Tuesday, March 06, 2007

THE PLANK

(Click on any of these images to make them larger

There is a history on this and the other planks I brought with me from Toledo. They go back to a time when life was good and dreams were rampant. I remember buying these at an auction of a farm estate somewhere southeast of Toledo. They had been thrown on the ground to be used as walkways over the mud generated by recent rainstorms. Things were winding down as the auctioneer was running out of things to sell. “How about these boards in the mud” I shouted across the crowd. The auctioneer quickly checked with the owners behind him and promptly turned with a “Hey there, what’ll ya bid on this board here” as his auction chant began. I don’t remember what I paid for them but it wasn’t much.

I heard them joking about it later, how they were selling barn siding out of the mud. “Yeah, I thought I saw it all, but I never seen this before” one of them guffawed. I am sure that I had checked out the wood before this as I always carried a knife to these farm auctions as I hunted for wood. This was the time I had an eight thousand square foot woodshop in the back of my warehouse and the time and money to indulge my love of creating in wood.





So this board is from that and in a way is a thread of older dreams and visions of a time gone by. I remember this board sat for years as I worked hard on my companies and I would always go by it and wonder at what was under the surface of this mighty section of a tree. This unkempt plank and several others of equally diminished exteriors were part of what remained when I finally was given access to this remnant of a past life. Those who pillaged my belongings while I was in a coma were too lazy or stupid to understand what these boards are.



I was anxious to finally be able to expose what lay under this bleached and stained exterior. I had made some cuts on this and several other boards and saw enough to want to see more. The big board will be first. I knew it was a single plank from the middle of the tree from the evidence of bark on both edges.


To start with I set up the old saw horses and placed the plank on them. I got the hose out and gave that sucker a good wash and scrub down on both sides. I placed cinder blocks on it to hopefully reduce the bow in it. That worked.



Now it’s time to break out the hand planes. I started gnawing away at the surface to gradually get past the rotted worm eaten surface to the real wood, the good part. As I worked down I could gradually get an idea of what lay here. It looked good and interesting.



I spent a good part of yesterday working on this board. It captivated me. What a workout I got as I pushed this plane in a steady rhythm across the face of this ancient old tree, listening to the crisp sound of the razor sharp blade cut thin slivers of wood. As I did so each stroke would reveal a little more of what lay below the surface. This spurred me on so I kept going, using the leveling properties of the plane to flatten the high spots down.



I get the hose out to see what I’ve got. The water brings out the color and texture of the wood like it had a finish on it. This would be my first good look at what I had. WOW. This is cool. What a perfect gem in it’s flaws. The worm holes are a great natural testament to the age and history of this board. So are the ends that I have left untouched. This bottom still has a nail in it that I will also keep.






After it dried I got out the big sander I have and went to town on this. I ground down the wood with the roughest grit I had and then went over it with increasingly fine grits till it was almost polished.

I am sure there was plenty of other things I needed to be doing but I was focused and increasingly excited. Guess what?? I have two bottles of Tung oil. Both have been opened but…Ok, it’s enough to get started. I’m a man with a mission by now. There is no stopping me.

WOW again. Check this out! What a piece of wood. I am really not sure what it is though it might be walnut. This will make a fantastic table. I’ll make the legs from the mulberry tree. I still have four or five boards left though non of them as large as this one.

1 comment:

ByronB said...

That is one handsome piece of wood!