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Tourney Table Two

posted Jul 14, 2017, 6:58 AM by Freydis Egilsdottir
Oh my gods, this table. This table is cursed.

Okay, so back in the day, we had a tourney table, as one does, because being able to sit around a table and not eat off the ground is awesome, and it makes managing game boards easier. It's a table; you guys all know why one would have a table.

But when we moved up to the Interior of BC, like just about everything else, the much dryer air made the joints pop apart and since we weren't playing with the SCA anymore we didn't bother fixing it, so of course now we need a new tourney table, along with a new everything else.

Last year (A.S. LI) we got two awesome, wide pine boards from a local guy with a saw mill, and laminated them together (a task made much easier by our biscuit-cutter); but didn't have time for anything else beyond slapping a quick coat of finish onto it before we loaded it into the trailer for War Camp, still drying. And of course over the winter the sides kind of curved up a bit, because of the width compared to the thickness (it's only about an inch thick, but the boards are around 17" or so wide), so this year we wanted to finish off the rest of the table, and not just have this flat surface we had to stick on top of picnic tables or saw horses to use.

It should have been so simple. So simple, you guys.

We wanted to flatten it out again (accomplished by the simple expedient of leaving it lying flat on the floor of the garage for a month or so), and then laminate narrower boards around all four edges, to make it a bit larger; visually frame the nice wide boards in (they are two consecutive slices off the same beetle-kill tree, which had a nice blue stain from the beetle kill up one side, so we glued those blue sides together and now have a nice blue V running up the middle); and to help stabilize the grain against movement from temperature and moisture. Then we wanted to add wood along the edges, to make it look thicker and give it more visual weight without impacting the actual weight much (as a tourney table, it needs to be something that can be moved easily by one or two people).

And for the legs, we wanted to do another trestle style table, but more stable than last time. The last one had carved legs attached permanently to the underside of the top with hinges, that folded down, with a horizontal board near the bottom to keep them apart (which made a good foot rest, which sadly the current version does not have), and a great big X that was wedged into place in the gap between the underside of the top and that board, and the legs, which gave it lateral stability. But because it was held in place with just a wedge relying on friction, sometimes it would get kicked out of place, or fall out if the table was lifted and carried, and then it'd get wobbly. Plus, having the legs attached to the table made it heavier, and, not shovelling grain for eight hours a day anymore, I am not nearly as strong as I was. Plus, it's nice if the kids can help haul and set up stuff!

So we were looking at designs online, when Mikhail had a great idea: The legs of a trestle table often basically form an X. Why not take the tops of our old tent poles, with the carved ravens, and use them?

Long story short, that's what we did, and it looks great, and is super stable and can be lifted and carried in and out of the tent as a single unit with no issues (as the legs bolt to the underside of the top, which has screw-in anchors inserted into it), and nothing can accidentally be kicked out of place, and I think even more people can fit around it, and because the stretcher down the middle is now solid, we can hide the beer kegs behind it and you can't see them (although better camouflage for them is on the extremely lengthy To Do list).


Doesn't it look nice in the sun?

You can just make out the blue pine beetle stain down the middle on the right; it's more obvious in person.

Side view showing the old knotwork on the stringer. It's all been glued into one big piece; but the wood is so old and dry it's surprisingly light.

The two tenons give it more stability. Those freshly-cut ends (and the ones on the sides of the feet) we did contemplate keeping as is, as they sort of tie the top and the legs together; but we're going to sand off the finish and age them to match the rest of the beams instead.

You can just make out the two hex bolts going into the underside of the top of the legs on this end, right by the ravens' noses. You can also see how thin the top actually is, here.

And here it is in situ, in our tent, at War Camp, A.S. LII! You can just see the beer kegs and CO2 tank tucked in underneath on the left; the taps are under the fox fur on the table.

Long Version: Holy cow; this table top is cursed. Oh, man, you guys.

