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Students Build Bench out of Fallen Doug Fir

By Nisma Elias '12 on June 11, 2012 09:56 AM

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As the sun sets on a wet Friday afternoon, students painstakingly finish sawing the archaic log in half. Photos by Alexi Horowitz '13.

Check out the video by Alexi Horowitz '13

Sawdust flew, chips piled up on the ground, and a sweet piney scent permeated the air as the crosscut gnashed its way through the log. The tree was a Douglas fir that had presided over the Great Lawn, right behind the softball backstop, for 130 years. As the story goes, the 100-foot tree fell during the snowy winter of '09, exposing the decayed roots that caused its downfall.

But the tree's story was not over. Marie Perez '12 got the idea to craft a bench out of a giant section of the trunk. She and other Reedies undertook the mammoth task of using a four-foot crosscut saw (old-timey two-person logging saw) to cut the log in half. Students were invited every evening of finals week to put their studying on hold and come out to the west parking lot to help slice the wood. Over 40 students and staff members turned out to help fashion the trunk into a (very) solid bench for all to sit on. It took about 17 hours of solid sawing to completely halve the log.

"Right now we're building the legs for the bench. It's changed quite a bit since we ripped it; it's shaping into a sort of wide, gently curving ‘U' shape with the burls on the outer edge," explained Marie.

Marie hopes to finish the bench by July 2012 and install it on the student union porch, just outside the Paradox Café. What better way to celebrate the centennial year then to transform a Reed tree older than the college itself into a seat for the SU porch? What has shaded Reed for the past century will hopefully continue to serve its students for the next 100 years.