Slab Flattening and Finishing

A few people have asked about the process of making a rough slab into a finished piece.  Here are some photos and a brief description of a walnut slab project I recently finished. This black walnut slab was air-dried to 10-12% mc, so I started by sticking it in my dehumidifier kiln to bring it down to about 8% mc. After the drying was complete, I cranked up the kiln heat to 140 degrees for 72 hours. This heat kills any bugs that might still be hiding in there.

Next I used a router sled to flatten the slab. My homemade sled is basically a sliding carriage that fits over my work table. The router slides back and forth on the sled cutting down the high points. I set the router depth to cut about 1/8″ off per pass and I continued making these 1/8″ passes until the entire top of the slab was flat. Then I flipped the slab and flattened the other side.

Once the slab was entirely flat, I spent some time inlaying “bow ties” to reinforce the cracked/weak areas. I made the bow ties from wenge which is nearly black (a nice color contrast to the walnut).

With the bow ties complete, I ran the slab through a wide belt sander both sides and then used a track saw to cut a straight edge for the back side of the counter top. For this particular project I wanted the slab to “waterfall” over one side of the kitchen island, so next I used my track saw to cut a long miter and then used the Festool Domino XL to cut floating tenon joinery for the miter (using14mm tenons).

Then I finish sanded with a 6″ random orbital sander to 220g, and then hand sanded with 320g. Finally, I sealed it with 3 coats of Festool Surfix HD (using the Festool abrasive pads between coats).

This particular client wanted more of a sheen to the finish so I added 5 coats of hand rubbed Urethane over the Surfix (I used General Arm-R-Seal and sanded with 400g and/or 0000 steel wool between coats).

Finally it was installation day! It’s important to remember that the larger and thicker the piece of wood, the more it will move around with the changing seasons. So when I install a table top (or in this case an island counter) I use slotted holes and then attach with a screw and washer. These slots allow the wood top to move (grow and shrink) with the seasons. The Festool Domino XL with an 8mm bit works great for making these slotted holes.

And here are a couple of shots of the finished slab.

claro walnut island top

claro walnut island top

claro walnut island top

claro walnut island top

waterfall of the walnut counter

waterfall of the walnut counter

The counter overhangs the far side of the island to serve as a breakfast bar.

breakfast bar seating

breakfast bar seating

See the entire kitchen installation here.

San Diego Kitchen

I spent last week installing this kitchen in San Diego, CA. This client was a pleasure to work with and gave me lots of creative freedom in the design. The color palette we chose: rustic white oak, ebonized oak, walnut, dark steel hardware, and etched glass. Here are some shots from the installation. (We are still waiting for the black granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances)

I will post some better photos once the counter tops are installed.

Modern Rustic Kitchen in Arroyo Grande, CA

Modern lines and design + rustic (reclaimed) wood = modern rustic. This is a kitchen I recently built for a home in Arroyo Grande, CA.

Built from reclaimed french oak. The island top was made from reclaimed barrel oak (from a 1000 gallon barrel). Photo credit: Shannon Riddering.  Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 9.37.48 PM

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Kitchen Design

IMG_1877Cup of coffee, a pile of sketches and photos, and the go-ahead on a new kitchen project. It’s a good day for some design work!

This kitchen is for newly remodeled home in Arroyo Grande, CA. The style will be rustic modern. The client is considering a dark stained french oak (reclaimed), and the possibility of a live edge walnut slab for the island top.

They like the color and texture of the cabinets in the photo below (taken from see here)ee1a390036124491f1ff5c834947b646They would like the style to be similar to this kitchen (shown below) that I collaborated with John Brigham on:

Update 05/03/14: See the finished kitchen here…



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Walnut Creek Kitchen

We installed a kitchen in Walnut Creek this week.IMG_1643

The cabinets are reclaimed douglas fir with zinc panel doors. It’s hard to visualize without the counter tops installed. Here are a few sketches:


Outdoor Modern Rustic Kitchen

   Made from reclaimed wormy chestnut. Custom made steel handles. This was another collaboration project with John Brigham. Photos by Joel Wilson. The sketch below shows the pizza oven that will eventually be added. 

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Rustic Modern Kitchen

This kitchen project was done in collaboration with John Brigham and his crew. Built from reclaimed American wormy chestnut (barn wood).

One of Steve Bewley’s baskets from wine barrel bands (above). See Steve’s work at
Corner drawersZinc-clad breakfast bar Wine refrigerator and backlit wine bottle rack. 
Wine glass drawers.
Photo credit: Joel Wilson

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