Back in Summer our cousin helped us mill an Ash tree in our backyard. The tree had been dead for quite a while, but unfortunately it still wasn’t dry enough.
We stacked the wood in our friend's workshop and he set a dehumidifier next to it and waited about another month until it reached a moisture level of 8%. The wood had warped quite a bit, I guess we should have stacked it better from the beginning, but being our first time milling wood we didn’t realize this would happen.
We had originally wanted to keep them as full slabs and a live edge countertop, but with the way the wood was warped this was not going to be possible. We are super lucky to have a friend, Richard, with a woodworking shop who has offered to help us out and he too said he doesn’t have the equipment to deal with large slaps anyway.
So we cut our slabs down to a 5 inch width, keeping them uniform was the easiest way to go plus we knew we could then fit them into his joiner. We had milled our wood at about 2 inches thick, but we were losing some of it as it was warped so as per Richard’s advice we cut our slabs in half. This way we have plenty of wood for our countertops and they will be lighter which is a big bonus in a bus build. They will still look like they are 2 inches thick as there will be bracing underneath the 1 inch countertops that sit on the cabinets and the front edge will be 2 inches thick.
We then got to work getting our planks of wood nice and flat. First flattening one side with the joiner, with one flat side we could then run them through a planer.
Our countertop is very long, 14 ft to be exact. There is no way we can fit that through the door or a window of the bus. We decided the best thing to do was divide the countertop into 4 sections. Once we get it into the bus we can connect them all. We then chose which planks will go where. We are trying to keep all the character and imperfections of the wood that give it rustic charm. We love the holes from the ash borer beetle that is killing the trees in this area.
We then got to work squaring off our planks and making sure all the joints fit nice and snug, while also not necessarily perfect as “not perfect” adds to the charm.
We marked in pencil across the joint of the wood where our biscuits will go, placing them about every 5 or 6 inches (or 2 inches from an end joint). Used the biscuit cutting tool, so nice to have all the right tools for the job! Using beech wood biscuits, the beech wood expands when it becomes wet from the glue, to hold the joint together.
Once we had used wood glue and biscuits to secure them together, and you can never have too many clamps, we had gotten rid of any twists that were left in the wood. We sprayed a little water over any dripping glue to wipe it off, and the water also helps raise the grain of the wood.
It is amazing to watch a tree in our backyard slowly transform into countertops. We are thrilled with the results so far.
We start doing the finishing touches - sanding, bracing, cutouts - before we can move them into the bus.