Trestle table

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For other uses, see Trestle (disambiguation).
Long table and bench in the Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum

A trestle table is an item of furniture comprising two or three trestle supports linked by a longitudinal cross-member over which a board or tabletop is placed.[1] In the Middle Ages the trestle table was often little more than loose boards over trestle legs for ease of assembly and storage.[2] This simple, collapsible style remained the most common Western form of table until the 16th century, when the basic trestle design gave way to stronger frame-based structures such as gateleg and refectory tables.[3] Ease of assembly and storage has made it the ideal occasional table, and it remains a popular form of dining table, as those seated are not so inconvenienced as they might be with the more usual arrangement of a fixed leg at each corner.

Construction and uses[edit]

Trestle tables figure prominently in the traditional Americana style of household furnishings, usually accompanied by spindle-backed chairs.[4] The trestles in this case are normally of much higher quality, often made of oak and braced with a stretcher beam using a keyed tenon through the centre of each trestle. These typically support a high-quality waxed oak tabletop.[5]


Trestles in the medieval De Stratford coat of arms[6]

The trestle (also tressle, tressel and threstle) is (rarely) used as a charge in heraldry, and symbolically associated with hospitality (as historically the trestle was a tripod used both as a stool and to support tables at banquets).[7]


The decorator's trestle table is acknowledged as the basis of the pseudonym adopted by Robert Tressell, a decorator-turned-author, for his novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, published in 1910.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Webster's Third New International Dictionary
  2. ^ Blackburn, G. (n.d.). A Short History of Tables. Retrieved from Fine
  3. ^ Gordon Campbell, The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts Vol 2, Oxford University Press US (2006) p411
  4. ^ Examples of modern trestle table and chairs
  5. ^ Americana-style treshfgfgtle table
  6. ^ Guillim, John. "A Display of Heraldry" 1724
  7. ^ Guillim, John. "A Display of Heraldry" 1724

External links[edit]