September 1, 2018 - Cork tables at Woodshed Coffee & Tea

Such a fun project. When deciding to make the tables and standup counter for Woodshed’s new retail space, I was excited to blend two of the Woodshed values into an actual product. With our focus on design and sustainability, I began to think about what type of table would hit both of those targets. I had the idea of how I wanted to build the tables and began digging around the internet for some sustainable materials that would add some softness to our shop aesthetic which was shaping out to be rather stark and sterile (on purpose). I kept finding myself looking at cork but could not find a manufacturer that could supply a cork top that had the durability we needed at the cafe. Finally, after weeks of searching, I found some high-density cork made from recycled wine bottle corks and procured a sample to see if it would stand up to the wear and tear of daily cafe life. I found the sample sturdy enough and the warmth of the wood gave our cafe the needed softness to balance out the monochrome design. Without further noodling and a deadline approaching, I ordered a pallet of high-density cork to begin the project.

My first task was to build a prototype to see if the design would hold up to wear and tear. I put this table to the test as a table for my daughters to do homework on… and legos and drawing and play dough, needless to say, they did their worse and the tables stood up to it. Then I took it to the Woodshed and let it sit in the space for a couple weeks as we finished out the buildout.

The success of the prototype moved me into final design stage where I tweaked a few things:

For simplicity of the build (as I had four to build out) I extended the plywood base to the edges to reduce the amount of routing work.
Secondly, I routed a curve in the bottom edge to match the top edge. This gave the piece a nice grounding with a white base to white legs, while also increasing the bottom edge durability with high use at the cafe.

Below is the finished tables and stand-up counter in Woodshed Coffee & Tea:

Finished Cork Tables and Stand-up Counter

The process to finish was painstaking… and one that I did not foresee.

The great/challenging thing about being an amateur woodworker, is that while I can see the end product in my minds eye, I cannot yet properly scope cost or level of effort. This project was over budget and 30 days past scheduled delivery date. Ha!

With that said, I learned a ton and am very happy with the final result. Without going into detail here are a few pictures from the buildout. The stand-up counter, in hindsight should have been built differently. It works and looks great, but took a bit too much time and effort to align the seven pieces making up the 21’ of stand-up counter along the North wall of the cafe. I think a better strategy would have been to only break it up into three long pieces insteam of trying to connect and align seven individual pieces. Live and learn on that one.