Jonathan Hale – Brooklyn, NY
I lived on Bleecker street in Greenwich Village for twelve years, when I first moved in I made most of the furniture for the loft. It was a large space and I wanted to take advantage of having a new space to fill with furniture of my own design. One of the pieces that garnered the most compliments over the years was the large dining table. It was made with recycled wood compliments of New York University.
I remember one night in the winter of 2000, it was snowing I got a call from my girlfriend at the time, she told me to hurry over to Waverley Place with the laundry cart, there were a bunch of really large wood boards being thrown away. I was skeptical, but curious so I put on snow gear and trudged across Washington Square Park with a fairly flimsy laundry cart in tow. When I got to the address there actually was quite a bit of wood being thrown away. It was sitting upright in small dumpsters, this was actually fortunate because it allowed you to see which boards were the longest. A quick look at the wood told me it was an old subfloor that had been torn out. There were holes in the sides of the boards and in some cases there were still pegs sticking out from where the boards had been joined. They were all in rough shape, covered in dirt and grime, I had no clue what type of wood I was looking at. I debated if it was worth taking any home, but due to the two inch thickness I decided to take enough home to make a table top. I grabbed five boards, each eight to ten feet long and loaded them on top of my little blue laundry cart. As I was taking the last board a huge dump truck came to cart the wood away. I got some strange looks from the guys on the truck, I must have looked pretty crazy in the snow with five long boards balanced on a small cart.
Somehow the cart and I made it back home over six blocks of snow filled streets. I carried the boards up four flights and let them sit on the balcony for the next year. After a year of sitting on the balcony I brought the boards inside to dry and let them live under the staircase for about six months. I actually ended up making the table on the balcony and inside the loft. I used a hand jointer and belt sander on the balcony to finish the board sides, and took off as much of the roughness as possible. When I was done I had what looked like some really nice old growth white pine. My best guess put the trees being milled sometime in the 18th century. This was an educated guess, based on the age of the building they came out of, and the tight ring pattern on the boards ends.
I glued up the boards inside the loft and gave them a dark stain. Since this was a dining table that was going to get some serious use I gave it a strong poly finish. The table ended up seating ten people comfortably. It served many dinner parties, game nights, and survived more large crazy parties than I could count. It always got compliments, and I always enjoyed telling people they were eating and drinking on top of table made from a floor that was at least two hundred years old. Who knows who could have walked across the table over all those years!