Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fixing the Kitchen Table

I told you back in April that I moved the dining room table to the kitchen and the kitchen table to the dining room. 
I love the dining room - love it. 

The kitchen table, however, had a couple of issues after 60 years of use.
It squeaked, shimmied and wobbled back and forth.

There were gaps in the wood where my father joined the ends with a breadboard edge. 

I hated how crumbs got caught in the grooves. Tables should not need to be vacuumed!
It was also a tad too long for the room.

Bill and I had a conversation about it. We were trying to decide the best course of action.
The table measured 6'6 with a 3' width. Bill thought that was odd. To be proportioned correctly the table should measure 6' by 3'. Dad probably made it to fit our old dining room.

After looking at hundreds of trestle tables on the internet, we discussed some options. 
We could;
make a new top, (Bill wanted to know what we would do with the old top. I thought we could use it as a headboard. He just asked, "What?")
cut off the breadboard ends,
cut off the breadboard ends, cut table to size and re-attach the end pieces using the same mortise and tongue technique my dad used thus keeping it as original as possible. (Bill would have to do this one as tongue and groove joinery is a little beyond my abilities.)
We thought the best option was the third and most complicated.
Bill wouldn't talk about it again for months. 
Instead we were living with the issues.
I went round and round about it in my head until the shimmying was driving me batty. 
I tried to theorize as to what my dad or grandpa would do.
I finally came to the conclusion that my dad would re-work the table and fix the issues.
Since I knew Bill was hesitant to cut on my family keepsake, I did what any good DIYer would do. 
I took a deep breath, said a prayer and grabbed the Skilsaw. (I hope my family members are not passing out at this point.) Deep breaths.
(I didn't get a picture because it is hard to take a picture when you are holding a saw.) 
My plan involved cutting off the breadboard ends plus an inch.

That way the edge of the saw moved along what was the existing edge of the table so I would get a good and even cut.  
Once I was happy with that, I could commence with the second phase of the project. The salvage inch of tongue needed to come out of the mortise end.  
It worked perfectly on the first side.
The second end not so much. But this is where I was thrilled that I followed my instinct and did what I thought my dad would do. 

The table had broken at one point and had been glued back together so I wasn't defacing an original piece.

My hooligan brothers had already defaced it!! ;) I'll ask around but I'm sure no one remembers when it broke. 
It does look like we won't be reattaching the mortise ends though but I don't have to live with crumbs stuck in the table anymore. Yipee! 

I was a little afraid to tell Bill what I had done so I came up with a story that my dad came to me in a dream and told me to do what I wanted with the table.

It belonged to me now. I'd carried on his legacy as a DIYer and that he wasn't holding me to the burden of having an item that couldn't be used as he intended. While my dad didn't come to me in a dream, I do feel that he was with me. All he and Bill have taught me about woodworking helped this project go almost flawlessly. The table is smaller and more properly proportioned. It is reinforced, secure and doesn't sway anymore.

I was so afraid that the old wood would split as I was drilling in new screws. I drilled pilot holes and each screw went in perfectly - perfectly. My husband taught me to use a drill bit smaller than the screw to make a hole, a pilot hole. This allows the screw to go in securely but not split the wood.

I touched up the the stain at each end where the cuts were made and on the feet.

I love the new ends.(Sorry, Dad.)

This table is not an antique. It was built with antique plans out of reclaimed lumber reportedly from an old barn.

My dad made this table early in his woodworking days. Once I turned it upside down, I saw it wasn't perfect and that probably bugged him. Keeping it beautiful and making it functional seems a fitting tribute to his workmanship. It's also a way to have this table in use for years to come.  

I believe our pieces have to work for us. 

We have much more room to get around the table.

Bill admitted he'd been procrastinating on this project because he didn't want to be the one making cuts on a family keepsake. We're happy with how it turned out.

Linking with,
Funky Junk Interiors   
Miss Mustard Seed 


  1. Katie,
    Oh I love the new look to the table. You Re Loved it so beautifully. I know your Dad is smiling down on the new look to this gorgeous table. Awesome.

    1. Thank you, Kris. It took a while to realize that is what needed to be done and we're happy with the result.

  2. Katie, I bet your dad is smiling that his own little girl fixed the table. I am glad you mentioned drilling a smaller pilot hole, that does help and make it safer to not split the boards. Blessings, xoxo,Susie

  3. I love those old trestle tables. Your Dad built a table that was made to last. You repaired it beautifully and it looks so lovely in your kitchen!

  4. I'm so glad you were able to make the table work in your kitchen, Katie! We had a trestle table in our previous house and I loved that high chairs and booster seats slid right under the tabletop. Our daughters have farm tables with aprons and it's difficult to seat children because there's no room for their legs. I hope you enjoy your table for many years to come!

  5. Well, look at you! I love that you took the bull by the horns so to speak!
    The fact that your dad made the table to used and enjoyed is important. I think as a craftsman, he would be proud of his daughter and more than happy that you're using the table he created--each and everyday!
    Enjoy it!

  6. Good for you!! You're my hero doing all that! You kept a family heirloom and made it work better for your space and family-kudos! :)

  7. Great job, Katie! I think it's awesome to make a family piece work even better for you. Your work on it is a special addition to it's legacy.