From tree to table

August 20, 2020

About our pine trees
As most of you know we have a lot of pine trees on our land. Too many in fact as they are stronger than most other trees and they will win from all others, catch the light and the water. You have to have respect for this tree as it can grow in most types of soil and can withstand long dry period, but it can also develop a huge root system.

The pine tree on Mallorca is the Mallorcan pine tree and it is an endemic species on the island, although they are regarded as a pest by all farmers. The oldest aerial photos available of La Mina San Cayetano do not show any pine tree on the land, but only olive trees, carob trees and almond trees - all nicely planted in straight lines. When the land was purchased by Gesa (the former state owned electricity company) the farmers left and no care had been given to the trees. The almond trees are now completely gone. If you don't care for these trees they will die eventually, it's a weak tree which needs pruning and care. Olive and carob trees are still here, but just a few of them. What has really taken over is the pine tree and some very strong shrubs like the pistache (not the one bearing the tasteful nuts).

In one of the first years after we had bought La Mina, we applied for a permit to cut 30 of the pine trees. The application was granted but we did not know how or who could cut them and what to do with it. Nearby is a factory making pallets of pine wood and the owner came here and inspected the marked trees. He was interested, but when I pointed at a medium size pine tree with a straight trunk of at least 10 meter and a diameter of around 40 cm and asked him what I would get for this he said: "12 Euros". I saw that as an insult, I would have expected 10 times this amount at least. I was never going to sell my trees to him.

I decided to buy a medium sized saw mill with electric motor (380V) of the brand WoodMizer, a well known brand in the wood processing industry. We have used it a number of times and we made doors from it and a lot of firewood. The last batch of trees was milled a few years back waiting for it's final destination, nicely stacked near the house we live in.
Last year Ondrej - volunteer from the Czech Republic - had welded the understructure for a big table, but after this was done there were too many other projects and we almost forgot about it. That is... I forgot about it, but Ans mentioned her wish for the large table on a regular basis.

Last Sunday we had a little gathering of friends, for no particular reason other than having a nice time with some nice friends. Both Ans and myself have the tendency to tidy up things, finish projects and organize everything around the house. It's also good to have some sort of deadline and I decided to make the table Ans had wished for such a long time. Ans was a bit surprised and was not sure if I would be able to finish it on time - as was I myself, but I dedicated most of the time to it and it all worked out perfectly without any negative stress.

Building the table.
Basically I just had to put some thick planks on the 2 steel undercarriage pieces and fix it to it. That's how you put it as simple as possible. The first step was picking out suitable planks from a stack of 7 planks of around 5 meter long and 6.5 cm thick by on average 25 cm wide. Three of the planks were not usable as they were too twisted, so I put these aside for firewood. A few others were too much infected by beetle larves or too rotten. A bit of both of these in the wood is not bad, it's giving the wood even more character apart from the veins in the wood.

After having picked the right planks I cut them on the desired length with a bit of overlap on both sides. The main reason for this is that if you process the planks through the old planer machine the beginning and the end are always a bit unregular. So I saw it off 20 cm longer than the final length of 2.40 meter. The planer shaves off a millimeter per run, and bit by bit the planks become nicer with showing more natural character.

After planing off a total of around 14 millimeter (more from the top than from the bottom and as little as possible to keep nice thick and solid looking wood), I puzzled a bit with the planks to get the best look. My idea was to keep the original outside lines of the wood, but leave no gaps or jars between the planks. There is a simple trick do do this: you put 2 planks together so they are touching and then you saw off the touching part with a chainsaw which takes about 1 cm off. Now you place the planks together again and the gaps in between becomes closer and closer every time you do this. Finally the planks have an almost perfect fit. Then you continue with plank 2 and 3, then 3 and 4 and finally 4 and 5.

Connecting the planks to the undercarriage created a challenge as I used thread and bolts to connect the planks to the it. To make the table look really cool I came up with the idea to cover the bolts with a 15 mm 'disc' of brass which should fit precisely in the 30 mm hole I drilled around the center of the hole through the wood. So I bought a rod of bare brass, 30 mm thick and cut it in dishes of 15 mm thick, then tapered it a bit so it would squeeze in the wood a bit easier using a hammer and I cut a few scratches in the side of the dishes. Before I hammered in the brass dishes I mixes a bit of epoxy resin with hardener and filled the hole. Of course after the thread and bolts were connected and tightened well. When the epoxy was hard I grind it off to the level of the table and finally sanded it. The result was perfect !

For the finishing layer of the table I have used transparent epoxy resin of West System, the most expensive, but also the most trusted brand. I had to buy this as the famous STP Marina in Palma. As a boat and yacht lover I drove on to the marina after being allowed to pass the guarded entrance. I would like to be there all day, the activity, the beautiful yachts, the smell of diesel ... . I still have the wish / desire / dream to own a boat, but it's so terribly expensive to even hire a booth to stall the boat, that I have some sort of given up on this. Of course ... I can rent a boat, but that somehow does not give the same satisfaction.

For sale
This particular table is for sale if you want: €2,000.
If you want a similar table, I can make one for you for €1,500. Since my website projects are not really bringing in any positive cash for already many years I have to be realistic and try to find other ways of income, so I want to make unique, custom made, elegant and durable furniture from wood and metals, like this table. If you want your own family logo engraved in the table or want other personal customization, I'll do it. Contact me if you want something and I will make it according to your desires.