Card games have long been a source of social entertaining, and the current popularity of poker continues that trend. There are many plans available for poker tables, but a dedicated poker table might not fit your home’s space or design. That is why I wanted to build this Edwardian Envelope Table.
When not hosting a card game, it is an elegant side table of modest size, just 22″ square. But turn the top 45 degrees, open up the leaves, and it becomes a 31″ square game table complete with felt playing field and pockets for the chips.
As you may have guessed, creating a table that will go through this transition involves a bit more work than a traditional table. There is the fairly standard apron, but it houses a captured “sub-top” that provides the structure and strength to support the spinnable tabletop as well as its folding leaves. When they’re closed, the table’s leaves resemble an old-style folded envelope, giving the table both its name and its unique look.
Mahogany is the traditional material of choice for this project. Look for rich color and consistent grain. The material that is used for the folding leaves should be selected carefully to match when folded closed. The hidden elements such as drawer sides and runners can be made of whatever secondary wood you have available.
The inlay strips that surround the table leaves should be 3/8″ wide for proper proportion, and the stringing should be 1/8″ wide or less. It is important to have the stringing (and the leaf inlay) on hand prior to milling their respective grooves to be certain of a tight fit. They can be bought pre-made, but are not that hard to make for yourself.
Before You Get Started
Before you get started on putting the table together, you’ll need these sometimes difficult to find parts for the finished product.
Making the Legs
To begin prepping the legs, select straight grained stock and, after preparing it on the jointer and planer, mill them to 1-1⁄4″ square. Arrange the pieces to present their best faces outward, and mark them. This will help ensure that the faces get mortised in the proper locations.
Cut the mortises according to the plan — none for the top stretcher across the front, which will be secured using a dovetail.
As you can see in the Drawings, there is a small molding detail just below the apron. To locate and mount the molding, a shallow dado is milled around the leg to receive it. My dado blade and miter gauge made short work of this task.
The first step in forming the spade foot shape at the bottom of the leg is done by a point-cutting roundover bit. Following that, I stepped to the table saw and used a tapering jig to complete the spade foot form.
Now you are ready to make the longer tapers on all four sides of the legs. Mark them from just below the molding dado to the top of the foot, and carefully cut them on the band saw. Then sand or scrape them smooth.
With the legs properly shaped, you can add the stringing. The outside two faces of each leg get these string details. I used a hand beader, but a scratch stock or trim router with an edge guide would be equally effective to make the shallow grooves along the length of the tapered leg section and at the square top segment of the leg.
The cross grooves are easy to cut with a sharp chisel.
Obviously, these grooves must be carefully cut to the width and thickness of the stringing to look good. While this process does take time, it really lifts this project to the next level.
When you are done with this task, sand the legs and the stringing up through the grits. Set the legs aside for now and move on to the aprons and stretchers.