Friday, February 8, 2013

The American Iron Horse: Pommel Horse Table & Bench

This table began as a pommel horse used in a gymnasium at the Scranton Lace Factory, which was founded in 1897 and operated until 2002. The factory employed over 1,400 people in its prime and it was made up of several buildings with surprising accommodations which included a bowling alley, barber shop, gymnasium and infirmary. The Scranton Lace Company’s clock tower became a city landmark.

The pommel horse was made by Porter Athletic which was founded in Ottawa, Illinois in 1868. Porter Athletic got its start with pulleys, hardware and hayloft equipment for barns. The technology used to manufacture these items allowed them to transfer over into the manufacturing of gymnasium equipment. 

After the leather pommel was removed from the cast iron base, Jay was able to study the gears which led to the discovery of a crank and a complete dissection of the base.

This was the jumping off point at which he committed to the idea of a table which could sit at a standard 30” or be raised to island or bar height. After cleaning and buffing each part of the base, right down to the ball bearings, he put the base back together and built a tabletop from 2” thick oak threshing floor. Threshing is the process of separating loose chaff from grain and the threshing floor is one of the most valued parts of a barn.

Where the gears extended above the tabletop, Jay crafted lazy susans! (Also made from threshing floor). Finally, he manufactured poles which secure a 1920's pot rack that came from the Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs Arkansas. The pots that originally hung on it were used to feed the likes of gangsters such as Bugsy Segal and baseball stars such as Babe Ruth himself. 

The top of the pommel horse is made of leather and was removed to create a bench that is destined to remain with the table. Both the tabletop and leather were then finished with several coats of hand rubbed tung oil. The cast iron base was finished with a stove black rub through. 

There is not a single bearing, peg, piece of wood or iron in this piece of work that is not made in America. While the barn floor, gym horse and pot rack have not always been together, we believe it is a perfect marriage and hope that many meals are enjoyed and conversations sparked around this Iron Horse that embodies the many trades, impeccable craftsmanship and commitment to hard work of early America.

The Aftermath

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