Source: Hyper-Local Stand Up Desk

The piece I’m showing in the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers current show Source is a stand up desk made from wood harvest off my land in Putney, VT and built in my newly-solar-powered shop.

Cherry stand up desk
by Richard Bissell
42″ x 20″ x 41″h

Rather than using the “best” (highest grade) lumber that was harvest I chose to use lumber that would usually be relegated to the kindling box – essentially scrap lumber. The cherry boards are narrow and have visible sap wood, knots and other defects.  The wood for the legs, although it looks quite nice, was salvage out of boards cut from the center of the logs so there were many knots, checks and pith that had to be worked around to end up with usable lumber.  I chose a cherry board with a nice mixture of sap wood (white) and heart wood (red) for the drawer fronts.  The drawer sides and backs are from soft maple which is my usual practice.  I find its light color contrasts nicely with cherry drawer fronts.

A May 2010 wind storm took down about an acre of trees on our Putney, VT property.
Usable cherry, hard maple, soft maple, pine and aspen saw logs were salvaged from the windfall
The logs were sawed into lumber at a Putney, VT sawmill and kiln dried  across the Connecticut river in Westmoreland, NH
Cherry boards with lots of sapwood are often either used where they won’t be seen, stained
or not used at all.

I made the drawer bottoms from  aspen (often referred to as poplar or popple).  This is a very low value wood that isn’t of much use for anything.  It’s very soft and doesn’t work well (the grain often rips out rather than planing nicely).  It’s not even of much use for firewood.  The old timers say “You can make ice over a poplar fire”.  Back when people cooked with wood cook stoves poplar was used as summer wood – wood used to make fires in the summer because it doesn’t leave hot coals.  It just burns quickly and the fire dies out just as quickly – no lingering hot coals on a hot summer day.  I’ve also heard aspen is good for horse stall floors – soft without knots so easy on their hooves.  In any case it make very nice clear, white, lightweight drawer bottoms.  I have a wide belt sander so I was able to smooth it easily after the planer ripped out the grain.

Grain tear out on aspen drawer bottoms

In December of 2012 we installed a 10 kw solar power system that now supplies 100% of the power for my workshop.  The system is grid tied which means that excess power that is not immediately used by the workshop is feed into the grid and credited to the shop’s account.  On days when the shop uses more power than the solar panels produce (rainy days, for example) the additional power needed is drawn from the grid. The panel are mounted on AllSun Trackers built by AllEarth Renewables of Winooski, VT.

A 10 kw solar power system provides power to the workshop
(seen in the background between the panels)

Source runs through April 14, 2013 at the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe, VT.

Richard Bissell builds Shaker inspired furniture from responsibly harvest solid hardwoods in his solar powered workshop in Putney, VT.

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