willem.com blog

From tree to table

Designing and creating a night stand

Oct. 23, 2017 -

Right next to the house were I was born there was this chestnut tree, sadly it died one and a half year ago. When it was taken down, my brother saved me a slab of wood. I intended to create something from it, a nice "do it yourself" adventure, worthy of a blog post!

The chestnut slab wood on bench
The chestnut slab wood on bench

Designing a night stand

I wanted to create something from the three that I would use frequently. It turned out to be a night stand, a small table next to my bed. To make things interesting I set out a few design objectives:

Before doing anything I measured the slab of wood. With the measurements I worked out a design that would use the circular shape of the slab to achieve the appropriate height.

"Willem.com" night stand - Designed on iPad

The slab contained a large crack that I had to work around. Basically the design cuts the slab into four pieces (right along the crack). The pieces are bonded together to create a "folded slab design". If done well - the idea was - I would not need any metal parts to support the structure...

Smoothening the slab

My brother used a chainsaw to get me this slab of chestnut tree. The chainsaw left a lot of marks on the wood that I had to smoothen.

Sawing off rough edges
Sawing off rough edges
Sanding the slab of wood
Sanding the slab of wood

I used a Bosch Multitool for sawing and sanding the surface. After some hours of work, both sides of the wood where smooth enough to saw the slab of wood into the pieces designated by the design.

Multitool sawing
Multitool sawing
Sawed pieces on work bench
Sawed pieces on work bench
Testing the design concept
Testing the design concept

Sticking it together

In line with the design I wanted to connect the pieces witouth any visible means, no screws or metal pieces.

Drilling holes for the wooden pins
Drilling holes for the wooden pins

I drilled holes and used wooden pins to achieve enough strength (in combination with glue).

Glueing together
Glueing together
First connections made
First connections made

After glueing the two angled pieces I let them dry in the afternoon sunshine.

Transparent Lacquer

As a product of nature wood has an interesting texture because of its nerves. In this particular tree you could see the "year rings" in the wood. Due to changes in the seasons and weather, the speed of which the wood grows differs from time to time. I wanted to maintain these lines of life and chose a transparent lacquer.

Two pieces on bench, painted.
Two pieces on bench, painted.

Again and again

After applying the lacquer I sanded the surface again and again. Every time I used a finer sanding paper; I stared with 60 and went all the way up to 400.

sanding again
sanding again
Fresh lacquer... again
Fresh lacquer... again
... and again
... and again

Result

Many hours later the result is a night stand with a very smooth surface in an original design.

Result (design fully visible)
Result (design fully visible)
Smooth surface detail
Smooth surface detail
Wood nerves nicely visible throught the transparent lacquer
Wood nerves nicely visible throught the transparent lacquer
Drilling holes for wheels
Drilling holes for wheels

I mounted three wheels for easy moving (and some additional height). I choose three to prevent the stand from wobbling. I used metal rings to allow fine-tuning the angles (as the wooden slab isn't perfect flat).

Wheel with ring
Wheel with ring
Result on garden table
Result on garden table
Lacquer finish is fantastic
Lacquer finish is fantastic
Night stand next to the bed
Night stand next to the bed

It was an interesting experience doing some "do it yourself" wood design. Just take your time and don't rush yourself. I had a lot of fun and can recommend it to anyone. In fact I had so much fun that I probably will do it again!

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