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What would you build with a slab of wood from a redwood tree that lived 500+ years and was cut down a century ago???

Close up picture of a small section of The Slab
Close up picture of a small section of The Slab

Introduction

   Sage advice to "follow one's passions" and I'm good with it. I've built everything from a bunk bed castle to jewelry boxes to turned candlestick holders to entertainment centers. Building cool things is what I am most passionate about… always have been, always will be.

   Recently I got my hands on a slab of wood cut from an old growth redwood that lived near McKinleyville, CA. The Tree was at least 500 years old when it was cut down in the early 1900's by lumberjacks using hand saws and axes. 

A redwood, similar to the tree the Slab cam from, being cut down in the early 1900's. (Photo courtesy Humboldt State University Library)
A redwood, similar to the tree the Slab cam from, being cut down in the early 1900's. (Photo courtesy Humboldt State University Library)

   The leftover stump, supposedly 8 feet across and 18 feet tall, was left to rot. Fifty years later the stump was harvested by a lumberjack from Portland named Hank. Hank cut the stump into various slabs and each went its own way. Somehow or another, one slab got lost in the attic of Hank's shop for decades.

Stumps, similar to the one The Slab came from, left to rot. (Photo courtesy Humboldt State University Library)
Stumps, similar to the one The Slab came from, left to rot. (Photo courtesy Humboldt State University Library)

   Turns out Hank is friends with my Dad, which meant he knew I like to build things. So for reasons I don't understand, but fully appreciate, the slab has found its way to me. I now have an obligation to make something memorable out of this little piece of Americana. After all there can't be many slabs of unworked wood taken from an old growth redwood tree cut down a century ago! 

Unloading the slab with my Right Hand Man.
Unloading the slab with my Right Hand Man.

   At first I didn't understand what I had because it was covered with 50 years of dirt, grime, and a little bird crap.  I sanded a corner of the slab, applied some Tung oil, and looked at this amazing gift I was handed.   I couldn't believe the exquisite grain pattern and color of the wood!!!  If you want to see better pictures of the Slab click here

Corner of slab sanded with Tung oil
Corner of slab sanded with Tung oil

What is The Phoenix Project?

   Making "the Slab" memorable, in as many ways as possible, is what The Phoenix Project is all about. First and foremost I am going to transform this material into as many heirloom quality objects as possible. The history, the rareness, and the beauty of the Slab makes it far too valuable to be hoarded by any one man, it deserves to be enjoyed and cared for by many!

   There's a story associated with the Slab that needs to be investigated, documented, and published along with the objects created from it. The Phoenix Project Coffee Table book (the Book) will document the history of the Slab starting with Hank's story about how he found out about and harvested the stump. I'll get copies of his pictures showing anything at all related to the Slab. Then I'll travel to the McKinleyville area, where the tree grew and towered over the landscape, so I can incorporate images from the Slabs home into the Book.

   I'll take pictures of every step of the manufacturing process as I transform this remarkable raw material into objects of breathtaking beauty. The best of this material will be compiled into the Book.  Or in other words, you will have pictures of your reward being built.  The Book will be released with different versions as projects are completed.

  • Version 1 will contain the history of the Slab, the first cuts, the making of the pen and the heart rewards, and a chapter dedicated to all of the backers.
  • Version 2 will add a chapter dedicated to the making of the jewelry boxes. 
  • Version 3 will add a chapter dedicated to the making of the knick knack shelves.  
  • Version 4 will add a chapter dedicated to the making of the prototype and coffee tables.
  • Version 5 will be whatever gets built next...

   It will be expensive creating all the objects I am envisioning coming from the Slab. Materials, tools, shop supplies, etc… have to be purchased over the next several years. All of the objects I design and create from the Slab will adhere to the following principles: 

  • Be hand crafted in fine craftsmanship fashion
  • Be stunningly beautiful
  • Be unique and interesting (heavy on the unique part!)
  • The Slab is not used for experimental designs, only final product. Prototypes are to be built prior to making cuts in the Slab. 

       The best way to fund these expenses is to have a business sponsor the project. Just so happens I recently created a line of products to assist the average woodworker with building intricate wood inlays in their projects.  My product line can be viewed at EZInlays.com.  I haven't done any marketing of my inlay kits so there aren't enough sales to support The Phoenix Project… YET!!! 

   I don't know why fate selected me to be the storyteller of the slab and to be brutally honest I really don't care. All I know is I get to play with a once in a lifetime raw material and I'm going to make the most of it. This is a quest I can't complete by myself though, I need your help!!! 

