A DIY table-building adventure in Kingfield

Tane Danger and Eric Roper enjoy their new table with friends.
Tane Danger and Eric Roper enjoy their new table with friends.

“Building something together is a good test of a relationship.”

As if building a DIY farmhouse table in the garage wasn’t stressful enough, two weeks in I had an older, “wiser” friend casually turning it into a allegory of my relationship with Eric. “I hope we hold up better than the first layer of Gorilla Glue did,” I thought.

pickingboards

The project started in the shortest days of Minnesota winter: a time when everyone is looking for some reason to anticipate the dark hours after work. A table seemed like a straightforward endeavor, even for guys whose entire carpentry experience is comprised of a standing birdfeeder and a tower for their cat George. Plus, there were copious plans online from optimistic, encouraging, and virtually all female DIYers.

My only stipulation was that the tabletop come from “storied wood.” Whether from an enchanted tree, or an ancient Minneapolis warehouse, or the walls of an asylum for insane horses, I wanted wood with a story to it.

Eric discovered Longleaf Reclaimed Timber in Northeast Minneapolis. The proprietor showed us 12-foot-long boards salvaged from the floor of a barn in (this is not a joke) Boardman, Wisc. They were more than one hundred years old, with countless hoof-indents to impress our future guests. We had our tabletop.

The pieces for the legs and apron came from a local hardware store. By pure serendipity, both the 100-plus year-old top boards and legs were all Douglas fir.

eric measures

Wood in hand, we began the process of measuring and cutting. Discovering we’d measured incorrectly, buying some new wood, measuring and cutting again. Each step came with a new challenge, and a new reason to ask a friend if we could borrow their tools. This may have been our project, but the table wouldn’t be standing today without the kindness and generosity of many good neighbors.

The building process was a month’s worth of cutting, sanding, planing, varnishing, and gluing. Eric handled the bold, definitive steps like drilling irrevocable pocket holes from the legs into the base. I discovered a knack for power-sanding, and the intoxicating smells of polyurethane and bourbon together in a closed garage.

varhnish manhattan

I believe Eric and I passed that relationship test. Each night we enjoy dinner together on our homemade farmhouse table, which comfortably seats the many friends who helped us build it, or just the two of us and George. It stands as a testament to what two people can achieve without experience, trained skills, or qualifications — but equipped with the right tools, good friends, and each other.

Tane Danger is the co-founder and host of Minnesota’s favorite (and coincidentally only) civics-inspired improv comedy troupe, “The Theater of Public Policy.” In addition to being a full-time improv performer, director, and teacher, he is finishing his Master’s of Public Policy degree at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs this spring.

 

 

 

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