Good clients rang to say that their table I made some time ago was looking a bit “milky” even though they had diligently applied oil to the surface on a regular basis.
When I arrived to have a look I found the table to be in very good condition; it was 2400 mm long and 1000 mm wide, and I was very pleased that the top remained perfectly flat in length and width. However, the top was indeed a bit hazy.
We reminisced about how long ago it was made. We estimated that it was twenty years ago when Evan Dunstone (my apprentice then) and I delivered it. (This was before my workshop burnt down and Evan set up his own business, and I “retired” or should I say, “retreated” to the gallery.)
I decided to refinish the table (at no charge) because I felt an obligation to the table, and I had an idea I wanted to revisit and refine that style, which we called the triangular leg x-frame table.
The table on the Gallery floor ~1995
I took the table to Monaro Timbers where the legs were removed and the top and underside were thickness sanded. (The thickness loss was no more than 0.5 mm. Amazing.) Then I took the table and legs to my workshop and began the process of detailing and polishing the legs and building up the underside with Wipe On Poly, and then the top with numerous coats of Livos. (I found the Wipe On Poly to be quite tedious to work.)
The clients were delighted with the outcome, and I was pleased I could still do the lifting at one end.
Seeing this table from the past refurbished inspired me to create a new version for the Gallery. With the encouragement of Shaun Haywood, the owner of Monaro Timbers, I collaborated with Mitchell Rice to build a new version of the table after work hours in the Monaro Timbers machine shop. Mitchell is the workshop manager and has been working for Shaun for 13 years. Mitchell had two extraordinary American Walnut boards 300m wide and 2700 mm long, both with matching ripple figure. We decided to use the two boards to build a square top, 1180 x 1180 and with legs X-Frame configuration, and Triangular in cross section.
About every other day I would drop by after 4 pm and Mitchell and I would discuss the various possibilities, laying out the boards for the best pattern, the maximum square we could expect, the thickness top and so on as the project developed through each stage.
Mitchell is such a good and efficient maker, and we communicate well with a minimum of fuss, which makes the whole process enjoyable and productive.
I like the way things come around in a woodworking community. Shaun started his woodworking journey as an apprentice to David Upfill Brown – a legend in Australian woodworking, and now for many years has a most successful timber supply and machining business, Monaro Timbers. And Evan Dunstone has a most successful furniture making business, Dunstone Design. Nice symmetry.
Artistic Director David Mac Laren
X Frame Walnut Table
$6,000 American Walnut
Design: David Mac Laren
Maker: Mitchel Rice