The Sand Lot and My Slab

Making a desk from a slab of walnut.My husband doesn’t go on many business trips, but when he does I look at my week of freedom as an opportunity to create havoc somewhere in our home. One year I ripped up carpet. One year I demolished a bathroom and tiled the floor. One year the mess was spontaneous — the upstairs shower leaked through the ceiling and plaster fell from above.

Perhaps I’m older and wiser now, because this year I didn’t set my sights on demolition or remodeling or leaky pipes. Instead, I was inspired by this image on Pinterest. It immediately reminded me of a slab of walnut from a fallen tree that’s been laying up in the barn for more than a decade. That errant thought reminded me I wanted to create a desk space for the hubby and his ham radio equipment. The plan was formed.

woodworking 2
The girls hauled the slab from the barn to the back yard with the lawn mower and cart (they love any chance to ‘drive’) and I set to work sanding. Then I sanded some more. And then I wiped it off and sanded it again.  Here’s where I make note that I am a) not a professional sander, woodworker or carpenter and b) I am a fan of the rustic or rough luxe look. In other words, this thing isn’t going to be perfectly smooth, but it’s still very cool.

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My helpers wiped it down to remove stray bits of dust and debris, and I began staining. We chose Minwax Polyshades in Antique Walnut. It’s a stain and polyurethane in one — efficiency is the name of the game around here! I applied two coats, letting it dry in between, and it looks awesome! The bumps and scratches and nicks are highlighted on the underside of the ‘desk’ which is actually the outside of the tree, de-barked.

woodworking 4That underside is so beautiful I really don’t want to hide it … but alas! The top looks pretty darned swell, too. Also, I may have carved J+R into the tree before I stained it. (We’ll see how long it takes him to notice!)

Creating a narrow desk from a walnut slab.
This won’t be a wide desk, but it’s probably 20 inches at the deepest point and that’s just fine for what I have in mind.  Therein lies the problem. As is typical with the projects I undertake at whim, I didn’t plan on how to give this thing legs — literally. Oh, I had a couple of ideas, like hooks in the wall studs and hooks on the slab. I could suspend it with old cotton rope from the wall … or make a set of sawhorse-style legs to cradle the slab and hold the weight. The only problem — and I’m sure you’ve guessed by now — the resident carpenter is out of town.

It’s ok, though. The kids and I are going to haul this thing upstairs, prop it up with crates and he’ll get the general idea. We’ll leave the mechanics to him. Some surprise, hmmm? It’s off to a good start, though. And truth be told, it’s nice to have finally worked on a project that didn’t upset the entire household. I’m sure my carpenter will appreciate this fact when he returns, too.

So what projects have you been working on?

Anything unique or artsy or crafty or cool?

Share your fall inspiration in the comments!

And now … to haul out the pumpkins and cornstalks. Dear, sweet, spectacular autumn!

Go exploring! You may enjoy these previous posts.


  • comment-avatar
    Robyn September 19, 2014 (7:21 am)


    Looks like a neat project. I like the stain color and rustic shape of the wood.

    Yesterday I started my first of two chair planter projects. I found a neat old chair while on vacation in MN. The seat already had a hole cut out and all I had to do was take off the leather seat cover. A little sanding, prime and paint. Today I need to to a little finish work and find a place to put it. It’s to pretty to wait until spring to display.

    Hope you have a fabulous weekend.

    • comment-avatar
      Jennifer Kiko September 19, 2014 (7:45 am)

      Oh, sounds like a wonderful project, Robyn! Love those special items that serve as reminders of trips. “Remember that time … ” What’s going in your old chair seat — flowers, pumpkins, ?

  • comment-avatar
    Sal September 19, 2014 (7:55 am)

    Looks great! Hope he likes it too.

  • comment-avatar
    Taryn September 19, 2014 (10:32 pm)

    I love it! Pretty darn hilarious reflecting back on all the projects you’ve put the poor guy through! HAHA! It MUST be Love! 😉