Sometime soon, I’ll write about the Kitchen renovation that drove the need for this table. For now, I’ll stick to the table. The kitchen table is the center of the family home. Especially in our house with 3 boys. Our oldest builds bridges, tree houses, clubhouses, and other stuff with his mega blocks on the table so his brothers can’t get to it.
The twins (turn 1 this month) spit out all their baby food on the table and surrounding area, and my wife and I share peaceful and romantic date-night-home dinners there…every few years :). The kitchen table we had was great. It was passed down from my grandparents to my parents and then to me. I re-finished the table and chairs the summer before our wedding, and it’s been at the center of our home ever since.
The table could last us for years to come, but I’ve always had this dream of sitting down to dinner with my whole family around a table that I built with my bare hands.
Fortunately, my wife is supportive and loves what I do so she commissioned me to build us a “new” table. We wanted a table that was warm and inviting, and sturdy enough to hold up well to years of abuse from dogs and 3 boys (4 if you count me).
I had my eyes set on a reclaimed barn wood table. I saw them in magazines, on Pinterest, and everywhere else. But, I had one problem: where I am going to get barn wood? I don’t have a barn in my backyard, no one in my family owns one, and most people that have it either won’t trade it or are happy to sell it to you for $5-$10 a board foot ($500+ just for the table materials). I kept looking though, and one day it showed up.
A 550 board foot stash of 80-year-old lumber. Rough cut Oak and Birch found in the loft of a Wisconsin barn, have never been used. I had no idea what I was going to do with all this lumber but I knew I wouldn’t find a deal like this again soon so I went for it. The guy was very nice and even delivered it to my house. So there I was sitting in my garage, literally half full of dirty, weathered lumber grinning from ear to ear. I already had 3D plans done using Sketchup so I got to work.
My design centered around a strong desire to build a table with no metal fasteners. That seemed like the manly way to go. It didn’t take long for me to realize how different it is working with 80-year-old Oak compared to hardware store oak.
Every cut with the saw was slow. After the first joint was complete, I gave up on the table saw and switched to my trusty circular saw. The entire table base was made using a hammer, a $5 chisel, a circular saw (used the table saw a few times), wood glue, and oak dowels…oh, and lots of grunting, sweat, sawdust, and sandpaper. Three days in, the table base was assembled. I was leave sanding for last…it’s messy and not nearly as fun as construction.
I had this crazy idea that I wanted the base to be rustic, full of character, and then contrasted with a beautiful tabletop sanded smooth and a high gloss finish. So I headed over to a friend’s shop to run 8 boards through his jointer and planer. 3 hours later I was down to 5 boards, none more than 3/4 thick, and most looked like….well, oak. 2 boards were stunning, but not enough to build a tabletop.
Now what? I spent two weeks considering various options: I didn’t want to bother my friend again, all the remaining rough boards were of various thicknesses and not exactly straight, and I was running out of time. I decided that I would build a “temporary” tabletop until I could afford the power tools necessary to do it “right”.
I picked 6 boards, laid them out, and joined them with pocket screws. I then spent 6 hours (3 separate days) sanding and HAND PLANING (never used one before this) getting the top of all the boards level and smooth. I rested the top on the table base and I fell in love. It was stunning. It wasn’t perfect, and I think that’s why I love it so much.
Throughout the entire build, I was reading about St. Joseph. He, too, was a carpenter, and as I worked I the table I felt connected to him. There is something spiritual about taking the remains of an oak tree God created over 100 years ago and turning it into something equally beautiful that serves a completely different purpose. God gave me the skills of a carpenter, and I hope that, through Him, I can bring Him glory in what I create.