by Grant Koenig
Early this fall I received an email from a potential client at Otter Tail Power Company in search of a custom conference room table. At first glance I figured this would be a straightforward, relatively easy build as I had already started sorting through design options and styles in my head. As I continued to explore the project, my original thoughts on this table were quickly pushed aside as I found out that this table would ideally be built out of reclaimed cross arms from decommissioned power lines. Although we do build out of reclaimed wood that doesn’t mean that ALL reclaimed wood is appropriate to build with so I was hesitant to really see what these timbers were going to offer us. We continued the conversation, got the basic parameters out of the way and I hooked up the trailer and headed east to see this material first hand.
In most cases the table design comes first but with this project I had to get a sense of the material before I could really execute an appropriate design. After an hour or so of loading the material on the trailer I had the drive back from Fergus Falls to really get the design sorted out in my mind.
For this table I really wanted the timbers to be the star however the condition of them was going to make this challenging. Most of them were different lengths, some were rotten halfway through and some were so full of holes I didn’t know how they were going to be structurally sound. With multiple trips back and forth from the computer to the shop floor, analyzing the timbers, measuring and cutting the design started coming together.
The table was going to be 16′ long by 5′ wide so for us that meant we had to build it in 3 independent sections, mostly because we were going to leave the timbers as their full dimensions making the weight of the table heavier than Phil or Pat would be capable of lifting.
In the design I also wanted to incorporate some of the elements of the power lines so I choose to do an X brace within the steel legs similar to the structure found on wooden power lines.
With all of the designs worked out it was finally time to get to work building out the pieces.
We started by planing the material to get the rough weathered texture off.
Next we drilled out the timbers for the threaded rod that would tie the table sections together.
Once the table top sections were done I got to work welding the base together. For a table of this size and scale I wanted the base to be strong and prominent so I choose to use 3″ square tube steel with laser cut steel X bracing.
We had some more trouble shooting, test fitting, sanding, staining and finishing before we were on our way to deliver.
The assembly process of this table took us 4 almost 5 hours to get done but the results were certainly worth all of the effort.
Projects like this one are easily the most challenging but getting the opportunity to step out of our comfort zone really makes unique pieces like these possible.
From power pole conference tables to wine racks we are always eager for the next project and are excited to share more unique pieces soon.