For the past month or so, I’ve spent nearly every waking hour in my shop building a Dogwood dining room table for a friend (and sawyer) by the name of Dave Kilpatrick. It totals a little more that 60 hours, but it feels like a whole lot longer. It’s still a lot of fun though and I haven’t lost interest. For me, not only is the construction a challenge, but the time factor is as well. His wife would really like the table for their family’s Christmas dinner, and that deadline keeps me motivated. I would be overjoyed if I made the December 25 goal and I know they would be too. While doing my best to complete the table before the deadline, I am putting everything else, aside from work, on hold. Everything has to wait until next year. I’ll let you all know when it’s done. I’ll take lots of pictures too.
The table, however, is not what inspired me to sit down and write tonight. Tonight, I was inspired, my brain is in overdrive. One of my friends from work, Dick, asked if he could stop by to use my jointer to surface a piece of spalted maple to make an instrument panel consisting of a clock, thermometer, hygrometer, and barometer, for his trailer. He had brought over a piece he was given by Greg, who teaches some of the turning seminars. I had a large piece also which we thought was worthy of consideration.
When Dick arrived after work, he had a look at the spalted maple and immediately decided that it was what he wanted. He laid out the shape, featuring a natural bark edge (also known as a live edge) and some spalting, which had resulted in vivid colours and streaks. Maple, of course, is a fairly plain wood. Spalting is caused by rot and is highly desirable. However, one must monitor the time rot has to set in. Not enough time and the effect of spalting is less than stunning. Too much however, and the wood loses all structural integrity. This board had lots of spalting and I had written it off as unsuitable for furniture. However, we agreed that this board would serve well as a mount for the four aforementioned instruments.
The first task was to cut the rectangular 20″ x 8″ piece roughly to size. We used the bandsaw because there was no straight edge to register against the table saw fence and it is much quicker, easier, and arguably safer than a circular saw or jigsaw.
After that, my new beautiful 8″ jointer made short work of flattening one face of the board, followed by the edge opposite the live edge.
Having a 12″ compound miter saw proved handy (as it always does), with it’s 8″ crosscutting capacity. We used it to square up both ends of the board. After running the board through the thickness planer three times, Dick had a dressed board with a live edge. That means two flat faces parallel to each other, one edge square to each face (the other was natural) and two square ends. After laying out the location of the holes which were to be bored to hold the clock and weather instruments, we bored them at the drill press with a 2-3/8″ saw-tooth bit. A little sanding was all that was required before the application of a finish to complete the project.
Time elapsed: Less than 20 minutes!
The end result: A well-made, functional, stylish, inexpensive, one-of-a-kind work of art.
Value: A workpiece such as this one could sell for as little as $25 at a craft fair to $500 or more at an art museum.