Designing a Bespoke Community Table

I’ve been silent for a while, but I’ve certainly been busy. In July, I was invited to design and build a community style lunch table for an marketing agency downtown. They had moved offices into a newly renovated space in an older building in downtown Columbus, but lost a lot of the vintage character from their old space. The new kitchenette and lunch space was wide open, and they needed a BIG community lunch table that pulled together the reclaimed barn-siding shelving that was already installed.

With a very short delivery window, I had just over a week to design, build, deliver and install a bistro height table with a 36″ by 96″ top. After a few design sketches, client picked the random length, staggered board top. No CAD models for this project, it was all pencil and paper for design; with my 0.5mm mechanical pencil and Moleskin notebook, it was like sketching in college all over again.. This is one of the first projects I’ve build exactly to someone else’s ideas. After agreeing on a price Friday afternoon, Saturday morning was off to the mill.

I opted for white oak to give both an industrial feel and some substantial heft to the piece. White oak is is an open grain wood, and ring porous; but differing from red oak in that the pores are plugged. The plugged pores make white oak water and rot resistant, and has made it the wood of choice for many industrial pallets and even wooden ships. For a few books on identifying and selecting wood for projects, consider The Wood Book, by Romeyn B. Hough and Understanding Wood: A Craftsman’s Guide to Wood Technology, by R. Bruce Hoadley.

After loading up the Subaru, I think we might be in the market for a truck! But, we successfully brought the load home, with a few bonus pieces of black walnut… The first step was breaking down all the planks into the shorter sections for the legs, apron, stretchers and rails. This project definitely put my Ridgid jobsite saw through a work out, and I’m sure in for a blade sharpening! When this project is done, I’ll be upgrading to either the Ridgid R4512 or the Delta 36-725, but more on that later…

Stay tuned, and we’ll look at the legs, top and finishing!


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