Also I’ve been working on a semi-secret project this month that I can’t let anyone know about until I’ve been given the go ahead to spread the word. Needless to say it was a really fun experience and part of this project entailed a trip to my slab supplier in the Berkshires.
While there I went ahead and bought a couple of Walnut slabs for my wife and I. I’m super excited to design and build a new dining table as well as a bookcase from the above slabs. The first and larger will be the dining table top and the narrower one will be the counter top of our new bookcase.
I’ll post photos as we develop the design and when I start working on both of these pieces. I’m really excited about these two slabs and what we plan on making with them.
Here is that massive English Elm slab dining table I’ve been working on all put together and ready for delivery. It was so big that I had to shoot photos of it on the shop floor since it was too heavy and too large for even my 12’ backdrop.
The foundry did a great job of casting the legs for me but they still required some weld repair and hours upon hours of grinding, sanding and finish work. If you look at the last photo of this bunch you’ll see what the legs looked like before I started finishing them. I also fabricated a steel tubing frame with steel plates welded to it which I drilled and tapped so that the legs had a solid mechanical connection to the frame. I then lag bolted this frame to the slab top through slots that I machined to allow the wood to expand and contract.
This table was a real joy to work on.
Sometimes all I get from certain jobs are quick cell phone pictures. This is a steel and oak bookcase wall I built and installed earlier this month. A friend’s company did all the woodwork and they hired me to fabricate the steel elements.
This is deceptively simple looking but was a ton of work to install. Each of the five posts on the front have ten angle iron tabs welded to them. All that welding cause the posts to curl like bananas so I had to do a fair amount of heat flattening to get the posts back to true. Then there are ten lengths of flatbar with five pieces of angle welded to them. There are 1” tubes that connect the flatbar along the wall to the posts on the front.
The install was interesting because we actually mounted all of the flatbars to the wall using sheet metal screws and then took them all of and drilled out the metal stud wall to accept toggle bolts. We then re-installed the flatbars and attached the far left and center post so that we could slide each oak shelf into place. Once we got all of the shelves in we put in the remaining three posts and secured the whole shelving system.
It was a long day of installation but works really well in the site.
And here is the table top as it gets closer to being ready for finish.
I love working with large slabs of wood because of how unique each piece is. Mother nature has us all licked when it comes to making beauty. The undulations of the grain and pattern of the checking give this top an amazing feel.
This is the pattern that I made this week. It’s going to be used by a local foundry to sand cast the bronze legs for the large English Elm slab dining table I’ve been working on lately.
Making the pattern was really fun and interesting. The foundry will pack this form inside of two flasks with a finely packed sand. They then separate the two halves and remove the pattern so that they can put the flasks back together and then pour the bronze into the void in the sand.
The interesting thing is that the metal shrinks as it cools so you have to make your pattern larger in all dimensions by a certain percentage and then you have to also make sure that the entire pattern has what is called draft which is basically a slight taper from the centerline out to the faces. This makes it possible to remove the pattern without disturbing the sand.
I bought a router bit with a 3 degree taper and drew 3d renderings of all the pieces I would need to make this pattern. My neighbor down the hall has two CNC machining centers and he ran the programs to route these parts. Afterwards I had to glue all the parts together. There were 8 parts total. The wishbone is made out of 6 halves glued together and then there is the top plate and gusset.
After I finish sanded the pattern I then had to prime it since the smoother the pattern is the better the finish you get out of the casting. I dropped it off at the foundry and hope to have the bronze legs back within a couple of weeks.
Here’s the Redwood slab dining table I recently built all put together just before we delivered it.
The top got a tung oil finish and the base received a black powdercoat finish. The table looks amazing in the client’s dining room.
This is the set up I made years ago for the butterflies I use. Many people make them on a bandsaw but I prefer this setup since its accurate and repeatable which is key when you need to make 70-80 butterflies for one table.
Each piece of walnut gets clamped to the jig and run through the table saw four times so you get the angled cut on all edges. Now they’re all ready to be inserted throughout those English Elm slabs next week.
Here’s a large English Elm slab dining table I’ve been working on. The top is this pair of bookamtched slabs and the base will be a cast bronze wishbone design.
This is the beginning of rough cutting the bookmatch and getting the slabs to a rough length. Since the top is 5’ wide I’m going to do all of the butterfly work with the pieces separate and then glue them together. These slabs are 2-1/8” thick and super heavy so I want to get them stitched together while they are more manageable weight wise.
Next week I’m going to get these slabs glued together and ready for finish as well as make the wood pattern for the foundry to cast the legs.
Here are more recent shots of a redwood slab dining table I’ve been working on. This is the slab with its oiled finish. It was amazing to see how much the figure and character of the slab jumped out with several coats of oil.
The base is a steel tube trestle design I welded last week and had powdercoated black. Next week I’ll have pictures of the entire table together.