swedgemon

Oak and Steel Bench

Recommended Posts

Two-inch oak slab, 5/8" textured round legs, upset at bottom, 1/2" textured and tapered arches, 1/4" leg wraps.  Legs were formed on a purpose-built jig and arches were formed free-hand on the anvil.  Steel parts were wire brushed and coated with clear enamel, oak finished with red oak Minwax stain and 2 coats of polyurethane.  Oak came from my neighbor's farm and was air-dried for two years.  Piece can be used as a bench, long end table, coffee table or firewood.

DSC01222.JPG

DSC01225.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Chris Comtois said:

That's sweet!  How is the slab attached?

 

 

Chris, 2 1/4 X 2" lag bolts at each corner.  These are pics of the bottom of one of my end tables...hey, DW saw a few of my tables going out of the shop and quietly expressed a desire to have a few in our living room...if DW is happy, Swedge is happy !!DSCN0121.JPGDSCN0121.JPGDSCN0121.JPG

Somehow the pics did not load...I'll try again...

DSCN0120.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very nice. You have experience with an Oregon mill I see, it isn't easy to make straight cuts especially in old dry wood with "interesting" grain.

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lovely way to "upcycle" a piece of wood that is "interesting" and so not generally usable for standard woodworking.  Do you know if it was cut summer or winter?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Lovely way to "upcycle" a piece of wood that is "interesting" and so not generally usable for standard woodworking.  Do you know if it was cut summer or winter?

I think it was cut in early summer, but the tree was "standing dead".  The nice fellow who owns the farm lets me cut the dead trees for firewood and planks, but any tree with a few leaves on it stays until it finally croaks.  I have a tractor with a set of forks on it, but an oak trunk that is 42" in diameter where I cut it (7' diameter at ground level) by 10' long is too much to lift, so I have to mill it where it falls...the planks are still plenty heavy !!

DSCF9475.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK I was going to mention that 2 years was at the lower limit for drying that piece and I would have gone longer for furniture use.  (I have some oak that's been air drying 200+ years now and some walnut that was cut for shotgun forestocks in the '30's...)  Cutting dead wood helps even more than cutting the wood when the sap is down in the winter!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You mean I have to wait 93 years before doing anything with that birch!? Wood stove it is.

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Traditional air drying is a minimum of 1 year per inch of thickness; but for furniture longer is often better if you have a place with big humidity swings---but wood movement is never going away---till after you burn it of course.  The furniture from King Tutankhamun tomb was air dried for several thousand years and is still moving...Now you don't have to dry your tree before hitting yourself with it.  Most folks just use birch twigs in the sauna; but some folks have to overdo it....

Like most "rules" it depends on a bunch of factors; as I recall a medieval milspec for bow staves was Spanish yew seasoned for 7 years before use. (and merchant ships were required to import a set number per trip as "duty")

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

White birch is only good for popsicle sticks anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I woodn't be too concerned about  movement. The frame design seems like it wood accommodate any seasonal movement. Very nice piece- I will definitely use it for inspiration.

Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, JHCC said:

White birch is only good for popsicle sticks anyway.

Makes THE best tooth picks and stick matches. Shows what you know.  HAH!

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Frosty said:

Makes THE best tooth picks and stick matches. Shows what you know.  HAH!

Frosty The Lucky.

The best toothpicks are whittled from popsicle sticks. HAH yourself!

 

23 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Traditional air drying is a minimum of 1 year per inch of thickness; but for furniture longer is often better if you have a place with big humidity swings---but wood movement is never going away---till after you burn it of course.  The furniture from King Tutankhamun tomb was air dried for several thousand years and is still moving...Now you don't have to dry your tree before hitting yourself with it.  Most folks just use birch twigs in the sauna; but some folks have to overdo it....

Like most "rules" it depends on a bunch of factors; as I recall a medieval milspec for bow staves was Spanish yew seasoned for 7 years before use. (and merchant ships were required to import a set number per trip as "duty")

Green wood contains a certain amount of water, of which a portion is more or less permanently bound in the cells. The remainder (mostly sap) evaporates out over time, at a rate dependent on the structure and density of the wood. Dense, fine-grained woods (like yew) dry more slowly; light, coarse-grained woods, faster. The "one inch per year" rule is a good happy medium. 

Of course, both drying rates and subsequent wood movement are highly dependent on the relative humidity. Wood will dry faster in a hot, dry environment, but if the surface loses moisture faster than it can be replaced from the interior, the outside will shrink too fast and crack. This is why commercial kilns get filled with steam at the start of their drying cycle. 

Once the wood reaches equilibrium with its environment, it will continue to expand and contract as the humidity in that environment changes. Good furniture design accommodates this seasonal movement.

Swedgemon has wisely chosen not to have rigid crossmembers at the top of the frame. The inherent flexibility of the arches should accommodate any movement in the wood nicely. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was worried more about possible cracking extending in from the ends, though heavy finishing, (sealing) of the ends will help with that.

