Slab-Wood-Stage-Design

Slab Wood

Andrew Hunt from Blue Ridge Community Church in VA brings us this design from one of their stage design volunteers.

They all liked the idea of using elements that would create a warm feeling as this design took place in the fall/winter of 2013. The volunteer’s idea was to somehow incorporate slabwood. Slabwood is the excess material cut from outer edge of a tree at the sawmill. Once a tree has been de-barked, they begin milling it into a usable shape leaving behind a slab, flat on one side, rounded on the other. It’s typically sent to the chipper as waste, made into mulch, or could be sold as a biofuel if there is a large enough quantity. At any rate, one of the men at Blue Ridge Community Church has been a long time sawmill designer and technician on the East Coast and connected them with a mill about an hour away who was interested in what they wanted to do and was willing to pull a stack of 12-20′ pieces of slabwood in order for them to attempt to create a stage design. Fortunately, the mill was working with mixed hardwoods such as oak, hickory, walnut, and other attractive species.

They had no drawings to work off of with this particular design because they really had no idea what they were getting into until they got the material to the building. Although Andrew most always advises against it, this was a “make it up as you go” type of design.

They began by sorting out the more attractive slabs from the lesser attractive and cutting them to length with a chain saw. They framed and anchored 5 stud walls, and painted some parts of them black. We attached each slab vertically to the frame with 3″ framing nails and/or 3-4″ screws. They randomly selected which side of the slab to display depending on which they thought had more character. They also randomly offset several slabs to create more depth as you can see more clearly from one of the photos.

For the few weeks around Christmas, the team added a little Christmassy touch. They purchased the filament bulbs altogether for about $120. They were kept at a low wattage to the filaments glowed a vibrant amber. They also spent about $150 on taking the men at the sawmill lunch from Chickfila and photos of their design to say thank you for all their hardwork and contribution to the stage.

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