by Blain Mikkonen
If this table could talk….
With each piece that we craft in the shop, there is some history attached to the wood from which it is crafted. Although we pride ourselves on well designed and finely crafted furniture and fixtures, we understand that the inherent value in each piece we create is the story that it has to share. “If this table could talk…” will be an occasional blog installment series that explains and illustrates the history of various pieces we’ve created. In my first blog post I shared some photos of the very first dining table that we crafted as a company.
This Frederick Farmhouse table started out as a cellar door in the basement of an abandoned rural Frederick, SD house; hence the name. A closer look at the photo reveals tons of character and history; nail holes, hammer marks, rusty hinge remains, and even clusters of tiny holes which are presumably from the jittery hands of a young highschooler trying to impress his buddies with a shotgun. The heavy timber legs are cut from a pair of heavy structural timbers that supported the house behind the cellar door. I don’t recall the exact context, but I do remember Grant trying to convince me that the remaining timbers were enough to support the house above us as I cleared an emergency escape route through the rubble; just in case. Fortunately, the house was still standing when we left with the chainsaw and timbers in arms. What about the steel band in the center? Well, as you probably imagined, the piece of steel is not original to the door. One side of the cellar door was facing outside and a seemingly veteran woodpecker wanted inside, so a large hole in the center of the door was it’s noble solution . Our solution to the problem was to cut out the damaged boards and replace them with a strip of steel.
Are you looking for some context? Here are a few interior and exterior photos of the house- pre-Frederick farmhouse table.
The scenic view of the property and all of her South Dakota glory. The house is perched on the top of a hill with views for MILES in all directions. Yes, actual 5,280 feet miles, this is not an exaggeration. Those pasture weeds are an allergen’s nightmare – I’m guessing based on historical first hand evidence.
Main entry is to the right with a large porch and a secondary entrance into the kitchen is on the left. The described cellar escape was accessible under the smaller porch. If you could only imagine the views from those upper windows. The photos I have wouldn’t be doing it any justice.
There is a set of stairs hidden in the rubble that will lead to the wood-pecker’s paradise. I did move the large 12″ board, branch, and porch flooring, as part of my emergency escape mission. An ‘after’ photo would have provided a better contextual view; unfortunately this blog wasn’t my primary focus at that vital moment.
Home of wild animals and a proud wood pecker, the basement was a rock stacking masterpiece. I have no idea how this conglomeration supports an entire house; quite impressive. I also have to assume the hole allowing a beam of light into the basement is not original to the home’s construction but I don’t have the backstory. This is a small room next to the utility area opposite the cellar door. It is possible that one of the timber beams is framing the right side of the photo. Back to the table.
Finally, here are photos of the table and a matching bench in their final resting place. Here a family gathers to reminisce on their day, share memories at holidays, and enjoy the history this table has to share.
It was shortly after the construction of this table that we realized the value of the material we chose to work with. Reclaimed wood has a history, a story, and it shows the wears of time on its surface. Although we don’t know the detailed story of each piece created quite to the extent of this table, we do our best to share the history as best we can. Stay tuned for more stories of sustainability, preservation, and reuse as we explore more built furniture projects and share their history.