Story of a tree (limb)

Back in 2009, I wrote a story for our local newspaper about a tree, a local landmark that had to come down because it was beginning to show signs of rot. This prestigious tree held the record of being the largest red maple in Washington state and the second-largest red maple in North America. The removal of this tree drew a lot of attention, and I decided to take on the task of stewarding the bole and some of the limbs for the sake of posterity.

Mark Lombard, the owner of our local hardwood store, took on the task of shepherding the cut wood and put it on the market. In less than a week, it was all sold. I kept only a few small limb slabs from the tree for making coffee tables: one for the tree’s owner and one for a good friend. I’ve tried to follow the histories of the slabs, but that has proven difficult.

Kathi, my good friend, wanted a low-sitting, seven-foot-long table made out of one of the branches of the tree, and I began working on it a few weeks ago. The finished table will sit only 12” off the floor, underneath a wall-to-wall picture window in her living room. Kathi and her husband want a few of their favorite river rocks inset into the top so, when finished, it will look like water flowing around the rocks.  The cathedral grain in the wood serves to represent the flow of water, and the ripples on the edge of the board, placed there by nature, conveniently enhance this effect, making it look like ripples in the bend of a river or creek bed.


When viewed from across the room, carved walnut trees with extended branches will represent of the Earth reaching up to hold the river for viewing.  Totally fung shui.

I started with a small clay model, and I’ve worked my way from glued up blocks to the carving of the first branch. Time. It all takes time.

One trunk roughed out

and rasped down flat to the right height.

Thinking about that extending branch …

I decided the branch should twist around and up, so I cut it short  in preparation for creating a double bevel. Then I’ll mortise the longer piece onto it before carving.

It’s been a good beginning. I’ll continue to post my progress.

Thanks for looking,


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7 Responses to Story of a tree (limb)

  1. britboxmaker says:

    The model gives a good idea, along with your current progress of another beautiful project, Autumn.

    Oops looks like I’m blogging myself now!

  2. Donna Menke says:

    Wow, Autumn, that is going to be so nice. It is a way different style from the book holder you made before. I like the way you sculpted the walnut trunk- very artistic, but then I would expect nothing less from you.

    • Autumn says:

      Thanks, Donna. I had no idea how to start this, so I just dove in head first. I’m learning that making twisty branches requires figuring out a lot of compound angles, especially for the mortises. My first branch will be a good 4″-5″ shorter than I’d planned. You know the drill: screw it up, cut it shorter; screw it up again, cut it even shorter. I’m finally getting the hang of it — the doing it right part, not the screwing up part.

  3. Roger Bean says:

    My, my, those are some meaningful pieces of wood! I’ll be following your always interesting progress with anticipation.

  4. That is an interesting mortise you’ve cut into that oh-so-natural tree stump. It’s going to be Great!

    • Autumn says:

      Thanks, Barb. That mortise took on a life of its own: it demanded angles and pouted about being too proud until I chopped in side-to-side beveled shoulders. Once finished though, the limb piece slid into the socket like a lubricated key into a rusted lock and wouldn’t budge. May all my joints be so fine.

  5. Daris R says:

    This looks pretty cool. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a table using a limb like this. I look forward to following your progress…!

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