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

  3. Katoom

    Steve, I wouldn’t modify your Thomas Moser table. It’s too beautiful. Keep it in the family and let someone else use it. Keep the legacy going. You are fully capable of building another table and it would be “your” craftsmanship.

  4. Jallens47

    Hello Steve,

    As I see it, if the table is in good shape and you feel it has 15 or more years of service left, leave it alone and pass it on to someone who has a need for an 8′ table and appreciates a Moser design. Then build your own from scratch. The table you build will truely be your own and will be treasured by your children as “the table that Dad built” a lot more than “the table that Dad cut down”.

    1. Steve ShanesySteve Shanesy Post author

      If I do build a new one and preserve the old, there’d someday be one table for each kid. Hmmm?

  5. Reidtired

    Steve, I have to agree with g-dresser and hodgman. the memories embedded in the table are not just yours, but the entire family. Build a new one and new memories. Your kids will value both. Too many times I have seen beautiful pieces of work “improved” only to the regret of the owner and others.

  6. hodgman@gmavt.net

    I agree precisely with g-dresser–don’t cut it up. It is not a table. It is a family treasure, beauty marks and all. Moser really has nothing to do with it. I am 79 years old, which probably colors my perspective. Build a new table from scratch. One of the kids will want the Moser table. Another will value the replacement table that you design and build with your own hands.

  7. Festus1960

    I have an old woodworking/cabinetmaking book I purchased at a garage sale. One of the projects is how to “update” an old, out of fashion Morris chair into a table. I know it’s not quite the same thing, but I always wondered if some Stickleys ever suffered that fate….

  8. g-dresser

    Steve, I’m with the don’t cut in up group. I would hope that a family member who grew up eating at that table would love to have his or her kids continue the family traditions that are a part of their family heritage. If not, then give it to a relative or friend who would, in time, treasure it as you have. Do build a new table that will fit in your new eating place, one that you will come to treasure.

  9. xMike

    OK Steve, the magazine owes you a bonus for this one.
    Great interest – I’ll bet this garnered a record number of comments.
    Now, what are you going to ‘threaten’ to cut up for the next issue?

  10. cahudson42

    Hi Steve,

    If it were mine, I’d save and store it until one of my kids was ready for it. If more than one wanted it, then flipping a coin or drawing straws..

    I’d then enjoy making the new table! I believe a similar table to what you want shows on pg 136 of the latest edition of Moser’s How to Build Shaker Furniture.

  11. winthrope

    Why don’t you talk it over with Moser? He is still kicking, it was his table before it was yours, and he may have some pertinent suggestions.

    1. Steve ShanesySteve Shanesy Post author

      Perhaps I’ll get a chance to do that. I heard from someone at the company who was sending the post to Tom. Would be interesting to get his take on the subject.


  12. bluengle

    I can’t help but be reminded of the Aesop fable of the man, his son, and their donkey by this blog. Anyway, when it comes down to it, the value in any object is only in what it means to you. If the value is in the memories it represents regardless of minor change in form, then keep it and trim it. If it means more in its original form for that same reason or because of who made it, then don’t trim and save it for one of your kids. If its value was merely what it was worth as a collectible, well, you’d have probably sold it by now. At any rate, one thing is certain–woodworking has always been about form AND function. I don’t think anyone, including the original builder no matter who, would prefer it see put out to pasture just to preserve it as artwork alone. That’s not what we do.

  13. Paul


    Before I retired from custom Gunsmithing & stocking, When A customer had Valuable antique to rework and or refinish. I would ask for a little history,if he just wanted a hunting gun, and did not care one way or other. I would put him in touch with some one who does care, Usally he would sell or trade for something I could build what he wanted.

    Sorry to ramble, It is your table Do what you want, it will just make others of like kind more valuable!

  14. lastwordsmith

    Yes, you should modify the table exactly as you have planned. My rationale is too long to post here, so I wrote it up on my blog instead:


    In short, you do no service to the table itself letting it sit in the garage. You restore its intrinsic value as a dining table–and as a centerpiece of your home life–by bringing it back into the house, even if you have to modify it to do so.

    (another) Steve S.

