Words and photos: Andrew Goodin
The history of the burl that is now a tabletop is that it was sitting in my daughter’s boyfriend’s, father’s woodshed (straightforward so far?) where it was waiting to be made into ashes. She knows my love of timber and that I see value in what others sometimes don’t, so she had her boyfriend rescue it and drag it up to me. And from there it all started…
Most burls have that amazing burst of pattern through the entire growth, however this one only had it around the edges. Through the centre though, were the endgrain patterns of two substantial branches that gave it a unique look. That said, on first inspection, the woodshed was perhaps the best place for it to be?
There’s only so much you can do with a piece like this. It wasn’t good enough to be cut into veneer, and because of its shape and size, it always came back to being a coffee table (of sorts).
We have all seen a few of these (burl) coffee tables and in general they are not the most exciting of things to make or admire. Burl tabletops speak for themselves with their amazing patterns, and bases have been done in all sorts of ways, from mallee roots to wrought iron and probably even milk crate constructions.
I decided on a base that would resemble a tree. The material came from some old pergola posts that had been in my shed for years – I knew I’d use them one day! Once I had the block and cross pieces glued up it was time to turn them into a ‘trunk, roots and branches’.
The top had a split that you could put your hand through, so to keep it from getting bigger and to strengthen the weak spots, butterfly wedges were added. To keep in tune with the burl, the split was inlayed with a further piece of burl matching the origin shape perfectly.
Okay – we have tried to leave the piece as natural as possible, we have made a base that suits, but what else would add to that theme? Spiders of course, redback spiders to boot.
As for me, I’m a carpenter/joiner by trade. Moved on to become a builder and now sit on the corporate side of the fence. Don’t get a lot of time to work in the shed, but find when the stress builds I always migrate there.
Andrew Goodin lives in Perth and is General Manager of Ecofit Homes Pty Ltd. Contact him by email.