Streamline - Spanish cedar & Charred oak table

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Project by fissionchips posted 11-08-2015 08:32 PM 913 views 2 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A dining table built for functionality and longetivity.

The top is a slab of Spanish Cedar, recovered from Lake Bayano in Panama. In 1979 an entire tropical forest was submerged when Lake Bayano was created as a hydroelectric resevoir. The native tree species are extremely rot resistant, so they stay preserved in the freshwater indefinitely.

To recover underwater trees local workers don diving suits and attach plastic float drums around the trunk. The tree is then cut ‘down’ using vegetable oil lubricated hydraulic chainsaws, ready to bob up to the surface and be wrangled to shore by boat. Coast Eco Timber is an FSC certified producer who works with the community to develop this capacity to harvest and mill wood for export. [Youtube]

The slab started at 40×56x3”. An inch or so of sapwood was removed from either side to get rid of some deep chainsaw gripper teeth marks. A narrow band remains on either side, adding a lighter accent colour. Incredibly there is also sapwood in the middle of the board at one end indicating a very wavy trunk profile. In fact the cedro espino trees sport rather malicious looking trunks.

The base is 3×4” white oak milled from an urban-felled tree. The material was fully air-dried when I aquired it, always a windfall for hand tool work. I’m a big fan of custom milling as the pieces retain features and grain that can’t be found at most wood dealers after grading and sorting. I experimented with several methods for the charred finish, and found the most consistency and grain retention using a heated iron (picture 5). Both sides of all seven base pieces have a rounded taper profile, a trick that lightens the visual weight without requiring much material removal.

In retrospect the piece has loose nautical ties. The top edge took on a line resembling a ship’s hull, and the base is a variation on Nakashima’s Frenchman’s Cove II table. The table has been in use for a year now and has held up very well.

Full build album on Flickr.

11 comments so far

View jim65's profile


800 posts in 1356 days

#1 posted 11-08-2015 09:44 PM

nice looking design, beautiful wood and a great story on the wood recovery, very interesting, thank you for sharing that! Who would have thought of a veg. lubricated hydraulic chainsaw. great!

-- Jim, Marostica Italy

View dpow's profile


500 posts in 2267 days

#2 posted 11-08-2015 11:14 PM

Nice work, I like the proportions of the legs to the top as well as the color contrast.

-- Doug

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 1784 days

#3 posted 11-09-2015 01:30 AM

Rather elegant.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View DMC1903's profile


237 posts in 1750 days

#4 posted 11-09-2015 05:26 AM

That’s badass!!

View drewpy's profile


568 posts in 780 days

#5 posted 11-09-2015 06:06 AM

Fantastic table. Thanks for sharing the story too.

-- Drew in Ohio -- "The greatest wealth is health".

View Russell Eck's profile

Russell Eck

119 posts in 848 days

#6 posted 11-09-2015 04:52 PM

This is amazing work. This really needs to hit the daily top 3

View XquietflyX's profile


287 posts in 384 days

#7 posted 11-09-2015 05:44 PM

awesome looking piece! thanks for sharing…

-- You can tell a lot about your wife by her hands, for example if they are around your throat she's prolly pissed off at you...

View Bud_3's profile


663 posts in 647 days

#8 posted 11-09-2015 07:00 PM

Great piece,it has fineness.

View Mean_Dean's profile


4946 posts in 2570 days

#9 posted 11-10-2015 01:02 AM

That’s a great looking table, and I really like the Spanish cedar tabletop! Also enjoyed reading the story of how the logs are harvested—it’s nice that they can live in in beautiful furniture!

-- Dean

View fissionchips's profile


99 posts in 1881 days

#10 posted 11-10-2015 03:15 AM

Thanks all for the kind comments!

Like all slab pieces this one evolved into its final form. The wood is mostly known for use in cigar boxes, and falling in the same hardness range as mahogany I was initially concerned about wear and tear. No problem in use as it turned out.

Once the top was complete I didn’t want to cut into it for joinery, so I opted instead for six screws. Four to hold alignment pins, and two more to capture 1” washers that mate with rare earth magnets in the base on either side, giving enough purchase to move the table around without any lift. As a result it can be knocked apart into the top, two sides, and the stretcher. For now it sits happily in its home adding something special to each meal.

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 1850 days

#11 posted 11-11-2015 04:14 AM

I watched the video of the underwater harvesting – very very interesting,, Thank you for posting and adding the link.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

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