Last year about this time Robert Royal and I finished milling an ancient Pecan (Hickory) tree from his home place up in Midnight Mississippi. The tree was probably close to 100 years old and fell during a storm last spring. The boards had been air drying at Roberts place for a year when inspiration hit and I made plans to construct a heavy table made from this beautiful wood.
I decided to build a solid pecan table with a thick top made of 2″ x 4″ boards and legs made with 6″ x 6″ pecan timbers. Mortise & tenon construction on the legs and stretchers (slats that connect legs) brings everything together without nails.
The last photos show the assembled table before final glue and finishing/staining.
There were a good many lessons learned (so far) on this project. The three things that would have really made a difference would be:
1) Allow the “air dried” boards a bit more time in the wood shop after planing to reduce surprises with wood movement. Worries that the top pieces would move is why you see the through bolts in the table top.
2) Making all similar pieces the same dimension would have made measurements easier. I didn’t want to cut/waste any of this wood so I was reluctant to cut off or plane off any more wood than was absolutely necessary to smooth the wood. Each leg x-section ended up being more rectangular than square. This required many different measurements to fit the stretchers for each leg and took a lot of time.
3) I cut the tenons on the stretchers too deep at first (2″) which made the mortises in the legs a real challenge. After cutting in two 2″ deep mortises, I came to the conclusion that they only needed to be about 1 1/4″ to do the job. The rest of the mortises went real quick compared to the first two.
I’m looking forward to applying these and other lessons learned to the next project. Many thanks to Rich and Mike for providing advice during this process. It always helps to have folks to bounce ideas around with. Many thanks to Robert for participating on the milling and drying of this wood. It’s a real good feeling to know that something special was made from wood that might otherwise have gone to waste.
I’ll post a final photo after finishing.