Tree to Table: Germaine’s Custom Maple Counter
A few weeks ago, when we took a studio tour of the woodworking co-op behind the Birchmere, we hinted about a special project that we’d show you by one of the artists, Lisa Sikes of Heart & Hammer Furniture Co. We love this story not just because it’s about using reclaimed wood, but because it involves creating furniture from a tree in your very own backyard. The way the pieces of this story come together so perfectly is nothing short of amazing either.
After we published the story about the woodworking co-op, Lisa put us in touch with her client, Germaine, so we could see a finished product in person. The counter, made from a maple tree in Germaine’s yard, is just as fabulous as we imagined.
Germaine told me the tree had reached the end of its lifespan and needed to be removed. But instead of sending the maple off to the chipper, Germaine remembered reading about a company that would come to your house and slice trees for boards. Germaine had no specific plans for the boards, but couldn’t bare to see the gorgeous wood go to waste.
Workers spent three days in Germaine’s yard slicing the giant tree.
Germaine sent an email to a local listserv asking if anyone wanted to bring wood over to her house to be planed. It was this email that piqued the attention of Lisa, who had never met Germaine. Lisa contacted Germaine and offered her wood-working services in case Germaine wanted to use the wood for furniture. It just so happened that Germaine was in the middle of a kitchen reno and decided to take Lisa up on her offer to use the slabs to create a custom counter for her kitchen peninsula.
Live trees need to completely dry before you can use them for furniture — one inch of wood takes about a year. To expedite the drying, Germaine sent the boards off to a kiln in the western part of VA, a process which took about six weeks. It was worth the wait.
Lisa built the counter out of about four slabs, perfectly leveled and smooth on top.
Germaine also wanted to highlight imperfections — on this corner, you can see the indention and dings that formed when the tree was originally chopped.
The contractor who was working on Germaine’s kitchen at the time installed the final product.
Germaine didn’t stop with just the boards for the peninsula. She salvaged an entire pile of maple, which she’s been selling bit by bit on Craigslist. She has one small pile under a tarp and huge stack in her garage. If you’d like to buy some Del Ray history for your next renovation project, contact Germaine for sizes and pricing. And we know who can help you build that custom piece of furniture as well…