The Pembroke table is thought to have originated in the mid – 18th Century, when Lady Pembroke commissioned the great Georgian cabinetmaker and master carver Thomas Chippendale to fashion a small casual table for her. The example featured in this chapter, however, has more in common with the neoclassical designs of Sheraton and American Federal furniture, which flourished in the following century. Its graceful blend of straight lines and gentle curves contrasts sharply with the intricate and ornate rococo designs of Chippendale.
The earliest versions of this piece were built at a time when space was at a premium in most homes and furniture had to occupy as little room as possible. The Pembroke table meets this challenge in a couple of ingenious ways. First, the table’s top is flanked by two leaves that can be raised up when the entire table surface is needed and then lowered when it is not, allowing the table to be stored compactly in a corner or hallway. The leaves are attached to the top with a hinged joint known as a rule joint. As shown beginning on page 43, matching cove and round-over bits are used
in a table-mounted router to shape the edges of the top and leaves. Rule-joint hinges are then recessed into the undersides of the panels to complete the connection. The leaves are supported in their extended position by fly rails attached to the side rails with knuckle joints (page 32).
Another of the table’s functional features is the drawer that slides under the top. Perfect for storing utensils and linens, the drawer is made with through dovetails. The end grain of the sides is concealed by a false front, which is curved to match the curved rail at the table’s other end.
In keeping with the table’s straight and elegant lines, the legs are simply tapered on four sides (page 26). Narrow strips of banding near the legs’ bottom ends (page 27) add a decorative touch.
The joinery used to assemble the table is sturdy and relatively simple. The rails are fixed to the legs with blind mor – tise-and-tenons (page 33), reinforced by wooden corner blocks. The drawer rails attach to the legs with two different joints: dovetailed half-laps at the top and twin mortise-and – tenon joints on the bottom.
Made from mahogany with contrasting walnut and maple inlay around the legs, the Pembroke table shown at left is an elegant piece of furniture with several useful features, including drop leaves on the sides and a drawer at one end.