India is known for its intricately crafted geometric patterns, especially on doors and and wooden frames. Often, these old doors are salvaged and turned into pieces of furniture, or used as wall decorations.
One woman came to me with such a door, which she had had fashioned into a coffee table years earlier when she had been in India. Over the years, it had traveled with her from home to home.
Now, however, she was thinking in terms of larger furniture—namely, a dining room table—and wanted the door fashioned into one. The problem was that the coffee table’s surface was really too small to serve this purpose.
We decided that the best course of action would be for me to build a new outer frame, within which to suspend the door. We could then also reuse the ¼”-thick plate glass that had served as a table surface.
The original coffee table, as well as the door, had been made of rosewood. But the amount needed for the new frame would have been cost prohibitive. I proposed using a domestic hardwood instead. It would have to be strong, since the door was heavy. After reviewing different wood samples, the client chose red birch for the new frame and legs.
To replicate the hand-carved bead detail in both the top surface and the edges, I first used the tablesaw with the blade beveled at 45° to cut “v” shaped grooves so that there wouldn’t be as much wood to remove by hand. That was followed by hand work, using a back-bent gouge to create the rounded surface of the bead. The hardest part was restraining myself from going back and cleaning up the bead’s surfaces. After all, we did want to preserve a rustic feel with the finished table.
I then turned four new table legs, using the profile of the original legs as a guide. I also reused all of the original metal hardware, to brace the legs, and strap around the corners of the table top.
Once I’d finished the table, I used a cut-off from the original rosewood table frame, and part of one of the original legs, to fabricate the pillar candlestick that you see on the finished table above.
The original legs had been about an inch larger in diameter, making for a clunky looking candlestick. So I mounted that section of table leg onto my lathe, and re-turned it to decrease the diameter to more graceful proportions. I kept the same profile, with a smaller diameter. And since the wood was so beautiful, I chose to just clear coat it rather than masking that beautiful grain with a dark stain.