Channeling George Nakashima for my new desk from 1,000 year old sequoia (Redwood) slab

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Project by GJK posted 02-25-2016 12:48 AM 2665 views 6 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I wanted to channel George Nakashima to understand better why he chose the pieces of wood, specifically redwood slab, to make into magnificent furniture that would enable the soul of the tree to live a second life as a work of art. He deliberately chose boards with knots, burrs, and figured grain. I searched and found a rescued stump of a 1,000 year old sequoia yielding a live edge slab (see, photos #3 and #4) to become my next desk—like an epitome by Nakashima (see, photo #5). And I chose a black walnut base in the same shape (see, photo #3) as one used by Nakashima, but prepared, in part, for me by a Minneapolis-based furniture maker who had skills and equipment that I lacked. I planed the flat surfaces (top and bottom) with Lie-Nielsen 4 1/2 smoother and then sanded the surfaces in stages to 80, 120, 220, and 400 grit – later to 600, 1200 and 2000 in intermediate stages between four coats of “Bush oil” and seven coats of Epifanes clear high gloss varnish for the desk to allow the alternating earlywood and latewood to electrically shine (see, photo 6). I chose a more conservative satin sheen for the walnut base (see, photo 1).

The base and desk are mortise & tenon joined using (1st time for me) Festool’s 500 and 700 domino joiners with beechwood domino tenons (see, photos #1 and #2).

To enjoy the video with its musical soundtrack, I suggest watching and listening on a big screen monitor with good speakers—not a smart phone:

-- Gary, Washington, DC

9 comments so far

View Mean_Dean's profile


7043 posts in 3925 days

#1 posted 02-25-2016 01:01 AM

That slab is absolutely magnificent! I like the fact that you’re letting the wood speak to you, and honoring it in a beautiful piece of furniture!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View PatrickRN's profile


31 posts in 1639 days

#2 posted 02-25-2016 04:10 AM


View jfk4032's profile


381 posts in 3304 days

#3 posted 02-25-2016 12:46 PM

WOW, that really came out beautiful Gary. That is one amazing piece of wood and you worked it with some great skill, patience and restraint to let the wood’s beauty shine through.

-- ---Joel; Central MD...rookie empter nester and getting back into woodworking!

View mds2's profile


310 posts in 2722 days

#4 posted 02-25-2016 02:00 PM

I love itl

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 3121 days

#5 posted 02-25-2016 03:14 PM

beautiful table

View pottz's profile


9913 posts in 1762 days

#6 posted 02-25-2016 05:38 PM

gorgeous desk that wood is just stunning,i like that as nakashima did you let the wood be the star and kept it just cant improve a slab of wood that beautiful,great job.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3468 days

#7 posted 02-26-2016 12:49 AM

Outstanding piece. George would be pleased.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View JimYoung's profile


381 posts in 2365 days

#8 posted 02-26-2016 01:00 AM

Simply awesome!

-- -Jim, "Nothing says poor craftsmanship more than wrinkles in your duck tape"

View PineSucks's profile


283 posts in 1805 days

#9 posted 02-26-2016 01:55 AM

Love that redwood slab. Figured grains are my favorite. Knots and all!

That Festool domino machine is a slick trick, ain’t it? I use the XL pretty often at work. Used properly, it can make structural joinery a breeze!

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