Trestle desk

Trestle desk

There are two kinds of trestle desks, the antique form and the modern improvisation.

Antique trestle desk

The antique trestle desk is usually very much like the Writing table desk form, which offers a simple flat desktop surface with a few drawers underneath it. Unlike the writing table the trestle desk is supported by two legs instead of four, and the legs are designed to be dismantled easily in order to store or move the desk efficiently. More precisely, the two legs are two strong side supports which branch out in two feet each (for a total of four) at the bottom.

Some antique trestle desks are fitted with small cubby holes and nooks or small drawers at the extremity of the work surface, and thus resemble a Bureau a gradin.

As with most antique desk forms, this trestle desk surface is usually 29 inches (73.7 cm) from the floor.

Modern trestle desk

The modern trestle desk is not so much a desk form as a desk improvisation. In shape and manufacture it sometimes resembles certain variations of the antique field desk which was used by officers not too far from the battlefield. Basically the modern trestle desk improv is a plank of wood set on two trestles.

It is eminently portable, and eminently practical, when care is taken to provide stable trestles. The advent of the Cubicle desk created a market for independent desk elements of all kinds, such as short, rolling filing cabinets. These proved suitable for use under a trestle desk and encouraged improvisation.

During the heyday of the dot-com boom many companies liked to go to the extremes in office furnishings. Some would stock rooms with expensive Aeron chairs and the most lavish type of ergonomic desk available, while others would have their employees sit on boxes and work on desks made of used doors set on old trestles or crates. Others still mixed the costly and the cheap, sometimes to the advantage of the user, by doing things like picking good quality chairs and making cheap but sturdy trestle desk improvisations. These activities popularised the trestle desk as a desk form, and some of this survived after the dot-com burst in the year 2000.

For instance, founder Jeff Bezos and top Amazon executives usually worked on doors set on trestles, as a visible example of a frugal company culture.

In the United States a desk or a table set on X shaped trestles is sometimes called a sawbuck table.

See also the list of desk forms and types.


*Gloag, John. A Complete Dictionary of Furniture. Woodstock, N.Y. : Overlook Press, 1991.
*Moser,Thomas. Measured Shop Drawings for American Furniture. New York: Sterling Publlishing Inc., 1985.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Trestle table — The basic trestle table (also known as a folding table or card table) is a structure comprising two frame based legs (the trestles) over which a tabletop is placed. Such tables were known to be commonly used as early as the Middle Ages, using a… …   Wikipedia

  • Trestle (disambiguation) — Tresle may refer to several diferent things with a similar structure *A trestle bridge, commonly used for railroads *A trestle desk *A trestle table *As part of a post mill article: Trestle (mill)Also, as a place name: *A surfing location,… …   Wikipedia

  • Bargueño desk — The Bargueño (also Vargueño) is a desk first produced in the 15th century that continues to be produced to this day. The only other desk which is known to have been continuously produced for so long is the trestle desk, but some authorities… …   Wikipedia

  • List of desk forms and types — Any list of desk forms and types encountered in the modern office or home, and in antique stores, is incomplete and contradictory given the variations in the naming of desks, as a simple lookup in two or three of the reference books below will… …   Wikipedia

  • Portable desk — The portable desk has not one but many forms. In a sense, the portable desk is a long lost ancestor of the portable computer, and the modern laptop could be considered an atavistic grandchild of the 19th century Lap desk.Medieval and renaissance… …   Wikipedia

  • Fire screen desk — The fire screen desk (also known as a screen writing table) was a very small antique desk meant to be placed in front of a fireplace to keep a user s feet warm while he or she was stationary while writing. This kind of desk was very popular in… …   Wikipedia

  • Writing table — A writing table (French bureau plat ) has a series of drawers directly under the surface of the table, to contain writing implements, so that it may serve as a desk. Antique versions have the usual divisions for the inkpot, the blotter and the… …   Wikipedia

  • furniture — furnitureless, adj. /ferr ni cheuhr/, n. 1. the movable articles, as tables, chairs, desks or cabinets, required for use or ornament in a house, office, or the like. 2. fittings, apparatus, or necessary accessories for something. 3. equipment for …   Universalium

  • The New Yankee Workshop — Format How to Created by Russell Morash Starring …   Wikipedia

  • Canadian National Railway — Canadian National system map …   Wikipedia