Trestle Table in Black Walnut

Discovering Design

The discovery of the life within the wood and the relationships they form is exciting to uncover. The early decisions are heavy. Every other act in the process is a response to these chalk marks as they try to hear and echo this walnut tree’s voice.

Underpinning Art with Discipline

The romance of the craft is backed up by countless hours of “mundane” work- the discipline that builds skill, and makes up the real life of labor. Days are spent creeping up on this scribed relationship and the foundational joinery. It’s a blessing to work, and to rest in the presence, at the same while striving towards the goal. Don’t mistake me, I’ve only had enough meager success at it to know it’s possible. 

Technology – Joinery

One side of the natural edge was curving away on bottom edge so I had to cut a shallow rebate in order to have a solid joint as well as cleanly scribed edge. This edge was reinforced with dominoes. The opposing edge curved towards the bottom edge and could be cut square. For it I made a floating contoured spline from Baltic birch. Assembled dry all is tight and solid.

Visualize and Establish Form

Finding a way to visualize the elements in a design is an engaging challenge. Krenov spoke of “composing”, and I’ve adopted his method and language -clamping up and mocking up relationships as the process moves forward. I don’t recall if he used tape, but I recently switched from using blue tape to white tape to mask off shapes- the difference is remarkable. 

Labor – Engaging Harvest

The last bit of joinery for the individual trestles is the horizontal rail completing the “H” form, which will eventually carry the longer rail that will join the two trestles together.

I’m grateful for this job, this material, this process. I heard a song that had a line which proclaimed “I am the record of His grace”.

Crosstimber Tables

These images document a build in its early stage of a family of black walnut tables, centered around a richly grained and beautifully colored walnut tree which we salvaged from a farm near Winfield, Kansas.  The tables are a collaboration between my best friend/business partner and myself, sharing designing and building tasks to create, what we hope, are some authentically good pieces of furniture in the continuing tradition of live-edge/natural-slab furniture.

Walnut Timber Mantelpiece

The six and a half inch thick, 13 foot long walnut slab filled the shop as it came from the chainsaw mill.

Beam cutter on the old worm-drive

“rough-sawn” to the max

Using the “beam-cutter” to rip the slab into a six inch square timber

Pulling the saw at the end of the cut to save the last bit of slab for the corbels

Aluminum C-channel as a guide

start of the smoothing

a jack plane with a radius set to take heavy shavings

Now the joiner

pretty obvious

chopping out for a patch over a rotten knot

the same, fitted

filing the edges of a little copper butterfly template

bench-top with tools for making butterfly templates

variety of butterfly templates

Scribing the timber for butterflies to bind the main check

Routing out the waste

chopping the rest

right up to the knife line

ready for the joining

carving the corbels (my documentation fell off for most of this process)

mating the various natural edges of the corbels to the mantel

a little further back

fitting the opposite corbel

rough-cut cove on the left corbel

both corbels with coves-cut and awaiting final shaping

apply the final touches on the ends of the timber

“C” for the covenant

installed over the fire box, and the home-owner’s sandstone work.

I look forward to seeing it with the stone work done

Sister Hog, Brother Tree, and the Voice of Copper: a Celebration of Long Labor and Process

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