Trestle table


A trestle table is a table consisting of two or three trestle supports, often linked by a stretcher (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.

English trestle table, 16th century. Trestles are joined at the stretcher and tabletop.
Table with two free-standing four-legged trestles. Château de Beynac, France.
American trestle table, 18th century
Trestle tables with free-standing trestles in the c.1955 microbiology lab of Joseph Lister.

Construction and usesEdit

Trestle tables figure prominently in the traditional American 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] Trestle tables are also used in the event furniture industry, they are the main table used at weddings and other types of venues today.[6]


Trestles in the medieval House of Stratford coat of arms[7]

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]

See alsoEdit


  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 trestle table
  6. ^ "Trestle Table History". Strictly Tables and Chairs. Retrieved 2016-06-02.
  7. ^ a b Guillim, John. "A Display of Heraldry" 1724

External linksEdit

  • Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
  • National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • Historical reference at Bartleby/Columbia Encyclopedia
  • Photos of a trestle table broken down into individual components at RL Goins