“Hey, can you make a coffee table?” That’s what they asked me and off I went. I knew I wanted something that made ready use of the existing dimensions of our inventory. The idea was to make as few alterations to the wood as possible. Then there was one other thing; end grain and it all centered on using maple for the legs. There is a mix of three woods; oak, pine and maple. The basic shape has a lot of parallel lines running the length of the table with very similar widths making the top. Those widths depended on which wood was being placed where. Cut from a single board, the two pine sections were then separated by oak.
The soft pine sandwiched between the oak has a softer patina, fewer sawmill marks but a more dramatic figure in the grain. While the oak retains the patina in the deeper marks and generates highlights of natural oak when sanded. I still wanted to show off the surface of the two maple boards and change the color tone. Their creamy white patina moves the eyes from the edge of the table towards what may rest between them. Even when working in a monochrome tone like browns you can move the eyes by increasing the color to a warmer, lighter tone.
The shelf under the table mimics the top but in a changed pattern and points of interest. Using only four boards and joining them tightly; two narrow on the inside and two wider on the outside. But why; though not shown in photos the knot work is more prominent in the inner two boards. There is even something to see just below the top. You are going to have to get down there to look and while you are doing that you have to get close to the table. When you do, the surface detail not smoothed over and highlighted by the sanding becomes very plain.
Which leaves only one other detail that has to be seen close up. The tops of the legs are the only end grain visible. Its tight subtle lines are sanded as smooth as possible. Even under the coat of polyurethane its feel is dramatically different than the rest of the table. The transition from the rough milled top to the end grain of the legs marks a drastic change both to the touch and the eye.
Aged woods like our recovered barn wood develop character of a long time. From the growth of the tree, how it was originally milled and finished by our hands. A lot of effort goes into developing these characteristics and not just by us. It would not do well to waste all that work and sand it away.