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Old 04-04-2015, 08:56 PM
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Default Walnut slab table

A student of mine grew up in Oregon, and had a walnut tree in her backyard. Her parents had it cut down a few years ago, and had it milled into slabs. My student brought one of the slabs down: 4.5" thick, 6 feet long, and 24" wide at its widest point. She was planning on making a coffee table out of it, but the only tool she had for flattening it was a finish sander.

It would have taken her about 100 years, I figure...

I offered to do the table for her. She wanted metal hairpin legs at one end, and the slab folded down at the other. We had the legs made by a guy on Etsy, and I took care of the woodworking parts.

Flattening the table was a pretty big task. One side was out by about 1/4" - I did that using the scrub blade on my new CT-18 plane from Bridge City. It worked amazingly well!

The other side was out by about 3/4". I made a frame out of mdf and used my OF1400 router with a 1.5" diameter flat bit, and made about 100 passes (twice) to get the slab flat. I then hand planed it to get it really flat.

Folding the slab was challenging, as I didn't have a saw blade that would go all the way through the slab (which was now 3" thick). However, my ATF55 and the guide rails came through: with some careful alignment, I managed to make cuts from both sides. They met and were only off by 1 mm at the worst - mostly it was a perfect cut! A little hand planing of the end grain gave me perfectly flat surfaces for joining.

I used 5 of the big domino tenons to support the joint, and glued it all together. Worked great!

I sanded to 400 grit using the RO125 and ETS125, and finished with about 6 coats of Minwax wipe-on poly (gloss).

Here's what it looks like:









You can see some of the beautiful figure and color in the wood - it's really stunning! I inlaid two 3/4" thick curly maple butterflies to hold some splits closed so they wouldn't propagate. They really float on the dark walnut background.

Bummer I can't keep it. We were thinking of telling her that it caught fire, and she couldn't visit our house any more...
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Old 04-04-2015, 09:24 PM
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Default Re: Walnut slab table

Beautiful work, Peter.

I hope you have negotiated visitation rights.

Charles
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Old 04-04-2015, 10:13 PM
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Default Re: Walnut slab table

Beautiful timber, worked masterfully.

Regards,,

Rob
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:00 PM
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Default Re: Walnut slab table

Awesome! The high contrast of the butterflies works well with this piece.
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Old 04-05-2015, 02:03 AM
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Default Re: Walnut slab table

I really like the two tone butterfly's! How did you do the "legs"?
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Old 04-05-2015, 02:03 AM
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Default Re: Walnut slab table

Thanks, Gentlemen! Yes - I love the look of the curly maple butterflies. I was channeling Nakashima on those. I'd love to get my hands on some more of that wood to make myself a table, too! The nicest walnut I've ever seen!

And yes, Charles: I should be able to visit. At least, until I let my student graduate...
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Old 04-05-2015, 05:25 AM
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Default Re: Walnut slab table

I realized that I left one of the pictures out - the view from the back. Here it is:

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Old 04-05-2015, 01:11 PM
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Default Re: Walnut slab table

Peter, I'm in awe. Very nice.
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Old 04-05-2015, 01:32 PM
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Default Re: Walnut slab table

How deep are the butterflies cut in?
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Old 04-05-2015, 03:25 PM
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Default Re: Walnut slab table

Real nice Peter, I'm "building" some walnut trophies right now and might have to see about that scrub blade to facet the corners.
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