So, okay, we had three weeks and three weekends between Mikhail coming back home after being away for work for a while, and when we wanted to leave for War Camp, since we wanted to head out near the beginning of the preceding week, on Tuesday. So, sure, finish off the table, make five more tourney chests, and make a new tourney bed. We already had a bunch of the wood, we knew what we wanted to do, whatever. Should be lots of time, right?

This freaking table ate up two and a half weeks of those three weeks. Two weeks and two weekends were just trying to edge in those middle two boards!!

See, in order to laminate two edges together, you have to have perfectly-mated edges. A gap of even two millimetres is going to crack. So, we needed to cut perfectly straight edges, with no more than like half a millimetre deviation over the length of the edge (because of course, any deviation would effectively be doubled when applied to both edges). But, not a big deal. We set up the fence on the table saw, ran the pieces through--not straight. Hell. Fine; we ran them through the edge planer; that's precisely what it is for: bringing edges to perfectly true.

Not straight. Aargh.

FINE. Set up a straight edge along it and use it as a guide for the skill saw.

Not straight.

Aarghaarghaargh. FINE. Hand-plane it. Shouldn't take much to correct that tiny deviation, right?

Not straight; and now, not ninety-degrees either.


In the end, we had to set up the straight edge along one edge, trim it with the skill saw, and then, keeping the straight edge in place and using it as a guide, butt the other edge up against it and run the saw along it again a few times until they matched perfectly, even if there was a tiny deviation in there somewhere. Had to clamp it down hard; if a clamp slipped, or we hadn't trimmed a piece quite enough, we had to start all over again.

Ask me how I know. ><

Plus, damned near every power tool that went near it died! The biscuit cutter died just after we got the last board framed onto the top, so we couldn't use it on the vertical boards along the edges (where, at least, it wasn't so desperately needed). Couldn't fix it either, alas; something modular died. The orbital sander mysteriously died as well, although happily I was able to get into it and get it going again (I suspect a brush somehow got knocked out of alignment on the electric motor--but how that happened while just sanding and not by dropping it or something, I have no idea). Even the belt sander somehow sucked its own tail up, which is not something we have managed to do in our previous twenty+ years of woodworking. Luckily Mikhail was able to yank it out again and the damage to the cord was minimal.

The thing was cursed!!

Luckily the legs went a lot smoother, and look great, if I do say so myself. It is really cool to have that piece of history, the ravens that watched over us as we took the Warlord of the West hostage that one An Tir West War; who oversaw our ridiculously huge Clinton War encampment, and the negotiations for the Dog Meat War; who witnessed our marriage on the half-scale replica of the Gokstad ship we helped the Burnaby Scandinavian Centre build, preserved and still being used in the current iteration of our encampment. Plus, as Mikhail says, it's very period for the Norse to reuse and repurpose items, heh.

It's basically done now, thanks to the fifteen+ -hour day week-long push leading up to War Camp ("Maybe we can still finish it all in time to leave Tuesday morning? Tuesday afternoon? Wednesday? Okay, Thursday morning, right? Thursday afternoon? Okay, dammit, the event is starting in like an hour; can we leave now?!"); but ideally we'll sand down the freshly-cut ends on the feet that were not hit up with the wood-aging formula (ironed vinegar and tea; see post here under Projects for the recipe), age those bits and the pegs too, and then give them a coat of finish. And give the top a light buff and several more coats of finish as well; we had to take a scraper to parts of it after The Great War Camp Tablero Fencing Championship Tourney Prequel, wherein we learned that a cloth game board with lines drawn on in marker + rum + a table finished in a 3/3/3 mix of boiled linseed oil, mineral spirits, and spar varnish = felt lines on the table top. Aargh.

Cursed, I tells ya.

Hey, we gave the players a copy of the rules to Tablero de Gucci the evening before for them to go over, and we told them it was usually played with beer or the equivalent. Not our fault they grabbed bottles of rum for a drinking game instead!

Ziacomo from our local group, Ravensdale, almost winning the tourney due to the top two fighters being slightly incapacitated was a complete coincidence, we assure you. Heh.