I’ve owned my share of coffee tables over the years – metal, glass, plywood, etc. – the usual temporary furniture catalog fodder…it was about time for something a bit more personal. For almost a year, my daily commute to work would take me past a small urban tree recycle operation in the empty lot behind a self-storage complex, where amidst the mountains of bark dust and ready-to-use firewood, propped up against a shipping container, towered a couple of ponderosa pine slabs the size of pick-up trucks. After finally mustering up the nerve to ask, I was yet able to negotiate a single 500 pound, 9 by 3½ foot, 3-inch thick slab into my garage – where it laid, dormant, drying over the next half year. Insert about a month of sawing, planing, sanding, gilding, sheathing, hammering, and finishing here…
Salvaged elements of rustic beauty and heavy industry fuse to create this commanding coffee table. Living in a port city, I intentionally drew inspiration from a by-gone era of majestic ocean-liners, with highly polished wooden decks and hand-hammered copper boilerplates. This contrast in materials led to a uniquely distinctive centerpiece, especially as the late afternoon sun strikes the table’s copper-clad underbelly bathing the living room floor in a warm glow of red and orange hues.
A single 6 by 3½ to 4 foot 3-inch thick ponderosa pine slab forms the rustic tabletop – its 2 cut sides are sanded smooth to counter the tree’s 2 live edges and almost 1½ inch thick bark. The slab sustained a dozen lateral cracks during the drying period, which I filled and gilded with a copper leaf before finishing its surface.
Complete with the illusion of concealing a copper vein beneath its skin, the entire slab was coated (unstained) with 7 layers of polyurethane, not only to protect but to extenuate the wood’s natural knots and burly grain. At 16 inches tall, the four-legged base boasts over 32 square feet of salvaged copper plating, 16 feet of 1-inch copper piping, and a half-pound of attaching copper hardware – amassing, with the top, a staggering 400 pounds.