Furniture Design Review
This spalted maple slab came from an Amish farm in western Pennsylvania. Spalting may cause a variety of wood coloration, including these black inky lines and is caused by fungus. Spalted wood is highly sought after by furniture makers for its intense beauty.
In this case, there’s a darker form and lighter form. Then black lines – like zone lines – separate the two, building up a defense barrier between the two colonies of fungi. The drying process completely kills all the fungus.
As wood dries, it shrinks, which typically results in some portion of the wood cracking, particularly in large slabs of wood. Sometimes the crack is large enough that the slab is unstable. There are a number of ways to address this. My preference is to maintain the natural beauty caused by the crack and to play it up as a design feature in the piece. Where many artisans use a “butterfly key” to stabilize cracked slabs, I prefer to use non-intrusive joinery applied to the underside of the crack, which stabilizes the wood while maintaining the most natural appearance.
I further enhance the beauty of the crack by sanding it as smoothly as possible, so that it is a feature that is as beautiful to touch as it is to look at.
This design also incorporates the waterfall effect. The slab of wood gets cut in half and then essentially folded over on itself. There is a mechanism inside, called a mortise and tenon joint, which makes it more solid because otherwise, this would be an unstable joint.
This piece of wood was not quite long enough to make the table I wanted into a full waterfall table so I added an extension to it. In this case, I had a custom fabricated, black metal extension designed. Lines were etched into it to echo the lines that are caused by the spalting.
The final size resulted in 48” x 24”. This table is currently on display at the Greenwood Bay showroom and will be entered into a juried furniture competition and show in late 2018, at which point it will be released for sale.