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I’ve been thinking of a design for a tea table. One idea is that it should be made out of wood slabs. For sustainable reasons, I didn’t want to cut down a new tree, so I began my design by searching reclaimed wood. Functionally, a tea table needs to seat a minimum of 8 people for tea tasting. There should be a dishwasher under the table top, a storage area for tea ware and space for tea plates that hooks into a drainage system.

Tea able sketchMy childhood guitar teacher has a building material business. In his warehouse, he had cut piles of wood to be used as wood flooring material. Also inside are huge piles of wood logs, 14 of which are from Teak trees that had been laying there for more than 20 years. I just can’t believe how lucky I am to find this tree laying there waiting for me. Although this particular  tree is not in any way perfect, it is really ideal for what I am looking for.  A 3-meter (118 inches) long Teak tree ended up costing ONLY $400.  Somebody’s junk is my precious stone! How incredible that is!

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treeOur town was a major wood harvesting area during the occupation by Japan. The Japanese would cut down trees thousands of years old and shipped them to Japan to build temples and houses. They had built an entire transportation system and factories to do so. As a result, there are still numerous old wood production factories here. I probably would have never known such productions existed had my guitar teacher not tell me. There is a factory in the middle of a rice field that looked like it had been there for centuries. Even the workers there are all in their 50s. Here in Taiwan, you talk and negotiate right when you first meet. I simply asked him to cut the wood I selected into 3 pieces… 50 dollars, done!

This cutting machine must be the coolest old machine I have ever seen. They hefted the tree on to a train, where it was secured and measured into the thickness that I requested. The cutter then drives the train over a huge chain saw. I was extremely nervous, because even though I designed hundreds of furniture before, I had never had my own tree cut to measurements. I was worried if the cut is not in the right place, I would have ruined this beautiful tree. I didn’t have a lot of time to think long on this.  The workers were there, measurements were made and in 10 minutes my tree was in 3 pieces.

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The left over slabs I’m saving for a later day to make something else out of it.. stay tuned…  J

R0010882This is why I really appreciate small mom and pop shops. There are still so many highly skilled wood finishers in our town. We found this shop that as it turns out knew my college professor really well. I had majored in Forestry. Our professors are pretty well known in Taiwan. They have been associated with many workers in the field. This old Master must be 70 years old or so and he is still doing wood finish for a living. He quickly decided how we should assemble these 3 pieces together and how to fill the imperfections.

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The production time is 2 weeks!
R0010869Each slab had to be fastened together, then the finisher will sand, stain, and apply the finish coats. A natural lacquer was applied on top to give a subtle but rich sheen.

R0010872I also had a local metal shop made the table legs and storage components. It was a lot of visiting shops and discussing design ideas. There were very minimal detailed drawings that had to be done since I was able to work around the workers’ skill set. Their experiences had taught me a different way to doing design and I love the way it came out!

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