Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tiger Maple Trestle Table

      Maple wood, while usually thought of as the vanilla of furniture woods can also have variations in the grain that turn it from milk toast to down right exotic.   Here in the north east, we find hard and soft figured maple. Soft maple seems to be the most consistent when looking for great figure.  Usage varies, but in my experience, curly maple refers to figured maple and the terms tiger, birds-eye or quilted, refer to specific patterns of figure.  The wood for this table is soft tiger maple.  The top is the white color that we usually think of being  "maple" color.  The base is also soft tiger maple but it has some spalting and brown color going though it.
Wood of this character and even figure is not easy to find.  It is generally hit or miss.  You pick through piles and you may get lucky.  The yard where I get this wood from is a small yard. The owner separates the special woods such as curly maple, cherry and others so that we don't have to pick through the piles to find them.  And he gets to charge a hefty premium for them.  The wood for this table cost me 3 times what I had expected.  The board foot price was $15./bf.    Cherry is usually around $5.- $5.50/bf.  Plain old maple is usually around $2. something/bf.
     Luckily, I do not often make this mistake when pricing a piece.   When I put this table on my website, it will list a price that is about $1000. more than what I sold this one for.   Part of that is the actual price of the wood and part of it is that it is due to the difficulty in finding enough of this type of wood that will work together for a specific project.   For this table, I pretty much cleaned out my supplier of his stash of great soft curly tiger maple.   That means that I would need to do some searching to find enough for another table such as this one.

This table has a few "scars" from its days as a tree.
Often, these are quite beautiful and can be worked with.
The two or three on this table are filled with epoxy to make them smooth.
This adds a great amount of character without sacrificing on functionality.
The preliminary design for this table came about very quickly but after living with it for a bit, I made some small changes that really made it work.  For instance, I moved the posts in toward the center a bit to create a bit of a flat on the trestle base just inboard of the beginning of the tapered foot.  Also, at the cut-out bottom, the foot begins with an angled cut from the foot to the horizontal cut-out.  This little angle created an arrow like quality to the tapered feet.  The base of the table is a double posted trestle because of its great width.  With two posts and two cross beams, this table is rock solid.
This table measures 76" by 50".  It is 10" wider than any other table that I have made in the past.  It was very challenging in a few different ways.  Glueing up a flat surface made up of several boards is not a simple task so adding to the width adds to the hair pulling.  Wood expands and contracts across the grain, so the breadboard end needs to accommodate this seasonal movement.  This is more difficult, the wider the table. last of all, the top is so large that turning it over again and again, in order to work on it, is a challenge at best. The saw horses that the table top laid on, had to be screwed to the floor so that they would not tip over when flipping the top.  As I do not have any helpers these days, this had to be done by myself.  During the finishing process, the top must be finished equally on each side or it will warp. This means that it gets flipped at least daily.   
The price of the exact table would be $4600.   It could also be made in other woods and at a narrower width for $3600.  I think it is a good design that can be adapted to different sizes.  Feel free to suggest a size that works for you. All of my tables are custom.
Have a good one,

If you have been following my blogs, you may notice that this post is more wordy than others.  This is part of my Notes series that will flesh out some of the process and thoughts that goes into a design.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Getting Caught Up

I am finally getting some of my work done that was delayed by my illness with Lyme Disease.  That set me back a few weeks.  Below are some shots of low pencil posts that I am working on and one shot of the trestle table that I am finishing.  I will post more shots of that table when I am all done next week. Enjoy the rest of the summer,
Here I am planing the facets on the eight sided tapering posts for my Low Post beds.  I am working on two right now.  I am always a bit sad when this part is done.  It is a lot of fun. 

Here, are some posts before and after planing the last four facets out of eight.  Before, planing the last facets, the lamb's tongue must be chiseled. That can be seen on the posts to the right.  

This shows a finished facet and lamb's tongue.  The roughed out lamb's tongue is  carefully shaved to shape with a very sharp chisel and then the rest of the facet is planed to blend into it.
This is a detail shot of a curly maple trestle table that I am finishing up.  The wood has fantastic figure.