Working in the Round — Mid Century Modern Table

In the summer of 2010 my father and my cousin Sue came to me with an interesting commission. My Aunt and Uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary was coming up and he wanted to something special to celebrate it. Uncle Bob and Aunty Betty had an interesting old revolving coffee table with book storage underneath it that all the kids in the family used over the years to play board games etc with their Grandpa (Uncle Bob to me). They all had fond memories of the table, but with advancing age it was hard to lean over the old table which was fairly low and a little on the small side. The challenge to me was to build the same table, but make it a little bigger and a little taller and keep it a surprise — so all I had to work from was the SINGLE picture below, a couple of dimensions and a rough guess on what it was made from.  Working on a mid 20th century modern piece was a nice departure from my usual work which is more traditional pieces from the 18th and 19th century.

Original Table in an Old Photo
Original Table in an Old Photo

From the above information I decided to use solid cherry for the table, worked out the design in Autocad (first time and only time since I bothered to use Autocad instead of drafting by hand) It was neat to get used to that program, but I felt that it often slowed me down compared to my drafting board. My Dad also donated to the cause a nice and thick circular piece of glass that would protect the new table from the ravages of constant use by children.

Completed Reproduction
Completed Reproduction

Above is the result of this effort. Each platter is larger than the original, the spindles are turned with shoulders and also wedged and glued into place. Under the top platter is a stretcher system that will allow for seasonal wood movement. The spindles form a series of book storage spaces and is a pretty neat design. I put a gentle radius on the edges of the discs which blended very well into the glass protective top. The legs/undercarriage is attached to the unit via a heavy duty lazy Susan mechanism that allows the whole table to rotate making it a great table for games and similar activities.

Upon delivery of the new table I was eager to get a look at the original. As it turns out the original was a made from pine and stained and from what I heard built from a kit in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The new table was a hit with everyone at the party and should last for many generations to come.

Below you can see the table being constructed and delivered:

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