Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cedar Slab

"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." - Michelangelo
That is a slab of aromatic cedar. It's roughly seven feet long, roughly three inches thick. Its width ranges from 12-ish at its narrowest, and over 25 at its widest point.

I can't wait to get into working with this.

Trust me, it's big
One branch of my family tree runs through Oklahoma. Both my Great Grandfather Ficke and Great Grandfather Cox had farms. Many years ago my family felled large cedar trees that grew on the farms and eventually sawed them into slabs, one of which you see here. My Grandfather used some of the slabs, but eventually this particular slab ended up forgotten in his building. It has been probably thirty years since it was cut, and we recently rediscovered it.

A preview of what lies beneath the dirt
Just to give you an idea of what it really looks like, and because I really wanted to get a preview of what will eventually be revealed, I sanded one end slightly, just enough to reveal the wild erratic grand pattern that is so common in aromatic cedar. It's going to be a gorgeous surface.

Closeup of the live edge.
 One of the main allures behind working with a whole slab is that you have a cross section of an entire tree. This means that the edges aren't straight; they're "live edges." You strip the bark and do sand/polish the edge to prepare it for finish, but that irregular live edge is one the best parts of working with a slab.

I've already removed the bark.
This has a lot of potential. I didn't quote Michelangelo in the caption above lightly. There are craftsmen, artists really, like George Nakashima and James Krenov who stockpiled slabs, hundreds of them, and didn't use them until they realized what that piece was destined to become.

For this piece, I think I know what it is destined to become. It's up to me be sure and then, eventually, to set it free.

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