Monday, July 31, 2017

Fireplace Mantel --- Root Systems That'll Work are Kinda Scarce!

So, how does one go about finding root systems that might work? Basically, one must go hunting....out on the the the up and down terrain....slipping and sliding on those slippery slopes.

The thing is, though, any root systems that might work are actually kinda scarce. Don't get me wrong. There are lots and lots of dead tree stumps all over the property. But finding something that isn't rotten all the way through, or that is the right height along with a good circumference and solid core? Well, those are few and far between.

The old Stihl 440 Magnum chainsaw and I certainly had our work cut out for more ways than one! That chainsaw and I had to cut some of the stumps to an approximate length right there onsite, load them in the truck, and then bring them on home to be further inspected. DAMN, but those things are heavy....much heavier than they look, even at only four feet long, for sure! Plus, this old guy (me) ain't no young whippersnapper able to do what I used to do without hesitation awhile back any longer. At this point, I'm beginning to think, after manhandling a few of them into the bed of the truck all by myself, that maybe this might not have been such a good idea after all.

Got 'em home (unloading was a whole lot easier than loading....whew!) and leaning up against some old cottonwood slabs outside the workshop. Now I need to take a really hard look at all of them. The stumps I did find that might....I say are shown below:

After sifting and sorting, turning and then turning some more, reality began to sink in....not too much "good stuff" to work with here. But that's actually a good thing because it sorta made picking and choosing the "good stuff" pretty easy when one comes right down to it.

In the end, I wound up with only two stumps that were solid enough all the way through to even come close to being able to least in the conceptual picture I kept seeing in my own mind's eye.

The first one had the right "stance", but I wasn't too sure if it was big enough around in order for everything to be symmetrical (I ain't too linear, but this project called for two columns that were roughly the same circumference).

The second one also had the right "stance", but is quite a bit bigger around than the other one.

First one:

Second one:

Now that second one is interesting, for sure. There's a lot of deep charring that tells me this tree got hit by lightning at some point in its life, and the end result is basically charcoal varying in depth from 1/2" to 1" deep into the wood virtually all the way around.

That's the bad news because this stuff is extremely dirty to work with what with all the soot that gets ground off in the smoothing process. Even working on it outside the workshop in open air doesn't prevent that soot from getting into everything including eyes and breathing passages if proper safety gear isn't being used. So, eye protection and dust respirator/mask are an absolute MUST!

The good news is that I know from experience working with other pieces like this one that the interior core wood is still sound all the way through. It'll just be a little more difficult to get to it, and to work with it because it's gonna be a virtual resin pit all the way through. If it ain't one thing, it's....

Let's set 'em up and see what we have, shall we?

So, here they are side by side in the kind of configuration I'm thinking would look pretty cool as two columns on either side of the fireplace opening.

Still not so sure about the symmetry. That one on the left looks kinda skinny, don'tcha think?

Next up....Whaddya Gonna Do?