By: Cindy Graves
Recently Kevin Byrnes, proprietor of Woodside Lane, loaned some of his gorgeous tables to Southside Baptist Church for their worship dramas. Kevin’s impressive craftsmanship left a lasting impression on the entire congregation.
How does one become a table artisan? Genetics help a bit; a strong back and some hands-on experience in construction can’t hurt; then add the eye of an artist that can see a thing of beauty hidden in the raw material, and you have almost all the ingredients. But Kevin Byrnes will tell you it’s finding just the right wood, wood that speaks “table!” to your soul, that provides the vital link.
All these elements came together in Kevin’s life to lead him where he is today. The son of an engineer with several patents to his credit, Kevin discovered he also had an aptitude for building things. He honed his craft working in the construction industry during summers after high school and college (Wake Forest, where he attended on a football scholarship). After graduation, he tried his hand at several careers, but was inexorably drawn back to his first love, and he now owns and operates his own construction company, building and renovating homes primarily in the Beaches area.
One day, while getting his tractor repaired at a shop on Beaver Street, Kevin noticed an old feed mill being demolished nearby. When he took a closer look at the lumber from the dismantled grain bins stacked for disposal, he knew he had found a treasure. Originally intending to use it for handcrafted flooring, he soon realized that this wood fairly shouted to be transformed into tables. And tables it has become – dozens of them, each with its own unique pattern, finish and story.
Part of the appeal of these tables is that fact that they are made from reclaimed wood. Old boards, scarred and tarnished and destined to be thrown out, have been given a second life, transformed into strong and beautiful creations that bring family and friends together and will continue to do so for generations. Even the scraps that result from making the tables are put to good use. Kevin glues together the thin endpieces from 2×6’s to make what he calls “stained glass wood,” beautiful works of art that literally glow when the light hits them. He is using the narrow slivers of wood that are left over from making tapered table legs to create a gorgeous circular table in a “sunburst” pattern. Even the sawdust generated from his projects becomes the main ingredient for his own special woodfiller. Nothing is wasted. There are a lot of spiritual analogies here, aren’t there!
Kevin Byrnes is a man who has followed his passion and found his calling. In addition to bringing beauty and function into homes all over the country, his creations have provided Southside Baptist Church with a visible and tangible reminder of the significance of tables in our spiritual journeys – places of remembrance, generosity, humility, protection, nourishment – to which everyone is invited!
If you get a chance, stop by Woodside Lane and say hello to Kevin and his associates. Let him know how glad we are that he is our neighbor, and how much we appreciate his sharing his tables with Southside Baptist Church.