Fringe Benefits

Completed Mesquite front door!

One of the fringe benefits to doing tree work is having the first chance to get wood from the jobs we do! I’ve saved some nice pieces of Mesquite and Ironwood for turning on the lathe (bowls) – most of that wood remains unused at this point. I’ve also saved some pieces of Mesquite to cut into lumber for other projects.

A little over 2 years ago we were working at a property in an older neighborhood in Wickenburg to remove some broken branches from a fence. I noticed a very large Mesquite tree in the front yard that actually was resting on the roof of the house. I talked to the owners and it turned out that the house was condemned and they thought that whoever bought the lot would demolish the house and take out the tree at that time. They agreed to let me have the log in return for taking down the tree. I tried to find a buyer for the log to pay my costs for removing the tree but nobody was interested. I decided to keep it myself!

I had help from some friends, and we got the tree down without incident. I called someone I know with a sawmill and we took the log over in the dump trailer. It was almost 20″ diameter, straight, and about 9ft long. The man with the mill had never seen such a log! I got it cut up into 2″ thick slabs and stacked it to dry.

The past winter I checked the moisture content and found that the slabs had dried to 6%, which is very good! I worked at a friends shop and built a front door for our house. It is built the “old-fashioned way” with mortise and tenon joints, all solid wood except for the epoxy… There were (typical for Mesquite) cracks through the slab in many places which I filled with black epoxy. I was able to make the center panel from only 2 pieces of wood, bookmatched! I did a special copper finish on the hardware, which I think matches the color of the wood very well. I still need to make some Mesquite trim to go around the door opening (when I get some time…), but I like the looks of it the way it is so I’m not too motivated to find the time!

The finish is oil and beeswax, which can be easily renewed and will not peel like a film finish. I used some dark brown wax that brings out the textures in the hand-carved perimeter of the center panel.

I am not completely satisfied with this picture – it is hard to capture all the beauty of the wood!