The secrets of a tree

recycled timber for coat racksIn the mindful processes of the workshop and working with wood, small wonders are revealed.

The secrets of trees are exposed by our mechanical disruption of them: felled, milled, dried, machined, then brought into application somewhere. In the case of our coat racks after this first application it is collected and machined again, so whole histories are there to be read. Secrets and stories unseen till the cut is made.

Secrets about how a tree grew, how long for, environmental effects like wind or load tension, seasonal differences, fires. Then the first application: nail and bolt holes, even dimensions and selection of that particular piece: machined into a linear segment as a geometric structural component.

This piece of old-growth Vic Ash came to us on it’s way to being a coat rack. I think it’s old-growth because of the close spacing of the growth rings. In this piece alone there are about 58 years  represented by the different annual cycles of growth in light and dark. This is older than I am and being only part of a tree that may have been 100, or more years old. This section is close to the heartwood so to be sure there is much more to this tree. The close spacing of rings in old-growth timber makes for a strong board, especially when quarter sawn like this. There is a little sap inclusion there showing some scar — insect or environment impact.

The piece was from building materials, a ceiling joist perhaps, so it has also had a life within a structure, maybe a home. Given that it’s old growth the home could have been 50 or more years old. A few nail holes show where it was joined to the structure. And what stories and lives did that structure house?

We become the intermediary in passing these stories and secrets on within another useful thing to become part of a new story. Bing the maker I often think of the trajectories of these materials: from the tree to a functional piece within a home. I receive the order and with that person in mind I select the timber, make the product and send it out, though not knowing much about them there is a rightness about this trajectory and their part in the story that connects us.