Some friends had to remove a large pin oak from their back yard, as it was declining and would soon pose a hazard to their house. Â They were sectioning most of the large branches and upper trunk for firewood, but were interested when I mentioned the possibility of milling some of the trunk for use in something that would last longer. Â So began our adventure of brainstorming and design work, which appears to be leading us toward a coffee table and a console made from the quarter-sawn lumber. Â Here are a few photos showing the transition from the original trunk to fresh sawn lumber. Â The wood is currently air drying, but will be finished in a kiln this fall.
I’m not typically a big fan of red oak, but this one was cut effectively to reveal good flecking and a few pleasant surprises in color variation. Â Last year I found a red oak crotch piece where two trunks had grown almost parallel to each other for several feet, and the grain went wild along the merging edges. Â I turned two shallow bowls out of it, one of which is pictured below.
Opening a piece of wood is like unwrapping a present. Â Further cutting, surfacing, and construction reveal qualities that shape meaning through function and aesthetic experience. Â When this is coupled with a memory of the raw materials, a personal history that preceded the wood’s cultural usefulness, it presents a unique opportunity for a living memorial– one that can maintain vitality and relevance in daily life instead of sliding ever deeper into a mysterious past.