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Author Topic: building coffee table from the root system of a tree  (Read 5051 times)

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Offline sawbob011

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building coffee table from the root system of a tree
« on: May 08, 2010, 10:44:48 am »
I pulled a stump out the other day and instead of burning it I thought it would make a cool looking base for a coffee table. The trunk will be the base abd the roots will support the table top... I have just 2 problems. 1, cutting the roots to all be the same height and level with a chainsaw. 2, I have most of the bark removed but cant get it in all the crotches and tight spots. What are some things I could use to get those cleaned up that dont involve a big investment. Cheap simple methods are what Im looking for.
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Offline LOGDOG

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Re: building coffee table from the root system of a tree
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2010, 10:59:06 am »
Sawbob,

   Could you maybe get in there with a pressure washer wand ( a short one ) with the "pencil tip" on it ? That pencil tip will really cut if you want it to. It's be fairly cheap if you had a pressure washer already or could borrow one. On another approach, I had a client that use to refinish antique furniture. When he had detail work to do he'd break sheet glass and use the fresh points and edges to get in the tight spots. Worked great. But wear leather gloves. As to cutting all the roots to the same height ... I have a laser line that I bought at either Lowes or Home Depot. It'll lay a horizontal line, vertical line, and intersecting line - picture large plus sign. You could turn your stump root side up and use a laser line like mine (wasn't expensive) to shoot a line across it. Just mark your roots with a marker where they need to be cut. If you wanted to go real low budget and had a way to submerge the stump in water, you could use the water line as your level and mark it that way. (Not sure how big your stump is.) Hope it works out. Maybe we'll get to see some pics of it when you're done.


Offline shinnlinger

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Re: building coffee table from the root system of a tree
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2010, 11:08:05 am »
Depending on the size of the root, you could set it on a band saw mill and cut it all in the same plane.  I think the lazer line set on a tripod as mentioned above could work well also if you take you take your time with a chainsaw.
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Offline jander3

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Re: building coffee table from the root system of a tree
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2010, 11:39:14 am »
Similar to the water method LogDog described, you could just scribe it at the desired points and cut..

To cut roots level, set the stump up on the shop floor as you want it to look as your base and brace it in place.  

Measure the distance between the floor and the root that is furthest from the floor. Add 3/8" or 1/2" to this measurement.

Cut a piece of 2"x 2" to the dimension you determined above.  It is critical that the ends are square.

Tape a pencil to top of of the 2" x 2" that is perpendicular. Check the setup and make sure the pencil is squared up and won't move.

Scribe the stump by keeping the 2" x 2" block fully in contact with the floor while marking a line on the stump.

If you are cutting with a chainsaw, if you use a chisel to mark your line you will get a finished edge and eliminate pullout. Use the chisel to mark the line bevel side toward the cut off edge and flat side to the finished edge, drive it a good 1/2" into the wood (I normally leave the line).  If you haven't cut using this method, I would practice on one of the longer roots first to see how close you run the saw to the chisel line.

For the bark, after peeling, a 4" grinder set up with a disc sanding wheel works well for knots and tight spots.  
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Offline zopi

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Re: building coffee table from the root system of a tree
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2010, 12:42:07 pm »
also..a chainsaw carving wheel for a 4" grinder..
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Offline Brad_bb

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Re: building coffee table from the root system of a tree
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2010, 06:58:02 pm »
After roughing out the plane with the chain saw, the at home method is to make a router jig so you can use your router like a manual mill.  If you build your jig frame well, you can get a pretty flat plan.  You can then clean it up with a plane or sander etc.  Can't help you with bark in crevices.  I have a tree that I was peeling and was half done, but then I didn't have time and now it dried and the bark is pretty frozen onto the tree.  I was thinking of rewetting it to see if that would help release the bark.
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Offline ARKANSAWYER

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Re: building coffee table from the root system of a tree
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2010, 07:29:37 pm »
 I take a broken band saw blade off of the mill and grind it so a tooth is on the end facing the way so that I can pull it so it will pull the bark out.  Most of the time I leave 3 teeth on the end and the grind off about 6 teeth for the handle.  Some Duct Tape and you are ready to get bark out of the tight places.
  Pressure washing does well too.
  Cutting it level is tough but and be done.  Putting a nail in root and pulling a chalk line can get you there with time.  Just mark one and cut it off the work on the next one.
ARKANSAWYER

Offline zopi

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Re: building coffee table from the root system of a tree
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2010, 09:44:25 pm »
hmm...doesn't have to be perfect either..could probably put levelers in the feet...
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Offline sawbob011

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Re: building coffee table from the root system of a tree
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2010, 10:38:11 am »
I think the water idea will work for me if I add a little dye. That will dye the part that I dont want to keep and show me a clear line of where to cut. I'm going to see if I can find a pressure washer to get the bark. Thanks all.
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Offline LOGDOG

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Re: building coffee table from the root system of a tree
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2010, 09:51:03 pm »
The dye is a neat idea. Hadn't thought of that angle. Just don't let the stump get away from you and go to deep.  I liked Arky's idea of using a short section of bandsaw blade with all but a few of the teeth snipped or ground off as a detail scraper in tight spots.

Offline shenandoahsawmill

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Re: building coffee table from the root system of a tree
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2010, 12:17:12 pm »
This is kind of a low rent solution but you could tie that stum up to the back of your truck and drag it down any paved road with a flat surface root side down. Instant flat surface in about two minutes. Now you have to cut the upper side off level to the bottom. I use this method to flatten root balls occasionally when they are too wide for my bandmill. I also use this method for finishing large coffee table slabs to take the chainsaw marks out. Start with a 40 grit road then work your way toward a 150 grit road. Too bad you can't get a local map with route numbers and road grits on them. Dont get arrested. Gary

Offline metalspinner

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Re: building coffee table from the root system of a tree
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2010, 04:36:09 pm »
 :D 150 grit road!

After roughing out with a chainsaw, a hand held power plane will do a good job of cleaning up the saw marks.

But building a level frame work around the stump to set up a router carriage is how I would do it.  That way it will be spot on.  Something like this...

 

I do what the little voices in my wife's head tell me to do.

Offline ARKANSAWYER

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Re: building coffee table from the root system of a tree
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2010, 08:33:19 pm »

  What a good woman!
ARKANSAWYER

Offline Brad_bb

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Re: building coffee table from the root system of a tree
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2010, 11:54:12 pm »
Metalspinner's got it.  That's the fixture I was trying to describe. 
Anything someone can design, I can sure figure out how to fix!
If I say it\\\\\\\'s going to take so long, multiply that by at least 3!

Offline fishpharmer

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Re: building coffee table from the root system of a tree
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2010, 11:59:22 pm »
That's a heck of a great idea. 
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