Friday, March 07, 2008

The photo at left should help explain why so many wood workers love walnut. This is the second application of Danish oil on the rustic walnut hall table. One of the craftsman's favorite moments is when the finish hits the wood, bringing it to life. But it can also be a moment of frustration as it reveals all those small things that got missed... a spot of glue or a sanding dip in the otherwise smooth surface.

After years of excluding sapwood and knots from my work with walnut, I am pleased to use them deliberately in the design of rustic work. The placements of the knots in both the top and in the bottom shelf provide points of emphasis in the design, catching they eye and pulling the observer into closer relationship to the wood. Something I learned doing a bench with a natural edge is also apparent in this piece. You can see a small ray pattern in the wood moving from the left to the right from the center. The very small protrusion at the edge is the terminal bud revealed on the outside of the tree. The natural edge provides greater understanding to someone observing the patterns inherent in the wood. Sapwood is considered a detriment to the value of walnut. In production work, craftsmen have little time to pay attention to its effective use as an element of design. In one-of-a-kind work, done start to finish by a single craftsman, attention to detail in matching of grain and color of wood, presents the opportunity for work far richer in creative content. All of the parts of this table were cut from two consecutively sawn planks from a walnut tree that grew in the Presbyterian Church yard in Berryville, Arkansas.

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