A couple of years ago, Carol got some locally-harvested eucalyptus boards from her friend Darrel in Richmond. In addition to being an architect, Darrell runs a side business turning urban trees that need to be cut down into useable boards. We traded a spare router that I happened to have on hand for a few boards.
I finally have the time to do something with these boards. First I made myself a simple workbench. The boards had cupped pretty dramatically, and I had fun scribing the parts to fit to one another. Since this was just a workbench, I nailed the base together, attaching the top with brass screws (brass is softer than steel so it won’t dull sharp tools). Flattening the top proved to be a challenge. Although eucalyptus works like poplar in many ways, the grain is so intergrown that if you plane it you get lots of tearouts. Fortunately, the local Home Despot had a demonstration model belt sander that they sold me for thirty bucks.
When I got done putting a couple of coats of spar varnish on the workbench, it looked pretty good, with the deep red of the wood, the unplaned natural edges, and the organic curving lines of the cupped and warped boards — good enough that we brought it inside, where it provides a little more counter space in our tiny kitchen.
Now I wish I’d taken more care with the joinery. But after all, it was just supposed to be a workbench.