Well, it was a long time coming but Rocky and I have finally had a Waterfall Bubinga slab table made for ourselves. The amazing slab is 12 feet long, 49 inches wide (1 piece!) and 1 1/2″ thick. It is nearly perfect with consistent waterfall figure all along the board and a double-sided live-edge that has very nice sap running down both sides of the board. We had been saving this piece for a while, waiting for an amazing furniture craftsman, Ken Kirschner, to become available to make our table.
Ken has had a lot of experience working with fine woods and makes a ton of mission style furniture, mainly working with cherry, oak, and maple. This was his first experience working with waterfall bubinga and while I think it was a different kind of challenge for him, he rose to the task and created a masterpiece!
Figured Bubinga is becoming more and more rare as the African nations of Cameroon and Gabon are restricting the export of all logs. This means that all wood products will need to be sawn in-country prior to export. While this is good for those countries in that it creates jobs, the problem is that these countries do not currently have the facilities and saws big enough to saw these slabs. What they end up doing is cutting the big logs up into smaller, more manageable sizes that they can further process into lumber and turning stock. We can only hope the German, French and Chinese presence in these countries will bring in bigger sawmills so we can get more slabs as in the past. But for now if you have the opportunity to pick up a waterfall bubinga slab like this, you should grab it…you may never see one again!
Ken used a steel wire rotating brush to smooth out the live-edge, and while it still looks rough it is actually very smooth to the touch. He applied 8-9 coats of tung oil to the top of the slab. Underneath and on the base he did 4-5 coats. We love the design of the base he came up with. The base has a v-shaped support on each end with a central supporting board running down the middle. For the ends of the top slab we had seen straight ends and slightly curved ends, but Ken suggested doing a slight wave on the end, which looks perfect. He also gently tapered the cut so it looks very natural and free formed.
Because of the size and weight of the waterfall bubinga slab, Ken made the base components in his workshop but came to our warehouse to finish the top. Watch for my next blog post to see the completed project!