Fred Tomlin has been making burl tables since the early 1970’s. His tables can be found from the shoreline of Fisherman’s Wharf to central Texas to Wisconsin. Before Fred started his table business, he was a commercial fisherman. He was the owner of several different fishing vessels, each one just a little bigger than the one before. He mainly fished crabs, but also fished salmon, albacore, halibut and the occasional abalone. He harbored his boat in the 70’s to work in Timber Cove, Marin County, CA where he ran the Timber Cove Inn, bartended at the same establishment, drove a school bus, monitored the water system , patrolled as a security agent for the properties, and built burl tables. When he left Mendocino County and moved to Humboldt County, he resumed fishing on a commercial basis for the next 20 years. During the off season of fishing, Fred was the the successful owner of Fred’s Finishing for over 30 years in Humboldt County, California where he applied his talents in wood to bar tops, tables, new homes, moldings, trims, and other types of finishing. When he retired in 2008 and moved to sunny Arizona, Fred discovered he could not play golf seven days a week, so he went in search of something else to fill his time. Nothing appealed to him until he spied his 35 year old lace burl piece in his garage. And voila, “Fred’s Creative Wood” became his passion and business. He is creating tables again and enjoying the artistic process of finding the right bases for the right slabs and creating beautiful pieces of furniture.
Fred buys his wood now rather than cutting it himself as he did in Timber Cove. He has two sources in California and one in Oregon. He either goes and picks up the wood himself or has it shipped. The wood is in raw slabs when it arrives and Fred finishes it through an extensive picking, sanding, burning, and spraying with lacquer. There are no stains or other finishes except lacquer. Each finished piece is then matched to a base. This is sometimes the most difficult part because Fred believes the base and top must make one cohesive piece. The bases are either purchased pieces of manzanita or red cedar from northern California or composed of pieces of wood he finds throughout Arizona. These tables last forever and are completely one of a kind