I started working through some design issue for my hall table today. I’ll be using the quarter sawn catalpa I just bought. The slab is 2” thick, about 18” wide, and 65” long, with a great natural edge running the entire length on one edge. The opposite edge has an average natural edge for about half the length, then a sawn edge.
This crack, on the other hand will. It is a split right along the weakest part of any wood; between the late growth of one year and the early growth of the next year. It is a clean split and looks like it would cleanly glue back together. It runs about 24” from one end.
Here are some of design considerations:
1. Natural Edges: Should they stay or go? Even though half of one edge is saw cut, I could tool it into a natural edge quite easily. Or, should I cut them all off and plane them straight and square?
2. Ends: If the edges go square, I think the ends should too. But, if the natural edge wins out, I’m going to fair the ends to a rounder, more natural appearance. This also handles one defect.
Table width: This is only in relation to the split, and how to handle it. If the split will glue back together, great. I could also use hand cut bow ties to reinforce the split. The problem there is I have never seen a bow tie growing in a tree before, and I think they usually look out of place, especially if I go with the natural edges.
I could force the split down the rest of the slab. My best guess is it will follow this line, which I have penciled in. The knife shows the end of the split, and the pen and pencil are pointing to my drawn prediction.
Since the split occurs where the slab is transitioning from full quarter sawn to rift sawn, there is a natural change in grain appearance too. I could rip the slab, remove the split area (about ¾”wide), then glue it back together.
I could rip off the split area entirely, and have a narrower table; about 11” wide. This is my least favorite option.
I’m leaning towards the natural edge, rounder ends, and ripping out the split section. I’ll sleep on it and see what strikes my fancy tomorrow.
Once I get this ironed out, I can get on with specifics for my base. It will be a 4-post base with mortise and tenon aprons and spreaders.
Go build something!