This bar is made of Monterey Cypress, and is installed at the new Lanesplitter pizza location in Emeryville. Being a one trick pony (but it’s a good trick!) I inlaid some leaves into it. I really need to branch out, inlay-wise (nyuk, nyuk), but I was a bit pressed for time.
Cypress is a very soft wood, so the major challenge here (besides the usual challenges of working with large slabs, the miserable cuppy things) was to select a finish which could stand up to the daily abuses that a bar is subjected to. That is, in descending order of potential harm – abrasives, impact, and liquids. I ended up using a floor finishing product, Bona Chemi traffic. Bona makes several different grades of floor finish, and traffic is their toughest. It’s a water based binary wipe-on product, and it was astonishingly forgiving. The final finish is smoother than anyone could reasonably expect from a wipe-on.
It has been in use for a month an a half now, and it’s performing quite well. There has been a small amount motion in the end grain joints (I did back finish the slabs, and they are quite dry). The finish hasn’t broken at these seams; it’s flexed nicely. The finish is hard enough to have made this miserably soft wood into a reasonable bar top. There are some impact marks, but surprisingly few. The one thing that kills it is writing – a few folks have used ballpoint pens to fill out delivery forms on the surface, and that telegraphs pretty clearly. I expect that over time, the bar will develop quite a bit of character. As long as the finish remains intact, I’m calling it patina, and I’m happy with it.
A final observation about geometry; I had a revelatory moment while eating a calzone there last night. The bar is an inside angle, facing the guests. That is, if you’re facing the bar, the angle is acute, not oblique. If you’re sitting at the angle, it’s got a nice cozy feeling; the bar is closer to you on both your left and your right. However - there’s a side effect that I failed to anticipate. Mom and I visited the bar, and sat at the angle - her to the left and me to the right of the actual break. I found myself dropping food all over the place. Now, this could have been the result of that second glass of beer and the amazingly hot waitresses, but I think there’s actually a more measurable reason. The problem is that if I’m sitting such that I’m facing the bar, I’m facing AWAY from my mom. So, naturally, I turned to my left a "natural" amount - i.e.: I tried to establish the same friendly angle that I would normally have done at a straight bar (nyuk, nyuk). This was fine , but it actually meant that I was at about a 75 degree angle to my food!
So, if you want to make an angle at a bar, make it an outside angle. Your patrons will thank you.