Scrub Oak Coffee Table with Copper Butterfly Keys

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Project by scruboak51 posted 10-14-2013 10:52 AM 2752 views 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

We recently moved into a house which had a small stand of scrub oak trees. A couple of the trees died during the 2003 Cedar Fire (in Southern California). Upon moving in, I was eager to get back into woodworking and this tree seemed like a good place to start.

I found a local shop with a band-saw mill and had the trunk slabbed out. The lumber had some pretty nice character so I decided to book-match two pieces and make a coffee table. To deal with the splits, I tried my hand at butterfly keys and failed miserably to make them out of wood (lack of tools). That led to a long hiatus from the project until I got the idea to use copper bar stock. I used .25” by 1.5” copper bar to make the butterfly keys.

The base was/is a work in process. I first used a salvaged metal base, but after receiving a lot of constructive criticism from the Reddit forum, I decided to improve upon that. For the pictured v2.0 I crafted a base out of a branch from the same tree. Still working out the bugs with the design and may end up adding some copper bar stock to run perpendicular to the base in a few points for added stability.

The top itself is unfinished (no lacquer or poly) the shine is from sanding the raw wood to 2,500 grit; this took ! 8 hours to go from the rough saw top to finished look.

Overall I am very happy; the table has a very cool floating look, which is compounded by the fact that the base is very close in color to the concrete slab that is currently our living room floor; at some point we are running hardwood floors, but like all new houses there are too many projects and not enough time or money.

I have some detailed/inprocess photos hosed on Imgur for those interested. V1.0 and V2.0

6 comments so far

View becikeja's profile


1009 posts in 3293 days

#1 posted 10-14-2013 12:57 PM

Nice piece, love the base. Is it stable?

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 2823 days

#2 posted 10-14-2013 01:46 PM

very nice

View FlyingMLB's profile


166 posts in 3263 days

#3 posted 10-14-2013 01:53 PM

Great slab. A project you will be proud of for years. I like the “truck” you haul project wood in…I have a similar rig. Thanks for sharing with all of us LJ’s.

-- Flying MLB *** A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

View Ken90712's profile


17707 posts in 3669 days

#4 posted 10-14-2013 03:17 PM

Well done what a cool table…. Interesting inlays, might have to try that. Do you know there people hiding in your fireplace? :>)

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View scruboak51's profile


37 posts in 2217 days

#5 posted 10-14-2013 05:16 PM

Quick update on the stability issue. I am very stable in 3 of 4 directions. The branch that makes up the base has a slight curve; very much like “(”. The issue comes when putting weight on table edge that sits above the apex of that curve; about 5 pounds of pressure is enough to tip it.

In keeping with the theme, I will probably use some more copper stock, carve it down; then run it perpendicular to the base in a couple points, and hopefully that should make this rock solid.

Thanks everyone for looking and the kind words. Also ken90712; Those are my old George Washington Andirons.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30428 posts in 2818 days

#6 posted 10-15-2013 01:51 AM

Really nice work. I love the live edge.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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