When she was young, her father made a small coffee table from a natural edged plank he'd found.. She asked me whether I could make something similar, but larger, to seat six. Her dining room was small and had enough room for something 32 X 72 aprox. She was a friend I'd met on social media… and I told her I'd look for a flitch (single slice, natural slab, cut from the tree) of that size.
She lives 2 hrs drive from my shop so I suggested I'd send her emails with photos attached to show her what I found, what it will look like and how I'd take it down to it's final shape. She wanted it fairly dark. I always try to find a wood that is close to the finished color rather than using a stain as it can obscure the grain to some extent. I found her a single slab from a walnut tree that HAS to have been over a hundred years old.
Then I sanded & wet an area to indicate what it will look like.
She agreed with my suggestions and so established the shape of the top. I had removed the bark (both 'inner' & 'outer') and the blond, cambium layer… and then rounded the four corners. The sapwood & heartwood are what's left.
I used solid walnut for the legs (a true 4" X 4"). I positioned the legs wide enough to make sure it would be stable ( the narrow end of the top is only 30" wide) and this also told me what the four skirt lengths would be.
I random-orbital sanded it at 60, 100 & 150 grit. I didn't follow up with a vibration sander as I wasn't going to stain this (already wonderfully dark) walnut... so fine scratches were not going to read. Every woodworker knows what happens when you start applying your first coat. This surface was no exception.
I made my legs & skirts with chamfered edges (45 degree angled cuts). A single coat to seal the table top's bottom side and then five coats to all visible surfaces.
I used table bracket hardware (so that the legs were removable for transport).
I didn't have the heart to reduce the thickness of the top (2") so the table weighed just under 200 lbs. Made it a bear to carry into her place.. but his table will be around long after those of us who reading this are gone.
I have a very happy client on my hands. Happy clients are the best salespeople you can find (or make).
More good stuff on our website…
Russell Hudson / Hudson Cabinetmaking, Inc.