A Table's Story
I was on my annual ski trip with one of my closest and dearest friends Roger. Roger and I were on a chair lift in the back bowls of Vail, Colorado, and he asked me about my thoughts on building him and his family a table and two benches. Roger had found a website of a woodworking shop in the Chicago area that built the type of table he had in mind. After an epic day of skiing and a fantastic dinner, we pulled up the website as soon as we got back to the house.
I will never forget the way I felt as I studied the woodworking website with Roger. There was this intense, profound impact on my soul. In that moment, I did not know what it all meant; however, I knew taking on the project would somehow change the trajectory of my life and career. Thus, I agreed to do the project and started my due diligence.
Roger and I started with a preliminary sketch that ultimately morphed into the final design. With the final design at hand, I formulated a list of required materials. Roger was able to find a source for the wood in the Trenton area at Willard Brothers Woodcutters. It was a spectacular spring Saturday morning, we topped off our coffee and off we went to buy the wood. The level of excitement and anticipation as we pulled into the parking lot was incredible! We entered the building warehousing all the beautiful, mesmerizing wood slabs and my heart rate skyrocketed to 160+ beats per minute! The energy exchanged between Roger and I as we looked in awe at all the wood was of a divine nature.
The selection process was now in full swing! Our search initially started with a book-match of black walnut for the tabletop. A book-match is the center of a tree split into two slabs, mirroring one another. The perfect book-match appeared. We knew immediately we had found our tabletop. Riding on the wave of excitement, the bench tops also magically appeared! Finally, we selected random lengths and widths of 2-inch-thick black walnut boards.These boards would eventually be milled and glued together for both the table and bench bases. We loaded up the truck and off we went, back to Roger’s house.
Here is where the story takes a bit of a pause…
As Roger and I were stowing away the wood in his basement, he made it clear he had no timeline. Roger simply told me, “let me know when you’re ready.”
Take a minute to meditate on, “let me know when you’re ready.” It really speaks to Roger’s interior disposition. Roger is one of the most intellectual and deeply spiritual people I know. I am honored to call him my brother.
Fast forward a year later, on our annual ski trip to Colorado. I told Roger I was ready. During the time frame of the preceding year I had gone through an extensive due diligence process to prepare for the build. I was shopping for some specialty tools required for the build at woodcrafters in Delaware and I met Paul. Paul was a super chill hippie left over from the 60`s with extensive knowledge about woodworking and finishing. Paul became part of my brain trust, my woodworking coach, if you will. Paul and I actually became very close during the process and maybe someday I will write about it!
The time came to start the project. The full work scope encompassed upgrading the south end of Roger’s home. It included new hardwood floors, lighting and painting. What was unique about the project was that I was able to build the table in the space where it would ultimately rest. It took Alex and I six days to build the table. I must give special acknowledgement to Alex. I have known Alex since the early 2000’s and he is a gifted mechanic in his own right. What makes Alex truly special is his calming energy and his forever giving heart! He truly is a blessing from God.
The table was now built, and it was absolutely STUNNING! Now it was time for the table to make its way to the garage for the finishing phase. Under the direction of Paul, the sanding and clear coating process began. When the first coat of polyurethane was applied… WOW!!! My heart rate skyrocketed back up to 160+ beats per minute! The sanding and finish phase took about another five to six days. During the time period we completed the other portion of the work scope inside the house.
It was now time to move the table back into its designated space. We began by moving in the table base. Next, we brought in the table top and attached it to the base. Finally, the benches were put into placed and for the first time the full picture was seen. In that moment, I think the best way to describe it is this way;
Think about your top 10 favorite songs and the range of emotions you feel when you listen to each one independently. I was feeling all those different emotions at once, ‘supernatural’ comes to mind.
What made this project truly uncommon was not the actual build, but the spirit of love and trust. Dana and Roger believed in me before I believed in myself. They recognized something in me I had not yet discovered in myself. That`s what true love and friendship is all about, helping each other recognize our gifts. I would like to say thank you to Dana and Roger for helping me grow both as an artisan and as a person.
“Our deepest freedom rests not in our freedom to do what we want to do, but rather in our freedom to become who God wills us to be. This person, this ultimate self God wills to be, is not a predetermined, static mold to which we must conform. Rather, it is an infinite possibility of growth.”
Meister Eckhart [1260-1328]
See Meister Eckhart, Quasi Vas Aureum Solidum, Sermon on Sirach 50.10
Full project pictures in our Portfolio: