Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Hayrake Table

 

The Hayrake Table


 

About

The hayrake table we will build in this class is based on original 1908 drawings by English architect Ernest Gimson, one of the most highly respected designers of English Arts and Crafts furniture. The table’s distinctive feature is a stretcher based on the design of traditional wooden hayrakes used in the Middle Ages; this, along with other details such as pegged tenons, expresses some of the Arts and Crafts movement’s central virtues as elaborated by John Ruskin in The Stones of Venice.

This hayrake table differs from the more widely known version by Sidney Barnsley in that the faces of the legs are not parallel to the ends of the stretchers. As a result, the joinery for this table’s base is quite different from that of the Barnsley hayrake, and a fun challenge to lay out and cut. The cutting list is based on the table I built for my 2018 book, English Arts & Crafts Furniture (published by Popular Woodworking Books), the top of which is 36” x 64”, but I encourage students to think about building a table with smaller or larger dimensions that may be better suited to their own homes.* As part of the class, I will go through how to make a scale drawing with full-size details to guide the joinery; having more than one set of dimensions and proportions will enhance this part of the class, as students will really grasp the principles at work instead of just following each other’s lead in terms of tool and machine set up.

Another point of potential variation is in the decoration of the legs. The class will include instruction in carving a traditional lamb’s tongue (and you will get plenty of practice in carving lamb’s tongues; the table has—sit down—48 of them!), but the decoration of the long-chamfered sections is up to you. I will demonstrate how to lay out and carve the decorative gouging I used on my table, but you may decide to leave your chamfers unadorned or to use some other style of carving or inlay.

I expect this to be a fun and challenging class and am looking forward to students using a variety of lumber species. Most students will be able to glue up their table top, cut it to size, and inlay butterfly keys (if desired) in addition to routing the thumbnail detail on the edges, but I anticipate that most will want to leave their top unattached to the base until they get home, for ease of transportation. Depending on how elaborately students choose to decorate their legs, they may need to finish up the decorative gouging (or inlay work) at home and glue their table up independently. Take it from me: As long as you have watched the process in the class (I will be demonstrating!) and have the necessary clamps (an affordable option being pipe from a plumbing supply store with pipe clamp ends), the glue up will be one of the easiest parts of this project.

*The only caveat: You will need to adjust your lumber order accordingly. I calculate my lumber orders by taking the net board footage and multiplying by 1.5, as I have found this to be a reliable allowance for waste due to the vagaries of roughsawn lumber.

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. 

Prerequisites

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.