Tommy Kirk's Dining Table

Patience, skill and thousands of pieces of wood add up to outrageous visual displays.

BY: Basil Bailey
LOCATION: Lancaster, SC

    I'm sending you these pictures for my good friend and distant relative, Tommy Kirk. The first photo is of his kitchen table and china cabinet. The blocks are all about 3/8-in. thick.
Round Table and Valet Chair

The round table at right is Tommy's first adventure into veneer, after many projects using thicker blocks. In the background, you see a chair that goes with a bedroom suite he built several years ago. I think you would call this a valet or a gentleman's dressing chair.
    The chair has the Kirk family coat-of-arms inlaid in the back. It also has a drawer in the bottom with a secret wooden latch.
Parquetry Bed

    This is the bed for the bedroom suite Tommy made. It is made of walnut with raised panels. Note the inlay on the octagonal bed post. I ran out of film or I would have taken pictures of all the pieces.
    The bedroom suite has over 800,000 pieces of wood in it, including raised-panel doors and drawers, octagonal bed posts, on and on...  It is hard to believe Tommy made it all with a 35-year-old, 12-in. Sears direct-drive tablesaw with a Sears fence and a cheap blade.
Tommy Kirk At Work

    This is Tommy working on his second little veneer table. It is very similar to the first, except this time he let me influence him a little. He usually lays blocks in a random way, but I encouraged him to put a little more order into this one. The table will have over 3,000 pieces when complete. He took the first table to an "Antique Road Show," and they appraised it at $8,000.
     Tommy doesn't have a computer, but he's asked me to post a couple of questions on WoodCentral for him in the past. When I see him over coffee in the morning, he's always asking, "Well, what are they talking about now?"

...Basil Bailey



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