Here in the desert most furniture from "elsewhere" will need to be re-worked as the extreme dryness is beyond what it's "used to"  (the piano in our church has it's own humidifier and as I mentioned I had to reseat all my hammer handles after moving here from Ohio...)  Folks with very expensive high end furniture get upset when  tables crack, chairs get wobbly, etc, we just shrug and go with "rustic"....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JHCC, it is nice of you to claim I was "wise" to not have a rigid frame under the bench top...I just put it together so it would "look right".

Allowing for some thread drift on the topic, I have attached some photos of some 8' lengths of oak and hickory waiting for me to get around to milling out some planks.  The ends of the logs are coated with sealer/primer to slow down the end checking and cracking...I've recently been told that aluminum roof paint is cheaper and works better.  The other photos are of a recent project; a solar-powered wood kiln, 18' long X 6.5' wide X 11.5' high.  A local custom wood cutter had it and wasn't using it any more, so it followed me home.  I've rebuilt it but have no history with it yet.  It needs some solar-powered circ fans and a dehumidifier in it yet...as it sets, inside temps on a sunny day go to 140-145.  The previous owned said a 1" plank gets dried in 10-14 days and a 2" plank in a little over a month...we'll see.

DSCN0122.JPG

DSCN0123.JPG

DSCN0124.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kiln drying is a very poor substitute for proper seasoning.

The 3rd generation "Planing Mill" operator, who furnished the White Pine logs for my house, ( in 1989 ) has a massive "Dry Kiln".

But still air drys the logs for log homes, an additional 2 years, after kiln drying.

 

Logs are considered "kiln dried" when the moisture level gets down to 18%, ... but they still move around quite a bit, when exposed to sunlight.

Whereas, logs that are air dried until they are below 15% moisture, tend to stay where you put them.

The joints in my log walls are still tight, after 27 years of Mid-Atlantic seasonal changes.

So, ... it seems like he knew what he was talking about.  B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love the bench...As others have said...way to utilize / up cycle old materials. I can't imagine drying this out another hundred years would make that much difference for the use of a bench. I'm with frosty forget Thomasville furnitures...off to the burn pit. Again I really like the bench...This is now on my to do bucket list

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/22/2016 at 0:35 PM, ThomasPowers said:

Here in the desert most furniture from "elsewhere" will need to be re-worked as the extreme dryness is beyond what it's "used to"  (the piano in our church has it's own humidifier and as I mentioned I had to reseat all my hammer handles after moving here from Ohio...)  Folks with very expensive high end furniture get upset when  tables crack, chairs get wobbly, etc, we just shrug and go with "rustic"....

When I worked in the art restoration studio, we had to deal with a lot of furniture, artwork, objets d'art, etc that had never been subjected to central heating or to the dehumidification of air conditioning. A reliable source of income was stuff that was shipped over to the States from Europe, where people aren't (or weren't) as obsessive about controlling their interior climates.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A quick followup  on my recent experience drying wood in the solar wood kiln pictured and described above...

I cut several pieces of hickory into 1 1/8" planks that ran 1 1/8" X about 14" X 8', stacked them in the solar kiln with 3/4" stickers and several concrete blocks on top.  The start moisture was 19%...after 10 days the moisture was 7%.  Most of the days were "clear" with inside temps running 140 to maybe 150.  Altho I have a dehumidifier, it was not used - the top and bottom vents were open about 4" and I had an oscillating fan blowing air around.  Now my DW is expecting me to assemble some food-drying racks to use in there before next growing season...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Swedgemon,

What species of oak tree was cut down for your table? (it looks like a Bur oak, but that's my guess). I am curious.

People in colonial times had a neat trick for drying wood. They used to girdle a tree in the winter, or early spring. Girdling is a horizontal ,circumference cut all around the tree trunk. That cut prevented water from travelling up from the roots and getting to the standing tree. The tree then, was forced to use the water already in the upper part of the plant to grow. All this during the following spring and summer. The wood dried out as the tree grew during that time.

Come fall the moisture in the standing wood was much drier.

Then, they would cut the tree down. The wood would take much less time to dry out and be usable for woodwork or firewood.

Congratulations, you did a lovely job with that table. Take a bow.

Regards,

SLAG.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Slag, I don't know the exact oak species, but it was some variety of white oak.  The tree had been standing dead for a year or two when I cut it...there is a good stand of older oak trees on a slight ridge where the wind can hit it.  My neighbor lets me cut any standing dead trees, providing I clean up the slash and cut the stump level with the ground...don't like cutting the stumps off flush - one of the last trees I cut was 42" diameter where I cut it and 7' across at ground level.  I use an older 26" bar and a worn chain for that process.  After I cut planks from the trunk (Alaska mill), the slab wood goes into the wood stove.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Swede G,

Thank you for the information.

I would love to buy some of your oak slabs. (the bigger the better).

I highly recommend that you take a look at this article.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Nakashima

Also, google pictures of some of his furniture. He was a gifted artist, and his work is, in my opinion, spectacular.

Regards,

SLAG.

I can, probably, identify the species of white oak, if you can p.m. me a picture of a leaf and better yet an acorn of the tree.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.