This maple kitchen work table was the first real piece of furniture I made. During the winter of 1981-82 I was living with my girlfriend Elizabeth (scandalous, I know, but she’s now my wife) in a small apartment in Georgia, Vermont. There was a run-down barn on the property and the landlord let me set up my tools in it. I believe all I had at that point was a small 8″ table saw and a 4″ jointer. There was no heat in the barn and it was ridiculously cold out there so I set up my workbench in our living room. The top for this table was glued up and then hand planed smooth since I didn’t have access to a planer. There were wood shaving all over the living room and we even used them to decorate our Christmas tree that year.
Making the drawers for this was only the second time I’d tried cutting dovetails and they actually came out pretty well. My first dovetails are on the drawer for my workbench and they are spectacularly poor – very sloppy, poorly layed out and with lots of gaps – but I’m still using the workbench 34 years later and the drawer is holding up just fine.
When I finished this table I gave it to Elizabeth who was thrilled with it. In the spring of 1982 I moved to Putney, Vermont, set up a shop in my parents’ basement and started Richard Bissell Fine Woodworking. I’d build perhaps 3 pieces of furniture by then so I pretty much had the whole furniture making thing figured out. I had, after all, read all 4 of James Krenov’s books. Elizabeth kept the work table with her in Burlington until she moved down to Putney a year (or two?) later. At that point we didn’t have room for it so we put it into a storage space in Brattleboro, VT with some other things. A couple of years later when we finally had room for it we went to get it and found that it had been stolen! We like to think it’s still somewhere in the local area and some day we’ll stumble on it. It sure would be nice to have it back.