This coffee table is what’s known as a “cookie”; whereas most slabs are cut lengthwise from a felled tree, cookies are, as you can probably tell, cut straight across the trunk. The resulting slabs are perfect for coffee tables, although they present some challenges that are quite unlike the ones standard slabs set us. We were thrilled to work with the designer on this project, because as these pictures show, this Newton home has an incredible combination of classical and modern styling.
We knew that a cookie coffee table with a metal base would be an excellent way to extend that special combination, but in order to design the right base we had to get into some pretty serious CAD (computer-aided design). The design you see here has legs that actually run about halfway up the thickness of the slab, with cross members that travel between the legs to bear the weight. The result is a table that almost seems to float, merely bound around by the legs.
Sometimes, it’s exactly the things that initially appear to be defects that turn out to be our favorite features in a piece. Virtually every slab has some degree of checking (splitting and cracking), simply because of the different rates at which water dries out different segments of the lumber. Checking is no indication of weakness or instability in the material, but in order to ensure that the checks don’t continue to separate we use a technique called “bow tying”. In bow tying, we install a number of small wood pieces shaped - you guessed it - like bow ties on the underside of the table. The wedge-shaped ends of each bow tie prevent the slab from migrating away from itself, holding each side of the check firmly in place.
Most checks are small enough that it isn’t possible to see the bow tie through the crack. In cases like this one, with a wide check in the meat of a table, we’ll typically pour a black, two-part liquid epoxy that fills the whole gap, hardens, and obscures the view through the table. Here, though, we chose to leave the check wide open, with a clear view through to the bow ties beneath. A small choice, in some ways, but one that really sets this coffee table apart from the rest.
To see a table with an equally stunning slab realized in a much more traditional style, follow this link:
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