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I was asked to restore the dining table for the Great Falls, VA Volunteer Fire Dept. as part of the grand opening of the new station. The table—a 10’ x 3’ x 2 3/4” maple slab—was more than 60 years old and well worn. It was warped, gouged and had been mounted on steel pipes for legs. (see the last image for the before picture.) I wanted to maintain the character of the historic table yet reinvent it for the new station.
I flattened the top entirely by hand using my handplanes—quite a bit of work considering the size of the table and how far from flat it was. Then I inlay a Maltese Cross with the station number 12 in the center made of 4-way bookmatched Bloodwood in a starburst pattern and Birdseye Maple. I added inlayed Bloodwood crossbanding as a border.
For the base, I decided on a traditional trestle design out of Maple with tusked tenons. I made a carving of the Maltese Cross and 12 for each post out of Bloodwood. The curve of the feet was designed to echo the curve of the edges of the Maltese Cross.
The top was finished with System Three epoxy to make it durable enough to withstand decades of use by firefighters, and finished the base with General Finishes Enduro Var.
The project took about 400 hours over six months.
The top before I started
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As a firefighter for 33 years, I know that table is gonna get a workout. It looks like it's up to the task. Nice work!
Beautifully done and so appropriate for the purpose! Congratulations on a tremendous piece of work.
Nicely finished. You deserve a few dollars for that !!! And a few dinners there with them...!
Did you ever think of making a sled for flattening the table using a router? Bit less effort.
They may have up-graded the fire station but you up-up-up-up
graded that table! I hope they comissioned you, rather than just asked you to refinish the table, or else they should provide your lunch at that table for the next 6 months!
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