Hall Tables

Last fall, when I was making plans for the winter, a gallery owner I’ve known a long time happened to mention something about hall tables, and for some reason the idea took root. It struck me that a simple one-drawer table at counter height, which one might place in an entry hall, is useful but not overly constrained by the nature of its use.

As it happened, I had some new pieces of salvaged wood which seemed like a natural vehicle for the whimsical ideas which were attacking me right about then.  In the end I made three pieces, all of them sized for convenient use near the front door, except that one – the troll table – decided to be short.

All three tables explore the expressive power of salvaged wood.  The design of each of them starts with a finger-jointed drawer case made of walnut, and the structure is otherwise open, with the top and legs set off from the case by a quarter-inch reveal;  otherwise they are quite different, each of the tables following a design logic inspired by the distinctive wood slabs featured.

Hall Table 2015 no. 1 detail 72dpi

Detail, Table No. 1

 

Table no. 1 has a slab of locally salvaged eucalyptus on top.  When eucalyptus trees were introduced to northern California a hundred years ago, they were expected to provide useful lumber, along with various other benefits.  This is a gorgeous piece of wood, but you can see why eucalyptus turned out to be problematic for furniture:  many large cracks appeared in the top during drying.  In this case, however, the cracks make a beautiful feather-like pattern that adds a feeling of lightness without detracting from the solid usefulness of the table.  There is also a drawer front – of salvaged local walnut, like the drawer case – that preserves on its face some of the mill marks it came to us with.  We were able to save their visual and tactile qualities while buffing with 400 grit sandpaper, always a delight.  The legs are of curly eastern walnut that adds yet another bit of visual texture, and all of these woody surfaces are set off by polished chrome hardware.

Hall Table 2015 no. 2 72dpi

Table No. 2

 

Table no. 2 features wood from an old elm that our friend and photographer Eric had to remove from his Oakland back yard in 2010, after it died of Dutch elm disease.  A nice selection of boards found their way to Napa, where we dried them and have started turning them into furniture.  The table incorporates some graphic ideas we have lately been experimenting with, notably our finelines details and the use of tinted epoxy to fill voids.  And the table has one leg that seems to be going its own whimsical way, in contrast to its well-behaved siblings, a consequence of the way that particular bit of wood dried.  In the lumber, I remember that the wild leg was directly adjacent to the knot that you see on the drawer front, which is no doubt responsible for the warp.

 

The Troll Table principally features local orchard walnut we got from a man on Darms Lane in 2014, and we have again taken pains to preserve visual and tactile signs of the origins of the material.  This coffee-height table uses plain steel spacers rather than chrome, on the thinking that trolls wouldn’t have chrome.

The Troll Table is on display at the Highlight Gallery in Mendocino, along with Hall Table No. 1.  We still have table no. 2 on hand and will be showing it at Open Studios Napa Valley this September.

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