A Square Deal (6)

Sixth post in a series describing the design and build of a couple of tables, and maybe more. If you’re a first time visitor, post 1 in this thread can be found here.

After a few days of delays in shipping, where the bubinga slab languished in Carlisle PA for 3 days, the stick was finally up in my neck of the woods. I decided against picking it up yesterday as the weather was inclement, however today brought sunshine and a whopping 50˚F (10˚C), which, after the brutally long cold winter was have had in Massachusetts, seemed like some sort of beckoning of the heavens. I scooted on up to Dumerston VT, just north of Brattleboro, to see what wonders awaited at the ABF Freight depot.

To my relief, the board had not been chewed up into kindling, or set on fire, etc., through the vagaries of the shipping process – it was unscathed, and they even cordoned it off with road cones:

For some reason – perhaps the usual imagining of my often slightly unhinged mind, I thought the board looked shorter and smaller than I had thought it should.

The tape measure doesn’t lie though:

I had originally planned to have the board brought out to me by tow truck, however given the truck depot location, about 50 miles from my shop, the towing quote was $275, so I went to plan ‘B’, where I show up with my own 1-ton truck and saw the board into two ‘manageable’ chunks so it could be loaded.

Having thought out the cut pattern in advance – losing a bit of sleep over it in fact – I did not suffer especially from any qualms when digging the circular saw into the plank.  I just marked out my cut line, set the saw for a depth of cut about 2/3 the board thickness, and went on ahead without so much as a deep inhale:

By cutting at 2/3 depth I was being cautious, not knowing whether the board might have some residual tension in it that would cause the blade to get pinched. Believe me, with a 14″ blade and this particular material, blade pinching is definitely something to be avoided.

All went well however, there was no binding, cracking, groaning or popping, and I’m not talking about my lower back either.  It was a good sign – the wood was well-behaved. I made the next cut to sever the boards. The opportunity to make a 16′ long conference table was lost forever, but I seem to think I’m making two or three pieces out of this slab, so all is good.

Time to load up:

And then the remnant at 81″ length was slid on top:

All buttoned up and ready to head back to my shop:

The cut surface told me two things – the board had a larger flatsawn portion than I might have hoped, and my crosscut blade could use sharpening. I haven’t used that saw for more than a year so I had forgotten about that:

Now, back at the ranch, so to speak, I had the thrill of unloading, without benefit of a forklift. The two gentlemen upstairs helped me off load the 81″ piece, which we could slide off and onto a heavy duty trolley (again, thanks to the gentlemen upstairs for the use of this fine piece of equipment!), so it was tucked inside in a matter of minutes.

More gymnastics were involved with the larger portion of slab. Again, I had spent some time thinking this out ahead of time, rigging a come-along to an overhead i-beam:

Here’s the upper end of that connection:

It required a long ladder to get up there, a climb I found a bit terrifying frankly. I haven’t rock climbed in a long time, and well, I guess I find heights scarier than I used to.

The board was swung inside – here I’m working solo – and I got a pallet truck on to one end:

A little more fiddling around and I got the entire board onto the trolley, and once balanced, easily wheeled it inside:

Once I’d tidied up outside, got my truck re-organized and parked, and had taken the come-along and support strap down (more scary ladder climbing), I enlisted some help from the upstairs shop to tilt the ‘chunk’ up against a pair of posts:

This board has come great curly figure on the tangential portion:

Now, where was that remnant? Time for more cuttin’ action.

I set it up on some dunnage, marked the line and sliced it in half:

Again, the wood behaved well and no pinches. I needed to pinch myself-  this was good news! The right half above, which was the narrow end of the slab, had a bit of sapwood still in place. I was hoping to be able to obtain my tabletop board, to be 38″ square, from that uppermost slab portion.

I carefully marked out the slab centerline, and a pair of lines spaced 20″ off to each side from that centerline to define a 40″ slab width. Then I trimmed off the edges to leave a 40″x40″ slab, visible in this next photo, over to the right:

Again, the trimming showed no big moves or warpage in the material- this board looks really stable. Also, the above picture gives a sense of scale, doesn’t it? That right piece is 40″x40″, so the rest now is well, frickin’ huge! And oh so heavy.

The other portion of the 81″ slab, a piece about 40″x50″, is visible to the left side of the above picture.

The offcuts from the tabletop trimming:

One side of the trimming has little salvageable material, but I’ll see if I can squeak something out:

These trimmings are heavy little chunks!

I was pleased to find that after trimming, there was only a small portion of sapwood left on one corner of the slab, and this will be trimmed off later no problem:

The above view shows the side edge of the board, which rests upon its end grain edge.

There we have it. No vertebrae were crushed, no one had to visit the emergency room. Pretty much a success all around. Whew!

Next step will be to take the tabletop slab down to dimension. I’m still wavering a bit on whether I’ll just hog off the material from either side, or whether I’ll try to get a slice resawn off of each side. I was leaning towards the resawing, however the board has some slight checks on the flatsawn surface portions, so I’m thinking that a 1/2″ slice from each face will incorporate these checks, which makes the overall piece less usable. I’ll decide in the next day or two what course of action to take.

All for now. Thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way. On to post 7.

4 Replies to “A Square Deal (6)”

  1. How was that thing sawn? Big band saw? It looks to have stayed fairly flat. Beautiful chunk of wood.

    Harlan Barnhart

  2. This is a Mighty story, Chris! I like the way you had all your thinking done before you went to collect and chop up your slab of gold! Unbelievable size of Hardwood!
    Takes some courage to tackle this project.
    Gordon Millar

  3. Gordon,

    thanks for your comment. I try to get as much of my apprehension and fear resolved ahead of time, before the board is in hand. Then it is a matter of mindfully following through on the plan. I've never much liked the 'panicky scramble' way of doing things..


Anything to add?

error: Content is protected !!
%d bloggers like this: