I was approached several years ago by a nice couple who lived almost right around the corner from the shop. They had an enormous old pecan tree in their backyard that they knew they were going to have to take down - it had apparently taken on some sort of root-fungus issue- and wondered if I might be interested in harvesting the wood and trying to build something with it. A local sawyer cut the trunk into slabs, and a year or so later the wood was dry enough to use. The only thing left was to figure out what to build: "urban" timber can yield some amazing treasure, but it can also be full of nails, bullets, barbwire, you name it. (As luck would have it, this particular tree had at some point been plugged with concrete, which I can assure you led to an entirely calm, civil, suitable-for-all-audiences discussion with the sawyer regarding who exactly was going to buy him a new chainsaw bar.) We figured that we had *just enoug*h wood for on a pair of matching dining tables, with the idea being they could be rearranged as necessary to allow for large family gatherings.
I genuinely did not have a sense of whether or not these tables would turn out ok, let alone whether or not the clients would actually like them; between the form and the joinery and the endless overly-fussy details and the actual wood itself, the whole project just felt like, “I don’t know, maybe this?” That’s not false modesty- even on delivery day, I wasn't 100% sure that they weren’t going to refuse delivery. (“So I guess I’ll have to pay the movers to drive everything back to the shop? Yuck.”) Sometimes it’s nice to be able to stay flexible during a build, and to adapt and correct (or change!) course as things come into focus. This was the opposite of that: it felt like the only way forward was stick to the drawing, and the details, and hope for the best. (Old Me: “Hey look, I drew this fun little cove with a circle template!” Slightly-Less-Old Me: “Cool, cool... you just drew yourself an extra month of work, dumdum.”) In any case, I learned a ton, and I think they turned out pretty decent. It would be fun to make another one down the road someday, but maybe not tomorrow. Onward and upward.