Although the red cedar stumps that I use for my driftwood coffee , dining & foyer tables are found very near the waters of Florida’s Gulf Coast, very seldom do I ever acquire a piece that had actually been in the water for an extended period of time. Especially a driftwood root system that had the right size & shape to make a nice table base. The result of being in the water is a stump that is literally riddled with ship worm holes & that can make for a very unique & interesting driftwood coffee table. The great thing about this one was the added bonus of having some extended limbs that were also holy that I could trim off & use for my necessary support pieces.
Ship worms are not actually worms but marine bivalve molluscs, a group of saltwater clams with long, soft, naked bodies. They are notorious for boring into (and eventually destroying) wood that is immersed in sea water, including such structures as wooden piers, docks and ships; they drill passages by means of a pair of very small shells borne at one end, with which they rasp their way through. Sometimes called “termites of the sea”, they are relentless in their pursuit of somewhere to make their home. In the past they have created a tremendous of damage to wooden hulled ships weakening their structure & making them more susceptible to sinking in a storm or battle. This led to covering the hulls with copper & was even mentioned in a poem by Henry David Thoreau:
The vessel, though her masts be firm,
Beneath her copper bears a worm …
Far from New England’s blustering shore,
New England’s worm her hulk shall bore,
And sink her in the Indian seas …
(excerpted from “Though all the Fates” 1849)
For many this worm is a curse, but for my purposes it is a treasure as these holes are thorough but shallow, thus not weakening the integrity of the table in the least. Although I have a few individual wormy pieces that are part of the collection that I rent for wedding center pieces & are the most requested, this base is only the second one I’ve created in my decades of building driftwood furniture.
Below are the images of this table base as it progresses to the point where it now (06/26/2017) sits in my showroom with a 30″ x 54″ racetrack oval glass resting on its surface.