From a tree to a table: ‘That’s a huge slab of pine’

When Teri Haney noticed city crews had cut down a large tree at Meadow Street and Kings Highway, she had a vision.

The big tree could be cut into slabs to create a large pine table or bar top for her family’s vacation cabin in northern New England. “That’s a huge slab of pine,” she said to herself.

So Haney — whose husband, Darrell, is an avid woodworker — hired a portable sawmill service from Mystic to come “slab” the tree.

She got her slab, but only after some complications in the form of metal bits and pieces in the tree. That made the slabbing a more time-consuming — and therefore more expensive — process than she expected.

“I’m surprised my husband hasn’t divorced me over this,” Haney joked, when displaying a solid piece of wood more than 7.5 feet long and 3.5 feet wide. She got five such slabs from the tree.

She had been admiring the tree while driving by it for almost three decades, living just up the street.

The tree — believed to be an eastern white pine — was on the property of the Huntington Heights condo complex, so she first secured their permission.

Expertise and saws

Haney hired Dennis J. Hoover of Terrific Timbers, who came with expertise and a combination of large saws — a swing mill, band saw and chain saw.

Hoover had to carefully work around the bolts, nails and drill bits he encountered, which can be dangerous and also damage the saw equipment.

“If there wasn’t any metal, I’d be done sawing this,” Hoover said after a few hours on the job.

Finding metal pieces in a “city tree” — the tree was in the municipal right-of-way — isn’t unusual, according to Hoover.

He and Haney were hoping the higher up they went on the tree, the less likely there would be metal. “I’m hoping as the tree gets higher, people were shorter,” Haney said.

Hoover, now on his second career after being laid off as a pharmaceutical company chemist, said business has been good the past few years because of all the major storms.

“Since Irene, I’ve been real busy,” he said. “Then with Sandy, it’s been over the top.”

Despite the costs and challenges, Haney is pleased with the end result. “I was determined to get this done,” she said. “It’s a story I can tell. I can say I did it.”

She is looking forward to working with her husband to make a finished piece. “We love wood furniture,” Haney said. “We like to refinish furniture, and we like to recycle things.”