Once there was a walnut tree, planted in the Willamette Valley over one hundred and thirty years ago. At that time, the Boones Ferry was taking people across the Willamette River and communities were growing in the area just outside of what is now known as Wilsonville. As time passed, and the walnut tree grew, a small farmhouse was built nearby and was shaded by the walnut tree for many, many years.
Finally, in 2014, the tree had grown large enough and aged long enough, that it was losing stability and reaching the end of its life. Rather than risk damage to the farm house, the farmers asked a small, local mill to cut down and salvage the walnut tree. The family-owned mill works to salvage wood products to be used in various applications in hopes that less trees will need to be forested before their time. As this walnut tree was being cut down, one of the workers accidentally put a nick in the slab with a chain saw, a mark you can still see if you look closely at the finished table.
After being cut down, the walnut tree was taken from the farm to the nearby mill. Large commercial machines cut the tree lengthwise into thick slabs. The wood slabs were then stacked and left to dry. The owner of Green Furniture Solutions, James Lohman, saw these wood slabs after they were cut. After almost ten years of sourcing salvaged wood, these were the largest slabs he had ever seen in person.
Wood slabs of this size need to air dry for two to three years. Sometime in early 2017, the slabs were placed in a wood kiln. They spent three months in the kiln, which was set to a low heat, approximately 140 degrees. During this time, the wood slabs would go through their final warping and cracking. This process ensures that once the slabs are finished, they will be stable and solid for the lifetime of the table.
At this point, three walnut slabs were transported to our wood shop. Normally, before getting to the shop, the slab would go through a commercial planer to level it. However, these slabs were too large for the planer so it had to be done by hand. First each slab was fed through a saw, then an orbital sander was used to smooth out the saw marks and finally a regular belt sander helped to smooth the surface even further. To create a polished finish, our craftsman repeatedly oil and sand the slab by hand.
Now that the slab was finished, it was time to transport it. A single, solid walnut slab of this size was estimated to weigh over twelve hundred pounds. The length and width of the slab is too large to be carried through a door or up a flight of stairs. So a crane was used to lift the table up to a third floor window. It took crew of eight men to get the heavy slab out of the truck and loaded on to the crane. It was truly an epic thing to behold as the crane lifted the slab to its permanent place. Those who had helped with this project wanted to be present to watch the final stage and were joined by many onlookers.
We appreciate our client’s commitment to purchasing a locally and sustainably sourced piece of Oregon history. Everything that has gone into producing this fine piece of furniture will allow you to enjoy it for years to come. Run your hand over the table and you will feel the result of our master craftsmen’s hard work. As your eye follows the light and dark contrasts created by the figuring, you are not only seeing the growth of the tree, but also where the tree repaired itself from the effects of the wind and elements. The jewel-like patina comes from the elements the tree drew from the soil to nourish itself. This one of a kind piece is truly an artistic creation from nature itself.