A few months back, I made a quick trip to Boone, NC. While wandering through the hills and valleys surrounding the town, I came across a gentleman named “Bernie”. Bernie, a native Canadian, owns and operates a wood yard just outside of Linville. Not the kind of wood you burn in a fireplace, but wood you can use to make furniture, mantles, etc. After spending 20 minutes with Bernie, during which we examined a startling array of wood slabs, I choose a 6 1/2 foot tall, 32 inch wide, 3 inch thick piece of maple.
Frankly, I didn’t choose the piece. It chose me. It spoke to me. Silently but with a clear message. And when I asked the piece of wood what it wanted to be, I sensed a slight bit of confusion. I explained, given its shape and thickness, that a natural edge desk top would be my first thought. The piece disagreed. Given an opportunity to express an opinion, the wood suggested a coffee table instead. After a moments reflection, I agreed, but with one condition: The design of the legs would be solely my decision.
With help from Bernie, the maple slab was secured to the back to my truck. There wasn’t much negotiation on the price, since the piece was only $275. I thought it was a bargain and chose to “get the hell out of Dodge” before Bernie changed his mind.
Back in Savannah a couple of days later, work commenced. I decided on a leg system made from welded black iron pipe, giving the piece an industrial look. I felt it would be a good contrast to the natural wood top. The maple was sanded, first with 60 grit, then 100 and finally 220. The results were amazing. The piece contained a number of “birds eyes” (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird’s_eye_figure), as well as other beautiful details. It turned out that the wood supplied a table top with a couple of pieces left over, one of which would ultimately be an end table. The wood was sealed with several coats of high gloss tung oil and the fabricated iron legs bolted to the tops. I think both pieces came out great, although they’re not everyone’s taste.
Pictures are attached.