Custom woodworking and art
Material: Spalted Figured Sycamore, Inlaid stone from the Animas River, Colorado
Usage: Dining table
Very nice, I’ve never used sycamore. Is spalting okay on a dining table? Did you have to do anything to it?
When we cut the tree down the spalting process had already begun and in my experience that usually creates a more usable wood. It seems , if the tree is still partially alive when the spalting begins it remains much denser. As far as the spalting, the process ended when it was put through the kiln. Now there is several coats of deft oil between the wood and our dinner plate. The mold that produces the beautiful spalting process is around us all the time and once the wood drops below 20% the mold becomes inactive. In fact a lot of wood turners use it for salad bowls.
Beautiful. Curious, though – what is the stone for???
Thanks Daniel. Good question I suppose there are a couple of reasons for the stone. In my travels I love collecting stone and incorporating them into my woodworking. Texturally stone and wood deserve to be together. In this piece the radical nature of the spalting almost gives a fluid appearance so this stone that resembles a stepping stone is in the middle of the stream. Which is exactly where it was before I picked it up. I also thought it would be cool to have a built in trivet to keep hot dishes from burning my table. Also thought it would be a nice place to place a candle or a vase of flowers.
The rock is a nice touch. From which (legal) location did you acquire it?
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH
WHAT CAN I SAY
THANK GOD I’M A COUNTRY BOY
Very nice. I am curious… you mentioned cutting the tree down. What do you use for drying? Do you take it somewhere? Have your own kiln? or just use patience?
Thanks, yea we took it to a local mill with a kiln although its a fairly quick process it’s also a lot easier to have wood loss due to warpage. Which we did.Due to the quickness the moisture leaves the wood. The only wood I have had good luck with air drying is aromatic cedar and Osage Orange probably due to the low moisture in the wood ,but I suppose also has a lot to due with what season you cut it and if its standing dead or holding a bunch of water.
There was a period in my life when I was helping a friend tear down hundred year old barns. We took the planks back to the shop and ran them through a big 36 inch belt drive planer. Lots of spalting and even though those boards had a century to air dry there was plenty of moisture. We beat that with appropriate joinery and tung oil and spar varnish.
The mixture of elemental materials in fuurniture has always been a fascinating concept for me, as well as mixing in leather and found things like brass and copper stuff taken from their original context and odd glass objects…the river stone is nice…the carving for the mounting must have been fun. Epoxy?
The shape of the edges is the same way I do it. I have always been a sucker for a soft edge and seeing the grain go ’round onto another plane is somehow right. I always called it driftwood style, rounded, like the rock, by wind and rain and time. And lots of sanding.
Thanks, Tj I’ve been thinking about you lately and your potential new contract. I hope you got it. Yea when you have wood as pretty as this spalted sycamore you don’t have to do much. A few cuts and a lot of sanding, some good penetrating oil and call it a day. I can’t say exactly why I chose to put a rock in the middle of a perfectly good table after I had completed the entire table. One false move with the chisel or Forstner bit and nothing but the tears. I had full intention to epoxy the rock but a combination of a very tight mortise and a beveled rock meant during the dry fitting process the rubber mallet swung a little to hard and set the rock fully down into said mortise. In order to get it back out would mean most assuredly destruction. I figured if it was so tight that there was no hope of getting it back out who needs epoxy. Did you get to keep anything you built out of the old barn wood ?
I should have known that it being you the fit would require no extra attatchment.
Tohner, that I have none of those pieces, or even photos of them is one of my life’s great heartbreaks. There was book case of red oak that weighed as much as a piano; the top was a natural twenty inch plank from an old outhouse that still had traces of bark on one edge. Another favorite was one of those big wire spools covered with a variety of hardwoods vertically around the core of the spool and a top of bookleafed hickory I made on the 20 inch ship saw we had…I killed the edge with a fat piece of rusty steel rope and urethaned the hell out of the whole thing. There were many others: a home bar to match the spool and an old formica top table from goodwill that I also recovered.
We had so much wood that almost every saloon in my hometown had walls covered with fine old hardwod and my mentor built two restaurant/saloons that I played a small part in.
