Sometimes people ask us what our favorite thing to build is. Without hesitation we always answer ‘tables’. Why? Tables are fun. It is relatively easy to fulfill the functional requirements of design with tables; flat, stable surface, correct height off the floor, proper clearance for some chairs, and you’re there. The rest is usually creative stuff. It’s easy to manipulate the aesthetics of a table without worrying too much about compromising function. Tables also tend to have relatively few parts. At it’s most basic, it’s 4 legs, 4 rails, and a top. A dining table may look big and impressive, but it may be the same basic construction as a coffee table.

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A few years ago, Joe and I had the good fortune to get a commission for a coopered bathtub. Joe had always wanted to build one so we jumped at the chance. There was quite a steep learning curve (not to mention the whole must hold water thing), but we had a lot of fun doing it.

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We’ve heard quite a few ‘big tree’ stories- while holding their arms stretched wide someone tells us that they have or know of a really big tree that has come down; would we like to have a look at it? Invariability it turns out to be too small to mill, much smaller in reality than in the mind of the kind person who offered it. Last summer my parents came up for lunch with a friend of theirs who’s a woodworker and wanted to visit our workshop. He told us that he knew of a garry oak tree that had blown over; said it must be 4′ in diameter. Well, we were skeptical to say the least. When we had a bit of time on our hands we went for a walk to look at the tree; it was on a piece of property owned by Ducks Unlimited, and where my parents friend sometimes trains his champion black labrador bird dogs. It’s a beautiful place, encompassing a large track of wetland and estuary just north of the Crofton mill, off of Swallowfield Road.

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Between our new dog, starting construction on our workbench, and a bunch of design work and quotes, there hasn’t been much of interest going on in the workshop.  Well, the workbench is interesting but more on that later.  We did make a table just before Christmas that was a real challenge.  It wasn’t supposed to be, but things don’t always turn out as planned when you are building something for the first time.  We’re almost always building ‘for the first time’ so we are used to this by now.
We were commissioned by a couple who were looking for a small table for their entryway, it would be front and center when you entered the house.  The entryway has a bit of an odd shape to it, so the challenge was to build something that would look good in the spot but was not designed to fit it exactly.  Our clients were very happy to let our creativity run wild, and did not have many constraints in mind.  Left to my own devices, these days just about everything I design is asymmetrical in nature.  It just seems to be where my creative self want to go.
While traveling on the wonderful BC Ferries,  Joe and I brainstormed some ideas. Come to think of it, we’ve done a lot of design work aboard the ferries.  Nothing like being captive for productivity.  We came up with the idea for a sort of curved triangle shape for the top (technically its a trapezoid, but really it looks like a triangle).  I did a rough sketch of what the base was to look like; a simple three legged affair with some curved rails and a small lower shelf.  We pitched the concept to our clients and they gave us the thumbs up.  We decided on western maple for the top, and yew for the base.  We had the perfect plank for the top; it was a weird shape and was never right for anything.  I almost cut it up for parts a few times but in the end I was glad I didn’t!

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This past summer we lost our beloved black labrador, Dane.  He was our constant companion in all things, work and play.  Like all dogs, he learned our habits incredibly well; in fair weather we leave the shop door open, and he would wait between 7 and 10 minutes after the machines were off to come inside for a visit.  I guess the delay was his insurance that we were ‘idle’ and that the quiet was going to last.  I would feel someone staring at me, and there he’d be, peeking around the band saw with an expectant look on his face.

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