  15. frankgilbert

    Here is the deal. Use the cut off pieces to build a box or whatever and enjoy the whole table in different form. Non replaceable and part of you so keep every scrap.

    Best of luck with your decision. Another thought is call Mr. Beck… for his opinion.

  16. scot

    In restoration we redo and remake, in conservation we do the least amount of change and always make sure the piece can be returned to its previous state. If the piece is worth conservation then it is not a redo. If it is just a table with no historic value then the sentiment and sentimental value, is yours and it is up to you what you do. There is only one real path and that is the path with a heart; follow your heart.

  17. Deacon

    Cutting up this table would be like painting over the Mona Lisa after you cut a chunk out of the canvas.

    But…It’s your table.

    1. sandywaters70@hotmail.com

      Almost exactly my thoughts about this. I registered as a user just so that I could post a comment. “Please do not cut up that table.”

  18. LMJF


  19. gb560

    Document whatever you do with the table, pictures, receipts, etc. Contact Moser and see if they have any suggestions. Maybe they would be willing to guide you through a reconstruction, even refinish and recertify the table. It looks like a work of art and will last generations with lots of story behind it. Best of luck and let us know what happens.

  20. georgeandgracie

    Are you sure you wouldn’t feel sort of guilty after lopping parts off the table? I can’t see how modifying it will make it more “yours”. If your kids develop a sentimental streak over time they may well bemoan what you did to the table.

  21. waltamb

    I would never re-construct a classic.

    I would consider trading the table with one of woodworkers to make you a smaller one just like it.

    There is also a Moser showroom that could sell the one you have.

  22. PFSchempf

    I’m with Derek on this one. Relatively speaking, there are a lot of Moser tables, but only one the Shanesy family grew up around. Although it is a beautiful table from a well known maker, it won’t mean more to anyone else.

  23. jvduncan

    I would lose sleep at night even thinking about cutting up the Moser table, as much for the history of your family around that table as for the artistry of the table. My choice would be enlarge the area for the table. When your whole family comes to visit they have their familiar place to sit in an area large enough for them to do so. One of your sister magazines has plans for enlarging a room. Don’t downsize the wrong thing. Thanks for reading.

  24. jimfoley

    A table with that history has a soul and a memory. Within its fibers are the joys and, no doubt, the pain of a family growing up. What is important isn’t not that it’s a Moser but stories it can tell. It needs a life within your family, intact. It would make no more sense to chip pieces off a headstone to make marbles. The value is the history.

  25. GLJacobs

    As a Cabinetmaker at Moser I have cut up pieces unfit for first quality shipment to our customers and I have even taken two Continuous Arm seats and carefully spliced them together cutting off the blemished parts to make one useable seat instead of having two unusable seats. I’ve also seen table tops re-purposed to be made into completely different objects of first quality. With that said cut and shape away. Make your new table and do it the best you possibly can and nothing will be better than having your table and making it too.

    1. Cosmo

      Kinda says it all, don’t it.
      “Make your new table and do it the best you possibly can and nothing will be better than having your table and making it too.”

  26. aschaffter

    Who knows a “Shanesy-modified Moser” might be worth more than just a Moser someday.

  27. mrphil

    Hey, you paid for it, it’s yours…anyone who has sold their woodwork knows this. You can cut it down to size, modify it, refinish it or cut notches and make an ashtray out of it if you want. I would advise judicious restraint,however,it is a really nice piece and could be very valuable some day – but still, it is valueless if you don’t get use out of it.So have at; don’t get too caught up in the intangible, you can’t sit down and eat at an intangible

  28. jack_alan

    My first thought is “Would you cut of the tails off a Maloof rocker if it was too long for the room?”
    My next thought is If you’re qualified to do the table justice with resizing…then “Go for it.”

  29. loloane

    I feel your pain, new space, old furniture, lots of memories. Ofttimes they just don’t fit together.

    That said, no disrespect, you’re nuts!

    Find a new home for the table, build a new one like you want/need. You have the skills, yes? Make it nice, write an article.

    A hermaphrodite is a proper class of sailing ship, not a cut-down, re-purposed Moser, even if executed with style and grace.


