"I am totally celebrating the absolute beauty and grand fineness of the harvest table!! I am so very happy with the investment in such an incredible piece of craftsmanship, beautiful wood and functional art. I will always love walking by it, sitting at it, enjoying it's presence on the property!”

Loren Swift
Peaceful Pines Center
Grass Valley, CA

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December 2012 Newsletter

Urban Salvage Redwood Harvest Table

I recently had the opportunity to design and build a “Harvest Table” for the Peaceful Pines Center, a retreat center, here in Grass Valley. Upon meeting with Loren Swift, the founder and director of the center, these are the project goals that we established:

Howling Wolf Shingle Art Close-up

1) The table was to be large enough for several families to be able to gather at once. The space available would comfortably fit a table about 4’ wide by 13’ long.

2) Although this was to be an outdoor table, it was not to be a picnic table. The design needed to blend harmoniously into the center’s natural Zen atmosphere.

3) The piece had to represent the center’s philosophy of sustainability. For this project, that meant durability and responsibly sourced materials.

The design that began to evolve from that point included a thick, live edge, urban salvage, redwood or cedar slab. A live edge slab is one that retains the natural, outside contour of the board, rather than being machined straight and square, celebrating the inherent beauty of the tree. Urban salvage lumber is generally from trees that are felled due to storm damage, disease or infestation, or for safety concerns. In other words, these are trees that are already cut down and might otherwise be heading for a landfill! Redwood and cedar are, regionally, the natural choices for outdoor furniture.

A few phone calls later, I located some 16’ long slabs of urban salvage redwood from California Hardwood Producers down in Auburn. They were 3 ½” thick by about 26” wide at their butt ends, tapering to about 18”. I figured that by aligning two slabs opposed to each other (the butt of one slab adjacent to the tip of the other) I could get maybe 42 or 43” of net table width. So I purchased the two nicest book-matched slabs for the table top and a 3rd slab from which to build the legs/base.

Howling Wolf Shingle Art, Installation

As for the base design, Loren was drawn more to table designs using legs rather than the typical trestle styles, which would have been well suited to such a long table. In what turned out to be a wonderful collaborative design effort, Loren and I came up with a sort of hybrid leg/trestle design, incorporating legs that both taper and splay outward, and support trestle-type stretchers using both blind and exposed mortise and tenon joinery. The resulting design exhibits a strong Asian influence and the table truly feels like it belongs at the retreat center.