American Gothic

I had the privilege to pursue my graduate studies at what I truly believe to be one of the greatest universities in the world, which means I spent the better part of three years steeping in Gothic architecture and furniture. Duke has a lot of great spots on campus which means…

I regularly studied here


And went to church here


No wait, this was the church

Duke University Chapel in Durham North Carolina

And I spent a lot of time at these massive trestle tables in this slightly less Gothic space; the refectory at the Divinity School.


There’s a mish-mash of things going on in this last photo that you’ll have to ignore. The chairs are, well… abominations. The rest of the decor is confused. Oh, but those tables! Those tables taught me that you don’t have to be 48″ away from someone to eat with them. They’re not perfect, but they hold within them some form I have not been able to forget, and when my wife asked me a few months ago if I thought I’d be up for building a new dining room set for our house, my first instinct was to think trestle.

My next instinct was to think Schwarz. I went back and read over the tale of three tables from ‘The Anarchist’s Tool Chest’ again and I began searching for inspiration in hundreds of images of trestle tables.

I’ve always like this style found in the Great Hall of St. Johns College, Sydney University (which is better than the Great Hall at Duke, sorry).


I’ve really gravitated to this one by Doucette and Wolfe Fine Furniture makers


Honestly, I’ve been kind of split between Medieval and Shaker styles over the past few months but I keep coming back to this design.


There’s a great testimony to the same table (and it’s prototype) here.

And what finally sold me (and my wife) on the idea was this version of the table that I stumbled across on Reddit.


I confess I only have a very cursory understanding of the use and etiquette of Reddit and so I have no idea how to credit Mr. “FuriousE” but you can read about his build here.

A few days ago I decided that I’ve been batting around design ideas long enough and I needed to make some sawdust and shavings. I’ll be building something close to this design with the painted trestle and I’ve been hash-tagging it #americangothictrestletable on Instagram if you want to follow along, but you can expect plenty of updates here over the next few months.

Can you tell that I’m nearly done with editing for the moment?






One Comment Add yours

  1. Greg Flora says:

    For the last year, I’ve had some 12″ x 10′ 5/4 cherry boards stacked in my backroom for just such a table. A trestle table with a painted SYP base and a cherry top. Once again, I’ll be following your build closely, Jim – we seem to be on the same wavelength frequently.


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