Make a Simple One-Leaf Table to Save Space: Finding a little extra desk space in the hallway or living room, just when you need it, isn’t easy. A classic solution is the drop-leaf table, a 16th-century design still useful today because it’s so efficient. Lift the leaf when you want more surface area. Skip it when you want a slimmer, cleaner look.
There are several variations on these tables—and we chose the simplest, which has a leaf and a fifth leg that extends out to support it. It’s perfect for a foyer and can be built with basic tools and a small table in a home workshop.
Perhaps the most difficult step is cutting the legs. We made it easy by designing a sled that safely moves the leg at an angle to the table saw blade. Additionally, the base legs and apron attach with simple dowel joints and attach easily to the top, with screw-on fasteners. The result is a sophisticated design that you don’t need sophisticated skills to execute.
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Make the legs and apron
Rip out the leg openings and aprons. Then cut a groove for the table top fasteners in each of the four apron legs. Make the sled base, stop block, and positioning strip. Lightly clamp the empty leg to the sled base, and adjust the leg so it overhangs the edge of the sled.
1⁄4 inch. Pivot the leg so that the overhang edge cuts 6 to 7 inches from the top of the leg. Fasten the leg firmly to the sled and attach the stop and positioning strap. Attach a strip of double-sided tape to the sled base. Set the saw fence to the width of the sled, place the leg on the sled and guide it past the blade .
Rotate the blank clockwise and tear the adjacent side. To rip the remaining two sides, place a 1⁄4-in.-thick spacer between the positioning strip and the blank . Use a plane or sander to remove saw marks.
Join the apron and legs.
Use the dowel jig to drill holes in the aprons . Wrap a piece of masking tape around the bit to act as a depth stop. Spread some glue on the dowels and into the dowel holes, then glue the two sub-assemblies together – the two legs and a small apron. After the glue has cured on them, join the sub-assemblies in the long aprons . Shape the knuckle on the fixed gate leg apron, and use a dowel jig to drill the hole through the nose.
Now cut a nose on the pivoting gate leg apron, test it on the fixed nickel, then use the pivot hole in the fixed side to guide the drill bit into the pivoting side. Tie a fixed apron to the base of the table; Attach the pivot apron to the dowel.
Make the top
Rip and cross-cut the board for the top and drop leaf. Smooth and straighten the edge of each board; Then glue and clamp the two separate panels. Cut the top to the finished size. Next, use a router and matching pair of router bits to cut the joint edge of the rule on the top and drop leaf panels. Place each hinge on top, and use a knife to mark its circumference. Cut a shallow bevel notch around the frame, then remove the hinge by prying as shown .
Pull the hinge upwards and position the adjacent drop leaf. Mark the corresponding hinge positions and cut the hinge mortises. Join the top and drop leaf; Then use a large trowel to mark the curved edge. Separate the top and leaves and cut out the curve using a jigsaw . Carefully plane and sand to shape the frame of the leaf.
Tie the top.
Place the base on the inverted top and mark the hinge knuckle location on the gate leg and axle apron . Cut a notch in these parts to clear the nose of the hinge when they swing closed. After cutting the mark, place the top so that it evenly covers the base. Insert the tabletop fasteners into the apron grooves, and mark the hole locations on the top . Remove the base, and drill pilot holes at each mark. Sand the top finish and apply finish to both sides of the top. Finishing both sides ensures equal moisture absorption and helps the top stay flat.
Finish the front and back surfaces of the legs and apron. Place the top on a padded surface, invert the base on it, and attach the base to the top by driving screws through each tabletop fastener and into the pilot hole.