Kickstarter Tuesdays: 18th Century Oeben Mechanical Table

Geek Alabama Kickstarter Projects

I find this Kickstarter project very interesting!  J. Leko is a woodworker and furniture maker in Huntsville, AL.  He is also a student at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking.  After five years of studying various aspects of woodworking, and furniture making, he is preparing to complete his Michael Fortune Fellowship.  The Fellowship, a program of both academic and technical study, requires students to demonstrate their ability by designing and constructing a significant piece of furniture.  This specimen is evaluated by a panel of national experts.  To complete his fellowship, this person is going to re-create a 18th Century Oeben Mechanical Table.  Which is a 1750 French masterpiece – a dressing table that converts into a desk with the turn of a key!

This type of furniture has been around for a very long time!  The original table maker is J-F Oeben. (1721 – 1763) He is regarded as one of the all-time masters of marquetry.  A German emigrate to France, he produced commissioned works for the aristocracy, including King Louis XV, and was even granted the title “Cabinetmaker to the King”. Oeben’s furniture is astonishing, incorporating mechanical complexities covered with ornate marquetry, and gilt-bronze mounts known as ormolu.  Oeben and his craftsmen produced this table around 1750, about 260 years ago!


So you may be asking, why would this person do a project like this?  Here’s his response: From the time I first saw this table, I knew that I wanted to re-create it for my Fellowship project.  Furniture of this caliber isn’t made today especially in North America.  Instead, the industry has focused on creating cheaper furniture faster, which has resulted in lower quality products.  The skill base simply does not exist in the United States.  Even in Europe, the number of craftspeople knowledgeable in the techniques and methods to build such works grows smaller every year.  The skills are being lost as old masters join their predecessors leaving fewer apprentices to follow them.  I want to change this, and help to preserve this dying art form, but he needs your help.

As you know in Kickstarter, a project is not funded until the fundraising goal is reached!  As of January 29th, this project has $4,650 of the $6,000 goal.  This project only has 17 days left to reach the $6,000 goal.  If the goal is not reached by February 15th, it does not get funded!  Some of the rewards are great if you decide to support.  For a $25 pledge, you will get a handwritten note with a photo capturing a moment in time during the construction process.  For a pledge of $65, You will receive a framed panel featuring a hand-cut marquetry flower identical to one used in the table top, with my maker’s mark stamped on the back.  The pledges get better if you pledge even more money!

To learn more about the re-creation of the 18th Century Oeben Mechanical Table.  Go to:

To learn more about J. Leko Furniture Maker, go to: