When Table Space Runs Out, Go Up! Upscaling the Craft Fair Table. . .

When Table Space Runs Out, Go Up! Upscaling the Craft Fair Table. . .

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It was bound to happen eventually. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when we would eventually run out of display space on the typical 6ft x 30″ table that we set up on for various fairs and shows. The usual display fit 8 teas nicely, but adding a 9th, or adding any other product to the table such as our Prickly Lettuce ACV, made it feel cramped. We needed a way to get more product out onto the table without creating cramped chaos. The idea of risers came to mind, and we began discussing what they might look like.

One idea included plastic risers, but we could only find three level, rarely 4 level and when we did find those they were very expensive! Wooden risers came to mind, but most of those that were pre-made, came in low-lying designs, often just two levels, rarely three.

One day, the idea came to Ashley to find shelving end brackets that featured filigree in wrought iron. We did some window shopping, only to discover that any kind of counter-top-style shelving that included metal of any kind, was typically very expensive, or very office-looking. We didn’t want an office appearance, nor did we have $45 to put out per 2 or 3 shelf riser unit. But it was while we were out window shopping that we spotted live-edge versions of some of the 2 level risers, and we drove home wondering if we could do something similar.

I looked up live-edge wood slabs for sale, and eventually found a few small businesses in town that sold live-edge, and the one who contacted us back, got our business! We drove out to the small milling operation, and found three very nice boards for an absolute STEAL of a price! If you live in the Central Okanagan and want live-edge for any of your own projects, look up Lee out of Joe Rich, on Philpott Rd! You won’t be sorry! His slabs start at $20/board.

Before finding Lee, we discovered just how expensive it is to buy live-edge at the major hardware stores both where we live and across Canada! On average, the price per board foot starts at $19 and goes up from there depending on type of wood, thickness of slab, length of slab, etc.

My daughter is a history nut, and happened across several old documents that touched on wages versus expenses and prices of various goods back in the late 1800’s.

The average daily wage for the typical man on the street in the late 1890’s, ranged from $.60 to $1.50. Some made more. Keeping this in mind, items from this mouldings catalogue often cost at least a day’s wages if not more, for most potential buyers. If you were a carpenter in 1890 when this catalogue was published in the US or Canada, you might earn as little as $.38 a day unless you were skilled when you could then potentially earn up to $5.25 per day.











These stats were of interest to us when we realized that what we pay now for live edge wood, compared to today’s wages, was what others paid for similar wood back when the designs we used were in high demand.

The designs chosen for the riser supports, were based on two things: 1) scrollwork designs that were really big during the 1850’s and years surrounding that decade, and 2) wanting to incorporate memories of Mom who passed away Dec 20th, 2023. That memory would take the form of a songbird, roughly taking the sillouhette of the nightingale/robin/songbird shape.

Once we had the designs and the wood, it was time to get to work in the wood shop. Ashley did the drafting and drawing out the patterns for the risers themselves and I did the scrollwork editing to come up with the final design for the carving that would appear on the riser’s supports. We cut out the wood pieces from the live edge boards, then re-sawed as the term often goes these days, or further split the live edge from 1.75″ roughly down to 3 half inch pieces, after all was said and done. One piece ended up cut into 4 pieces that were a bit less than a half inch each, closer to 3/8ths instead.

Once those were cut, it was time to transfer the scrollwork design onto the supports.

That began as my task, although once Ashley got out her carving tools, she had to redraw three of the supports’ designs.


Fortunately, carving wasn’t a time consuming job for her, on average taking her roughly 1.5 to 2hrs per piece. This meant that we’d build one riser a week between the work hours we each had, and the shop time available to us. Ashley would carve, then I’d sand, assemble, oil, and spar varnish.







The first riser would be completed and ready for display for a fair we did in late January. It looked really good with all the teas, samples, etc on and around it. We’d get the next two made by the first week of February. We used Danish Oil to feed the wood, and that really brought out the colours and grain!

Prior to finishing, I had to take photos of one board, front and back, because it reminded me of one of those vague washed-out water-colour paintings of an ocean beach with flowering foliage to one edge of the painting. Here is that board, both sides.

After applying the Danish oil, it was time to apply Spar Varnish for a waterproof finish that would handle being both indoors and outdoors, because sometimes we attend fairs that are outside. The results were stunning! We were so pleased with how they turned out!

Now it was time to consider how to bring them home. We needed a box that would fit the minimum dimensions of 31″x20″x20″.

But that is a story for another article!

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