Oak stump end table

We took down an oak tree in the summer of 2010. The tree was rotting at the base and might have fallen on the house, so we had it taken down. I paid the tree service to fell the tree and cut it up into firewood-length pieces. Except for the trunk, which I had cut into two pieces, one of which was this fork that was about 7 feet off the ground. The other piece was the log I described splitting by hand.

In August of 2014, I thought I’d try my hand at turning that piece of wood into the base for an end table. The descriptions below are taken from my Facebook posts at the time.

August 26, 2013

New project: an oak end table or perhaps the base for a coffee table. The wood is from a tree we had taken down four or five years ago. This piece was about seven feet off the ground–where the tree split into two primary branches. It’s been sitting out in the yard since it was cut. See individual pictures for more information.

Note that this might be a long-term project. The wood is likely still very wet inside.

The piece is about 26 inches tall, and approximately 18 inches wide and 30 inches long at the base. Lots of cracks, but it’s still a very solid piece of wood.

First step is to make a semi-flat top. My little 14″ electric chainsaw had trouble with that. The top isn’t quite as un-level as it looks in this picture, but getting it flat will definitely take some work. The final piece will be 19 or 20 inches tall.

A blurry picture, I know. I’ll get a better one. This is the result of about an hour with chisel and mallet to remove the sapwood, and maybe 15 minutes with an angle grinder to smooth some areas. I still have about 2 hours of mallet work to go on the other side. And flattening is going to be a chore; that oak is hard!

August 28, 2014

Rough flattening the top with mallet and chisel. Slow going, but faster than the angle grinder. Second image is the pile of debris I’ve created up to this point.

August 30, 2014

I spent some more time flattening the top, although you can see that it’s not quite flat yet. I also spent an hour or two shaping and smoothing with a 36-grit sanding disc on the angle grinder. The next job will be to drill a few big holes in the bottom. Hollowing will lighten it (more than 100 lbs right now), and also help it finish drying. Then I’ll flatten the bottom and level the top.

September 14, 2014

I did a little bit more flattening work last weekend, and completed it this weekend. I also completed rough sanding by hand. I bought some long auger bits, 1/2″, 3/4″, and 1″ in diameter and more than a foot long. Unfortunately, my little 3/8″ drill doesn’t have enough torque to drive those through oak end grain. I’ll have to get a 1/2″ drill that has more power.

October 2, 2014

I got the new drill and drilled a bunch of holes in the bottom. I wish I’d gotten a few shots of the pieces the drill was bringing up. The wood was surprisingly wet inside, even after four years lying out in the yard. I knew that it takes time for wood to dry (rule of thumb is one year per inch of radius), but seeing that demonstrated is quite an eye opener.

I dug out the center a bit with the angle grinder and the die grinder, then used a router to straighten the edges of the hole so I could cut a piece of wood, glue it into place, and then plane it flat. But I’ll leave it open for now so the wood can dry some more.

January 5, 2015

I spent more time on hand sanding, finished flattening the bottom and the top, then put a couple coats of wipe-on poly on the wood. The glass I ordered came in, and now part of the oak tree that was out in the back yard sits in our living room.

I had planned to sell this piece, but Debra said she wanted it in the house. I’m kind of happy she wanted it because it’s the first piece of its kind I ever made. I’m kind of attached to it. Nine years later, it still stands in front of the pull-out couch by the window. It’s a great companion piece to the oak coffee table I completed a few years later.

Treasure from trash

(The turtle underneath the table, by the way, was something I found in my brother’s things. I think it’s a piece that my dad brought home from a trip to Central America in the early ’70s.)

Two years ago, I found a rotting tree stump in the campgrounds at the Sherwood Forest Faire. I knew when I first saw it that I wanted to make a coffee table base, so I enlisted a friend to help with loading it on the trailer. Below is what the piece looked like when I found it.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure exactly how I would turn that into a coffee table base, or if there was enough good wood underneath all that rot, but I thought it was worth a shot.

Once I got it home, a few hours with a chainsaw, my trusty angle grinder, chisels, and a wire brush, and I was sure I had something worth keeping. Here’s what it looked like once I’d stripped the bark and got down to the solid wood underneath most of the rot.

It took another day of finer work with chisels and assorted other implements of destruction before I had it in the basic shape I wanted.

Most of the work I did to this point was just removing rot, and cutting off protuberances to get the basic shape that I want. That’s the fun part: peeling off the outer layers to reveal the beauty underneath. Nature provides the shape; I just refine it a bit.

I like the rough work mostly because I can see quick progress. Once I get to this point, I know what it’s going to look like. I’ve solved the problem, proven that I can realize my vision. After this point comes the slow work of making sure that the base is steady, leveling the top, smoothing the shape, sanding, and finishing. It’s work, and painstakingly slow. And sanding a piece like this takes a very long time. As with many things, the hard part is finishing the work after I know how it’s going to end.

