relaxing, but it does take time. Some people may wish to leave out the gouging, use a different pattern, or perhaps just carve a couple of chamfers on each leg instead of all four. Please note that it’s far easier to do the decorative gouging before you glue up the base, so if you want to get your table fully assembled by the end of the class, you may need to work during the evenings or reduce the amount of decorative gouging.

Alternatively, you may make the parts in the class, then finish up the carving and glue the base together at home. This table can be made from start to almost finish in pieces; the main thing that can’t be done until after glue-up is completing the chamfers on the stretcher parts. 

A note about transporting your table-
If you will be traveling by air or by car (not truck) and are concerned about how to get a dining table home, please know that you have two options:

1. You can make your table small enough to fit in a hatchback car, focusing on learning the joinery and other techniques in the class, then build a full-size dining table version in your home shop.

2. You can cut the joints, chamfer the legs, glue up the top, do the decorative gouging, etc. but wait to glue your table up at home. It can be flat-packed for shipping.


Students are required to purchase wood of their choice for the class. Here is the link to the cut-list. This is a non-kitted class. Please bring gouges if you anticipate carving your piece. Gouges and wood can be purchased locally at Edensaw Woods.

Students should have some experience with hand tools and joinery. We recommend skills equivalent to the Hand Tool Heaven week-long classes: Joinery courses or the Weekend Hand Tool Woodworking series.

Class Information and Registration

Class runs from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Saturday.
This class takes place in Building #315 at Fort Worden on July 8-13, 2019. Map
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the school.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $950
Materials Charge: $75 (subject to change, possibly higher)
Register by: June 8, 2019

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.