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the making of: darjeeling

Since a picture speaks a thousand words in any language, and a “handmade” description doesn’t tell the whole story, the following detail the making of a darjeeling dining table—completely by hand.

The Indian Railways, or IR, is one of the largest networks in the world. Its nearly 1.6 million employees transport 20 million passengers over almost 40,000 miles of tracks through nearly 7,000 stations—everyday.

Railroad ties, or “sleepers”, are approximately 40-50 years old and are being replaced with newer concrete versions.

To make a tabletop, reclaimed ties are planed down to the inner core and joined together in a puzzle fashion. Exposed damage and loose wood is marked, chiseled out, and replaced with smaller pieces.

Tabletops are then re-sanded and the process repeated where gaps appear. Fine gaps are filled with a mixture of blackened glue and sawdust.

Steel T-bar and square tubes are welded together to create the leg assembly and tabletop support. The final finishing stages include grinding the welding for a smoother finish.

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Reader Comments (4)

When the railroad ties were still in use, were they ever treated with creosote, or other possibly hazardous substances, to prolong their lifespan? I love the table, and the fact that it's made of reclaimed wood, but as a parent, I'm concerned about the safety risks inherent in the use of old railroad ties for a dining table. Thanks!

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMidCenturyMama

Our vendor’s diligence in its handling of the reclaimed ties used in the making of Darjeeling tables played a large part in assuring us of the safety of the wood for its intended purpose. So we’d like to forward this information from them as reassurance to you.

Prior to manufacturing the tables, our vendor investigated the possibility of creosote or other chemicals being present in the wood; it learned that any such chemicals would have penetrated the wood tie by as little as ¼ inch and no more than 1 inch.

Accordingly, before any of the ties were used, at least 1 inch—and more typically between 1 and 3 inches—of the wood tie’s surface was cut away and discarded, and only the remaining core was used.

Any holes in the core wood were cut out—again with clean and deep margins—and patches of clean wood inlaid; remaining gaps and fusers were then filled with a darker colored filler.

That processed core wood was then cut into the table tops for the Darjeeling Table—the wood tops are used in that condition—they’re only sanded, refilled and sanded again to ensure a smooth finish—with no further chemical treatments having been applied.

We hope this eases your concerns and thanks for writing!

March 18, 2011 | Registered Commentermarta

Please bring this table back. I wanted it for so long and right before I was going to buy it I went to the website and it was gone.

November 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterwes

I would like to purchase this table as well!

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike

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