Learn how to create unique, rustic pieces using old Redwood slabs from smaller chairs and tables to large-scale pieces like arbors and gazebos.
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Reid Crosby was introduced to the art of wood working when he was in the army working in the "moral support activities" shops. After leaving the army he worked as a counselor for a wilderness program that dealt with troubled teens. This job led him to all corners of the globe where he had the chance to see craftsmen of various backgrounds working with wood. Today he creates unique, rustic pieces from smaller chairs and tables to large-scale pieces like arbors and gazebos.
Materials and Tools:
11' x 3-1/2' x 3" piece of wood*
leg system (which is a combination 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" heavy, walled square steel tubing)
3, 6" diameter round steel tubular legs
2 horizontal 1-1/2" solid steel rods
6" power planer
11' straight edge
water based clear coat finish
Allen head set screws
shop hoist with chains and straps
homemade chain saw mill
spray painting machine
*A river salvaged old growth Redwood root crown burl slab from the Eel River in Northern California was selected.
1. Make a scale model of the proposed project to check for symmetry and aesthetic and functional design issues.
2. Cut out a slab of redwood from a tree trunk using a horizontal band saw.
5. Round over the perimeter of the entire underside of the slab using air grinders and specialty sanders.
6. Decide the overall frame layout to later be recessed into the slab and leg placement. This takes into account all voids, knots and other unique things about this particular slab that may necessitate differing frame placement. This insures complete concealment of framework as viewed from above.
7. Cut steel tubular frame pieces and test fit on actual slab. Note: The random nature of the wood slab makes doing it any other way more difficult. Simultaneously, determining cross support placement.
8. Weld frame work and all sub-frame components, including leg mounting "studs" which are formed around a piece of smaller tube using torches, an anvil and vice grips. This operation is necessary due to the fact that pipe inside and outside diameters varies greatly and there are no tight fit pipes available in these diameters. Note: You could create this on a large metal lathe or build your own with this method.
9. Cut the large diameter pipe legs on a horizontal metal saw.
10. Plasma cut metal disk 6-inch diameter end caps and then weld end caps on the pipe legs on the floor side.
11. Drill 1-1/2-inch holes in the legs where the horizontal metal rods interconnect the legs.
12. Drill and tap the setscrew holes for the Allen head set screws, which hold the legs to the studs and the horizontal rods to the legs.
13. Lay the square steel tubular frame in place and trace the perimeter on the underside of the slab.
14. Score the bottom of the recess where the frame will rest with a circular saw, making multiple cuts.
15. Remove the scorings with a chisel.
16. Using a router and pattern bit, true up the frame recesses, and provide clearance for welds at the junctions.
17. Decide on density and placement of fasteners to hold the steel tube framework to the wood table.
18. Mark and drill the 25 to 30 holes in the frame using a magnetic drill. Tip: A magnetic drill is practical because of the number of holes and awkward size of the frame. Countersink these holes as well.
19. Drill the holes in the wood slab, which correspond with the metal framework holes. Then, install 25 to 30 brass inserts into the wood table.
20. Sand blast the framework's metal parts and paint.
21. Sand the underside.
22. Clear coat the underside.
23. Fasten the frame in place.
24. Roll the desk over.
25. Flatten the slab again.
26. Round over the edges.
27. Finish sanding the top.
28. Saturate the wood's surface with an epoxy product to harden the wood. Note: Redwood is soft.
29. Finish sanding the epoxy surface to flatten.
30. Clear coat the final top with multiple layers of finish.
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