Carving a Niche - 405 Magazine

Carving a Niche

Marking Tree Design’s tables take on a natural edge.

Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander

Marking Tree Design’s tables take on a natural edge.

It’s hard to pinpoint the style of tables sold at Marking Tree Design. Farmhouse? No. Rustic? Not really. Industrial? Modern? Perhaps — but we can table the label for now.

In this conversation, Marking Tree Design founder and artist Zac Hammack discusses his handcrafted tables, in which the wood’s natural color, curves and grain inspire every design. His wood tables are solid works of art; no label needed.

How did you first connect wood with art?
My dad owned Arrowhead Lumber. When I was 16, 17, 18, I worked at my dad’s lumber yard during the summers. We were resawing and cutting dimensional lumber, and I was always curious as a kid how we could do something with the waste. So that’s where it started, with the reclaimed stuff.

Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander

Is there a name connection between Arrowhead Lumber and Marking Tree Design?
An arrowhead is a form of Native American technology. So is a marking tree. Trees growing sideways — called marker trees or Indian marking trees — point toward a water source or a trail. They would take these saplings and tie them down to the ground, so they would grow sideways.

Plus, we’ve found arrowheads and marking trees all along our family property. Whenever we were starting this business, I was trying to keep it in that same vein. It’s still kind of in the family tradition of lumber, but it’s creative at the same time.

Where do you source these large wooden slabs?
Everything is sourced and sustainably harvested from Oklahoma. We’ll have people call us and say, “Hey, I have a large tree in my front yard that needs to come down. Will you take it?” Besides that, I’ve got tree removal people that call me all the time with what they’ve got.

What is the best type of tree for your work?
Black walnut is my favorite. It gets really dark; we don’t put any stains. We just put a sealer on it and we try to use the natural color of the wood. Walnut has such
a rich color that you don’t have to do very much. The wood does most of the work.

Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander

Do you create custom pieces for commercial and residential use?
Yes. Mainly we do dining tables or large projects with resin and wood — the combination of the two is popular right now. We’ve been doing a lot more commercial work, like office desks. Right now, we’re working on a bar for Woodworks Distillery, which weighs about 600 pounds.

When we started five years ago, we made a bunch of stuff for the Myriad Gardens using walnut and reclaimed wood from a bowling alley.

Tell me how your style and materials have evolved.
Some people want the live-edge look but they want a traditional shape. The resin does that. It’s also really cool looking, especially the black resin, which we’ve been using a lot lately. Once we started to build molds, we realized we could use the [live-edge] wood as the river and use the resin to make the circumference of the circle or the edge of a rectangle – to make things that were live edge and rustic fit into a more modern aesthetic.

We really want to make artistic stuff rather than run-of-the-mill stuff. We want each piece to be unique and one of a kind, so you can say, “I’m the only person that has this.”