Wording With Purpose

Rustic Cedar Bench

Cutting a tree is a choice ripe with heartache and consequences, but often the path is necessary.

Cedar (7)

This Eastern Red Cedar began life behind my childhood home on Angel Fork, somewhere between Tornado and Hurricane in West Virginia. Transplanted to our home in Raleigh twenty-seven years ago, it has adorned our backyard through hurricanes, tropical storms, ice storms, and a fluke (and record!) 23” snowfall.

Eastern Red Cedar fancies the solitude of a sunny hilltop, not the dense shade of a suburban lot. It prefers a light loamy soil, not heavy red clay. My scrappy Mountaineer fought to survive as towering oaks snuffed the sunlight and consumed the rain. Falling debris triggered by an ice storm damaged the tree, and I decided it was time to end the struggle.

Cedar (4)

I dropped the tree and sat beside these logs to rest and ponder their fate. Sending them to the yard waste facility was not an option. Burning them as firewood seemed inappropriate. Cedar resists insects and rotting, and the sections could become edging for a flower garden.

Why not design a wood project that keeps these treasures in the family? Why not turn firewood into furniture?

Cedar (11)

I trimmed the logs to approximate sizes and pieced them together to see if my idea was achievable. Shawn asked if I was making a “pi”. Every carpenter needs an entertaining sidekick.

Cedar (27)

Slivers and slices tumbled to the floor over several sessions of work. My shaping was done with a combination of hatchet, machete, hunting knife, and a collection of wood chisels.

Skinning (1) Smoothing (3)

I once owned a Chevy that needed a new timing belt at 60,000 miles. I ordered the shop manual and planned to DIY. Step 1 was “Remove engine.” Really? In that spirit I offer this next line…

And then a bunch of other stuff happened.

Time Passed

The bench leg structure was assembled with mortise and tenon joints.

Finished (12) Finished (1)

The top is repurposed barn wood complete with a unique artistic feature contributed by a herd of hungry beetles.

Finished (2) Finished (5)

Shawn is delighted with the finished product.