Big Leaf Maple Round Coffee Table

Big Leaf Maple Round Coffee Table

Custom-made Furniture Design Review

This table was crafted from a live edge slab of Big Leaf Maple. Big Leaf Maple grows in the Pacific Northwest, as opposed to the Eastern US (and Canada) where “Hard Maple” grows. Big Leaf produces a more intense grain pattern than other maples. It often has highly figured grain, burl (A) and curl (B) in various places throughout the wood.

We fashioned a low, round table from the slab to create a very contemporary coffee table that would look great in any modern space. It is in the truest sense of the word, a minimalist coffee table that has a very natural appeal.

When Distress Actually Produces Characteristics that One Desires

This piece was cut horizontally, known as a cookie or disc cut, as opposed to lengthwise. This cut allows one to see the history of the tree – and in this case – the mystery of the tree as well.  Once completely finished, the growth and death of this wood slab produce a unique and beautiful piece with highly figured grain.

Although it is unknown exactly where the tree came from it, just by looking at it one can tell this tree was highly distressed. Wood is a bit like people: it gains character and becomes more interesting as a result of such distress.

I believe the tree probably grew on a steep hillside or rocky crevice, based on the shape of the trunk. You can see one portion is clearly not as “circular” in shape (C) as the rest. In addition, the grain here (D) looks different than in the rest of the tree, which was likely the result of stress from the pressure of the tree leaning away from the hillside.

Big Maple Leaf Coffee Table Greenwood Bay Woodworking of Houston, Texas
Big Maple Leaf Coffee Table Greenwood Bay Woodworking of Houston, Texas
Big Maple Leaf Coffee Table Greenwood Bay Woodworking of Houston, Texas

It was rotted in the middle (E), which is another sign of stress: this tree had a tough life, but was beautiful inside! Rocks, gravel and dried weeds needed to be cleaned from the crevices. Some stabilizing was required, but I was able to maintain a completely natural look.

Big Leaf Maple is characterized by a very sort of unruly outer edge. One can say it has a significant amount of character to it. Gnarliness if you will (F).

There are three smooth Cherry legs fastened directly into the tabletop itself, which complete it’s contemporary styling.

In all, the distressed history of this tree makes for a magnificent end product.

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This table measures roughly 45 by 50 inches across, and about 15 inches tall. It’s low, round shape produces a truly contemporary furniture piece that surely would be the focal point of any room.

Questions or comments? Leave them below or contact us directly by calling (281) 684-7102.

Amish Spalted Maple Waterfall Coffee Table

Amish Spalted Maple Waterfall Coffee Table

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.

Spalted Maple Waterfall Coffee Table by Greenwood Bay Woodworking
Amish Spalted Waterfall coffee table by Greenwood Bay Woodworking in Houston
Amish Spalted Waterfall coffee table by Greenwood Bay Woodworking in Houston
Amish Spalted Waterfall coffee table by Greenwood Bay Woodworking in Houston
Amish Spalted Waterfall coffee table by Greenwood Bay Woodworking in Houston
Amish Spalted Waterfall coffee table by Greenwood Bay Woodworking in Houston
Amish Spalted Waterfall coffee table by Greenwood Bay Woodworking in Houston

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.

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