Birch Fireplace Mantle

Hawleyscape Tree birch 01

At the request of a client, we found a local piece of parkland birch harvested by a certified cutter. The log was cut into two slabs, then one slab was cut again into posts. Next, ten months to dry.

Inside we found some luxurious dark chocolate heartwood. We decided to preserve the birch bark, sanding it lightly to apply an even poly finish.

inlay gravel adds natural depth

inlay gravel adds natural depth

The surface was ground, then sanded. The core of the heartwood had some deep crevices, which we filled with river gravel and applied a layer of 2 stage cold poly to create the look of water.

Installation was easy using a flat steel bar moored to the wall studs. The mantle was predrilled with 4″ lag bolts and the lock nuts aligned with the thickness of the drywall. The result is an eighty pound log floating on the wall securely. The pillars were fit to cedar shoes and pegged. The mantle was set on top, clicked into place, and then the lock nuts were tightened. This allowed us to install the mantle with minimal destruction to the drywall. We only had to cut a three inch strip to mount the flat bar.

The client now intends to fill the area inside the mantle with stained glass. We’ll post pics when it’s done. Wood source:




Glass and Spruce Sand Table

prairie bench glass sand table 5  prairie bench glass sand table 2

This project all started with a large sheet of beveled glass we found at a garage sale. The vision was a glass topped bistro table that would become a fun entertainment area on a patio or in a lounge.

Four randomly sized moon footstools complete the arrangement.

The table is approximately 32″ x 32″ and just over coffee table height, about 25″ tall. The frame and wood slats are all reclaimed spruce and stained in our Storybook dark walnut. The main box contains an interior shelf and a trap door. The glass top and frame are hinged to lift up and expose the display inside.

Sand, collectibles, flower arrangements, dishes, or memorabilia display beneath the glass surface. The framed glass lifts on a piano hinge to arrange the display. This is a prototype design and we are quite pleased with the result.

prairie bench glass sand table 6

prairie bench glass sand table1

prairie bench glass sand table 4


Prairie Bench Throne in Concert


Local metal band Altered Throne sought a stage prop for their act and brought the request to Prairie Bench.

The entire frame buckles together and can be wheeled, or broken down into four components: two sides, the back board and the seat. Hardwood plugs guide the pieces together and steel clasps lock everything in position. The seat also locks the sides together. The throne can be assembled in under a minute and is designed for strength.

Made entirely of spruce and finished in Prairie Bench’s  Storybook theme. The backboard is engraved with the band’s logo.

See more of the throne here: #J95-BL-07-12

Images are copyright their respective owners. All rights reserved.

Cedar Scrying Bowl

prairie bench scrying bowl 4

We estimate this burl to be about 200 years old.


A local tug operator claimed an ancient cedar burl from the Fraser River. He passed it on to Prairie Bench with the wish that we “do something creative.” That’s a fun request.

The cedar burl was marred with saw cuts and completely waterlogged.  Immediately we sanded the cut edge smooth and soaked it in poly, leaving the bark and outside exposed. Then it sat under cover in a big plant stand for a year. This week was the time when the stars aligned to create a scrying bowl. Nostradamus is purported to have used one making predictions.

The goal for us was to create a large, shallow basin supported by a cauldron style tripod. An ash tree dropped us a ‘rowan’ branch and we dried this as well. The legs were a complex puzzle. Three legs, interwoven that would support the weight of the large burl. We added a cedar leg which conformed to the bends of the two rowan legs.

The base was cinched in an arrangement which locked together naturally, then we drilled holes and tacked the legs together with hazelnut dowel.

prairie bench scrying bowl 2

Rowan limbs interwoven with a cedar limb create a tripod

prairie bench scrying bowl 12

We’re after that goblet shape that has the natural look of a bird’s nest or antlers. With three legs it should look like a cauldron.

Meanwhile, the dry cedar burl was resanded (during this sanding, the bowl was ground out to its final shape and depth), any slivers whittled off, and the entire burl was soaked in poly. This wrapped and preserved the wood in an airtight shell for future generations. If someone doesn’t like polyurethane, it can easily be sanded off and natural oils can be applied. For now, the wood is saved.

prairie bench scrying bowl 1

We were able to unlock some of the beautiful quilting effect within the burl.

The burl was suspended by a crane on the back of our trusty bush truck and the limbs were ground down to receive the large basin. After the scrying bowl was leveled by our Royal Leveler, we made final adjustments to the position and any rough edges were whittled down.

The large burl is lowered by crane and eased into its cradle

The large burl is lowered by crane and eased into its cradle

prairie bench scrying bowl 7

Ready to receive

prairie bench scrying bowl 9

Royal leveler approves

prairie bench scrying bowl 10

The scrying bowl has landed

prairie bench scrying bowl 11

The dogwood tree in the background demonstrates balance in design. Hopefully our cedar scrying bowl comes close.


The result is a 200 year old cedar burl that floated down river suspended by rowan branches that dropped from a tree. No nails or screws were used, just glue, dowels and pressure. This was a complex project but the finished piece is beautiful and unique. It has a home, but will make the rounds for show and tell.

How does a scrying bowl work? Pour spring water into the basin outdoors at night and behold the reflection of the stars as you gaze into the bowl. Some say you can see the future. Check back we’ll post some pics of the bowl in use and provide the final measurements.