29″ x 48″ x 132″
materials: fsc-certified reclaimed heart pine, glass
embellishment: ‘stitch’ detailing
This conference table was designed and built for Bridging the Gap, a local environmental organization. Given the ethos of Bridging the Gap I knew that the materials for the conference table had to be reclaimed, recycled and/or recyclable. My initial thoughts turned to heart pine given the building they currently occupy and heart pine’s prolific use in old historic buildings.
The FSC-certified heart pine used to create the pedestals was reclaimed from the CurtissWright Airplane Factory, located in Garfield, NJ, buill in 1929. The Curtiss-Wright Corporation was the result of the merger of several companies originally founded by Glenn Curtiss and Orville and Wilbur Wright, all pioneers of the aviation industry. (Dramatic pause as you consider the history of this wood!) Although I didn’t know the wood’s pedigree at the time I designed the table, I love how the final design is evocative of a stylized airplane. The first step in the creation of the pedestals was to peek beneath the patina of age and see what the grain looked like. This allowed me to choose the best way to place the planks next to each other and have the grain harmoniously blend from one board to the next in the glued-up panels. Another design consideration was how to preserve the splits and other beauty marks that tell the story of this lumber. Once they were cut into the lengths I needed, the splits compromised the structural stability of some of the boards. I could have cut the splits out and re-joined the boards but I really wanted to preserve them. To stabilize the wood I ‘stitched’ the boards where the splits were by creating long, narrow wedges and gluing them into the splits. The stitches are now a decorative element as well as providing the needed structural stability.
Additionally, I spent quite a bit of time dressing up the splits, enhancing them and rounding over their sharp edges. I really wanted them to be a prominent feature of the pedestals. The panels were then miter cut at the 30° angle needed to create their final shape. Finally, the mitered pieces were glued together to create the pedestals. One of the features I like about this design is how the grain wraps around the pedestals, from one face of the ‘V’ to the other. After their final sanding the pedestals received 4 applications of my special home-brew coating. The final step in the finishing process was the application of 2 coats of wax and handrubbing the pieces to a soft, glowing luster.
I believe this table is a tangible example of the values of Bridging the Gap. I hope that it will help spark a conversation about the importance and beauty of reclaimed materials.