Photo by Laurie Chapman
Jim Chmelik of Cottonwood stands next to the table he is raffling to benefit Summit Academy in Cottonwood and the Diocese in Boise. For now it sits in the shop of Chesky Woodworking and will be raffled in November 2017. Chmelik said “God designed this table, He just gave me the talent to make it.”
As of Thursday, December 29, 2016
COTTONWOOD For those who have a faith strongly rooted in religious studies, there are times when the hand of providence can be felt or seen. Jim Chmelik believes this couldn’t be more physically evident than in a wood table sitting in his Cottonwood shop.
Chmelik owns Chesky Woodworking and began to plan and piece together the table about two years ago. He had built a similar table, without inlays, and structured a few pieces at that time for a future table.
Those sat idle in his shop for about two years. In January of this year, he began working in the evenings on the build.
The top is fashioned out of quarter sawn white oak with inlays of quarter sawn sycamore. Chmelik said the sycamore is a reference to Zacchaeus, a Biblical character who climbed a sycamore tree to view Jesus as he passed. It also represents our sins, he said.
There are 10 inlays, representing one for each commandment in the Bible.
Chmelik said as he worked, he found need to remove one-half inch from each leaf. This changed the dimension of the table, with all leaves installed, to 12 feet, 11 inches.
“Then I realized, Jesus had 12 apostles, then he lost one,” Chmelik said.
The original table plan called for two leaves, however, the finished designed included three. Chmelik realized this signifies the Holy Trinity: The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
Then there was the issue with the pedestal base. Chmelik purchased what he was assured was all reclaimed oak from a pre-civil war barn out of Tennessee. The white oak was to match the legs of the table. However, when he cut into the wood, he found one of the pieces was sycamore. In fact, it was the same variety of sycamore he had used in the inlays.
He now has close to 250 hours into building the table, he said. Chmelik realized there were too many Biblical references and coincidences for the table to sit in his home.
“What really kicked it off was the sycamore,” he said. “The chances of getting sycamore from that part of the country, pre-civil war is so remote. I started looking at ‘why did I choose this,’ and ‘why did this happen.’ I just thought God had something in mind.”
He approached his wife, Colleen, and suggested the table be used to raise funds for Summit Academy, a local Catholic school, and the Diocese in Boise.
“I look at it that God designed this table, He just gave me the talent to make it,” he said.
Chmelik is traveling the state telling the story of the table and selling raffle tickets. Tickets are $10 and will be sold until Nov. 4, 2017.
Forty percent of the money raised will go to benefit seminarians at the diocese, and Chmelik will retain 10 percent to cover his travel expenses. The remaining 50 percent will be donated to Summit Academy in Cottonwood.
A website has been established at www.allatthetable.org/.
(This story was updated at 8:41 a.m. Dec. 29 to correct a word in a quote.)