|Project by Michael Sanders||posted 06-09-2013 11:47 AM||2611 views||10 times favorited||24 comments|
The project started when a client asked me to make him some furniture from a 15’ long, 18”-22” wide 8/4 slab of cherry he had in storage. He had the tree taken down on his property on the sea islands of Beaufort, SC. I grew up in this area, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to work some local wood, especially cherry, which is pretty uncommon in the world of southern yellow pine. And it was a whole slab with live edges, the sort of material I always wanted to work with, but had never had the chance.
He wanted a small dining table for a corner banquet, and a coffee table. He had seen my previous work, and wanted me to build whatever I thought would be cool. He liked the idea of two individual slabs to create the table surface, but that was all the input he had. I could see what I wanted to build almost immediately. I put my thoughts into Sketchup, showed him the concepts, and cut the 15’ foot slab into 8’ and 7’ pieces. He also provided some narrower 8/4 stock from the same tree, and an additional small slab that I was supposed to be able to keep for myself. I loaded it all in my ragged little old Tacoma, and headed back to Charleston to commence the work.
I cut the 8’ piece in half to create the dining table top, which was to finish at ~39”x48”. I flattened the slabs with a router sled on parallel bars. The figure in the wood showed even through the rough surface left by the router, but after I sanded it from there it became apparent that I was dealing with some of the most beautiful cherry I had ever seen. Once I had them flat and cleaned the bark from the edges, I beveled the bottom edges of the 1 3/4” thick slabs to make them appear 3/4” thick. I did this primarily with a powered hand planer.
The base was sort of inspired by the work of Nakashima, especially his joinery techniques used to build the Conoid chair. I rough cut all of the extra material the client had given me, and started milling it when i realized that 2 of the 4 sticks he had given me were actually white oak. They were very rough and dirty when I got them and had no idea they we a different species until I pushed them through my jointer. I probably could have incorporated them into the design if I had known before I chopped them up, but inevitably I had to put the oak aside and butcher the cherry slab I intended to keep for myself. Bummer. I managed to make enough material out of it and complete the base, though slightly redesigned.
I finished it with boiled linseed oil, followed by Sealcoat shellac, and a 50% thinned Minwax semi-gloss poly, wiped on 3x. I finished the finish with steel wool and briwax.
This project came out fantastic and the client couldn’t have been happier. I will describe the coffee table more in it’s own story.
-- Michael Sanders, Charleston, SC, "Tight joints and clean lines"