Tables Are My Favorite Furniture Form
I like tables. Dining tables, side tables, hall tables you name it, I like it. I have a folder on my computer that I keep images of pieces I would like to make or inspire me in some way. I was looking through it last night only to discover that 80% of what was in there is some form of table.
Any why not? Tables are highly functional, use little material, and with such a basic form are open to so much interpretation and embellishment. Heck even a workbench is a type of table and we all like those!
The skills requires to build them vary widely as well.
From rank beginner cutting their first mortise and tenons to a polished master carving intricate details into the knee of a shaped leg. One could trace the progress of their skill using tables alone and get to tackle a different challenge in every project.
I especially like how you can explore different style from different time periods or even with the same style but from different makers. With each foray you learn a little about the maker, time period, and you own skill limits.
The Arts & Crafts philosophy has always been appealing to me. So I took the opportunity to build this simple Stickley Tabouret. My wife wanted a square top so I complied but longed for more curves. Later, giving into the curve bug, I built a similar tabouret but in the style of Charles Limbert, a contemporary of Stickely. Using the same form, I explored different kinds of joinery, finishes, and shapes. Both tables show off elements of the Arts & Crafts period, yet express themselves in such different ways. Moreover, they were built in very different ways, one using modern machines and the other entirely by hand power.
The basic Shaker side table is a fun build and the simple construction and clean lines makes this a timeless piece. In an attempt to tackle eccentric turnings and satisfy my love of Queen Anne furniture, I built this same table and added stylistic elements transforming it into a new experience. It is the same form yet like the Arts & Crafts example conveys a very different emotion. Likewise, the Queen Anne version challenged me in new ways which was a lot of fun.
Expanding on the Queen Anne form and simplifying it a bit and changing the size and you end up with an even different product like this Tavern table from Charlton’s Coffee House in Colonial Williamsburg. The turned legs are similar but without the eccentric aspect and pad foot a different feel is again conveyed. I think this will be a good next step in following this specific evolution.
What intrigues me about the table is I can experiment with so many different aspects while keeping many the same. This provides a certain comfort zone with small doses of scary that keep you engaged yet not paralyzed. I guess the problem is that in reality, the average household can only use so many tables, so I’m either going to have to start selling some of these or add some rooms on to my house.
Of course once I’m done with tables, I can always move on to the more complicated big brother: desks!
So many projects…so little time