You can read about it
The loss of this good friend is another of the great heartbreaks of my life.
But my pieces were big, heavy, and solid. They went away at the same time as my well-loved and vast book collection: divorce. I could have saved it all, probably, but after my marriage broke up I went a wanderin’ and furniture and books weren’t in it; just me and a duffle and my motorcycle.
But there is always the chance that I will one day stumble across one of them, someday, somewhere. Life is funny that way.
Oh, and I am waiting for word on the contract. Don’t worry, when the news comes there will be plenty noise about it either way.
Well, as we both know wood has a tendency to expand and contract and with this wood now being in a climatized space for the first time in its life I expect the latter. Which means somewhere , probably the not so distant future when we move and I forget this little nugget and I remove the top from the base to turn it sideways to get through the door. I hope that I have the forethought to check it before gravity does but somehow I doubt it. As life tends to go one day a hero the next a court jester.
Yea,being a gun slinger moving from town to town or project to project if it wasn’t for the pictures,I would have forgotten half of what I’ve done. I have of late been working on a site that’s just pics of not just the furniture/art/craft stuff I’ve done,but also some of the more interesting trim jobs I have worked on. When sifting through trying to pick a small percentage of pics that what would best represent where I’ve been and what I’ve done I realized I had forgotten much of those projects. Maybe it’s more healthy to always be looking forward but I have to say its been fun looking back. I have left a trail of myself and even if some of the clients have forgotten about me the house and the wood hopefully has not. Someday 100 years from now when they are tearing those houses down and saving all the wood not because its the right thing to do but because we have cut all the decent trees down because we mismanaged our forest they will find on the back of my work especially my earlier work my name,date and my favorite quote. I don’t do that much anymore sometimes I think I am burned out.
Actually I’m sure of it.
I have a feeling you have a more photographic memory than I do just judging from the richness in your descriptions of the past. Or that might just be do to your skill with the pen. Either way I doubt those places have forgotten you either and like you said you might run into some of those pieces from your past life is funny like that.
P.S- you friend/mentor seemed like a cool cat.
Doc Tohner Holliday Jackson
Here’s how old and shot out I am: ten years ago I was doing night remodeling on a Long Horn Steakhouse. It was some kind of Twilight Zone job from hell. Tear down booths and low walls in one section, move them six inches or so, reassemble and clean up before the eleven a.m. opening. Go back the next night, tear down the same walls for unexplained reasons, move them a different six inches..,it was maddening and the superintedant was one of those bastards who gets confused about carpenters. He was one of those MF’s who thinks he bought us on the auction block, if you know what I mean, and one night when he said for the hundredth time “What are ya bellyachin’ about, yer on the clock,” I suddenly found myself unhappy with the shape of his skull and started thinking of modifications I could make to it. We packed up and walked out.
But that ain’t the story.
The story is that the GC offered to pay me to stick around a couple nights and help my replacement get started. I did so and when the new guy showed up he wanted me to look at his picture book. They were pictures of and Outback Steakhouse I had done some ten years previous. I thought that guy looked familiar. He had been a helper with another carpenter I had hired. So his resume, a decade later and hundreds of miles away, was pictures of my own work.
Here’s another one: I was in the office of a major GC in Tampa a few years ago looking at a set of prints for a three story luxury condo with retail on the ground floor and parking above and four big (five thousand ft2) condos up top. At the time I was getting a lot of penthouse work. But as I looked at the drawings something caught my eye and I realized part of the demo for the new building was tearing down yet another Outback that I had built only five years previous.
Yeah. Now my twenty-six year old son is in Tampa Bay trying to be me, fire up the old Comstock Coronado Door and Trim machine and he is making incremental steps towards that goal. Meanwhile, since we are both flat broke there is talk about heading to those hellish North Dakota oilfields to crank up some capital. It never ends.
Interesting that you say wood and stone belong together, I absolutely agree. I have always seen the as the basic building blocks of the world we live in, and their beauty in the simplest form which you have captured so well stands out. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the kind words. Sometimes as woodworkers all we have to do is stay out of the way of the beauty that already exists.
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