Infill Planes


Letters from Paul Schobernd


Oak Table Question


Most Highly Esteemed Galoots,

I need some sage advice before I attempt to to repair and refinish an Oak table, but there is a hitch in my git-along here.

Long before there was Dollywood, when Gatlinburg, TN was still a quiet little tourist trap, my wife and I stopped by a little place, a house really, that appeared to be sliding down the side of the mountain.

This was summer 1974.  But, the magnetic draw was the unfinished Oak furniture being made by a man named David C. Crick who appeared to have come straight from the hills and hollows.  And since the house way off level, his tennies were sort of slopped over to match the lean. He was a man of skill and his corpulent presence limited his working area as well.  My size now!

To shorten this story...  My wife of two years fell in love with a 48 inch round table and six ladderback chairs.  We were driving a VW Bug.  So for a phenomenal fee, by 2nd year school teacher standards, they tried to deliver them to my classroom!  But, I got that stopped and we finally got them to the farmstead where we were abiding amongst the only field of feral pear cactus I had ever seen in Illinois.  But, I digress.

This table survived 3 boys and 2 grandchildren until about a month ago when I was just standing by the table with my hand casually on its top whilst talking upon the phone.  The next thing I heard was a noise very akin to a rifle/pistol shot at very close range!  I know this sound experientally having fired an unloaded pistol through the hall wall and into my sister's closet in my adolescent years.  So I ducked...  Just in case.

When I regained my wits and stood up I immediately noticed a large ugly crack in the Oak table following the vertical grain in one board.  It extended from one side of the table to the other. If I lift the table up on the side closest to the crack I can make it close up pretty much. I have not yet tried long clamps, mostly because of the fear of damaging the table.  So here are my questions:

1. Has anybody experienced an unexplained crack in solid White Oak that has been in service for 35 years more or less?

2. Any thoughts on how best to fix the crack without causing more problems or just transferring stress to another board that may be weak or stressed?

3 After all these years the table has a beautiful patina.  It has been treated with linseed oil and turps several times a year.  After the repair is there any reason why I should consider some other finish?  And no, we ain't gonna Polyurinate on it either. There is only two of us and my wife isn't too messy and she is good to clean up after me.

4. The matching chairs exist only in the rafters of the garage. They were pinned with metal that loosened beyond being usable. Pretty to look at, but unstable and I haven't felt like re-building them yet.

Paul in Somewhat Abnormal, IL
September, 2008


Infill Planes



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