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I’ve been doing this job for 12 years now; and that’s the longest commitment I’ve given anything, except for maybe shaving, remaining married and pork barbecue. So clearly I like my job, or I’m un-hirable in any other profession.

Most days are great: I read about woodworking, write about woodworking and do woodworking. But there are a few days that make me grind my teeth in frustration. This is one of those days.

I’m editing a piece by bodger and blacksmith Don Weber for the February 2009 issue of Popular Woodworking. Don has built an interpretation of a Sidney Barnsley hay-rake table and has done a beautiful job. And that’s the problem.

I’ve been dying to build one of these tables since before I came to work here. Barnsley has long been one of my heroes. He was a trained architect who chucked it all to design and build furniture mostly by hand. And to top it all off he had great design sensibilities.

Of course, now that Weber has built this table for the magazine, there’s little chance that I’ll be able to build one unless I can find a customer. Casa Schwarz doesn’t need a massive dining table (already got one). Nor does anyone in my family. I could build one on spec and try to sell it, but I think I’d probably end up with the world’s fanciest basement Pla-Doh table.

Maybe I could just build a small model of it…¦. Aw crud.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 17 comments
  • CascadianPDX

    Scale it down as a coffee table… if you don’t have room for that, it would be an easier sale on spec. I think the design would work well.

    I’ve been dying to find time to make the Syd Barnsely chest with proud dovetails on the arched top. Anyone have dimensions?

  • Ernest Rouse

    Maybe I can help you and visa versa. I am enamored of the table but likewise have no place for it. However, it would be a great table for behind a couch. (usually 18-20" wide and about 60 inches long. I am shackled with zero sense of proportion or design. Could you prepare a "couch table" size set of plans and we could both build it?

  • Olaf Gradin

    I don’t know what the shipping cost on a beast like that would be, but I’ll pay it if you want to send it on down after you make it!

  • John Viola

    Steve In Annapolis-

    I have 3 kids all under 5. I’ve been working on a set of cabinets for the basement since May 2007. As of this writing, only two box-like items exist-the rest are all still individual pieces of plywood.

    I feel your pain.

  • SteveI nAnnapolis

    I have a toddler and a two month old.

    Never mind the table, I’d just like the time to build _anythign_

  • Rod

    I have to say you have a very cool job! (though not just anybody can edit)
    You could build the table and donate it to a silent auction or charity. That way you have the pleasure of building it and giving it away for a good cause!

  • Ron

    Shoot; you have ten darn good reasons from folks that seem to have real jobs. You better get cracken! :^)

  • Samson

    I don’t understand the problem. He built his for a PWW article. Why don’t you do your own for a Woodworking article?

  • Narayan

    Sounds like impetus enough to build a miniature scale replica of your house into which you can put your miniature scale replicas of all the furniture you would otherwise have.

  • The Village Carpenter

    Simple. Buy a bigger house. ; )

  • David Pearce

    heck, if that’s what you consider a downside, I’ll trade you jobs any day.

    Reminds me, I need to build a fancy Play-Doh table for the kiddies…

  • Rick Yochim


    Though I seem to be stuck somewhere in the 18th century in my woodworking, one of my favorire wooworking books is Gimson and the Barnsleys – "Wonderful furniture of a commonplace kind" by Mary Comino. On page 119 it shows details of the table by Sidney Barnsley that look a lot like the design Don invoked and upon which I have been hung up on since I bought the book oh so many years ago. I too have wanted to build that table but have not for one reason or another. Its appeal to me is primal. All that stout, hand planed, and rubbed out oak. Or maybe it’s the line of the hayrake inspired wishbone strectchers as they reference an earlier connection to the land. I don’t know. But even as I explore the deeper mysteries of the fan shell and the cabriole leg, I still think about making that table. Someday perhaps.

    A fancy Pla-Doh platform? Sure, why not? Or, maybe Mrs. S could use a nice potting table. Unless I’ve missed my reading of him, I bet ole Sid would be just fine with something like that.

    Rick Yochim

  • J.C.

    I feel your pain, bubba. Do it anyway and just tell the missus, "Er… uh… I dunno, babe, it just kinda got outta hand and sheesh, can we swap it out sometime with the udder one?"

    Just a suggestion. Remember, forgiveness is easier than permission.


  • Fred L

    I see a full size table for a lilapution neighbor.

  • Christopher Schwarz

    Heck I don’t care about keeping it. I just want to build it.

    It’s a sickness.


  • Mike Siemsen

    Keep in mind all of the things you do get to build while the rest of us don’t get to build and keep things from work. By the way what is your source for the oversize tools?

  • Doug Fulkerson

    Don’t despair. Build it anyway and just tell everyone it was a mistake from your research for your workbench book sequel: Workbenches II: From Construction and Use to Ornamentation and Beautification. No one will think twice about it.

    (Trying to help as best I can)

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