Peter Waldraff is back once again with another piece of custom furniture that prioritizes fun over both form and function. The top rises up to reveal a miniature railroad diorama that is themed after Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but the only thing being abducted here is 10 minutes of your time if you stick around for the entire build.
There’s no shortage of YouTube videos highlighting the impressive work of both woodworkers creating their own furniture and model railroaders building elaborate miniature layouts often filling entire basements—or entire warehouses. Waldraff expertly combines both hobbies to create stylish home accessories that are more than meets the eye. If you ever have a chance to visit their home, you owe it to the rest of us to painstakingly examine every last item for a concealed miniature world inside it.
Most of Waldraff’s creations feature generic dioramas with model trains rolling through mountains or quaint countryside vignettes, but this time they take inspiration from the 1977 Spielberg film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, although this obsessive creator opted for wood, foam, and paint instead of mashed potatoes.
Using a cleverly engineered pulley mechanism and a concrete counterweight hidden beneath, the top of the side table, including the lamp, raise to reveal an N-scale cargo train circling a miniature recreation of Wyoming’s Devils Tower National Monument in the center. The underside of the top of the side table features glowing LED lights and is painted to look like the bottom of the massive spaceship featured in the film’s finale, but you’ll also find Roy Neary’s (Richard Dreyfuss’ character) yellow pickup truck stopped at a crossing with working warning lights and sounds triggered by the train every time it makes a lap.
A suggestion for Ikea: if you’re looking for your next big seller, why not consider a collaboration with Waldraff so those of us lacking the skills to build our own secret model railroad can easily do so with just a hex wrench?