An Expanding Wooden Table

A few years ago, the world of fine woodworking was presented with the Fletcher Capstan table. It’s a round table, able to expand its diameter merely by rotating the top. A gloriously engineered bit of mechanics move the leaves of the tables out while simultaneously raising the inner part of the table. It’s a seriously cool table, very expensive, and something that will probably be found in museums 100 years from now.

[Scott Rumschlag] thought his woodworking skills were up to the task of creating one of these expanding tables and managed to build one in his workshop. Like the Fletcher Capstan table, it’s a table that increases its diameter simply by rotating the table top. Unlike the commercial offering, this one doesn’t cost as much as a car, and you can actually see the internal mechanism inside this table.

The top of [Scott]’s table is made of three pieces. The quarter-circle pieces are the only thing showing when the table is in its minimum position, and are arranged on the top of the ‘leaf stack’. When the table expands, four additional leaves move up from beneath with the help of a linear bearing made of wood and a roller that slides along the base of this mechanical contraption.

The center of the table – the star – is a bit more difficult to design. While the leaves move up the stack of table tops with the help of a ramp, this is an impractical solution for something so close to the center of the table. Instead of a ramp, [Scott] is using a lifting lever and metal hinge that brings the star of the table up to the right level. Even though it’s a crazy amount of woodworking and fine tuning to get everything right, it’s not too terribly difficult to get your head around.

Videos, including one of the assembly of the table, below.

28 thoughts on “An Expanding Wooden Table

        1. Given that it migt only be a prototype to test out the mechanism then it would make sense to build it with cheap wood.

          Proper wood and veneers can be added later once the mechanics have been proved out.

  1. This is very cool. I noticed in the original design the expanded table still looks round.

    This is obviously an illusion and the small and large tables are probably both not round.

    The small table peices have an arc slightly too large and the large table has an arc slighly too small. But…what arc does each need to be to create the illusion?

      1. It doesn’t really fit, there have to be small gaps between the outer ring and the inner non circular table because the ring rotates. If they had used some other type of lift system which simply goes vertical they could have had a closer fit, but to do that really smoothly you’d probably need something pneumatic and that wouldn’t have gelled with the 100 year lifetime they wanted.

          1. Hello my name is Steve. . My wife Had asked me to make her a table and I said I could make whatever you want. She showed me the capstone table and now I I am searching high and low for a set of prints to get to make this table for her. Do you know where I can get it a set of prints for this or the cad design? Thank you for your help.

    1. the commercial capstan table has a rim which is on the OUTSIDE of the collapsed table, but acts as a support UNDER the expanded table. The expanded table is perfectly round, and the rim has a groove which is molded in such a fashion that the leaves that still form the top of the collapsed table are neatly hidden.

      1. The rim is circular when the table is extended but is not when collapsed. Think of it, the curvature of the wood panels can be changed! So their curvature can only be set to get a circle in one configuration. In the video above one can see that the callapsed table is not circular.

  2. Pretty cool both his version and the original Fletcher. Not really practical from a usage point of view. You get 30% more circumference on the Fletcher which on their largest table equates to fitting one more person in at the table. But that one guy will be really impressed that they spent all that money just for him.

    1. the largest table fletcher puts out expands its diameter by nearly 2 feet, that’s over 6 feet more circumference, an easy 3 settings, not 1. Math is your friend, you should make peace with it ;)

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