A Kitchen Table

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.”

Plans to scale.
Plans to scale.

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.

A few choice boards.
A few choice boards.

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.

Working on the legs.
Working on the legs.
Careful miter cuts.
Careful miter cuts.

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.

Clamps!
Clamps!
Clamps!
More clamps!
Did I mention clamps?
Did I mention clamps?
Sanding forever!
Sanding forever!
Registration pins.
Registration pins.
Leaf table hardware.
Leaf table hardware.
Special corner blocks to reinforce the miters.
Special corner blocks to reinforce the miters (corners where the boards meet at 45° angles).

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.

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