In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the card table was the center of activity in many homes. It was a place to gather with friends and family, have a few drinks, and entertain yourself for a few hours, or more. As the popularity of card games grew, the need for stylish card tables became more prevalent.


Craftsmen of the 18th and early 19th centuries supplied their clients with every imaginable version of card table. From a simple rectangular table with Marlboro legs to more complex “D – shaped” card tables with abundant inlay and decoration, cabinet makers made tables to fit every stylistic need and budget.


In this two-week class, we’ll be making a mahogany demilune, or half-circle, table with tapered legs. How you decorate your table is up to you. If your preference is a simple edge-banded cuff with stringing added to the legs then stop there. But if you really want to kick up the decoration, add paterae to the top of the legs, contrasting inlaid panels and banding to the apron, and maybe even a patterned veneered top! The sky is the limit here and there are Federal style card tables that run the whole gamut.


The class begins with a trip to the Yale Furniture Study to look at several period card table examples. We’ll be taking inspiration from two specific examples, one from Samuel Fisk and another from Holmes Weaver, for the overall design and structure of the table. From there, we’ll be looking to the collection’s many other examples for inlay inspiration. The remainder of the first week will concentrate on construction of the table base and making inlay bandings.

Did we mention the knuckle joint? Demilune card table typically open up to form a round top and the rear legs need to move on a knuckle joint to accommodate this. Unlike the majority of 18th century card tables with one swing leg- this table will feature two knuckle joints with two swing legs. This makes for a much more stable table when opened.


Between the first and second week of the class, you’ll have a bit of homework to do. Plan on spending your time inlaying the bandings and stringing to the table base along with any other ornamentation you might want to tackle.


The second week focuses on final assembly of the table base and making, and decorating, the top. Installation of the unique card table hinges to the flip-top is a highlight. Finally, we’ll wrap up with a discussion of how to finish your table to make the inlay pop and your friends drool.

Sign up today. Space is limited to 8 students.

Chuck Bender is a nationally known furniture maker, author and educator. He is the 2022 recipient of the prestigious “cartouche award” given by the Society of American Period Furniture makers.

Tuition: $1725.00 plus materials ($595.00 plus tax)

first week meets: Monday – Friday, May 6 – 10

second week meets: July 29 – August 3, 9:00am – 5:00pm