Throughout the course of my life I have certainly been met with my fair share of challenges, exciting adventures, endearing family encounters, and thrilling travels that allow me to explore the world. My most recent venture, however, involves excitement right at home. With a little material by way of my ever-giving lush backyard, a little brain power, and some elementary tools, I built my own coffee table out of a felled tree. Trying my hand at some basic woodworking was certainly an adventure in its own way. The attempt made me truly contemplate the entire world surrounding this popular hobby and learn more about the entire subculture that has sprung up around the world of woodworking and carpentry.
Woodworking has a long and exciting history that shaped the entire world throughout time. Wood was one of the very first materials used by Neanderthals, along with stone, clay, and animal parts. Beginning with such simplicity as sharpening spears or using wood to build shelters and feed fires, woodworking was born. Wood would soon prove to be one of the fundamentals of building technology.
Woodworking made large technological advancements with the development of ancient civilizations such as Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt, and even during the Ancient Chinese civilizations. Ancient Egyptians depicted the improvements in woodworking in drawn scrolls, but the proof truly lies in the many artifacts such as treasures, chests, coffins, and other items found in more recently uncovered tombs. In Ancient Rome, wood was a common, if not the only, building material used. The Romans expanded on the many uses of wood, including using it as scaffolding, household items, as well as many other notable uses as described in many literary works throughout the ages. In all of these civilizations, wood was a widely utilized resource and often became a major piece of their economy by way of import and export.
Woodworking for furniture is commonly split into two separate types of wood: soft wood, and hard wood. Soft wood is commonly known for its durability and use for outdoor projects and include such wood types as cedar, fir, and pine. These types of woods also have very distinct smells that personally remind me of the great outdoors. Hard woods tend to be easy to work with but are less commonly found at your average big box hardware store. These woods include cherry, ash, birch, mahogany, oak, and maple.
Spring and summer are a volatile time for plant life. Often, we experience season changes and erratic weather, and the plants are a testament of local climate. This year, we had a tree fall in our yard. Long since dead with is branches failing to produce leaves, we knew that it was only a matter of time before it either had to be cut down or nature would just take its course. When it did fall, the trunk was still in remarkably good condition. After a day of sawing, hauling, and otherwise tedious and sweaty work, I thought it would be a great idea to foray into some very basic carpentry and woodworking and built a coffee table.
Using a fine piece of flat wood we picked up from our local hardware store, I cut the trunk into four even pieces. I cleaned off the branches and sanded down any notable blemishes and or damage, and through a very trial-and-error process produced the next piece in my cozy home. This table gave a nice rustic edge to our otherwise modern household, we placed it in a well-lit room next to wicker furniture, and immediately it improved the entire atmosphere surrounding it.
Looking forward, this isn’t a hobby I see myself investing fully into. However, should the opportunity present itself I think setting up the work table with my vices, grips, saws, and joints seems like a worthy effort for the chance to put a piece of myself in my house to be shared and enjoyed by everyone.