The magic of the Capstan Table

Originally published at: The magic of the Capstan Table | Boing Boing




The original article thanks Joe Biden. :wink:


“You have been invited to sit at the Captain’s table this evening for dinner.”

“Aw, geez. I wanted to sit at the capstan table.”


More fun to watch than a watch.




I heartily approve!

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I didn’t spend good money on a cruise to have to eat with the shipping line’s employees, now did I?
Get me the manager!


Ahh, cruise ships.

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This can corporally punish up to 12 Victorian table-levitators at once


An allowable one, I think, after 16 years. And the ‘making of’ video was worth the re-post.

I want one. I have nowhere to put one, and less use for one, but I want one.

It would be amazingly fantastic if his desktop mini-models were also working models but that may be a step beyond and might cost nearly as much as a full-size one.

ETA browsing the website, it seems David Fletcher died and the company is now owned and run by his children.

Also, ‘opalescence’ is certainly not what the BB Contributor meant. (But as they are not given @ handles these days, we cannot tell them.)

the addition of an electric motor cranks the opalescence dial to 11.

Opalescence: a lustrous play of colours like that of an opal.

The intended word was almost certainly ‘opulence’.

FETA there’s also this ‘internals’ video

The only reference to price that I could find said $50-70k and that was in 2017 in an architecturelab article


I absolutely love that this exists, and as a piece of art and engineering, it is utterly magnificent. Full stop.

That said, I would never buy one, even if I could afford it.

First, the ability to make a round table larger just isn’t that useful. If you have space for the larger round table, you’d have a larger round table. It’s not like adding leaves to the normal dining room table for Thanksgiving, because the way a rectangular table grows leaves useful space when collapsed. A round table that grows needs a radial pattern of 10% more space all around it which isn’t usable otherwise.

Second, how well will this work in 10 years when it’s all full of dust and crumbs, and the humidity has warped two of the twenty panels slightly?

Third, how heavy is this thing? It must be monstrously so and is probably extremely difficult to move. Forget about redecorating or cleaning under it. I pity your movers when it’s time to sell the house.

I guess if you can afford such a table, none of these pedestrian concerns affect you.

Anyways, I love it and BB can post it as often as they damn well please. :grimacing:


Oops…. :grimacing::grimacing::grimacing:


I want one even though I too have no place to put it, like Bill getting that big ass flag in the King of the Hill episode “Old Glory”

Good point about the wood surfaces. IIRC, the construction is a metal buck for stability with a wood veneer applied on top of it. The first time I ran into this design, it was being touted for boat decks via the Robb Report or the DuPont Registry back in the day. ^____^


Oh, interesting! That’s smart! Probably the only way to ensure such a complex mechanism continues to work long term. Wood moves way too much for the level of precision required for all those pieces to fit properly.

Now I wonder about maintenance. All mechanisms require lubrication, so what does that look like for this thing? Are there oiling points? Grease fittings? What happens when all those tracks, racks, and rails get full of the gunk of life? Can you take it apart to service the mechanism?

I guess I’m too pragmatic to own nice things. :grin:


Cat hair!


Not too pragmatic at all, just probably a normal pleb like the majority of us, instead of the next level affluent that you mentioned earlier, whose perspective is heavily skewed b/c of their “position of fuck you” that John Goodman talks about in The Gambler:

I can hear John Goodman rasping through the ethanol:

“Oil your & grease your table that cost an arm, a leg and your everlasting soul? Fuck You!”

:smile: :rofl: :joy:


Yeah, I’m glad this thing exists, if only so I can watch it open and close on a loop, forever. What’s even better though, IMO, is how many people have used this design as inspiration to either try and recreate it cheaper, or to try and do the same thing with square or rectangular tables, with results exhibiting an amusingly wide array of jank.


I’m not saying I’m already planning how to build a working scale model of it, but I’m also not not saying that.


Do go to their website (as well as viewing the whole ‘making of’ video). Many of their tables are on board large yachts - many on exterior decks.

He specifically says all maintenance can be undertaken by the customer once it is assembled by his team, and that he seriously does expect his tables to last for a hundred years. Though he does not say what maintenance might be needed. But if you spend a sum starting at $50-70k on one of these and probably more for some of the more exotic finishes, you doubtless have people to do the maintenance for you.

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