A couple weeks back I posted a blog titled “Would You Cut Up This Table?” The table in question is my dining room table. I bought it from Thos. Moser back in 1979. Our kids grew up around this 8’ long harvest table and we have many fond memories associated with it. In fact, the table was more than the center of our family life, it inspired me to get Moser’s book, “How Build Shaker Furniture,” which sparked my interest in woodworking. The kids have moved on and a few months back my wife and I “downsized” to a much smaller house. The bottom line: the table won’t fit in our new home.
What to do? I proposed I would undertake a careful “remake” of the table so that we could continue to use and enjoy it. This created quite a stir. More than 100 readers posted comments or sent emails about it. Opinions ran about 50/50 between those who believed I should do it and those who basically thought I was crazy. Cut up a piece of Moser furniture? A few people even suggested I contact Mr. Moser and at least seek his advice and counsel if not his permission. Hmmm, What Would Thos. Moser Do?
Well, now I know. Last week the phone rang and much to my surprise and delight, it was Tom Moser. But then it occurred to me that I might now be taken to the woodshed by one of the most famous furniture makers in America! After exchanging the usual pleasantries, he said “You know Steve, as a furniture maker I’m obligated to tell you the right thing to do is buy a new table from me.” Ha, ha, but still no clue about what he really thinks. Then, “I’d be happy to buy it back for what you paid, a full refund,” he offered with a laugh. “Sure Tom,” I said, “that was $650 in 1979 and you now sell a 6’ version for close to $5,000.”
Then it came out. “Steve, it’s your table and you should do whatever you want. You’ve got the skills and clearly the table means a lot to you and your family,” he said. Whew! We talked for at least a half hour. He further explained his thoughts on why it’s OK to modify and reuse furniture to suit a persons needs. It has to do with the difference between craft work and art work. “We’re craftsmen,” he said, “not artists.” He explained that in his early days one of the ways he learned how to make furniture was by cutting up and disassembling old pieces and reusing the parts. He also mentioned that his shop routinely reworks new pieces they’ve made for various reasons.
Then he made a very generous offer: If I wanted to rework the table or build a new one I could come to his shop in Maine and work on it.
Now even more to think about…