Michael’s Table of Ent

Viewer Project - By Michael Finnefrock from Williston
Added on October 6, 2015

I found a piece of walnut on a website that I knew I must have. It was a perfect piece to make a waterfall edge table for my wife’s Christmas gift. (This was end of October last year) The slab was 2.25″ thick, 14-20”wide, 8.5’ long and had a huge sappy knot dead center. The figure was amazing and I knew she would love receiving it as much as I would enjoy making it.

This was my first experience with: live edge pieces, pieces as large as my shop (8.5′ long slab and 12′ long shop), lumber I couldn’t move, too big for my equipment and a design concept too complicated for my skill set. My designs are always too complicated and this time the complication was the bookmatch. I knew, if bookmatched just right, the knots and sap would make a beautiful face – like the giving tree or Ents (Lord of the Rings talking trees) or, as people now say, Chewbacca!

I worked on my shop floor; the only space big enough. I used a MDF track saw jig for my circular saw to straighten the bookmatch edge and found a nice man with a woodmizer who resawed the slab as well as a friend with a large jointer to clean the edge and glued it up using router-based loose tenons to keep it aligned.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were huge distractions and I was unable to get to work on the piece until early February! After 2 months the slab had relaxed and cupped over 0.4″ from center to each edge and 1.5″ end to end.

I ended up making a router jig out of MDF and aluminum extrusion to flatten the piece. However, the piece was only 1″ thick after the re-saw and I needed to remove 1/2″ to achieve flat! After removing about 0.2″ I gave up. To achieve flat I would destroy the work piece.

I brought my wife down, showed her her Christmas gift (late of course) and we brainstormed. We compromised on flat enough for a wine glass and plate. After all, it is a rustic, snarly looking piece of wood, no one needs absolute flat!

I rehabbed my father’s old hand planes from their 20 years of neglect. Removed rust, honed blades, and basically rehabbed them just enough to be serviceable and got to work. I hand flattened the boards until a plate wouldn’t wobble and a glass wouldn’t tip over if slid. (The weeble definition of flat) I then filled the knots with sawdust, dye and epoxy.

For the waterfall, I cut the ends off with a circular saw, the router made a 45° miter and the hand plane flattened the joint. I used CA glue to attach plywood clamping blocks. The glue-up went smoothly; I used dark brown/black stained epoxy for everything just in case the seam showed.

I tested 5 finishing methods on scraps before I settled on a base coat of a 1 lb cut of 1 part amber shellac and 1 part blond shellac. This really made the figure stand out more than oil mixes. I sanded the shellac back and applied 4 coats of Arm-R-Seal.

In the end, I am more than amazed at my accomplishment. My wife loves it and made it the centerpiece of the living room. It has earned its name “Table of Ent”.


The best printer of 2021