Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

FE: Build a Slab Coffee Table

Showcase the beauty of a wood slab on a trestle style coffee table. 5 day furniture making class with Abel Dances.  


Build a Slab Coffee Table

Furniture Essentials Series

Abel Dances



Showcase the natural beauty of a live edge wood slab mounted on a sturdy but elegant trestle base.  

We'll offer you a series of slabs to choose when you arrive at the class or you can bring your own slab. We're aiming to create tables up to 72" long and about 24" wide. The slabs we offer will be from trees grown in the region.

The table bases will all use the same trestle design.  The trestle form is versatile, traditional and robust. 

You'll use hand joinery techniques to create a knockdown base that is easy to transport. The base can be glued and pinned at home after the course.

We'll encourage you to explore subtle details, that are easy to do with hand tools to create a distinctive trestle.

This class is designed to introduce the new hand tool woodworker to basic furniture making techniques.

Class Description

During the class you will:

  • Identify the optimal shape of the top from a slab
  • Scale and proportion the trestle to match the shape of the slab.
  • Learn how to keep or strip bark from the edge of the slab.
  • Designing the trestle using bridle joints and mortice and tenon joinery. 
  • Shaping, and truing the top and bottom surfaces of the slab using hand planes and scrapers. 
  • Select the trestle stock, trim to length and lay out the joinery.
  • Complete the joinery and fit all the joints using hand tools. 
  • Explore how traditional forms of detailing to lighten and refine the form of the trestle.
  • Explore traditional finishing techniques and start the finishing of the top. You'll need to complete the finishing at home.



If you have started to build your own set of hand tools we encourage you to bring them along to the class so that you can deepen your experience with them and work with the instructors to tune and fully understand them. Please see our What to Expect page if you plan to ship your tools to the school.

Otherwise you are welcome to use the high quality hand tools at our fully equipped workbenches.


We're working with local lumber supplies to source the slabs for the coffee table. We expect the slabs to come from trees that grew on the Olympic Peninsula. We will not know which species will be available until a few weeks before the class starts. Similarly, we'll not know the prices until the same time. We'll be milling the trestle stock out of either western maple or alder - when making a live edge table we encourage you to use a "quiet grained" wood to let the beauty of the top shine out.  

We are asking for a materials deposit at the time of registration but will finalize prices about a month before the class. Expect the total price of materials to be about $300.


This course is designed for woodworkers who have handtool experience. The course is  ideal for graduates of our Handtool Heaven course or graduates of our Basics of Woodworking weekend series. If you have not attended the School but you have the skills equivalent to those in Jim Tolpin's The New Traditional Woodworker then this course is an ideal next step for you

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $ 725
Materials Deposit: $ 50
Register By: July 27, 2015

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.