Hinges and Decorative Touches
The outer edge of the closed table has a 5/16″-radius stepped bead profile that I cut on the router table. To achieve that, each of the leaves gets milled along the base leg (the long edge) of the triangle. Before plowing the grooves and adding the inlay, you need to take some time to mill the hinge mortises. Fitting the hinges and leaves at this stage makes it possible to refine the fit of the leaves, trimming a little from the edges if needed, without damaging the inlay.
Mark out the hinge locations 3″ in from the corners. Set the leaf 1/16″ off of the top frame and screw the hinge in place, but upside down. Now, carefully trace the mortise location with a sharp knife, then remove the hinge and, using those marks, clean out the mortise with a router or chisels as you prefer. Note that it is a stepped mortise, and a small clearance section is needed for the connecting bar of the hinge.
Mortise all eight hinges in the leaves and frame, and then temporarily mount the hinges to the table. Fold the leaves in and ensure they meet in the center without binding. As you will notice, there is just a bit of play in these hinges. Check the fit and, if needed, this is the time to shave a little off an edge for a proper fit.
Once the hinges are fitted properly and the leaves adjusted, remove the hinges and begin milling the leaves to accept the inlay. A 3/8″-wide rabbet is milled around the edges of the top of the leaves to receive the cross-grained inlay strip.
Along the outer edge of the leaf, the rabbet starts at the edge of the roundover milled in earlier, but on the other two sides the rabbets are right out a the edges. The depth of the rabbet should be the same as the thickness of the inlay, or just a hair less so that you can sand it flush.
Carefully cut the inlay strip to meet at the corners. A nice trick to help cut the corners easily is to use the leaf template: first as a setup piece for the rabbets (testing the cuts), then as a cutting guide for the strips.
After you have properly fit the inlay strips, glue the trimmed inlay strips in place, being careful about the alignment of the corners. I used blue painter’s masking tape as “clamps” in this process.
Another detail to attend to is the brass pull. With the top folded, one of the leaves needs a pull for opening the table up. Many antique examples have some type of spring-loaded mechanism, but others have a visible pull. I couldn’t find any detail regarding how the spring mechanism worked, so I opted for a single brass pull. The pull requires drilling a shallow 1-1⁄4″ counterbore and a 1″ diameter hole 5/8″ deep for the body. This is located near the tip of the triangle, so don’t force the fit. Widen the hole if needed to avoid breaking the tip. (Please don’t ask how I know this!)
Drawer & Runners
No game table would be complete without a drawer for storing cards and chips. The drawer front, which you set aside earlier, can now be cut to final size. Measure the finished opening and allow space on all sides for a reveal. I chose to dovetail the front to the drawer sides. The front and sides are grooved to accept a bottom, and the back fixed between the sides using simple groove and tongue joint. Poplar was my secondary wood for the drawers, but whatever is on hand in your shop will be fine.
Runners that guide the drawer should be rabbeted to fit closely between the apron sides and the drawer, about 3/8″, depending on how much gap your drawer has. Drill and screw the runners to the apron sides. Maple or another close-grained hardwood is a good choice. Wax them well after finishing to ensure smooth drawer operation. Stop blocks (in this case made from mahogany scrap) are added to the underside of the sub-top as drawer stops.