What's in it?

  • table created by Virginia Tech students in the Wood Enterprise Institute

    To showcase the wood, the students left a live or natural edge. The original table required about 250 combined student hours of work.

  • table created by Virginia Tech students in the Wood Enterprise Institute

    A bow tie spline crafted out of sycamore was used to stabilize a large end split in the oak. The spline stops further splitting while adding unique aesthetic value.

  • table created by Virginia Tech students in the Wood Enterprise Institute

    A laser-engraved sycamore inlay marks the ring denoting the year Virginia Tech was founded — 1872.

  • table created by Virginia Tech students in the Wood Enterprise Institute

    The tables are approximately 3' wide, 6' long, and 30" high.

  • Video by the Wood Enterprise Institute

Two trees, three tables

by Richard Lovegrove

Detail images courtesy of Earl D. Kline

Each year, the College of Natural Resources and Environment's Wood Enterprise Institute (WEI) — a student-run, faculty-supported entrepreneurial organization — design, construct, market, and sell a wood product. This year's team brought two historic campus trees felled by disease back to life by incorporating their wood into three unique tables. Proceeds from two of the tables benefited the university's urban/campus forest sustainability program and Smithfield Plantation. The third will be donated.

Henderson Lawn sycamore tree

The Henderson Lawn sycamore in 2007

The Grove white oak

Growth rings number 314, but the tree grew for years before it produced rings, so it easily predates 1700. For perspective, the original Drapers Meadow settlement in the area wasn't established until 1749.

The Henderson Lawn sycamore

In 2010-11, WEI students obtained the butt log (more than 4 feet in diameter) from this 140-year-old tree. This year's students used slabs of the darker sycamore to fill in where defective wood at the pith of the white oak had to be removed.

Before the diseased sycamore was dismantled, College of Natural Resources and Environment professors John Seiler and Eric Wiseman collected approximately 300 specimens from the tree and produced two clones, one later planted on Henderson Lawn, the other near Cheatham Hall.

It takes a team to make a table:

  • · Earl Kline, professor of sustainable biomaterials, directs WEI.

  • · Eric Wiseman, associate professor of urban forestry, organized the harvesting of the white oak tree.

  • · Local aborist David Richert (forestry and wildlife '98, M.S. forestry '01) delivered the green logs to the college's Brooks Forest Products Center.

  • · Eric Carbaugh (forestry '06, M.S. '15) processed the logs into slabs.

  • · Carolyn Copenheaver, associate professor of forestry ecology, analyzed the tree disk to establish the date reference.

  • · Brian Bond, professor of sustainable biomaterials, dry-kilned the white oak slab lumber.

  • · Peter Sforza, director of the Center for Geospatial Information Technology, created a virtual digital standing tree to reference the location in the tree from which the tables were produced.

  • · Danny Hazelwood, a graduate student in sustainable biomaterials, designed and crafted the prototype table.

  • · Baillie Lumber Co. donated materials to craft the table legs.

  • · Senior Wendell Foster Jr., of Suffolk, Virginia, and junior Dayna Reynolds, of Round Hill, Virginia, promoted the tables.

Learn more about the team, the trees, and the crafting of the tables →

Henderson Lawn sycamore tree

Mike Hincher '88

Nov. 15, 2016

WEI tables stay in the CNRE 'family'

Mike Hincher (forestry and wildlife '88) purchased one of the WEI-produced tables for the conference room of his firm, The Forestland Group: "Thank you all for allowing me to purchase what is truly a one-of-a-kind table."

Paul McDaniel (wood science and forest products '01, M.S. forest products '03) purchased a table for his parents' 40th anniversary: "My dad was speechless. He was able to show it off to all of his friends."