How many coffee tables can you make out of one tree? Of course, it depends on how big the tree is, but let’s say the wind knocks over your 100 year old oak tree. What are you going to do? Cut it up for firewood or hire someone to haul it off?
What would you do if a tree blew down in your yard?
Let me tell you what I did. The tree removal company wanted four-hundred dollars to cut up a big oak blown over by the storm.
The first picture is of an oak tree in my yard. The second is what the boards look like when sawn by a portable sawmill. This wood sells for $6 a bd ft when finished to furniture grade. These boards came out of a blown over red oak near this small tree standing in my yard. I cut out about six-hundred good board feet from the big, old oak and at $6 a foot, that amounts to around $3,600 instead of paying someone to haul it off. The sawmill charges $50/hr to cut boards and I had a lot more trees to cut. We sawed for three days. But, I just want to use one tree as an example of what you can do with a blown over tree instead of paying someone to cut it up and haul it off.
All wood was cut to one inch thickness. The two inch thick legs in the picture are made by gluing two pieces side by side. The picture on the left shows enough pieces to make a $300 coffee table except for two drawers which I will make later. The picture on the right shows all of the pieces except the drawers which I don’t need to make at this time. This shows about six board feet of lumber. Keep in mind a board foot is 12″ x 12″. I can make about 50 coffee tables at $300 each including the drawers. Now that old blown over tree is worth $15,000. It takes me less than a day to make a table, once I get set up.
The picture on the left is what I mean by setup. This machine cuts the groves that holds the boards together; see the picture on the right. There is nothing holding this frame together except the clamps and groves. I trial fit everything before gluing and I use no nails or screws. If you look down from the top of the picture on the right, you will see the grooves that hold it together.
The top has not been trimmed out. The edges get a router grove and more sanding and then stain and varnish. Do you see the 3/8″ thick steel plate beneath the table? That is what makes the legs even. Concrete floors by themselves are not level enough to make a table. You have to use a large gauge sheet of steel that won’t bend or buckle to accurately install the legs. This picture is just a test step to see if everything fits right and will look proper. Nothing is glued together at this stage. It will finish out beautifully and have two magnificently designed drawers built in when it is finished. I won’t have any trouble getting $300 for a handmade, solid real oak wood piece of furniture. It will be the centerpiece of someone’s living-room in about two weeks.
Now, which is better, hire someone to take that old tree away, or have a little fun and give yourself a pat on the back?
Dr Robert E McGinnis
Published in: Do-It-Yourself