Here is a new piece that I recently completed. (It’s also posted on my Facebook page, and on this website — under the category “New Work”.) Going forward, I’ll be introducing new pieces as I create them, along with some history of how they came about.
This coffee table is from a slab of maple that I bought in Maine in 2017, for a project I was working on at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts (a terrific craft school - for all levels; check it out at www.Haystack-Mtn.org). That project is still in the works (with steam-bent elements) but this slab didn’t fit in with it any longer. Since it has beautiful spalting (those black lines in the wood), and interesting live edges, I decided to make a coffee table out of it.
The first challenge was its size: it’s a big, awkward, and heavy piece (the slab is 42 lbs), and larger than any piece I previously worked on. And it wasn’t flat - neither the top surface nor the bottom. While I often buy pieces that are already roughly flat, this one required a serious hand-planing job — a real cardio and muscle workout! I got that part done (with a bit of sweat) and then I had to address the underside.
The underside doesn’t have to be fully flat like the top (where someone will be putting drinks, decoration, etc), but it has to be flat where the legs are placed so that they are all even, at the same level. That meant carving out areas on the bottom, for the legs to be set parallel to the top surface. An interesting challenge, and stretching my skills. Plus — because of the unusual weight of the top, the legs had to be strong enough — and solidly joined to the table — so there was no risk of them snapping off. I made all three support pieces — 2 traditional angled legs in the front, and a wide support along the back end (double-thick) — from white oak (which came from a tree a friend had cut down). Finally - the piece was finished with polymerized tung oil (from Sutherland Wells) which leaves a hard, clear, ultra smooth surface.
The slab is probably sugar maple, as there are several holes in it which (I’m guessing) were from drilling to get the maple sap, to make maple syrup.
I wish I could have tasted the syrup from this tree — but that will have to wait for another maple slab!