I had the good fortune of meeting a contractor who also happened to have his own saw mill on Whidbey Island. One day he mentioned to me that he had quite a bit of nice raw edge wood slabs hanging around that were basically the waste cut offs from various trees he had milled for some high end clients. He didn’t have the room to keep them around, so he offered me some of them.
I had specific plans for the nicest pieces, but needed to get my feet wet so I didn’t destroy them. There was one piece that was nice, but still small enough to move around easily, something that is of the utmost importance when you are working out of a small one bedroom apartment. I decided to finish this test piece as a table. Here is the raw slab on a temporary base:
The slab had a very rough finish. The plan was to let it dry out some more (it had been kiln dried but not long enough) so that I would be able to get the rest of the bark off and have a live edge. That was much easier said than done! I tried power washing, heat gun, hand scraping, and all manner of tools. That bark did not want to come off. After about 10 hours of trying to get it off, I just decided to leave it on. There are a few spots where it came off, and they look great. I have another slab from the same tree that I am planning on making a headboard with, but only if I can figure out how to get all the bark off.
Once the bark situation was resolved, it was on to sanding. It took me something close to 16 hours to sand both sides. Ideally I would have had it planed down first, but I didn’t have access to a machine wide enough.
The plan for this table was for it to be a higher hallway type table. Since I don’t have a hallway, it is functioning as a plant display table. Functioning as a hall table, it will probably be abused with keys, phones, etc. on a daily basis. I decided to use an oil finish because not only do I like the low sheen of it, but it is easy to restore areas that may become scratched.
Searching for a base for this slab took a long time. At least a year. I was constantly on the lookout for something steel and interesting looking. Old mechanical parts or something of that nature. One day at an antique fair at the Puyallup Fairgrounds, I came across an old wood and steel ironing board for $25. It would have made a cute table just by itself, I still have a hard time believing I ‘destroyed’ it to make my table.
The steel base was rivited to the wood, so I actually did have to destroy the wood part and the neat vintage label to separate the two pieces. After I got the steel off, I painted it white, and attached the new slab top to it.
The finished product turned out great, and it still folds like an ironing board! The plants are quite happy on their new table.