30 March 2017

What In the Hecking Heck?

Work on the corner desk proceeds...well, I guess it's a decent pace if you're a glacier.  Or maybe a snail, or a tortoise.  I've got two legs fully stripped and sanded now, which took about 8 hours.

(this one is stripped, but not yet sanded)

Isn't that pretty?  I'm an idiot. What I thought was dark wood turns out to be just a stain job so old that it really didn't look like a stain job anymore.  Is it walnut? Redwood? Nope! It's YELLOW: 

mostly-sanded leg on the left, mostly-stripped at
center, two legs I haven't done yet on the right

Hey, I never said I was a professional wood-identifier.

What I do know is that the wood is

  • Yellow, with gray and reddish streaks in the grain
  • Very soft - I can mar it deeply with just my fingernail
  • Light - as big as the whole table is, I can pick it up easily, and I can balance these legs on a finger
  • Odiferous!  It smells kind of earthy and warm, and almost sweet - it reminds me of fireplaces and cookies baking.  It's not a "loud" smell;  I can only smell it when I put my nose right up to the wood.  
I have no idea of the age of the piece - I'm guessing 80s or a little bit earlier, from the style; but I have no way to know for sure.  I don't know if it was made locally or not.  There isn't a single stamp or maker's mark anywhere on it, so it might have been a one-off someone made at home?  Unless the original mark was on the drawer that was replaced by the crappy pine drawer that's on it now.

If it was locally made, either by a single person or a local company, it could be either some type of elm, or hackberry.  Both descriptions seem to fit better than anything else I've read; their pictures of the end-grain for American Elm matches these legs almost exactly.

Here's another question: is the top the same wood as the legs?  I won't know until I get there.

Something else I noticed:  while the legs are turned, they're not all one piece.  Both finished legs are made from two pieces of wood sandwiched together lengthwise, then turned on a lathe.  So not super high-end stuff, but maybe not cheap and mass-produced, either? I just don't know.

Not that it matters, anyway. I love this desk, and I can't wait to "meet" it when it's finished.

This is the kind of thing that I love about refurbishing old furniture.  Every single piece is an adventure, or a mystery, or simply an...experience.  (I'm looking at you, vanity table that smelled like dog pee when I sanded you).

More soon. 


  1. Probably not elm-i had a elm cocktail bench once. Hard as nails and heavy. Also...am I seeing things or is there a slight angle in the bottom of that leg? *shakes head like a cartoon dog*

    1. *I had AN elm...jaysus, grammar much? LOL

    2. Ah, good to know about the elm. Scratch that off the list.

      I had to go back and look at the pics to see - you're right, it does look bent or warped in the pic, but it's straight as it could be in real life. Must just be a thing with the photo. This is all just with my phone. Not the best tool for photography, in general.


Talk to me! But be nice. Trolls and a-holes will be publicly humiliated and then sent a dead fish in the mail. :o)