After knocking my knee on the leg of our kitchen table and spilling the gravy for the
umpteenth time, I realized it was time I made a pedestal table for our kitchen. We wanted
a table in white oak—one that felt really solid, with seating for four or five.
The pedestal handsomely resolved the knee-banging problem. It’s made from four
curved legs joined together at the center. Each leg is glued up from thin strips of oak,
using a form to get the curve. I made the top out of thick boards with a wide bevel on the
underside so it doesn’t look thick and massive.
The finished table has a light appearance that belies its strength
and solidity. Here’s how to build one yourself.
Laminate the legs
First, make a curved form for gluing up the laminations.
Glue and screw together two pieces of plywood to form a
1-1/2 by 16 by 28 in. blank. Enlarge the pattern shown in
Fig. B, trace it onto the blank, and bandsaw to shape.
(Watch out for the screws!) Smooth the curved side, then
attach the foot.
Choose 2-in. thick rough lumber for the leg strips. Draw
reference lines across the wood. After you’ve cut the strips
you can assemble them in their original order and the grain
will look continuous. Rip the 3/16-in.-thick strips, 11 for
each leg. I used a thin-kerf, 50-tooth combination blade,
which kept waste to a minimum and produced smooth
enough surfaces for gluing. Not all woods bend as easily as
oak, so if you choose another wood, try some practice
strips—they may need to be thinner.
I recommend a urea resin glue, Unibond 800, to bond
the strips that make up the legs (available from Vacuum
Pressing Systems, 207-725-0935). It sets slowly, cures hard,
leaves no dark glue line and doesn’t creep over time. For
speed, apply the glue to the strips with a 3-in. paint roller,
working on a sheet of plastic to protect your bench. Stack
the strips in order, and cover them with plastic film wrap so
they don’t stick to the form. Bend the strips over the form
(Photo 1), and clamp. Let the glue dry overnight. Laminate
all four legs before moving on.
Assemble the pedestal
First, surface the legs to a uniform 1-3/4 in. thickness
(Photo 2). Next, cut two opposing 45-degree bevels on
each leg where they will be joined. The easiest way to do
this is to take your bending form and attach two strips so you can use it as a sliding table on
your tablesaw (Photo 3). Bandsaw the
foot shape on each leg. Then rout a
1/2-in. roundover on the edges of the
leg, stopping 1 in. from the bevels.
Later you’ll finish these roundovers
with a file.
Test-fit the four legs to make sure
they fit together tightly. Mark each
pair so you can glue them up in the
same order, and mark each pair of legs
for their biscuit slots. Cut two No. 20
biscuit slots on each bevel (Photo 4).
Join the legs in pairs (Photo 5). If
the inner face that results on each pair
is not flat, plane it flat before you
glue the two pairs together (Photo 6).
Make sure you do a dry run of this
final glue-up on a large flat surface.
The inner faces of the legs must meet
well and all four feet must be flat on
the bench (Photo 7). After glue-up,
let the pedestal stabilize for a couple
days, during which time you can
complete the edge roundovers where
the legs are jointed together. Scribe
the tops of the legs for a good fit to
the top (Photo 7).
Glue-up the top
I wanted a quartersawn look for the
top, but thick quartersawn oak is very
difficult to find. I cut thinner, flatsawn
boards to 2-in. strips, flipped
them 90 degrees and glued them
together to make the quartersawn top.
Make the 2-in. strips from both 4/4
and 5/4 flatsawn boards. The two
thicknesses will make the top more
attractive. Glue strips into slabs that
will fit through your planer. Plane the
slabs smooth and glue them together
to form the top. TIP: Mark the quartersawn
face of each strip with an
arrow to indicate the “downhill”
direction of the grain. When you’re
gluing the slabs together, make sure
the arrows all point the same way.
This will permit you to run the gluedup
slabs through your planer with
minimum grain tear-out.
Rout the rough top to a circle, as
shown in Photo 8, working from the
underside. I used a commercial trammel
to hold the router, but you could
make your own, as shown in Fig. C.
Because you’re working on the underside,
you can screw the center of the
trammel directly to the top.
Bevel the top
This design has an 8-in.-wide bevel that stops short of the
ends of the legs. If you change the diameter of the top, be
sure to change the width of the bevel to compensate.
To rout the bevel, tilt the base of the router on the
trammel (Fig. C). Because the bevel rises 3/4-in. over 8 in.
of width, adjust the router base so it does the same. Begin
routing at the edge, making several passes until the edge is
1-in. thick. Use a wide, straight bit or a mortising bit, that
leaves a smooth cut. I used a 1-in.-dia. bit. After the first
cut, reset the trammel to a slightly smaller diameter and
rout until you meet the first cut. Proceed until the entire
bevel is cut.
Turn the top over and release the waste by making the
final circular cut with your router and a flush trim bit.
Clean up the top with a belt sander and round the top
and bottom edges with a 1/2-in. roundover bit. Turn the
top upside down and position the legs, then drill for the
screws that connect them.
Finish-sand the entire table. I applied a brush-on lacquer,
so I only needed to go to 120 grit on this coarse-grained
wood. If you apply another finish or use another wood,
you may need to do more sanding. Finish the top and
base separately, then screw them together. You may want
to add leveling feet to the pedestal if it came out a bit
twisted or if your floor isn’t flat.
Click any image to view a larger version.
1. Laminate the legs on a curved form. Line up the strips
at the foot of the form, clamp them, and proceed up
the form, clamping every 4 to 6 in. A handscrew
clamped loosely across the form keeps the strips from
2. Surface the legs with a router in a straddling jig, using
a wide, straight bit. Hot-melt glue the legs to a flat surface
to hold them.
3. Cut 45-degree bevels on each leg where they will
come together. The bending jig can be converted to a
handy sliding tablesaw jig by attaching a pair of strips
to fit the miter gauge slots.
4. Cut biscuit slots on the beveled faces of each leg.
You’ll need to clamp the leg with one bevel flat on
the bench, and raise your biscuit joiner with a piece
of 1/2-in. scrap to position the slots.
5. Join the legs in pairs using glue and biscuits. The
inner face of each pair should be planed flat after
the glue has dried.
6. Assemble the pedestal by gluing the two leg pairs
together on a flat surface. All four feet must rest solidly
on the surface. A dry run is helpful.
7. Trim the leg tops by flipping the assembled pedestal
upside down, with a piece of plywood on the feet.
Shim the legs so the plywood is parallel to the
bench, then scribe and trim.
8. Cut the circular top using a router and a trammel. Do
all but the final 1/8 in. of the cut, so the waste is still
attached. This allows you to keep the top fastened
down for routing the bevel.
9. Cut the bevel on the underside by tipping the base of
the router (washers act as shims on this commercial
trammel). Using a wide straight bit, rout concentric
circles, each shallower than the last.