Oak tables from an old tree felling

  • Advertise with us
Project by Don Johnson posted 08-10-2020 04:30 PM 868 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Just before the lockdown, a friend of mine asked me if there was anything that could be done with a couple of chunks of oak that had been given to him for firewood after a neighbour had chopped down a tree in his garden. They had been laying around in his shed for about ten years, and showed the signs of vicious attacks from a chain saw and a few woodworms. Having seen YouTube videos showing the use of a router sled to flatten distorted timber, I suggested that we might try that technique on my friend’s lumps of wood, and get at least one surface on each flat, as they were far too big for my planer/thicknesser. He was happy to try anything that I could do, so I knocked up a sled to fit on top of my table saw, and with a new flattening router bit, we began the long, dusty, noisy and labour intensive job of flattening. Unfortunately – as is my usual custom – it didn’t occur to me to take pictures of the process, but we did end up with two big lumps, with one face pretty flat on each.

I could just about cut the largest piece into a a rectangle, but we decided to let the smaller piece stay in its natural form. As we discussed the possibility of my friend’s son providing some old oak fence posts from which to make legs, Covid 19 regulations came into force, and so the project was shelved. Some months later, the fence posts did arrive, and planer/thicknessing them from a distorted, nominally 4 inch, section down to reasonably straight and square 3 inch section lengths really strained my old muscles as they were extremely dense and heavy. They also appeared rather too massive to be used as legs without being cut down further, which seemed rather a waste. Luckily, another friend had been given some oak legs which looked ideal for the job, especially as they had been turned to produce feet at one end and a round tenon at the other.

I was considering getting the router sled set up again to try to get some flat surfaces on the undersides of potential table lumps – which were nowhere near constant thickness – when I realised that I could cut rebates on the undersides with a larger router bit than the one for the leg tenons, to accommodate the square section of the legs. As I could do this on my radial bench pillar drill (so handy being able to get holes far from edges!) using the depth stop, the rebates could all be the same distance from the flat table surface, and the legs could all be the same length despite the unevenness of the table underside. This step went reasonably easy – with two old guys maneuvering the heavy lumps of oak around the drill, to cut double rebates in the best positions possible.

Trying to get the legs looking ‘right’ despite their not being exactly in line and without a flat table underside to square them up proved too difficult for us to get them exact, but they looked ‘good enough’ when finished. Lots of work with sanders – both belt and ROS – followed after some filling of cracks, but my pal insisted that they should NOT look too perfect. Well, he got his wish! But I guess they looked reasonably good after three coats of Danish Oil and some Briwax. The figuring on the smaller piece came out to be particularly attractive.

As is also my wont, this has been a long story – and without progress pics – but once I start typing on LJs, I find it hard to stop. So my apologies if you were bored, but I’ll add the fact that we call chopping down trees in the UK ‘felling’ NOT ‘falling’, Cody!

-- Don, Somerset UK,

4 comments so far

View Don Johnson's profile

Don Johnson

743 posts in 4070 days

#1 posted 08-10-2020 05:40 PM

I’ve only ever seen negative comments about these plans.

-- Don, Somerset UK,

View PaxJen's profile


216 posts in 1946 days

#2 posted 08-10-2020 07:46 PM

Sounds like a lot of work, but a beautiful table is a good result.

-- Pax - Maryland

View recycle1943's profile


5978 posts in 2912 days

#3 posted 08-10-2020 08:07 PM

Good story, good job saving some old oak and I really like my floor model radial drill press.

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View crowie's profile


5117 posts in 3240 days

#4 posted 08-10-2020 09:41 PM

Very well done Don.
You’ve saved a couple of beautiful pieces of timber from the fire and done a superb job on the tables.

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics