I entered TEE 200 “Prototyping with Wood” expecting to learn my way around a power tool or two and walk out with a handful of kitschy wooden objects. But on day one, when it was announced that the final project was building a major piece of furniture (optionally of our own design), I knew that I had found my favorite class for the semester. Nothing screams exciting and fun to me like “optionally of your own design.”
The pre-designed furniture pieces were mostly nightstands and end tables. After a draft of a chess table with spindly legs and a desk with a multitude of drawers both got shot down as being too complex for my first project, I finally talked the professor, Dr. Kip Christensen, into letting me build a kitchen table with a removable leaf. He said it was still rather complex for my first semester in the shop, but (since I was doing my honest best to restrain myself) he finally approved the design.
I decided to build the table out of maple, a sturdy, dense, blonde wood. I picked a few boards from the 4/4 stack (pronounced “four quarter” and meaning between 3/4″ and 1″ thick) available in the school shop, but I had to pick up most of the wood from a local lumber yard, as my top required 5/4 (“five quarter”) boards in order to ensure a full 1″ thickness and the 3″ thick legs required 16/4 boards.
The project did indeed end up being quite complex (read: “time consuming”), but I was having so much fun in the shop that utilizing every available shop hour (including the 7-10pm weeknight labs) felt more like taking regular holidays than anything.
I ended up spending significantly more hours on the project than the required minimum, but creating a piece of furniture that I still live with and use every day was worth it. It didn’t take more than a few weeks in the shop for me to commit to taking every other available shop class at BYU, and by the end of the semester I realized I’d found my calling: of all the countless crafts and fields in which I have found interest and worked, I could never imagine myself sitting down to only one of them day in and day out. Until now.