I started the day yesterday with one topic in mind – how to build what is sometimes called a “farmhouse table” – but I ended the day on a slightly different topic, end table plans. What happened in the middle was a phone conversation with a guy I met at Woodworking in America, Mark Hicks of the Plate 11 Bench Company.
Mark runs the furniture company that his great uncle started in Ozark, Missouri, Norman’s Furniture – but as a separate line of business he has also started the workbench company in order to find a greater market for Roubo-style benches. At WIA, I was standing near the Plate 11 booth eavesdropping (one of my favorite pastimes) and heard a middle-aged couple speaking with Mark about the possibility of buying a farmhouse table for their dining room that would look something like a Roubo bench.
That type of custom work certainly falls into the category of “adaptive furniture design” that I wrote about earlier this week. I wanted to hear how the design process was going, so I called Mark. Through various twists and turns in the conversation, we ended up talking about a furniture category that falls more squarely in the typical mid-market range – your basic coffee table, sofa table and end table set. Mark has on hand a pile of 3”-4” thick reclaimed barn wood that is not suitable for workbenches, but may be quite suitable for a set of small tables.
Why base a living room set design off the idea of a workbench? “The mass of it,” as Mark puts it – referring to the mass of a Roubo benchtop. Furniture buyers are attracted to the substantial form, and will eventually want living space pieces that mirror a work space in that way.
But by the same token, there’s a design challenge here, especially when it comes to the smallest piece of furniture. How do you design an end table that has the heavy, bench-like top while remaining true to the original form – and not ending up with an overly narrow base structure?
End Table Plans
I suggested to Mark that if it’s the mass of the top that he wants to maintain, then there ought to be a way to do that without necessarily utilizing an exact replica of the Roubo base. Easy for me to say. We batted around a couple thoughts on pedestal bases that might work.
Suggestions are welcome below in the comments section. A great place to start brainstorming is by clicking here for some inexpensive table plans in our store. Try a couple of them today and let us know what you are learning, and how you are adapting the designs for your own use.
Also be sure to grab a copy of our free PDF download on designing tables. It will definitely get your design ideas flowing.