   When you select a reward, you not only help protect the legacy of the Slab you also help launch a small business.  When finished, The Phoenix Project will have resurrected the Slab from an attic as well as me from financial ruin!

What the money will be used for

   The money raised by The Phoenix Project will be used to purchase materials, shop supplies, better tools, and tools I need but don't own.  Many of my woodworking tools were handed down to me when my Grandfather passed and are as old as I am.  Newer tools will allow me to make more precise cuts which leads to a higher quality end product.  Not to mention new tools are safer than 50 year old ones.  What can I say, I want to keep my fingers!!!

Not that my tools are old but the table saw manufacturer, Atlas, changed it's name in 1965.
Not that my tools are old but the table saw manufacturer, Atlas, changed it's name in 1965.

   A portion of the funds will go to paying for documentation services to create the Book.  In case you haven't noticed, I'm far from the most compelling author around. There are legal, accounting, and advertising fees associated with The Phoenix Project and EZInlays that need to be covered too.

The rewards

   I know some of the rewards are expensive.  My goal is not to meet your expectations when purchasing such an item,  my goal is to exceed them.  You're not just purchasing a finely crafted heirloom object, you will own a small piece of American history completely documented in a coffee table book explaining what you own. 

   In addition to our undying gratitude, your name will be included into the Book as a founding supporter.  All supporters of The Phoenix Project will receive a Phoenix Project postcard postmarked in McKinleyville, CA, the town nearest to where the tree lived. . 

   To see a more complete portfolio of my work take a look at and like my EZInlays Facebook page. I also posted a 90 second video on the EZInlays YouTube channel showing a few of my projects. 

Heart inlays ($75 or $115)

Heart inlays made great Valentine day gifts!!!
Heart inlays made great Valentine day gifts!!!

   For some hearts the inner part of the heart will be made with material from the Slab.  For others the outer part of the heart will be made with material from the Slab.  I need to play with combinations of wood so I can't guarantee what types of materials will be used in your heart other than to say half of it will be old growth redwood. Dimensions are 2 1/2" X 2 1/2" X 1/4"

EZInlays Level 2 kits ($58)

Level 2 kits provided by EZInlays.
Level 2 kits provided by EZInlays.

   These designs can be made by a Level 2 kit.  The kit is shown in the lower right hand picture.  Specify RoseBud, FlutterBy, TurtleSoup, or Saturn when ordering.  See EZInlays.com for instructions on how to use the kit.

EZInlays Level 3 kits ($73)

Level 3 kits provided by EZInlays.
Level 3 kits provided by EZInlays.

   These designs can be made by a Level 3 kit.  The kit is shown in the lower right hand picture.  Specify AmbersBear, DevilEyezed, FishFry, or KickinIt when ordering.  See EZInlays.com for instructions on how to use the kit.

EZInlays Level 4 kit ($85)

Level 4 kit provided by EZInlays.
Level 4 kit provided by EZInlays.

   This design is made by the Level 4 kit.  The kit is shown on the right hand side of the picture.  Specify TurnMe when ordering.  See EZInlays.com for instructions on how to use the kit.


Pen pencil sets ($250)

Pen and pencil set similar to what I will turn for you.
Pen and pencil set similar to what I will turn for you.

       I used bloodwood to make these samples, yours will be made with material from the Slab. Specify gold or silver when ordering.

Jewelry box ($2,000)

An example of what your jewelry box will look like.
An example of what your jewelry box will look like.

   Your jewelry box will not have an inlay on the top because I don't want to obstruct the natural beauty of the Slab.  I will build an EZInlays design of your choice on the inside part of the lid.  Specify what inlay design you want when ordering. The majority of the material used to build the box will be old growth redwood.  One box will be trimmed with purple heart, the other with birdseye maple. First one ordered gets to choose their color! Dimensions are approximately 10" X 9" X 3"

Knick knack shelves ($3,000)

Knick knack shelf similar to what I will build for you.
Knick knack shelf similar to what I will build for you.

   The design of the knick knack shelf will be modified a bit.The top shelf will be lowered because I'm putting a TurnMe EZInlays where the heart inlay is located. I am also going to make the shelves a bit narrower so it doesn't take up so much wall space. Dimensions are approximately 24" X 24" X 8" 

The coffee table ($10,000)

   I'm going to resaw a section of the Slab into two to five slices depending on the strength of the Slab when cut.  The slice will be approximately 40" long by 16" wide by as thin as I can make it.  Overall dimensions of the table will be approximately 4' long by 2' wide by 2' tall. 

