Saturday, February 22, 2014

DAMN...Wish I had a sawmill

Cut firewood.....? Cut tabletop log slab.....? Cut firewood.....? Cut tabletop log slab.....? Guess the slab won out. Besides, it should be more fun, right? Well, maybe more challenging, that's for sure! And, we already have enough firewood to last a couple of days at least.

Blue line instead of red line: the first step was to get a straight guideline so I could eyeball my cut as I'm making it. Blue chalk line works just great - only thing is, I gotta beat the snow. Otherwise the line is going to disappear and I'll have to do it all over again.

I won't show the chainsaw but, take my word for it, the chain has to be very sharp to rip a log. It must also be nubbed to less than a 10 degree angle (mine is actually 0 degrees) in order to do this.

I decided I'd go at the log from both ends using a 20 inch bar and chain instead of the big 32 incher I mentioned in my previous post. That thing is just too big, too heavy, and too dang dangerous for this old duffer to use for any length of time (and this DOES take time and a whole lot of effort).

First cut - one end:

Second cut - other end:

Next step was to cut as deep as comfortable (didn't want to go through all the way for most of the length in order to avoid hitting dirt and dulling the chain). Having the arch "up" in the air really helped in this process. All I had to do was follow the chalk line and keep the chainsaw bar as straight as possible all along the length.

The next step was the trickiest. The log had to be "rolled" so it could be cut up through from the bottom. Chocking the log for this step was critical to prevent roll while cutting. The photo below shows the end result of the cut all the way through.

And, VOILA...bookend slabs.

This is the configuration I envision them having when they are joined together.

Even with all the precautions I took, it's the chainsaw's fault the top and bottom cuts didn't quite mesh, right?

This is what I was afraid of - some rot in the heartwood. Shouldn't be too much of a problem the grinder can't fix. There'll be a void, for sure. That void can be filled with anything and then epoxied in.

Glad this step is over. DAMN, I really DO wish I had a sawmill! Oh, well. Doing it this way isn't even as hard as WAY back in the day when lumberjacking was done with handsaws. Guess I really can't complain.

Next step: getting those suckers loaded onto the truck and down to the shop where the old router planer can be put to good use.

Man, my shoulders are sore. Need some heat - maybe some wine. Sure did feel good to get back in the saddle so-to-speak.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Conference Room Table - Beginnings

This project, when finished, will by far and away be the biggest project I've ever undertaken. That log in the foreground of the first picture is 10 feet long and almost 1 1/2 feet in diameter all the way along. Plus, it's "bent" allowing for an arch of sorts. It will ultimately form the meat of the tabletop.

The tree this log came from is a Douglas Fir. It was located right behind my shop and presented a hazard should it fall over. So, it had to come out. Because it was bent a bit, I decided to dig it out by the roots instead of just cutting it off at the base because part of the root was actually exposed and would make a really gnarly tabletop if slabbed right.

After a very long and arduous process of digging around the root system, many curse words, and a whole lot of frustration that I wasn't making as much progress as I would have liked to have made, a kindly neighbor and some of his young pups came over to help this old duffer.

We still had to dig some, but ultimately wound up pulling it over with a "come-along" chained to another tree close by. After that, it was a simple matter of cutting off the root system and deciding how long I wanted to leave each log cut from the tree trunk - three total.

I decided on 10 feet per log, and am now glad I did because the conference table will ultimately wind up being 8 feet long and 3 feet wide. Cutting the logs to 10 feet lengths allows me some "wiggle room" to play with.

Once we got the log situated up by our barn in a place where it could dry naturally, the patience quotient became a factor.

Three years later, it seemed to me it was ready, especially given that the bark virtually fell of when I tried to peel it.

In order to take advantage of the curve in this log, it had to be stood sort of "on end" with the arch up in the air.

Once that was done, the peeling was a breeze.

After all that, all I had to do is chock it to help prevent it from rolling over.

The next step in this process will be to sharpen the ripping chain for the 32 inch bar on my Stihl chainsaw, and try to cut this sucker right down the middle all along its length. That way, I'll have two bookend slabs to flatten out using my router planer. Those slabs will form the outer rails of the tabletop. I won't explain how I envision it to work in this post - that's fodder for when I'm farther along in the process.

The journey begins.