Rail table details & origin
Nov 17, 2011
Winter and spring of 2007 was a busy time, I was attending the fourth and final year of my Carpentry apprenticeship. This table came to fruition through a commision. A miner wanted a large dining table to last several lifetimes. So I sketched up an idea and showed it to my brother Tytus for his thoughts. I had originally thought of a piece of round steel as the stretcher, Tytus however recalled a train rail that had been lying in the bushes behind our house for at least as long as both of us have been alive. Collecting old growth douglas fir bridge timbers paid off as we had the wood near at hand. Using circular saws, reciprocating saws and hand saws we were able to split the timbers fairly precisely and two book matched sets came to be. Due to the inherent cracks in these old planks I thought it wise to have extra reinforcement. Four threaded rods run through the planks and were also useful for the glue up. I cant say for sure but I believe my plan was a success as the table is fine, it may have been totally fine with out the steel but it goes well with the theme. Hours and days were then spent flattening the massive slab. Jointing planes, belt sanders and anything else close to hand were employed, I have very different thoughts now on how to go about such a chore.
The rail was itself a challenge, acid and wire brush brought the natural beauty of decay to the forefront. With the polish applied I thought it was fantastic. The date on the rail was 1917 Algoma Rail company. Getting it through the fir posts was a hack job to say the least. Walnut was used for the other supporting elements as well a some oak which is not visible as it locks the base into the top. To finish I had my first experience with shellac. I have a vast love for that most amazing of natures creations, at the time though I was lost. The gear was another of Tytus' dump finds and was a interesting item to inlay in a solid wood top, I believe it is a brake part from some sort of heavy equipment. A mystery really...