Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the means to create something amazing just falls into your lap. In this Florida couple’s case, it fell in their yard.
In June 2012, Tropical Storm Debby caused extensive flooding in central and northern Florida. After the storm had subsided, Tampa residents Dan and Denise Rojas found a fallen tree limb in their backyard. The couple left the massive branch alone to decompose, but noticed a year later that — aside from a few bugs and a bit of spalting (discoloration due to fungus) — the limb was still intact.
Rather than simply leave it where it fell, the couple hauled the approximately 150-pound branch across their property and into their shop. Luckily, the tree limb damage was minimal, and according to the YouTube video description, the Rojases were able to preserve “about 20% of the wood” in creating this table.
What sets this DIY project apart is the Rojases’ resourcefulness. To begin, they make the choice to keep the legs as close to their original shape as possible, adding some rustic flair to the high-gloss table. To take advantage of the wood’s stunning grain and the slight spalting, the pair chooses to square the blocks so that these quirks can truly shine. It’s also worth noting that the dynamic duo uses the back of their pickup truck as a makeshift vice to hold the wood blocks in place as the glue dries.
Another aspect of this project that truly makes it unique is how this husband and wife team harness solar energy throughout the process. They sign their names on the underside of the table using the sun and a lens, and UV light plays a huge role in the high-gloss finish of the completed table. He applies a polyester resin “designed for surfboards” that “dries from UV curing from the sun.” He also places a scrap acrylic sheet on top to prevent distortion or “orange-peeling” in the wood finish while it cures. His strategy works, and she describes the tabletop as so shiny it “looks like there is a piece of glass that’s on the wood. It’s absolutely beautiful.”
The Rojases’ use of solar power is integral to other aspects of their lives as well. According to their website, both are former SAG actors who are now fully committed to developing sustainable energy technology, harnessing both wind and solar power. Their company, Green Power Science, is “dedicated to the backyard scientist. Our belief is that some of the smartest people in the world discover the best things through trial and error IN THEIR OWN BACKYARDS OR GARAGES.” Green Power Science lists Walt Disney Company, NBC Universal, and National Geographic (among many others) as clients for their “optical solar mirror and Fresnel lens technology.” These “backyard scientists” demonstrate practical applications for wind and solar power on their YouTube channel and Instructables profile, including how to make your own solar panels for less than $1 per watt, how to build your own vertical wind generator, and how to start a fire with a cup of coffee.
Though this was their first time attempting to repurpose fallen log wood, the couple mentions plans for replicating the process in the future. They will cherish this particular table because it “has character and it has a lot of memories built into each little section,” but the pair hopes the subsequent tables they produce with this technique will be easier. The juxtaposition of the high-gloss tabletop surface and rugged legs gives the table equal parts rustic charm and polish. Despite initial doubts, the Rojases seem “so totally impressed” with the end result, and watching the two woodwork highlights their endearing relationship.