Our one commission that had to be done before Christmas this year has been a slightly unusual oak table which extends to create two more place settings.
Typically, the extending section fits into a space created by pulling two halves of the tabletop apart. However these customers wanted the extension to attach to one end. This would mean that when the table is not extended, which is 99% of the time, the tabletop is one harmonious surface with no seam across the middle.
The way a standard extending table is made means that the small extension piece is supported by the structure of the table's frame when it's in use. It also means the extension can be located with little dowels or something similar, and the table's surfaces are always on an even plane. We didn't have either of these luxuries (and they started to feel like luxuries as we tackled the design challenges), so we had to create a shallow drawer into which the extending part fitted, and which supports it when it is in use.
After the extension is removed from it, the drawer is slid back in to a point where the extension can be dropped into locating cutouts in its top edges. Small clips pull the two surfaces together tightly, and finally two wedges are rotated underneath, between the tabletop and the drawer, to stiffen the structure up. The judicious application of a little candle wax and the drawer runs easily, and the solution works.
A couple of hand-cut dovetails and a pleasing cut out for a handle finish the appearance of the drawer part off nicely. Delivery tomorrow - I hope the customer is pleased.