Back in the late 1990’s, we procured some of the most amazing timbers in North America. Quite different from the large timbers salvaged from warehouses and factories, these were used to form the lock gates on the Welland Canal which held back Lake Erie.
That is not a typo. You can see for yourself in the above photo, the sheer size of the gates as they were being constructed. While we were used to big sticks, these behemoths were like nothing anyone had ever seen — 37″ x 42″ x 45′ in length, in a single piece of Douglas Fir.
Timing is everything, and our sister company, New Energy Works, was just getting into the construction of a restaurant with a nautical theme, Steamboat Landing in nearby Canandaigua, NY. All but two of these beasts were used in that project, right down to the sideboards being cut into trim around the windows & doors. The last two timbers remained here at our shop, waiting to be used in a form that would respect their size and the trees in Western Canada from where they were harvested.
Earlier this year, we cut a length off for shipment to our shop in Oregon and we were reminded of how unique and special these timbers really are. After being submerged for nearly 100 year the colors and staining through the timbers were nothing short of magical.
Not long afterward, a great client of mine came by and we were discussing the perfect slabs to use for tables in his new restaurant. We thought about some large joists from a barn, but they weren’t big enough. Huge timbers from a warehouse would look fantastic and have a great story to tell, but again, they just didn’t have the girth he wanted from a single slab. Then I remembered the Welland Canal timbers. We hadn’t even gotten within arms length and he already knew these were perfect.
After cutting a section off the main timber, we used an Alaskan Mill to slice the pieces to rough thickness.
Once rough-cut, they were planed down to the finished thickness, leaving the edges just as they had aged. A crew of many unloaded and set the slabs onto their steel bases on the site, then sanded and finished the pieces to perfection. The results speak for themselves:
At 5 1/2″ x 29″ x 120″, they’re the largest single slabs we’ve ever cut for a table, making a perfect compliment to the rugged tones of our barn siding within the restaurant. Rounding out the decor (pun intended), thick, curved wine barrel staves were used to create an accent on the wall as you enter the space. If you’re in Rochester, stop by TRATA, The Restaurant At The Armory, and check out the fruits of our labor over some fantastic cuisine and a lovely beverage. Don’t be afraid to stare at those tables — they’re hard to miss.