This is Not Your 15th-century Ancestor’s Table


Though it might seem like it, I’m not writing a book about medieval furniture. I’m leaving that task to the capable hands of Derek Olson at the Oldwolf Workshop. Check it out here, it’s going to be cool.

The stuff in my book, the “Furniture of Necessity,” has its roots planted in the past, but the leaves are new. The writing, which is about halfway done, is more in the vein of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” Yes, the book is about one thing, but also another thing. Which means the Lumberjocks will hate it.


I am drawing inspiration from early furniture because the rules for what was acceptable – “Indeed, Burlington Cockletit, that’s a table and that’s a chair” – were much looser than they are today. And they would use joints in ways that proper furniture makers today do not.

As to the aesthetics of the individual pieces, I want them to look comfortable in an artisan’s home. Simple. Sturdy. And not trying to be a social steppingstone.

More later. I have to pack my truck for Handworks.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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26 Responses to This is Not Your 15th-century Ancestor’s Table

  1. Brian Zirkle says:

    I will definitely be making one of these. It will look right at home next to my soon to be finished welsh stick chair. I really like the look of the tapered legs.

  2. nateharold says:

    That, sir, is an overgrown stool!!

    – B. Cockletit

  3. frpaulas says:

    I know you’re busy, but how did you get the legs to touch the floor all at the same time?

  4. How do you plan on using it? Is there enough room between the legs to pull up a side chair?

  5. Dan Haggerty says:

    I think that it is a very cool table. Sort of alien and familiar at the same time.

    • Indeed. I agree. I need to write about why that is. Like joint stools, these are impossible to photograph without them looking odd. In person, they look natural. When flattened, the perspective skews.

      I have a theory….

  6. People hate what they don’t understand and compound sentences are confusing enough, never mind a bifurcated book. Maybe consider a chapter narrated by Dick and Jane?

  7. Ed Clarke says:

    I wonder where the six legs came from. It seems like a better idea to have three legs so the table won’t rock, no matter what the surface is like. I guess that three legged chair has made me a convert.

  8. proclus153 says:

    Why the abrupt appearance of a butterfly key? Did an unexpected check appear, or were you visited in the night by the ghost of George Nakashima?

    • There’s a check in the top. Been there since I bought the slab. It’s not very visible from the top but it widens through the thickness.

  9. Bob Jones says:

    I hope you plan on living with this table for a while before the book is finished. I think that your experiences eating from it should be in the text.

  10. This table tickles me deeply in a place best left to the imagination. It’s primal. I’m fairly certain that I regressed evolutionarily just by looking at it. While my spawn is now surely f—ked, I can’t stop looking at it. I LOVE this table.

  11. Can you knock the legs out or are they glued in? It could be a knockdown table for various occasions. I keep seeing a market for flip cup tables sold on college campuses when I look at this table. I also see a way to incorporate the The Useful Man text into this and offer a college course to actually make the table. It’s growing on me but I’m still in the alien camp for now.

  12. Sean Hughto says:

    Six legs – thick top – stout wood – this is clearly the table to have if the postman always rings twice.

  13. ctregan says:

    Looks like a good beer tasting table. Beer has ties to medieval times also. I think it was considered a drink of necessity.

  14. Any guess as to how a table of this construction would look or work with four legs instead of six? Would the conical tenons need to be beefier?

  15. Now all you need is a few bottles of good brew and a side of barbecue ribs.

  16. Niels Cosman says:

    “Hark bros, Let us bust out ye olde dixie cups and playeth a merry game of quarters”
    -Chad, 1480

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