  30. Quis

    I had to make a comment, so I went and registered for the site, as much as I’ll hate the junk mail that will be coming. I think there have been some great recommendations for something other than cutting it up, that you should seriously consider. Eventually one of the kids may well treasure the table they grew up with, and have the space to make it their own daily user, though this isn’t certain. But I suspect that none will want it in an empty-nester size. I think its worth the wait to see, especially as it comes from a recognized cabinet maker. It may well become the center point of family gatherings, and enhance the desire to make long trips to be with family on the special holidays. Building something new, without the dings and other beauty marks does not mean you’ll forget the fond memories.

    But whatever you decide, follow your heart.

  31. byrdman61

    Absolutely make it work for you and your family in the new dining area. I think that it may be even more special to you and your family with your craftsmanship added to it. The other negative replys talking about the signature, the serial# etc… That would carry weight if you were planning on selling the table which I am sure that you are not. The only reason that I would not resize the table is if you and your family feel that there may be another move in the near future that may have more dining area room. If you and your family are planning to stay where you are presently at, well get to work so you and your family can continue to enjoy this memorable piece of furniture. Good Luck and God Speed.

  32. sandylns

    Just do it. Years ago, I was faced with the same problem. Our coffee table, an expensive imported Danish teak table, was too long for our new living room furniture. So, what to do? With much trepidation I cut over a foot from the table. Milled new end boards and, today, you can’t see that is a different table.

  33. PhilS

    Please do not modify the table. as you said, the table is signed and dated as a Moser table. If there is a serial number or other identification, you might be able to determine the craftsman who built it.

    That aside, the table that has been in your family and acquired all those memories and developed its provenance is the table you see today. Don’t put an asterisk next to that by changing it.

    Instead, find another use for the table somewhere else in your house or give it to a family member who can carry the tradition forward. If they’re not ready to provide a home yet, let the table continue to live, unchanged, in the garage until they are ready.

    No mater how good a job you do, and I’m sure you’ll do great, it won’t be the same table. Leave it as it is today.


  34. Jim Maher

    You should do what YOU want.

    If it were me, I’d give it to one of the kids (or store ’til they’re ready). This ain’t just a table, its an heirloom – imbued with FAMILY.

    AND, I’d make a table to fit the dining “space”. In time, that’s an heirloom too!

    The kids can argue about who gets which and who got the better one for decades. They’ll cherish every moment of those debates. And then the grandkids get to play.

    But that’s just me. YOU should do what’s right for you and yours.


  35. mattyk

    I too have been moved to serious woodworking by an early and maybe naive purchase of a Moser table. My family is at a different stage of life than yours…we still do homework at the table most afternoons before clearing for dinner. So I know the power of a first simple, beautiful, solid piece of cheery centering…no, anchoring the heart of our home. And so for the love of everything that is good and right in this world, Man, you can’t do it!!

    What you love is that table and the memories and transformational experiences iit represents…not the raw board footage it possesses. Cutting it up, no matter how successful the finished piece is will not do much to replace this icon of a life well lived. Cutting up its bones and gluing them into a new corpus, well, to me that is like stuffing a beloved family dog or mounting its head in the living room after a long life of loyal companionship.

    If you really love the table, find someone who too will be moved to a lifetime of inspired woodworking by it.

  36. Derek Cohen

    Hi Steve

    I would cut the table down. What is important is that you have the table and its associated memories – the marks, stains, scars, scratches – that remind you of the times the children spent there, and the laughter and tears of the family over the years.

    The new shape will not alter the soul of the table the way you plan to go about it.

    Regards from Perth


  37. Sawtooth

    You’re not talking about turning a stradivrius into a banjo. Downsizing the table for your new digs is, I think, not the issue. After all, the table has been a part of your life and family, and you want that to continue. The real question is what do you do with the remnants? Make them into keepsake boxes for yor kids or something for the grandkids. Don’t throw the cuttoffs into the fireplace!

    1. Steve ShanesySteve Shanesy Post author

      You are reading my mind. One thing I haven’t mentioned here is that I would do something for the kids with the fall-off material. One thing I’ve considered is a miniature of the original table for each of them.


