Canadian Woodworking

Mystery cookie makes an ideal table

Author: James Jackson
Illustration: Mike Del Rizzo
Published: September 2023
Beginners journey
Beginners journey

This project turned out so well I decided to sell it.

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In January 2022 my family and I moved from our small wartime home in Cambridge, Ontario, to a larger house in Fergus. We wanted to be closer to family and have more space both inside and outside, and we were definitely seeking more of a country life after nearly a decade in a busy city.

When we pulled up to the house on moving day it was almost exactly as I had remembered it during the tour a few weeks ear­lier – the tall pine trees, the gravel driveway, the big, brown garage doors that would soon house my workshop – but something else caught my eye.
A large piece of wood was sitting on the front porch.

It was a cookie slab about 2″ thick, 26″ long and 21″ wide. It was roughly the shape of a teardrop – and it was mine.

The exact origin or purpose of the slab is still a mystery, but I’m guessing based on the axe or hatchet marks on the top that it was used by the previous owner as a sturdy wooden base to split fire­wood. I had much bigger plans for this piece of wood, however.
The slab sat in our garage for about a year before I finally had the time and space to work on it. The piece was too big for my planer and I’d already had a bad experience planing end grain wood (see my previous article on the perils of making an end grain wooden trivet), so I used my CNC machine to flatten the top.

I only had a one-inch wide flattening bit so it took quite a few passes (and several million wood chips) to flatten one side before I could flip it over and do the same on the bottom. It was around this time that the myriad cracks and checks in the wood became fully apparent (and I also determined the wood was probably ash).

I wanted to fill the cracks with black epoxy, but I learned from past mistakes (again, that terrible trivet) and I opted for a slow-curing resin. I taped up the bottom with plastic sheathing tape and started to pour only to realize the tape hadn’t made a tight seal in a few spots.

As the black ooze dripped onto the table, I quickly patched the holes with more tape and prayed it would hold. Three days later, the resin had hardened and the cracks were filled. I used some thick black super glue to fill in the few remaining small cracks.

Then I started to sand. I began with 80 grit paper to try to get rid of the excess epoxy, but quickly decided to head back to the CNC machine to mill the top and bottom once again. It made for much quicker work than my sander ever could and the CNC didn’t get gummed up with resin like sandpaper would.

By this point the slab was about 1-1/4″ thick, which was thinner than I’d hoped when I began, but it was still quite nice. I sanded it up to 220 grit. I applied a coat of oil finish and the grain pop along­side the black resin was beautiful.

This is probably one of the first times I feel like a woodwork­ing project all came together into a finished project that I could really be proud of. I’ve made smaller items like charcuterie boards, coasters and some wooden signs, but this was an actual piece of furniture.
My wife suggested I use hairpin legs, and while they aren’t my favourite look, I eventually attached three to the bottom of the table and was happy with her choice. It looked sharp. I took it upstairs to take some photos near some windows and she loved it.
In fact, she was a little disappointed to hear I planned on trying to sell it.

I told her I would make her another one.


James Jackson - [email protected]

James is a woodworker, a freelance writer, a former newspaper reporter and father to two amazing girls.

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