   I will build two prototype coffee tables ($2,000 each) prior to building one from the Slab.  I'm not sure what materials will go into the prototype tables, it all depends on what kind of wood I can find.  One thing is certain though, the prototype tables will be pleasing to look at!!!

   The slice will be mounted on 3/4" birch plywood and "wrapped" with a highly figured light wood such as birdseye maple and a highly figured dark wood such as mahogany.  The support columns (legs) will be made from the light material used in the wrapping.  The cross bar, feet, and mounting bar will be made from the dark material.  I'm not sure what I will use for the wedge just yet.  I wish I could take a picture of what I see in my mind because this table is going to be a conversation piece for centuries!  Hopefully this drawing helps convey what I am envisioning the build to look like when finished.

A rough rendition of what the coffee table will look like.
A rough rendition of what the coffee table will look like.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

The biggest challenge I foresee is I have never worked with wood from a tree that was cut down a century ago. I know redwood is a somewhat soft wood but this slab is so dry it might be brittle and difficult to work with. If the wood is fragile it will take longer to create your heirloom objects than what is currently planned. It is better to take my time and do this job right than to rush through it just to get it done. If there is a time slip the results will be worth it!!!

The other risk is power tools are required to work with material as big as the slab. An accident that removes a few fingers will slow down production!!!

FAQ

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  • Pledge $10 or more
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    0 backers

    A Phoenix Project postcard sent from Mckinleyville, CA. The town nearest to where the tree grew.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $25 or more
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    1 backer

    A PDF version of the coffee table book.

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  • Pledge $50 or more
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    0 backers

    A hardcopy version of the coffee table book.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $58 or more
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    0 backers

    Any Level 2 design kit offered by EZInlays.com. Specify design when ordering. Shipping is included in the price. See www.EZInlays.com for specifics about the inlay kit. A PDF version of the coffee table book.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $73 or more
    You selected

    0 backers

    Any Level 3 design kit offered by EZInlays.com. Specify design when ordering. Shipping is included in the price. See www.EZInlays.com for specifics about the inlay kit. A PDF version of the coffee table book.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $75 or more
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    0 backers Limited (50 left of 50)

    Heart inlay made with material from the Slab. A PDF version of the coffee table book.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $85 or more
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    0 backers Limited (8 left of 8)

    The Level 4 design, TurnMe, as offered by EZInlays.com. Shipping is included in the price. See www.EZInlays.com for specifics about the inlay kit. A PDF version of the coffee table book.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $115 or more
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    0 backers Limited (50 left of 50)

    Heart inlay made with material from the Slab. A hardcopy version of the coffee table book.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $250 or more
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    0 backers Limited (20 left of 20)

    A matching pen and pencil set made from the Slab. A hardcopy version of the coffee table book.

    Estimated delivery:
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  • Pledge $2,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    Before I build a coffee table from the Slab I need to build a couple of prototypes first. I need to understand all of the manufacturing issues and that is what the prototypes will allow me to figure out. I am confident they will end up looking fine but there will be blemishes too if history is any indication of my skills. Pictures of the prototypes will be included in the coffee table book. A hardcopy version of the coffee table book is included. Take a look at the reward description to fully understand this reward. Shipping charges will be calculated when the table is complete.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $2,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    A jewelry box, similar to what is pictured, with an EZInlays design of your choice on the inside part of the lid. Specify the inlay design when ordering. A hardcopy version of the coffee table book. Your name, picture, and your personal sentiments about why you contributed to the Phoenix Project will be included in the Book. Shipping charges will be calculated when the jewelry box is complete.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $3,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    A wall hanging knick knack shelf, similar to what is pictured, with the EZInlays TurnMe design in place of the heart. A hardcopy version of the coffee table book. Your name, picture, and your personal sentiments about why you contributed to the Phoenix Project will be included in the Book. Shipping charges will be calculated when the shelf is complete.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $5,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    I will create a decorative woodworking inlay kit based on your design and build it on the inside lid of jewelry box using materials from the Slab. You help name the design and your name will forevermore be associated with the inlay kit and the Phoenix Project. There are some design limits that have to be adhered to but we can discuss and work through those limitations. A chapter in the coffee table book will be devoted to you and your design. Shipping charges will be calculated when the jewelry box is complete.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $10,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    I really don't expect anybody to purchase this reward but for the adventurous soul out there that wants a coffee table created from the Slab to go along with a hardcopy version of the coffee table book, this is your best chance. Take a look at the reward description to see if you have this kind of courage or not!!! :) Shipping charges will be calculated when the table is complete.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
Funding period

- (30 days)