      1. wdworker@bellsouth.net

        While I agree that it is yours to do with as you please, I think you’re NUTS. I modified a bentwood table that I thought wasn’t valuable because it was built with Phillips head screws & found out later that they were used in the 19th century. had I left it alone it would have been valuable. If you leave it as is It could be the means to help pay the schooling of 1 or more of your children. JHB

  38. roncampbell

    What a beautiful table and what great memories. If one of your kids does not have a place for it in their house then I agree with your plans to modify it so you can continue to enjoy it for many years to come. Good luck.

  39. Cosmo

    I would offer five options:
    1. Donate the table to a charity auction and build a new table.
    2. Call Moser and see if they would be interested in buying back the table.
    3. Offer the table “for sale” to the Popular Woodworking readers.
    4. Do you have children who would welcome the table into their home?
    5. Modify the table and keep it in your home.
    I vote for #5 as I have been through the same problem with downsizing.

  40. Stuart Hough

    Steve, while many would accuse you of sacrilege, in the end the table is just a thing. If you want to keep it, and modify it, do it. I have altered a lot of “things” over the years, and while some of my siblings have thought me crazy for “destroying” some expensive things, I still have them, and they are even more valuable to me because I am still making memories with those items, to add to the past experiences with those items. It becomes sort of a zen thing…if you honor the piece by taking great care in the modification, all will be right and just. Good luck!

  41. mvflaim

    If the monetary value of the table has no interest to you, have you thought about donating it to a local church or charity? I’m sure whatever family acquires it will build as many fond memories from owning it as you have.

  42. Ixzed13

    Seeing that you have thought a lot about this, I don’t think there is a wrong solution because we could each have different point of views. In the end, it’s your own choice, based on your particular circumstances. Make a decision, stick with it and don’t have regrets. 🙂

  43. Dave Beauchesne


    As tough as it is now to consider optionw what to do with the table, modifying it would lose value beyond any gain re-purposing it right now.
    Like others said, cutting up a Krenov, re-finishing an original Stickley, selling an original motor from a numbers matching Hemi Cuda – they don’t make them any more and knowingly making a major alteration, without REALLY needing to is somehow sinful in a way, IMHO.
    Find out if Christian built it, document that tidbit, and hang on to it if at all possible.
    Good luck with a difficult decision.
    Dave Beauchesne

  44. trailerman

    Never in a million years would I cut into it with the family history it hold in your heart. I like the idea of passing it along to your childern with the same purpose of passing it. If they can’t use it, then have them give it to another family member.
    Furniture use to be modified or “repurposed” because of necessity ($$), but I don’t think you are in that situaion. Family and memories are priceless.
    Just make sure you almost emotionally let go of the table when you physically let it go. When you see it years later, it may be a little more used and may not be in what you consider the exact condition you last saw it.

  45. Ryan Fee

    Hmm, tough decision. I’ll admit, my initial gut reaction was an emphatic ‘no’. As I though about it more though, I realized that had you been talking about sending it back to Moser to have the conversion done then I would be in favor. I also realized that had you been referring to an equally well made 30 year old table of unknown lineage, I would have also been in favor. Taking all of that into consideration, I’ve got to tell you to go for it. This isn’t some antique that you just picked up and are now talking about butchering, this is Your Table. Every scratch, scuff and wear mark belongs to you and your family. What’s more, I think you’re the only person qualified to do the modification, as you have both the time (no deadline or budget constraints of a commercial woodworking shop) and emotional investment to persevere at the project until you get it ‘right’.

    Best of Luck to you, whatever you decide.


  46. jdm925

    Would you cut up an original Stickley or Green and Green? Thos Moser is probably one of the handful of modern furniture makers that could one day be as sought after. Once it has been cut, it will never be the same. I am sure you could sell the piece and give it a new home while making enough money to buy top quality materials to build a new one.

  47. bill

    I feel your pain! I am 50/50 on what I would do if it were my table. Guess I’m no help. Good luck no matter what you decide.

  48. 7-Thumbs

    If it were a Krenov or Frid would you cut it up? Moser may well be valuable in the future. I would leave the table alone ans pass it on to the kids and just make a completely new table.

