Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Oak Tables by Eugene

One of the things I took up after retiring was woodworking. Most of what I do is to make oak tables from cross-sections of oak trees while harvesting them for winter fuel. All tables so far have come from the O'Loughlin family farm in Ballingate, near Carnew, Co. Wicklow. This was once part of the huge Coolattin Estate. The trees are approximately 80-90 years old - please note that I have planted 10 replacement oak trees grown from acorns collected from the same location.

My brother Joe, who is expert with a chain saw, cuts the slabs at about 8-10cms thick. There then follows a long period of months of drying out. During this time cracks appear, it is a lottery how many or what size they will be. Once dry enough, I use a router to level the slabs as much as I can. This is a cool tool to use - it takes a lot of effort as oak is so hard. Then I sand, and sand, and sand, and sand some more. I use 40 grit first, and work my way up to 1200 grit. This gives a very smooth fish which I top off with oil. 

Once the legs are added - hey presto I have a table! I can be lucky with some tables if they have decayed in parts. The one below has a nice river-like section near the bottom formed where bark has rotted.

I have no idea how much time I have spent making each of the tables above. The double decker one at the top took the longest. Getting ordinary logs in the middle to work as legs was very difficult. Lots of YouTube videos were viewed to get hints and ideas on making tables like these. If I was selling these I would have to charge a small fortune to cover equipment and labour costs.

In the next few weeks we will be cutting some more slabs to work on later this year and next. I'd like to try different (and softer!) timber to make more tables and the likes of cheese/bread boards. I have also always used blue dye in the resin, and would like to experiment with different colours.

This is a fun hobby that I would never have attempted while still working. It certainly helps to fill the dull winter days!

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