Thursday, May 24, 2012

Weird Table Extension Fix...and Other Ramblings

Retracted Table
Somewhere along the line a previous owner spent a lot of money (or time, if they built it themselves) to fashion an extending table for the primary dining area. When I am traveling alone, I really do not need to extend the existing table out to double its size, but with another passenger or two it's a great feature.

The last time I was out with Passenger Pete, we made a huge Mexican recipe feast with flour and corn tortillas, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, my homemade guacamole, from scratch Carne Asada steak and all the extras. Of course my favorite Extra Sharp White cheddar was featured! You know, I really shouldn't describe food in these articles because now I'm really hungry!
Window Sash Lock (Removed)
We decided it would be easier to assemble the food if we extended the table. Sure Thing! I rotated the window sash lock and slid the main portion of the table out, pulled out the leaf and tried to set it in. Tried. What I didn't notice, or realize, was that the sash lock was mounted to the back edge of the table. There was no way that the leaf would sit in that space.

Well, we gave up on using the leaf, but I got to thinking about a new design that would still prevent the table from sliding out while underway, but allow the leaf to work its magic at rest.

First, I looked into replacing the drawer runners under the table with locking versions. These are available in many lengths and styles, but none of them would fit under my table and still retract fully into the base without some major wood renovations. Not something I wanted to tackle.

Table Leaf In Storage Position
Based on the existing design I figured I could use some other type of latch to secure the table. Trouble was, what kind? I looked in the big box home stores and various hardware outlets with no real success.  Then a few weeks ago I was in a small hardware store in an even smaller town and they had a single brass slider latch that looked like it would be perfect. A bit pricey, but well worth the cost IF it would work!

It would get mounted to the back of the table base where half of the old sash lock was and I would chisel out a slot for the sliding latch on the underside of the table. It came with a striker, so I would screw that to the underside as well.

Yacht Style Sliding Latch
As usual, something had to go wrong. This time it was the simple fact that there is not enough room to get a drill between the window and the table base to bore pilot holes for the screws. I could have bought a 90 degree attachment (which I do want!) but it's not a cheap nor easy fix. Instead I got an extra pair of hands (Passenger Pete's) and started the screws manually. Not as much fun, but it worked. I used a bit of wood glue under the sliding latch, just to add some extra strength. Now to measure twice..OK four times...and mount the striker plate. This HAD to be in the right spot or it wouldn't work at all. It had to be tight enough to hold the table firmly, but loose enough to be usable as a latch. I screwed the plate to the underside of the table and used a small drill bit to take out as much material (to the correct depth) as I could before using a small screwdriver to "pick" out the rest. I tested several times as I removed material to get a tight fit. I was afraid I was going to punch a hole through the tabletop, but that was just normal paranoia.
Extended Table

After some tense moments, me not the project, everything was done and ready for use. We'll see if the latch's two small screws will hold up under the strain of driving. If not I will have to drill some additional holes, or use larger screws. Now to plan a large meal to test my new and improved table!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

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