A very long time ago, when Craig first starting showing interest in woodworking, I told him I wanted a table.
But not just any table.
I wanted a table I could build a life on. A heavy piece with scratches, scars and a story. I wanted it put together with pieces of wood that didn’t necessarily match up perfectly, but came together despite that and invited people to sit down, have coffee, study or eat dinner and carve another moment onto it.
The one only he could make. With the name he gave me carved somewhere small. I wanted that table. My pioneer table.
Well, after all these years, and all the furniture so far, he started it.
He’s paced around the idea of it for so long, knowing all the years of hopes that went into it for me. People need to eat, so we bought one for our first apartment and then another and they all came out of boxes and got sold at yard sales when we moved and needed the money. It didn’t hurt to sell them, because I knew they weren’t my table. For whatever reason it was the one piece I was trying to get to like a lost kid who got on the wrong bus, but is searching out the window trying to find their street. After moving from our childhood home to Florida, and then to a different city and so many apartments the ground felt a little unsteady. We got older and made babies and the idea of home was still as blurry as I was, but it was out there.
The home, the life. The table I was going to make with him.
He brought out the chisels and started talking about dovetails and we bought three pieces of lumber while he fought the difficult wood he got off a pallet and it’s all the mixed up pieces of mostly scrap wood of my dreams. He cut and fought and looked at me worried when it didn’t line up just right and I smiled and nodded happily. The imperfections were just right. The victories and surprises. On his days off and before work he went out to his shop, working off the plan he made up and letting it come together with the pieces we had.
First comes love, and then comes sanding.
Next part was the staining and we’re a couple of adventurous kids setting out to try weird, cool things and so for a few days we had some steel soaking in vinegar.
And at first, we didn’t know. It smelled weird, and weren’t sure if we should screw the top on the jar of vinegar, because there was definitely some science happening as pressure built, so it sat without a lid for a day and then with the lid for like three days and then we said, “oh shit, it’s almost Thanksgiving, we need to hurry up and finish this.”
And then you look over and smile, because there it is.
I love it so much. A table of mixed up pieces, where we can count every line and cut. It’s the kind your kids grow up at, and you grow old with, all of it happening around this one piece. And there’s magic in that. One I was totally okay with waiting for.
We’re simple kids who delight in old, handmade things. In making things work out of sketches and bits of this or that. We’ve been been building this life and fixing this house for so long. It’s a bit of a love story.
And one hell of a table.