Eat off it, work on it

2 min read

While many people from Asia are accustomed to sitting on the floor to eat or work, those of us brought up in Europe generally prefer to eat from a table – and similarly work on one.

This is easy enough to accomplish in an established home or office. But what about when we are out in the field, or on a construction site, for example? Putting a makeshift table together can be crucial. It is said that Bank of America was founded because the founder of what was then called the Bank of Italy, Amadeo Peter Giannini, set up two planks on a wharf immediately after the San Francisco fire and earthquake of 1906 – and carried on trading when bigger banks had closed. What if he had not found anything to mount his planks on, make his loans and keep his records? What would you do if you were on a re-construction site and needed to spread your plans out at waist height and give instructions to your team? Generals win battles by gathering around detailed maps on tables and planning their attack. The Challenge Our challenge this month is to come up with a way of making an instant table. Oil drums, handy crates and carpenter's trestles are presumed to be unavailable – only wide planks, old doors, pieces of wood or lengths of steel tube for legs. As any amateur maker of tables will be aware, mounting the legs on a table is the hard bit. Either the legs come out wobbly, or they are not all at the same angle. The legs must be firmly mounted. The table should not run the risk of dropping food onto the ground. Just to make it slightly more difficult, we should not be ashamed to have such a table in our dining room. The solution we offer solves the problem elegantly and at low cost. Once you see understand it, you will realise that it is both obvious and a very good way of joining structural elements together. Solution to Coffee-time Challenge Our solution to this month's challenge comes from young industrial designer Jorre van Ast, who specialises in what he calls 'Clampology'. His clamp for table legs is in our opinion, his most ingenious. It consists of a T-piece at the top – which goes over part of the top of the table on one side – and a short length of hollow, square shaft. In the side of the shaft is an over-centre cam clamp, which firmly engages the leg in its closed position. Any thickness of tabletop can be accommodated within reason, since the legs are simply pushed up the hollow, square shafts until they engage its underside. The legs are firmly held in the clamps, which are made or thick, folded steel sheet. The leg-to-table joint is secure because it depends on engagement by the flat T-piece against an area of tabletop. The top of the leg is held all the way round by the sides of the hollow shaft and the cam clamp.