  49. Steve ShanesySteve Shanesy Post author

    Many of these are really thoughtful often creative comments. Keep them coming. They are helpful.

    For those suggesting I sell it, it’s odd but it’s difficult to find any comparative values. Even Ebay searches come up empty for any sort of Moser furniture. But I really don’t consider selling an option. Five, 10 years from now maybe one of the kids would have a place large enough for it, and I suspect one of them will want it some day, certainly. At our age, I figure my wife and I will get another 20 years use of it if I remake it now so we use it again. I’d like to think that in 20 years it would mean even more to the kids – all the more history and shared memories. And by the way, I have spoken to both my son and daughter about this. And my son is a woodworker so he has a full understanding of the implications of all this.

    Someone commented that even though it is a Moser piece and maybe Becksvoort made it, it’s still a commercially made table. I tend to agree. The maker built it for wages. He’s built thousands of pieces over a long career and likely has no attachment to it.


  50. jerryolson19

    I just finished an exact copy of this table for my Daughter. I think I would be devastated if some day someone were to consider “re-purposing” the table.
    Give the table to one of your children who do have the room for it and make your own version of the 54″ oval. This will then become another piece of your furniture legacy.


  51. TerryR

    Perish the thought. I can see repurposing furniture that comes to you in parts. I recently fount a parquet table top; (no legs, no apron), that will turn ito a sofatable and a hall table. Think of some to the things that you have created and are pround of. Do you still have any attachment to them?

  52. David RandallDavid Randall

    It’s your table Steve.

    In the 1960s my mother wanted to switch from a draw table to a gateleg table that took up less room in the smaller dining area of our new house. My father dismantled the draw table and over time the parts became parts of other furniture.

    When my wife Christine and I moved to Seattle we brought one of the leaves and the top which are all that remain of the original, and I’ll use them in something or make another table.

    These parts retain their emotional interest for me with the dings from table tennis and building with Meccano,, burns from soldering radio parts

  53. Jim McCoy

    If it were me I think I would contact Christian and ask him what his opinion is. If he did work on it he may have a good reason for or against repurposing it. As a woodworker myself I think I would like someone to ask me before they significantly modify or repurpose something I made. Curtesy is a fast dying virtue but it seems to me it is kind of basic to this question. Maybe it’s not just about who owns something. I like to think the person who invested the time and creativity in making it have a vested interest in what happens to it.

  54. mbholden

    It is just wood. Cut it up and enjoy the memories of what it used to be and what it became.

  55. xMike

    As others have said, there is a long tradition supporting re purposing/rebuilding furniture. Go for it.
    I like Antiques Roadshow but I have to laugh out loud when the appraiser swoons over dirt (“PaTiNa!”), tisk’s over clean-and-polished (i.e., actually used in a home), and drones on about how an antique would be worth zillions if only “someone” hadn’t modified it. Modification is as valid a part of its history as is cleaning it periodically.
    Plus, if you could preserve the original manufacturing mark and add your own with the date you rebuilt it, you’ll give some future ARS appraiser a reason for a 5 minute segment.

  56. ejosgood

    Steve,DON’T DO IT!

    My father was from a family of 9 kids. They had a large dining room table. It was one of the few things that he kept when my grandparents were no longer with us. I grew up in a small house, so the table didn’t fit. My dad had stored the table for years in his sisters barn which had a nice workshop area. Dad’s plan had always been to build a larger house, one which would accomodate such a large table, and where his brothers and sisters and their kids could all come and be comfortable. He loved the memories of growing up with that large family and mealtime.

    One day much to his surprise he visited my aunt and was surprised to find that my uncle had cut the table up to use the wood to build some book cases. You cannot begin to imagine the hurt and disappointment my father felt when he learned the fate of the table that meant so much to him. My father had a good heart and I’m certain that he forgave them for what they did, but you knew that it was if a part of him died when that table was destroyed.

    I’m certain that if that table were still a table, that one of our family would still be using it today as we knew what it meant to him, even though none of us have large families or homes, we would have made it work.

    Give it to your children and share its meaning with them. They and future generations will cherish it when you are long gone.

