Cherry Bed End Table

Cherry Bed End Table

I am very fascinated by different types of wood and how different techniques can be used working with the various forms. Friends of my family who live in Guelph have a woodshop where they produce small wood products. Their property also has a small bandsaw mill on their property. Over the years she has generously given me wood. One of the things that is rather unusual is that their property is home to a wide variety of native tree species. Some of these include cherry and walnut in addition to beech and some maple. For this particular creation, she offered up a piece of live edge cherry wood. Live edge wood refers to the ends of logs and top layer with the bark of the tree. People typically discard these pieces of wood because they are thin, however I was immediately inspired by the potential to create something. I was excited to work with these types of wood not only because they are native to Ontario but also because it was an opportunity to work with a section of the wood that would typically be discarded and used for firewood.

I began by preparing the live-edge slab. I first used a draw knife to stripe the excess bark off the bottom. Because despite how cool it looked, the bark sheds and makes quite a mess. I did want to keep some of the texture of the bark as part of the final piece. I then had to flatten what would be the top by using a joiner. Unfortunately, the piece would not fit in the machine so I had to do it by hand using a hand-planer and a level. This took a great deal of time to get it as close to perfect as possible. I then sealed the tabletop piece by spray varnishing the bottom in order to keep the quality of the finish intact and then a mineral oil on top. I love using mineral oil because it is a very clear liquid so it keeps the colour of the wood intact and it is also food safe. I feel the naturalness of the product honours the wood’s integrity the best. 

The legs were a different process. The slab of the wood was uneven because it was a live-edge piece of wood. In order for the edge of the top to be true, I had to make the legs two different widths so that they wouldn’t protrude beyond the edge of the table. The back legs are two inches smaller in width than the front legs. I really liked making the legs different as I felt that it better matched the raw, naturalness of the table top and the origin of the piece of wood. I used linseed oil on the legs rather than mineral oil, as it wouldn’t dramatically affect the colour of the beech wood and its stronger compound would better protect the beech wood over time. 

The final assembly was a little tricky due to the rounded bottom of the table-top. Again, I used the hand-planer to cut two flat grooves on the bottom and then screwed the legs in. It did take some fiddling (and a whole lot of patience!) to get the legs level. 

I was thrilled with the final product – my first table! It fits perfectly at the end of my bed in my room. The wood grain is still very flashy and bright. I display special items on it from my travels including a beaver pelt, a figurine, and an antique tobacco tin from the turn of the century. I love making tables.