Tables are where we work, eat, drink, talk and laugh, and, most importantly, where we make new memories and recount days of the past.

Some tables are made special by the people and experiences that are made and shaped around them, and others are special because of the people and experiences that shaped the table itself.

For the past several months I’ve had the immense pleasure of building a new centerpiece table for one of the Sandhills Brewing taprooms, and now will stand back and watch as the community makes their own new memories around it. I am excited for our customers to experience it, even if the majority of time most will not put much, or any, thought to the significance of what they are sitting around. For me, however, I will know and always remember what is in the table.

40+ years ago, my parents lived in Vermont for several years before moving back to central Kansas. When they came back to Kansas, they brought with them a load of stunning rock maple planks that they had milled at a local sawmill. Those planks went on to be used in dozens of projects, including the workbench that sits in the center of my workshop and is the platform for most of my projects. Each time I hone a project on its surface, I think about where it came from. I don’t recall everything that we used them for, but each time we pulled one out of the stack and prepped it for the project on hand, my dad would recount where the boards came from and how meaningful they were to him. Perhaps it was because they were from Vermont, a place he always loved and wished to return to; perhaps it was because of a time and place they represented; perhaps it was just because they were dang beautiful pieces of wood. Whatever the reason, these were so important to my dad and using one of the last remaining planks in this table, elevates the significance of this project to me. It makes my dad’s eyes twinkle when he looks at it too.

Six years ago, a wildfire swept through the family farm causing immense destruction and anguish for our family, but from the ashes of that fire, however, some great things rose. Dozens of mature black walnut trees were killed in that fire and, over the last few years, we have continually worked to process those dead tree trunks into slabs and planks, which we can then use for all kinds of projects. They’ve been used for fireplace mantles, coffee tables, shelves, bird houses, tool handles, and much more, and we still have many, many more projects to come.

Some of the walnut and mulberry we’ve sawed up from trees killed in the fire

The walnut used for this table all came from boards we sawed from the trees killed in the wildfire—trees that my sisters and brother and parents spent so many hours under and around. I have so many memories around those trees and so this table is an embodiment of my family.

Some tables are defined by the memories made around them, and others are defined by the memories engrained within them. And the best tables are defined by both.

While far from perfect and filled with imperfections and flaws, I hope to look back in the years to come and know that this table is both.