  57. Maurice

    SELL IT! If you value the integrity of the piece, chances are someone else will to. With this table out of the picture, you are freed up to create the appropriate table for the space that you have. I just went through this experience, and will be making a table shortly.

  58. oldfox

    A Moser, is a Moser, is a Moser. It has only been a few months since you have had to make this, obviously, heart wrenching decision. Put it away for 5 years. Then take it out, set it up and have a family reunion dinner. If you still can’t make the decision, do it again in another 5 years. In the meantime, pick yourself up a “Sears Once-in-a-Lifetime Annual Sale” table. Or another Moser. But don’t destroy it now. You need the time to decide. “Time changes all things.”
    Hurricane Ike flooded my home and I lost ALL of my accumulated woodworking tools, material, everything. I am just now coming to grips with that, so I know. You have the choice.

  59. Kevin Fitzsimons

    It’s a beautiful table and MAYBE built by CB. But, it is a production table, with no really unique construction techniques or hand carving. It’s really pretty basic. Probably hundreds were made so the second hand value might not be what many people assume. If you modify it because you want to keep the memories close and visible, modify it. Keep it in the family. With families moving into smaller homes, it will be more useful when you hand it down and will mean more to the family because this is now dad’s table. It’s just a table that any woodworker can make. It’s the memories you’re preserving.

  60. j_a_wolfe

    The fact that you’re wrestling with the thought of “destroying” an art piece to retain the sentimental piece of furniture is very telling. While you’d be eliminating its resale value, your comments seem to tell me that the value in your heart greatly exceeds the market price. Cut it up and retain as many nicks, dings and scratches as you can.
    Moser table in original condition ~ a few thousand dollars.
    A piece with the mileage, laughter and tear stains ~ Priceless.

  61. aspicer

    One of the things I love about our craft is the ability to make or modify what we need. There is a LONG tradition in our craft of modifying, adding and re-purposing wood to suit a new purpose. The piece you are talking about is not an irreplaceable museum specimen. It’s valuable only in the context of your life. I say modify it in whatever way serves your current purpose and keeps your valuable memories intact for your own enjoyment.

    I’ve read enough and hear enough from both Thomas Moser and Christian Becksvoort over the years to believe that both of those men would applaud your approach.

  62. Dazzzle

    Altering pieces is something that happens regularly in history, one only has to look at old English pieces to see that. It is obvious that Steve has a connection with this table, why not ask the man/firm who made it for an opinion before you do alter it. You have the requiste skill to do the work, so unless another family member is willing to adopt the table I would be tempted to press on.

  63. madhun

    Lots of good arguments both pro and con. In the end I’m a sentimentalist so I would pole the the next generation 1st to see if anyone would want to keep this bastion of family history intact and in the family. If you modify it you’ll be the only ones that will remember what it looked like. And when you’re gone so will go the memories.

    If no one wants it now then consider storing it in plain sight: detach the legs and prop or hang it on a wall; vertical or horizontal. It could become a back drop for paintings, photos, etc. Layers of memories.

  64. William Tily

    I might have to chop some on thr walls of the new house, it dosen’t have any memories dear to the family. Make room for the old friend.

  65. Richard Dawson


    Suppose you gave the table to a relative or friend. One of the people closely associated with it. Further consider that this person did what you are thinking of doing and made a “new” table. How would you feel?

    You might also ask Christian Becksvoort if he could have made the table and what his reaction would be. You may have paid for the table and legally it is yours. But,in a sense, if he built it then he may think of it has his table, as well. How would he feel? Or is this gibberish?

    Even if I had the requisite skill and the original builder expressed indifference, I think it would be very difficult to take a saw to table that represents so many memories.


  66. mvflaim

    The only downside of re-purposing the table is if Thomas Moser drops dead next year the table may be worth triple what it is now. However, that’s not guarenteed and Moser won’t die anytime soon.

  67. Dean

    Well, since a simple yes answer was an insufficient answer for the question “Would You Cut Up This Table?”, let me add some thoughts.

