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The "Old" Oak Tree

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Project by Chilly posted 01-29-2010 at 09:54 PM 3270 views 6 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This table began out of necessity and emerged as a conversation piece that represents its home well.

My client was forced to cut down a large oak tree in their front yard that had grown to become a hazard to their home. Originally growing a safe distance from the house, after years of growth and subsequent home renovations prior to their occupation of the house, the old oak had reached its limits in the ground.

It was cut down but not without much thought. Wishing to keep the tree as part of the house they insisted it be turned into something that would persist. Reflecting on their love of having the family meals together and having friends over for dinner they decided a new, larger dining room table would be the best “living” end for the old tree.

The tree was milled locally in late summer and then dried over the winter. Over beer and great conversations the table design became clear. Maintaining the very rough nature of the Manitoba Oak was paramount as the tree’s character needed to be recognizable. As such, elements such as rough cut marks from where the chainsaw removed nails that had been hammered into the tree to hold steps for a treehouse, bluish stains from said nails, large knots that would have otherwise dried up and fallen out and, of course, portions of the actual bark as it transitions from deep reds into the pale sap wood and into the dark, teak-like heartwood – everything had to be maintained.

These rough contrasting elements were highlighted by the highly simplified lines of the table and the tripod structure of the legs. By giving the legs a massive quality through multiple tapered laminations and then presenting them in a way that alluded to the structure of a tree – the branching of the main leg into a cloven split that reveals the beautiful reds and whites and small protrusions that used to be branches – the table quite literally resembles a tree when you sit around it.

The main “branching trunk” leg is constructed of 7’ long tapered laminations (from 5/8” to 7/8”) that split around a wedge comprised of 4-3’ tapers that go from 1/4” to 3/4”. The branch that emerges from it to support the table top acts as a key that mates the final gap and provide the full branch-like structure to the base.

The rear legs are comprised of two tapered laminated legs (1/2” to 7/8”) that are mated to a wedge comprised of 11-1/4” to 3/4” tapers. They, all-together, form a monolithic block that is “dovetailed” around the main trunk.

The leg assembly is one-piece and it bolts to two slotted stringers that span the width of the table. There is virtually no wobble in the table even when surrounded by 8 hearty dinner guests.

The top was built as 3 separate panels with breadboard ends. I think I wound up with about 2 board feet to spare after the whole thing.

Each part was barrier coated with two coats of West System Epoxy and then 3 coats of clear water-borne satin urethane.

Contrasting elements, are what it is all about. The size (8 1/2 feet long) supported at two points giving greater feeling of weight supported on air. The leg mirrors and inverts itself upon its axis. The rivers of red and white running through the top and revealed in the foot. Finished and raw wood elements contrasting within. The branching of a singular element into two. The rustic but contemporary design. Resembling a split-rail fence or saw horses it is still unquestionably contemporary – all of these characteristics are representative of the yin and yang – contrasting forces at once in harmony.

Essentially I was given free reign on this project as the client said “we trust you” after seeing an initial napkin sketch and a few of my other pieces. Still, the boundaries were so loose and for that creative freedom I am very grateful! Undoubtedly my favorite project to date.

Thanks to Chris for taking the awesome pictures.

Cheers

-- can't talk, woodworking -- p1g furniture design





12 comments so far

View Wade's profile

Wade

18 posts in 1681 days


#1 posted 01-29-2010 at 10:12 PM

The legs totally make the table. They make the table appear to be defying gravity. I wish I had an “old oak tree” that needed to come down. Thanks for posting

-- " I do what the vioces in my head tell me to do...HAHA"

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112030 posts in 2214 days


#2 posted 01-29-2010 at 10:14 PM

Interesting design and wood

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View dakremer's profile

dakremer

2451 posts in 1729 days


#3 posted 01-29-2010 at 10:30 PM

That is awesome!! I really like it a lot – great job!! My parents just cut down their maple tree in their front yard – unfortunately they cut it all up into fire wood before I could get my hands on it – I would have loved to get it milled and make something out of it!! Oh well! Awesome table – thanks for sharing!!

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14727 posts in 2313 days


#4 posted 01-29-2010 at 10:35 PM

Interesting design and story. How is the stability if some one leans on the narrow legged end?

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Puupaja's profile

Puupaja

310 posts in 1738 days


#5 posted 01-29-2010 at 10:46 PM

Best thing is to make one of kind pieces like you have done, looks great!

-- http://www.facebook.com/pages/Puupaja/357028681017482

View FuzzyDove's profile

FuzzyDove

60 posts in 2012 days


#6 posted 01-29-2010 at 11:17 PM

In the days of pre-dimensioned lumber for all, this is a refreshing and beautiful bit of craftsmanship. Kudos.

View Troy's profile

Troy

186 posts in 1700 days


#7 posted 01-30-2010 at 12:17 AM

Meaningful project = double impressiveness.

-- Troy Bouffard || Master Sergeant, US Army (Retired) || http://www.birchhillwoodcrafts.com

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1057 posts in 1846 days


#8 posted 01-30-2010 at 12:37 AM

This is one of the most beautiful tables I’ve ever seen. Wonderful design and craftsmanship that honors the tree. Wow!

View Splinterman's profile

Splinterman

23058 posts in 1998 days


#9 posted 01-30-2010 at 05:18 AM

Hey Chilly,
Great design and finish…well done.

View tomfromwinnipeg's profile

tomfromwinnipeg

60 posts in 1722 days


#10 posted 01-30-2010 at 05:51 AM

Great design and workmanship be proud of that one!

-- Tom From Winnipeg

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2419 posts in 2229 days


#11 posted 01-30-2010 at 09:37 AM

Sweetness! Great gob.

-- Dennis Zongker

View Arnold's profile

Arnold

215 posts in 2199 days


#12 posted 01-30-2010 at 01:07 PM

Really nice

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