Life Force

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Project by cathyb posted 08-24-2013 07:28 PM 2879 views 2 times favorited 31 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Monday is the day to turn in my pieces for the upcoming Woods of Hawaii Show. I called this piece “Life Force” because it took all the force that life gave me to get it come together. As you all well know, you can always trace those contemptible pieces to the first step. This is how this saga began:
I had this beautiful koa that I had paid $60 bf. At those prices I thought I had a temporary mental breakdown when I shelled out that cash, but come on aren’t those boards some of the prettiest you’ve ever seen? I have had this wood for four years and thought it would be a great choice for the wood show.

For those of you who work with curly wood, you know how challenging it can be. My initial plan was to do a two ply lamination. It started that way for the four legs. The pieces were wide and even with a more stable piece of wood laminated to the boards, it still wanted to cup. Geez! I hate that. So I pulled out more of that wood and realized that now I would have a four ply lam, with koa, more stable select koa, plywood, and more curly koa. Hooray that gave me the stability that I needed and in the process some extremely heavy legs.

The construction at this point was a dado and tongue for the shelf and the legs are dadoed, glued and screwed into the top. After wrestling with this for the past two weeks, it is finally done. It is not what I originally had intended because the addition of the plywood eliminated any addition shaping that I had planned on the legs, which disappoints me, because the design becomes ho hum.
In the end, I achieved one of my major objectives which was to share this beautiful wood. Check that box. There’s always next year and I am a little wiser now.

The dimensions are 24 wide by 21 deep by 22 1/2 tall. I finished it with General semi-gloss poly.

Thanks for looking and your suggestions and comments are always appreciated.


-- cathyb, Hawaii

31 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile


9071 posts in 4185 days

#1 posted 08-24-2013 08:23 PM


There will always be another turn down the path that will present some more and different surprises. Nice save. Creativity doesn’t come from expectations being met?

Did you think about offsetting the exciting stuff with a more neutral tone wood? I’m thinking banding or inlaying an edge? I’m not sure how much more time and effort would be involved.

Really nice piece.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Handtooler's profile


1628 posts in 3474 days

#2 posted 08-24-2013 08:54 PM

ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL! That has to be the most elablrate book matched wide panel work I’ve ever seen, and I’ve never had the chance to even try a simple one that had any character. Thank you for sharing God’s glory and your craftswomanship with us LJ’ers.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 [email protected]

View cathyb's profile


860 posts in 4587 days

#3 posted 08-24-2013 08:56 PM

Well Doc, my original idea was to have that darker select koa as my off set piece and the curly would have popped even more, but I got in trouble with that unruly wood. It really is a lot less fun when your focus becomes a save. It’s too bad. It was a struggle the whole way through because in the midst of it I fell from a ladder and got banged up. When I complain about the weight, it was a real issue because I had hurt my back, elbow wrist and thumb. It was as if one side of body had a hand and the other limb was a flipper! Thank God for alleve…....

-- cathyb, Hawaii

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 3855 days

#4 posted 08-24-2013 09:02 PM

Very nice Cathy, I don’t understand why the Koa has to be so high, seems it’d be hard to make monies back when you have to shell out that kind of cash for the wood.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View cathyb's profile


860 posts in 4587 days

#5 posted 08-24-2013 09:50 PM

That’s right Randy. When wood is so expensive, there is a certain degree of anxiety every time you touch it. Before I did this professionally and worked with lots of domestic woods, ash, cherry, mahogany and walnut life was easier. In Hawaii if you don’t make your pieces out of koa, you will own them for a long time before and if they ever sell. I made a lamp out of bird’s eye maple. In my opinion it was one of my best lamps, technically speaking. It took nine years to sell it! Ridiculous, but that’s the way it goes here.
Thanks guys for your support….....

-- cathyb, Hawaii

View shipwright's profile (online now)


8782 posts in 4140 days

#6 posted 08-24-2013 10:15 PM

Spectacular wood Cathy and a very nice save. I know exactly what you mean when you say the fun is reduced when you are focused on saving the piece. The other side of the coin though is that the challenge is higher and the satisfaction at meeting it will often balance or outweigh the loss of the fun.
Nice piece.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View cathyb's profile


860 posts in 4587 days

#7 posted 08-24-2013 10:30 PM

Thanks Paul. I hope you are having a wonderful day. You’re right, I’m glad it came out. The “It is what it is” catch phrase always applies in woodworking. Still good though, there isn’t anything I would rather tackle.

-- cathyb, Hawaii

View DocSavage45's profile


9071 posts in 4185 days

#8 posted 08-24-2013 10:38 PM


Now that really sucks. I’d have walked away for awhile! Anger management. LOL! Thanks for the rest of the story.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 3167 days

#9 posted 08-24-2013 11:14 PM

Wow Cathy that wood is absolutely awesome…and so are the tables. Really love all the book matching. I have not seen Koa so I take it is a Hawaii native wood…just so beautiful and the visual depth of the grain pattern is just stunning. I googled the wood show and it says it is on 1-15 of Sept, so I wish you all the best for the Show, they look like winners to me.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 3686 days

#10 posted 08-24-2013 11:26 PM

beautiful piece

View cathyb's profile


860 posts in 4587 days

#11 posted 08-25-2013 12:04 AM

Thanks guys. Yep I turn in my pieces Monday morning. I agreed to go on the morning news beforehand to help promote the Show. We need to get people there who love wood. Believe me there are some absolutely amazing woodworkers in Hawaii. I am ready to be stunned by some of the work that will arrive next week from the outer islands. Paul if I send you some koa, you could enter next year. Your work would be a big hit. Something to think about…...

-- cathyb, Hawaii

View vonhagen's profile


549 posts in 3707 days

#12 posted 08-25-2013 12:15 AM

cathy that is just stunning to say the least. cathy i can’t find any real good curly loa right now and was hoping maybe you could select some for me. please let me know because loa is my favorite wood in the world.

-- no matter what size job big or small do a job right or don't do it at all.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4646 days

#13 posted 08-25-2013 12:18 AM

wow kathy, you have done a superb job of displaying this beautiful are so fortunate to have access to this wood, its really a wonderful name you picked.”LIFE FORCE’’.... I applaud your gifted talents of a fine fine wood worker, and hope this piece does well wherever you show it… 60.00 a BF…that would choke me…...beautiful job.

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Dusty56's profile


11868 posts in 5030 days

#14 posted 08-25-2013 01:32 AM

Nice save , cathyb : ) The wood is beautiful !!

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Boxguy's profile


2905 posts in 3610 days

#15 posted 08-25-2013 02:01 AM

Cathy, the work is lovely and the wood stunning. Thanks for sharing. I just had a day like yours broke my tractor, the garage door, and the printer. Fixed the tractor, and printer. Door may need professional help. I don’t mess with torsion springs. It is a beautiful save and looking at it made me smile. Best of luck with the show and the interview.

-- Big Al in IN

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