A client came to me wanting a glass-topped table utilising a traditional “saw-horse” style base from recycled timber. So far so good. She wanted cracked timbers, the rougher the better. I said OK; tell me more. And then she raised the small matter of Ironbark railway sleepers as the source material. Uh oh!
I actually rejected the commission in the first instance. Ironbark is too hard, too mean, and nigh on impossible to work. It actually emits sparks when cut! I’m so glad this particular client persisted though, as in the end she got her table, and it turned out beautifully.
These are B-grade railway sleepers (pictured cut in half), and subjected to minimal machine processing to retain a recycled and rustic look. I dug out the dirt, sand and occasional rocks with a variety of tools, and finished up with a heavy wire brush over the surfaces. The table now resides in a newly built ultra-modern house in Brisbane, and offers a great contrast to the neutral backdrop. I learned a few lessons with this project but the most important is this: I will never again turn down an opportunity to make a bespoke piece just because I thought it was too hard (literally) to accomplish. The results speak for themselves.