“I remember cutting my fingers on a handsaw when I was 4 years old,” said Bill Bolton, recalling one of his first woodworking experiences. “I remember telling my mom when I was about 10 that if I don’t get into veterinary school, I want to build dog houses for a living,” he continued. Bolton did get into vet school, but life eventually brought him back to woodworking. And his latest expression is a handcrafted, portable wood table he calls porTABLE.
Bolton took a circuitous route to his current occupation as a custom woodworker. After a stint as a vet, circumstances beyond his control threw him down a different career path. “I joined Gore & Associates, which makes GORE-TEX,” he said. “They have a medical products division in Flagstaff, Arizona. So I got to do two things I wanted to do — I got to travel the world and help people.” During his time with Gore, he invented an artificial ligament for people’s knees. “I was in my element. I stayed there for 15 years, and I got to do what I love to do.”
However, Bolton’s desire to work with wood remained, and by the early 1990s, he had quit Gore and started his own deck-building business. Always looking for ideas to make things more efficient, he developed a product for lashing down decks and keeping the screws hidden. But tired of mucking around in the dirt and a slowing deck-building market led Bolton to focus on his current portable-table venture.
“My son came home from a concert and was telling me that this guy had a table set up and literally everybody who walked by stopped and asked him ‘Where did you get that table?’” Bolton said. “So I started checking around, and there are some companies that make them. You can get them anywhere from $40 on Amazon to $150. Most of them are made in China or Costa Rica, but to me there really wasn’t a table that was well built, made of good, sustainable material, and that was sturdy and quick and easy to put together.”
Into his garage workshop he went, creating seven prototypes over the course of about six months before feeling satisfied with the product. “I’d look at it and think, no, that’s not going to work and [start over]. So this is the final one, and it’s pretty much right where I want it,” he said.
The porTABLE is made from tongue-and-groove bamboo flooring pieces; the tight fit of the wood makes for a solid no-slat table surface. The legs are made from birch, and the cross braces from pine. “You don’t want to have a lot of loose parts like nuts and bolts and washers,” Bolton said. As such, porTABLE consists of just the four legs, two crossbars, and the table top. It’s easy to assemble, and the use of flexible polyolefin plates between the flooring pieces make folding it up a cinch. The whole thing weighs 8 1/2 pounds and tucks nicely into a custom-made, durable green nylon bag that fits comfortably over your shoulder. With its clean lines and hardy structure, porTABLE makes for a nice accessory for a day at the beach or a picnic in the park.
You can purchase a porTABLE online at greenbarreldesigns.com.