    Consider the following: You are starting with a quality, well built table, with a family history (provenance). You are a very skilled woodworker. You already have a plan in mind for the modifications, and you have a different set of living circumstances now. From that I would say that it makes perfect sense to modify the table to meet your current needs. In other words, yes you should “cut up this table”.

  68. robert


    Cut it up and rebuild it into something that is useful to you. That way it can be brought back into your fold.

  69. bstjohn

    There are plenty of valid arguments on both sides, and many of them have been stated already. The fundamental truth here is that it’s yours, and you can do what you would like with it.
    Someone I know gave me some advice recently on making a decision like this. Wait until everyone else is asleep, turn off the lights, and light a candle. Sit with the table and think over all of these things, and whatever else comes to mind. The answer, he claims, will come to you (I haven’t tried it yet, just thought I’d throw it out there).

    Good luck, and remember that whatever you decide will be right,

  70. tsstahl

    I’m with you, Steve. If you see the table as a Moser original art piece, then leave it be.

    If you see it as a table that is only good for what it can do for you, then have at it.

    However, before making a decision, I would involve the folks whose memories are also part and parcel of all those dings, dents, and other assorted character builders.

  71. Mitch Wilson

    It’s time to suck it in, Steve, and let it go. You will always have the memories and you will create new memories with the new table that you build. But, as you have already discovered, it is time to move on. Let some other young couple just starting out in life, and just starting their family, have the opportunity to build their lives and legacies around this wonderful piece of art, just as you did. Let it go.

  72. Bill Lattanzio

    I would not, for the life of me, cut that table down. Give it to one of your kids, put it in storage, even sell it to a collector, but cutting it should not be an option. If you cut it in pieces and make another table it will neither be a Moser, or one of your own. If you admire it so much, a fitting tribute would be to make a smaller copy of it. I would pay to store it rather than cut it down. But that’s just an opinion.

    1. Steve ShanesySteve Shanesy Post author

      OK Phred, but what would you do? I understand your concern, have thought about it a lot. It’s a hard choice.


      1. Phred

        I would build what I wanted from scratch, of course. And I’m confident that my skills do not exceed yours.

    1. Steve ShanesySteve Shanesy Post author

      But I can’t let it go. It has too much meaning, in a very personal way.

  73. Brent

    Does any of your children have the room for the table and with? If so give or sell it to them. And build yourself another table, it won’t take much longer than reworking the other. Plus now there is a second table to hand down to the kids, the one that dad built.

  74. joelm

    Sell it. It is probably worth many thousands of dollars and as it a rare piece. Then use the case to buy some wood, and lots of cool stuff with the change.

    1. Steve ShanesySteve Shanesy Post author

      Thanks, Joel, but money is not an issue here. It’s more important than that.

  75. tsangelltsangell

    I don’t think I could bring myself to do it. I really don’t. I would rather it be in someone else’s home, preserved, than cut it up. And what if you ever up-size again, but you’ve cut up your heirloom table?

    Build a new table with new material.

    1. Steve ShanesySteve Shanesy Post author

      Thanks, but a question. What is the value of an heirloom table if it is in the possession of someone else, unrelated, miles away, never to be seen again.

  76. texas1st

    To me, woodworking is like the Open Source Software in computers (I am a student of a lot of disciplines). The table may have been built by a master, but that doesn’t preclude you from improving it, especially if you have the skill and desire to do it right. You are adding value and retaining the memories that have taken a generation or more to build. You are also making your mark on this table and the world. You aren’t taking anything away, simply continuing the legacy.

    1. mgiles

      Once code has been changed you can always revert back. Or, retrieve a certain version from an archive library. Once a Moser, Maloof, Goddard or Townsend has been modified, there is no going back.

  77. mgiles

    Please preserve this table. Can you hand down to one of your children and make one yourself? The memories will still be there for generations to come. To me, a torn apart table, especially by a master, somehow reduces the memories.

  78. Jonathan Szczepanski

    I think you should go for it. i just helped a woman turn a large extension table into smaller one by removing the extension mechanism, and repositioning one of the bases so she could use half the table in her much smaller apartment.

    Reusing or re-purposing something is just as valid as building something new. With your own memories of the table, you will loose nothing. But I think a “54′” table might be a little long for your new house ;-).


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