This table sits in our kitchen, dwarfing our already small space. There were two things we both wanted when we moved into our home: a front porch swing so we could be easily seen and accessible to our neighbors and a table that would fit our growing community and family around it. We shopped around trying to find the perfect table for our space, but everything we found was either too expensive or not what we envisioned. We decided that in order to achieve our goal we would need to build it.
Brian found a design we both liked and dove into the project. We soon discovered building this table by hand meant a bigger learning curve than we anticipated. Crafting such a massive item required tools Brian had never used before, cutting angles that needed to be just right, and making sure to protect the wood along the way so as not to split it. The table demanded precise measurements, acute attention to detail, and much more patience than we anticipated.
Finally it was built! All the table needed now was stain and then it was ready to go inside. But the timeline for this didn’t go as planned. Due to my indecision about the stain color, the colossal unit sat overtaking the garage longer than Brian would have wanted. Once we were ready to start staining we realized we had to wait even longer for the solution to turn the correct color (we used steel wool and vinegar for the stain). Finally the steel wool was dissolved and the mixture seemed to be the color we wanted. We applied the stain and the result was amazing. Now for the clear coat to seal the stain. We applied the first layer and it deepened the already dark and rich colors. It looked beautiful, but there were still more steps to follow. To ensure a quality finish we needed to sand it and then apply a second coat of clear seal. This layer not only serves an aesthetic function, but also to protect the wood from heat, liquid, and daily use. Once multiple layers of clear coat followed by sanding and followed again by clear coat were complete, the table was finally ready for her grand entrance into our home.
And so here it sits and it is far from perfect. In the light of morning I can see every mistake we made: where the stain is darker in some places and lighter in others, where the measurement was slightly off, where one board is uneven to the others…and I love it. I love this table and all of its beautiful flaws because in it I see us. We too are crafted in imperfection, but we still seek to serve and to welcome all who would come into out home. To build the family we yearn for we must learn to use new tools, be patient with timelines we didn’t design, give attention to previously unseen details, be willing to put in the work to protect what we build, and be comfortable with a crowded space. We yearn for the ability to grow our community and our family in uncommon ways and we ache to create a space where always one more can fit around our table.
With this table we will welcome, we will love, and we will serve all that come into our home. And we will hope to forever call them family, even after they have left. With this table we will seek to build with our hands a beautifully crafted imperfection that we call family. This is what we dream of and desire for this table. And so we build.