When we remodeled our kitchen, my wife wisely decided that I would not be building the kitchen cabinets, largely because she wanted her new kitchen in a timely fashion. However, we agreed that I would build the island. We went with IKEA cabinets and in order to make the island tie in with the rest of the kitchen, I incorporated an additional cabinet into my design.
From the start, I knew this was going to be a wacky project just based on the design. I spent about a month searching for just the right Douglas Fir log that I could use as a support. I finally found one on a friend’s property on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. I took it down to the local saw mill and had it sawed vertically. Total cost – $10! The bugs stopped crawling out of it after a couple of months. I soaked it for about a week in “Wood Juice” and the checking stopped.
In the meantime, I had an arborist come to the property to trim my trees. He told me that he had a band saw mill and a barn full of wood that I should come look at. I picked out some Elm and brought it home to acclimate to my shop. The trouble with buying wood from your arborist is that they often remove trees that aren’t healthy. After I glued up the table top and took it to my cousin’s mill-work shop for a drum sanding, I discovered that the Elm tree was probably removed because it had yellow Elm disease. Based on the pictures, I will let you guess where the soft spots were.
I thought about all kinds of things to solve the problem, but in the end I went to The Wood Whisper website for inspiration. I watched the video on Router Inlay and I must say my initial response was…”yeah, right”. In my experience, good things do not happen when the router gets away from the table on which it is mounted. However, I didn’t have any other ideas, so I did a trial run on a test piece. The results weren’t stellar, but they were close enough that I figured I had a chance.
We chose the fish theme as a nod to my grandfather who had a fly fishing business. The fish are stylized versions of his marketing materials. I couldn’t be more happy with the results.
With the inlay step accomplished, I went on to finish the project. The Padauk breadboard ends are mortise and tenon with Walnut pins. The Padauk bar top has an Elm “sea rail” with live ends. The remainder of the carcass is Philippine Mahogany. I used General Finishes Satin–way too many coats!
And my wife is happy! So, thank you Marc, for a really great tutorial that sent me in a direction I never would have found on my own. I appreciate all you do!