The top of the dining table is the large, flat surface of the table. Depending on the style and price range of the dining table, its top could be made of materials such as solid glass, glass and metal, wood, glass and wood, or laminated wood. Most dining table tops are round, square, rectangle or oblong. Parents may prefer a round or oblong table top without sharp corners or wood tables tops without breakable glass if they have young children who play around the dining table.
Generally, legged dining tables have four legs. According to furniture maker Graham Blackburn's article, “A Short History of Tables,” for FineWoodworking.com, four-legged tables have been around since ancient Egyptian times. Dining table legs are constructed in a large variety of styles and shapes. There are subtly carved legs, ornately carved legs, curved legs, straight legs, tapered legs, chunky legs, spindly legs and more to choose from. Logically, the thicker and heavier the table top is, the thicker and sturdier the table legs should be.
Table legs are just one method to support a table top. Other supportive bases include trestles and pedestals. A trestle table, according to the Furnishings Guide website's furniture glossary, is supported by a frame brace (also called a horse) of two posts, feet and a connecting structure. Trestle tables, notes Blackburn's FineWoodworking.com article, were the earliest forms of Western tables—made up of unattached boards and trestles put together as needed for meals. A pedestal table, on the other hand, is constructed with a central support pillar, according to the Furnishings Guide's glossary. Like table legs, trestles and pedestals are constructed in a variety of styles from plain and austere to decorative and ornate.
A table extender—called a leaf, according to Blackburn—is used to “grow” a table. A family of four might own a round dining table, for example, with a removable leaf extender. For casual meals among the four individuals, the family might use the table without the leaf. The extender leaf would be stored in a closet or pantry until needed. When company is expected, the family inserts the leaf to extend the table into a longer, oblong shape to accommodate extra diners. Other leaf options mentioned in Blackburn's article are attached leaves such as a drop leaf or folding leaf.