Bespoke Elm Table
Backstory to the Log
On one of my Scottish trips I came across an unusual elm log in Aberdeenshire in February 2016. It was a five foot long fork/crutch with plenty of pips and burrs which produce lovely patterns inside the log. I thought this log would make a table like nothing I have ever seen before providing I could find someone with the skills to put it all together. The best two planks would be selected for the top, then one of them would be flipped over endways so that a 10 foot table could be made from a 5 foot log. By doing this and joining the two planks together end to end, it would create a small natural hole formed by the gap between the fork/crutch of the log, and all the patterns, colours and natural uneven edges from each plank would be mirrored in each half of the table top. This idea of mirroring or book matching is nothing new, but it is always mirrored side to side never end to end!
I tasked two young cabinet makers from Kendal in the Lake District with the job of building the table and helping me in the design of the legs and framework beneath the table top. We chose a contemporary design for the large chunky legs (120mm square) so that they curve inwards towards the centre of the table thereby minimising contact with anyone’s knees when sat up to the table. The natural hole in the centre of the table top is inlayed with glass to fit flush with the surface. The full length is 2.93m, the widest point in the middle is 1.36m reducing to 0.88m at each end. The finished thickness of the table top is 60mm (40mm have been lost due to shrinkage during drying and sanding to bring the top into a smooth level surface). The sides to the table top are ‘waney edged’ (meaning this is the natural shape of the outside edge of the log, so it is uneven, knobbly, full of character) and is bolted to the framework/chassis from underneath so it can be removed quite easily for transport. The whole table has been made from a single log so the grain, texture and colours flow evenly throughout. 10 people can sit very comfortably without catching their knees on the table legs. 12 people will still work but it will be ‘cosy’ in places. It will have approximately 10 layers of oil to all parts and this ensures the wood is sealed, waterproofed and the natural colours protected.