Michael Beauvais

September 1 rolled up, and the long awaited build challenge instructions arrived. Having been involved in the first challenge, dread filled me as my mouse hovered over the email subject line. “What have I gotten myself into this time…” After steadying my nerve, I managed to click on the link and read the instructions.


Heck a surface can’t be hard. Doesn’t everything have surfaces? After a few seconds of euphoria, I realized that this was indeed a trick, and once again I had been tricked and was in for more than I had bargained for.

After several days of quiet meditative concentration on the problem at hand (my wife calls it procrastinating) I decided that a couple more days of thought was necessary. Finally, I came to the conclusion that I was going to glue some wood together, even different colors perhaps, and make a flat surface of different colored wood. After a while I said to myself “Self, I don’t think a flat piece of wood is going to cut it.” I grumbled a bit, and admitted that I was usually more wise than myself, and went back to the couch (meditative comfort zone) and tried to figure how to bring my multi-colored flat panel of wood (technically a surface) to the next level.

Hours later, when coming out of my meditative slumber and wiping the sleeping drool from my chin, the idea hit me that the idea would be much more grand if it had depth. I would add 2″ sides to my multi-colored flat panel of wood, and call it a tray. Hooray for me!

I now felt on top of the world, and decided that Friday morning, I would head to the lumber store and purchase the wood necessary. I came home from the lumber store with two large, out of square, rough pieces of wood, and convinced that I had outdone myself decided that the rest of the day should be spent studying the stipple pattern directly above the couch.

Feeling absolutely giddy the next morning, I decided to peruse over to the Sawdust Chronicles, and spy upon the other competitors. Imagine my surprise, when the first link I clicked on, a judge advised another contestant that they would be looking for structure around the surface. I was devastated, morose, and even felt betrayed in the fact that my mediocre design was not going to cut it. Next to apathy and laziness, fierce competitiveness is my next most prominent trait (I know a bum combination if ever there was one) so I decided to go back to square one….

I’ve come up with the idea that I am going to steal a good design and construct a butler’s table. Although I have yet to acquire a butler, I feel the table would be a fantastic addition to my TV room, next to the meditative comfort zone, resulting in a flat beer-holding surface. If large enough, a large bowl of artery hardening snacks could be kept next to the beer. As this is something I don’t necessarily want to hide when guests come over, I think that I will be leaning towards a solid walnut construction, and resort to shape and shadow lines to help create my surface.


Update No 2……
October 19, 2010….

Tick tock….
Tick tock…
Sleepless Nights……

Nah…still apathy and procrastination on my part. I hope the anxiety isn’t getting to any of you.

While the impending day of doom draws nearer, the end of the Sawdust Chronicles challenge – I must say that I wish I had started earlier. Dang! A surface seemed so easy, and then my brain got in the way and over analyzed the contest. I must say, this may not turn out to be my finest hour. I seem to be deficient in surfaces. I can equate this to the fact that I made the stupid decision to build the legs first. Barely a surface on any of the pieces after I cut away most of the wood…

And to add insult to injury, I have to admit that I made things didn’t go as planned. Now before fingers are pointed or rumours start, I need you to remember that the best laid plans often go awry – that’s what keeps me employed anyways… This amounts to a rethink, not a mmm..mmm..mis..mistake. I don’t make mistakes. I once thought I had made an mistake, but I was wrong. Anyways, through the magic of glue, clamps and a lucky patch, things are back on track. (Don’t tell the judges)

Since I’ve shown you two pieces, I think I’ll show you a portion of the assembly to help your mind envision my madness. Keep in mind that all aspects of the photo below are copyrighted to me. The joint style, using walnut wood for furniture, shaping wood outside its original treelike form, glue as an adhesive….Any violations of my copyright, and I’ll have to bring it to the judges attention. Thou art warned.

Now before I go, how thorough do you all think the judges are really going to be? Ssh…come closer… I’ll let you in on my contingency plan. I remember in the kickoff that the judges implied that innovation is a great thing, and they were looking for the unusual, the creative. While, tell me what can be more creative than the first totally translucent table top. It is constructed from the rare clear-o tree that recently appeared in a rain forest found in the Arabian Desert. Its latin name is ontestCay eatChay. Now Clear-O wood is more transparent than Baccarat Crystal, stronger then that guy in a spandex suit (not the guy who scares little old ladies at your local bus stop), and more plentiful than lawyers at an ambulance shelter. I think that it is my sure fire solution to this contest…..let me know if you think I can sell it…

Let me bid my find competitors adieu….until the final hours of the contest, go forth and make shavings (while keeping in mind the copyright which should now be considered in your projects in accordance with the above statements). Hopefully you all fair better than me…and remember “If at first you don’t succeed, give up before you make a fool of yourself.”


PS I apologize for the less than stellar photo quality. While IPhones definitely raise one’s overall cool factor, they take lousy pictures. I think that for the final submission, I will draw a sketch with pencil and paper to ensure the utmost quality is presented.

PPS The writing must also be apologized for. It seems that the only time I write is after a terrible day at the giblet factory, and subjecting both member of my writing audience becomes therapeutic for me.

PPPS There is no such thing as a giblet factory – giblets grow on trees.

PPPPS – After how many ‘P’ additions to the original ‘PS’ is considered bad taste?


The primary wood construction is solid walnut, with the interior panels being walnut burl (Oregon Burls) being laminated onto baltic birch plywood. Overall, with the wings up, the table measures about 30.5″ X 22″ x 20″ high. The intent was to create a modernized version of the butler table, allowing one to leave the stand in one room, and allowing the top to come off the base and serve as a serving tray.

Completed table.

Completed Table 2

Completed Table – Top Removed

Base of Table

Joinery of aprons to table leg. Table Aprons were joined with half laps, and the table leg was dadoed in two directions to receive the aprons.

Top view of table leg joinery.

Closeup of walnut burl interaction with solid walnut.

My uncle has a beat up old butler table, which I’ve always been fascinated by, which formed the inspiration for the project. The requirements for the surface justified the veneered top, couple with solid wood rail and styles. Overall, I wanted to do something more contemporary as I just finished up 2 Arts and Crafts coffee tables and needed to shake it up. Several of the details seem to be drawing some inspiration of Marc Spagnulo’s work style.

All in all, I am pleased with the build. I like the shape and proportions piece. Working with the burl veneers was an exercise in frustration, and I spent a good day trying to patch all of the cracks and chips which occurred. Also, now that the photo shoot is done, the table is heading back to the shop for additional finishing. I only have a couple coats of water based finish on it, and I want to rub it out. I’m very touchy-feely, and love the feel of a smooth surface when running my hands . After the judging, I’ll be sure to send you an email with the other 734 mistakes made on the build. 🙂

All in all, this was a great contest – thanks for running it.

1 Response to Michael Beauvais

  1. Neil says:

    Mike……….that’s a wonderful read. Nice!!!!! I had a few chuckles.

    I have to say that I”m having a blast seeing all this activity and thoughtfulnes. From out here it looks like guys are having fun. Can’t ask for more than that. Mike what is with you guys—-Steve’s talking a valet and your wanting a butler!!! Looks like one of you 2 need the yr subscrition to British Woodworking!

    Hey Rick I don’t know about you, but it makes the gathering up of prizes more rewarding. You just can’t beat the energy of solid particiaption. If we only had Coach Lafferty right now for some motivational words :^)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s