Would You Cut Up This Table?

My Thos. Moser table in the old dining room.

Just over 30 years ago I bought a dining table from Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers and it changed my life. How? When the 8′-long Shaker-style harvest table was delivered, I studied it for awhile and naively concluded I could build it. At that time I knew almost nothing about woodworking. But I was curious to know how it was built and bought Mr. Moser’s book, “How to Build Shaker Furniture.” Soon after, I was in the garage hacking away making crude mortise-and-tenon joints and gluing boards together. This experience was the start of what’s become a 30-plus-year career in woodworking.

Over these many years the table became the gathering place for family and friends. It was used almost every day. Our children ate their first messy meals there. We held wedding parties for friends around it. Family gathered there for countless holiday dinners. It wasn’t always good times. More than one wake was held there, too.

With our children grown my wife and I “downsized” a few months back to a house we love. But sadly, the dining table is unusable there – it’s just too big. We now have a dining space, not a dining room. Since the move in February the table has been parked in the garage. I can’t even think about letting it go. It means too much to us. What to do?

After sketching numerous designs for a new table I’ve come to decision. I’m going to use our dear old table to make the “new” one. Some people think I’m crazy for considering this. It’s a pretty table as is, and, after all, it is a Moser table, signed and dated. In fact, there’s a darn good chance it was built by Christian Becksvoort, one of maybe three employees Moser had at the time. So I wonder what you all think of this idea. Am I nuts?

Just so you know, my plan is to convert the drop-leaf table to a race track oval extension table with a couple leaves. Here’s a a version of the table now offered by Moser as a custom build. Mine will be about 54″ long with no leaves and 72″ fully extended. I can use the original base and take a section out of the long aprons. The top will be reused as the top, just shorter with round ends (the round ends fit the shape of our dining space). Being very careful, I think I can do everything and keep the well-aged oil finish as is, “beauty marks” and all. Those dings, dents and scratches are its written history.

I’ve given this all a lot of thought. What does remaking it mean? Does it ruin it? When done, will it be even more “my” table than it is now? Can I have my table and eat at it, too?

Drop a comment and let me know what you think!

– Steve Shanesy

98 thoughts on “Would You Cut Up This Table?

  1. peppersvnv

    I have the same problem with a twist. I have a tresle table that my wife has decided is too big for the dining room where it has lived for 35 years or so. I considered downsizing the table but the more I thought about it the more I didn’t like the idea. Any well made, well designed table has proportions that are right for the size of the table. If I downsize the top the legs will be proportionally to large. I don’t like the idea of a white tail deer on elephant legs.

  2. me

    For what its worth, I made a pine table 42 years ago when I was in the military and money was tight. when I wanted to build a new one every one said ” no way ” all the dents,scratches,kids home work, all told a story or a fond remberance of times past. so the old kitchen table is still the same way when I built it and the wife still loves it

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