Child of the Hunter

My next project has been inspired for the client by an earlier piece I titled "The Hunter". Thus, for this new piece, "Child of the Hunter". Well, I guess there actually are several reasons for this name. As you can see from the above design model image, it will be a smaller version of The Hunter. Similar structure, with a simplified form. The black walnut comes from the same log, etc., etc., etc.

These two planks have been selected. The nearest plank will be the source of the natural edge table top. The photo above shows the bark side of the plank; the photo below shows the other.

The client has specified a table top size and proportion that requires a bit of study to determine the best cut from the plank. Below, I'm looking at the grain lines to determine the optimal part of the plank to use. The design shown in the first image above is a response to the fact that the full plank width isn't wide enough to meet the client's need. Because of that, as well as considerations for overall stability of the top, I've decided to book-match one side of the plank and build up a central transition of slats to tie the two halves of the top together.

There was a major check part of the way down the center of the plank and so my first cut was along that line. From the right of the check line came the part of the plank that will be book-matched; from the left came the center slats.

The next step in extracting the top was to flatten one face to help with the precision of the book-matching cut. I mounted the plank to a sheet of 1/4" fiberboard that lay flat on my workbench. To support the plank I attached it to the fiberboard with hot melt glue which works well as a gap filler.

A few passes through the surface planer...

... and the the saw marks gradually disappeared.

Once one side of the plank was reasonably flat, I jointed one edge, allowing me to use a simple short fence on the bandsaw. Below is the set-up I used for the cut. The new Felder band saw does an excellent job of supporting the 1" wide cutting band for this 13" deep cut.

Below is the cut. I could tell right away that the seasonal relative humidity changes we've been experiencing over the last month, or so, have had an effect on this plank. A bit of time will be needed for the plank to acclimate to the studio air as I gradually flatten and re-flatten the top, milling it down to its final thickness of 15/16". The original plank was 3 1/2" thick.

Below is a first look at the book-match. I'll try to minimize the amount of material I remove from the top faces, however, to ensure it is as flat as possible, I won't be able to avoid that entirely. There aren't many anomalies in the plank, so I think the book match will likely remain good through the milling process.

Next, I removed the bark from the edges. The dirt, sand, etc. that naturally accumulates in the bark can put a lot of wear on a bandsaw blade, but this bark is so well attached to the wood at this point, that I decided it would be easier to remove after resawing the thickness. Below you see me knocking the bark off with a block of white oak and a heavy hammer.

The bark was still solidly attached to the wood, so the hammering didn't result in 100% removal of the bark. I needed to decide on the best method I could muster to retain a natural appearance for the edges that avoided the unnatural effects of grinding and belt-sanding as is so often seen in this type of work. After some consideration, I finally chose to carve away the layers of bark using a small, relatively flat gouge.

I should note that when hammering off the bark, or even in situations where the bark simply falls off due to its own natural degradation, what is left is a surface of the inner-most layer of bark... and only seldomly does it open up all the way to the solid wood. Therefore, I proceeded to carve the remaining bark away down to that final layer. The layers are fairly thin, but as you can see in the following video the work proceeded fairly smoothly. I don't necessarily recommend watching the entire video (4 min, 45 sec, no audio), but on the bright side it may prove useful as a night-time sleep aid! Plus, since it took this long to remove about 1" of bark, you can get an idea for how I spent my afternoon!

"Why do you use such a time-consuming method?" you may be asking. Well, it is enjoyable and it produces a good result. What else can I say?

Below, the top is ready to continue acclimating to the studio air.

Next, I moved on to the four legs. Two of them were cut from a rift-sawn section of the plank, so I was able to get the desired end grain orientation straight from the plank. However, for the other two I needed to rotate the part in the plank. Below, I'm laying out a rotated leg.

After getting the best rotation of the part, I made a cut on the bandsaw.

After flattening the freshly sawn faces on the jointer, I proceeded to bandsaw, joint and plane the other three faces on both legs.

The stretchers and cross beams were much easier to extract, and after another day of layout and milling here is the stack of rough milled parts.

Next, final milling and joinery for the stand.

Hej då and happy shavings!