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Trophy Coffee Table Helena MT

Big planks of wood with natural bark edges make my heart race. Most woodworkers share a desire to build something from a single, thick plank of wood. After 20 years of building custom cabinets and furniture, I finally got my chance.

The Home Depot
(406)442-7311
1801 E Custer Avenue
Helena, MT
Hours
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-9:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-8:00pm

Fastenal- Helena
406-443-1270
767 Nicole Street Helena, MT, 59601
Helena, MT
 
Murdoch's Ranch & Home Supply
(406) 457-1700
3050 North Montana Ave
Helena, MT
 
Power Townsend Company
(406) 442-2770
1387 E Custer Ave
Helena, MT
 
Helena - Auth Hometown
(406) 442-4212
3150 Dredge Dr
Helena, MT
Store Hours
Hometown Dealers
Store Type
Hometown Dealers
Hours
Mon:9-18
Tue:9-18
Wed:9-18
Thu:9-18
Fri:9-18
Sat:8-17
Sun:11-16
Store Features
Mon:9-18
Tue:9-18
Wed:9-18
Thu:9-18
Fri:9-18
Sat:8-17
Sun:11-16

Rock Hand Hardware
(406) 442-7770
2414 N Montana Ave
Helena, MT
 
Kmart 7029 / Cross Merch
(406) 443-4745
1700 Cedar St
Helena, MT
Store Hours
Miscellaneous
Store Type
Miscellaneous
Hours
Monday To Friday Working Hours is :8-22 and for Sat:8-22
Sun:8-21
Store Features
Monday To Friday Working Hours is :8-22 and for Sat:8-22
Sun:8-21

Lowe's of Helena
406-495-9750
3291 North Sanders St Helena, MT, 59602
Helena, MT
 
Lowe's
(406) 495-9750
3291 North Sanders Street
Helena, MT
Hours
M-SA 6 am - 10 pm
SU 8 am - 8 pm

Xtreme Property Maintenance
(406) 465-9334
2992 Herrin Rd #16
Helena, MT
Services Offered
Deck Staining and Sealing, Concrete Staining and Sealing
Hours
8-5
Prices and/or Promotions
Free Quotes

Trophy Coffee Table

Trophy Coffee Table

Stunning Beauty Right from the Tree

by Dave Munkittrick

Big planks of wood with natural bark edges make my heart race. Most woodworkers share a desire to build something from a single, thick plank of wood. After 20 years of building custom cabinets and furniture, I finally got my chance.

The first step was finding that perfect slab of wood—not an easy task. Slicing a tree into planks, bark edge and all, is not a common sawmill practice. I started my hunt in the Yellow Pages under “Sawmills.” I found a number of people with portable mills, but without a log for them to saw, I was out of luck. I tried a few tree-trimming companies to see whether they had a tree trunk or two they needed to dispose of. Two strikes.

Finally, I turned to the Internet (Photo 1). I found the slab of my dreams: a huge (14- to 36-in.-wide x 12-ft.-long) slice of English Burly Wych Elm (pronounced “witch elm”) (see “Sources,” page 64). I knew immediately that this was the one. When the wood arrived at my door (Photo 2), I quickly realized that building with a single rough slab requires a completely different approach than working with individual boards.

Photo 1: I found the perfect plank for my coffee table on the Internet. It was a 12-ft.-long slab of Burly English Wych Elm. It was like no other piece of wood I’d ever seen. I couldn’t wait.

Photo 2: The day the wood arrived, I had to call on a couple of neighbor friends just to get the crate in the shop! 

On one hand, no decisions would be needed about grain pattern or color that individual boards require. With a single slab of wood, your only task is to present the natural beauty of the wood in the best way possible, despite all its inherent defects, such as loose bark pockets, rough edges, dirt, checks and cracks. On the other hand, just handling such an enormous yet delicate piece of wood presents some unique challenges. 

I had a lot of fun building this table and you will, too, if you decide to build one like it. Because every natural-edged board is unique, it’s difficult to give an exact formula on how to design or build a natural-edge table. Even if they come from the same tree, no two boards are alike. What follows is my experience as I built this table in front of the camera.

Arrival Day

After the wood was ordered, I couldn’t wait for it to arrive. With all my thoughts on possessing that piece of wood, I neglected to plan ahead and be ready for its arrival. I discovered the hard way that you can’t handle a large plank the way you can individual boards (Photo 2, above). 

When we got the wood in the shop, I didn’t let practical considerations slow me down. Totally intoxicated by what was inside the crate, I felt a burning desire to see the wood, now! We popped the bands and lifted off the protective cover. My heart sank at what I saw: an enormous slice of tree t...

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