So I put the piece aside for a year and concentrated on other projects. I came back to it in the fall of 2017, finished the sanding, and put a finish on it. Then it sat in the garage until last month when I pulled it out measured it, and ordered the glass.

My intention, once I completed the rough work, was to finish the piece and sell it. But Debra, who was a bit skeptical when I dragged this thing home, saw the potential and said that she wanted the coffee table for the living room. One of these days, I’ll make a piece that I can sell.

I now understand why pieces like this one command such high prices. The wood is free, but the amount of work and the cost of custom glass work make these things very expensive to produce. But it’s a one-of-a-kind piece of functional art that will last several lifetimes.

I have several more such pieces in various stages of completion. I really need to finish building out my workshop so I can complete them.

Making boards

Debra surprised me at Christmas with a one-year membership to TechShop, and a gift certificate for five classes. I’ve been wanting to get involved with TechShop for a couple of years, but there were always other priorities.

Since I got into wood carving, I’ve been slowly making my into wood working as well, with the oval table being the most recent of my experiments. I’ve long wanted to make cutting boards and similar things, but haven’t really had the tools necessary to do a good job. TechShop, though, has a full wood shop with table saw, large band saw, router table, jointer, planer, thickness sander, etc. I just had to take a couple of classes on Safety and Basic Use (SBU).

Today I took a couple chunks of mesquite–cutoffs from a tree I had to take down last spring–to the shop and rough cut them into lumber. The logs were about eight inches thick, which is two inches larger than what will fit in my band saw. The first thing I did was cut four slabs off one end. I’m planning to turn these into little cheese boards, hopefully keeping the bark edge.

Three of those are 3/4 inch thick. The other is 1/2 inch thick. The dark splotches are actually from moisture. I was surprised at how wet that log was, even after spending the last eight or nine months in my garage. I know that it takes time for wood to dry, but this wood was wet on the inside. Way more moisture than I had expected after that time.

After cutting those slabs, the remaining log is about 14 inches long. The other log, shown here before cutting, was right at 18 inches.

I didn’t take any progress pictures showing how I set up to cut boards from the logs. Briefly:

For cutting the cheese boards, I screwed a scrap piece of 2×6 lumber to the log so that there was a flat and stable base for it to rest on. I took a thin slice to square up the end, and then set the band saw fence to 3/4 inch and cut the three cheese boards. I had planned to cut four that thick, but I goofed when I screwed the 2×6 onto the log; I didn’t leave enough log hanging out. So I had to settle for 1/2 inch on the last one. I could have just sawed through the 2×6 or taken the time to adjust the base. I decided to see if 1/2 inch will be thick enough.

For cutting the boards, I set the scrap 2×6 firmly on the table beside the log, and carefully screwed them together. Doing that provides a steady base so that the log can’t roll to the side when I’m pushing it through the saw. I made one cut of about 3/4 inch to get a good flat side on the log. I then took it over to the jointer and made that perfectly flat.

The picture linked below is one I took a few years back, showing how the board attached to the log works.

Then back to the band saw with the flat base on the table, I took 3/4 inch off one of the sides, took the log back to the jointer, and squared that side up so that I had two perfectly flat sides that were at an angle of exactly 90 degrees with each other.

Back to the band saw, I set the fence one inch away from the blade and with one flat side on the table and the other flat side on the fence, I cut the boards.

I’ve cut lumber on my band saw at home without using a jointer to square up the sides. It works okay, but the boards don’t come out near as close to square as they did today.

So now I have a bunch of rough cut mesquite boards, all one inch thick and with varying widths and lengths. I’ve stacked them in my garage, separated by some scrap wood so that air can circulate, and will let them dry for six or eight months. I figure next fall I’ll be able to make some cutting boards. Although I might get impatient and cut up some of the other wood I have here that’s already dry. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have enough dry mesquite to make a cutting board. I have plenty of other types, though.

The cheese boards won’t take nearly as long to dry. I’ve put them aside, as well, but I expect them to be dry enough for working in less than two months. Possibly even sooner than that. Wood loses its moisture very quickly through the ends, so those 3/4 inch pieces should dry fast. I’ve also considered experimenting with using the oven as a kiln to speed the drying process. I might sacrifice one of the slabs and one of the boards to an experiment . . .

I made a few thinner cuts, as experiments. One of the pieces is a little less than 1/16 inch thick. I’m sure that with a little practice I could reliably cut 1/16 inch veneer, and quite possibly 1/32 inch. That opens up some interesting possibilities.

All told, I had a great time playing in the wood shop today. Now I just have to be patient until the wood dries so I can use it.

Colorado flag specifications

Yes, I know. It’s only been … six months or so since I posted here. I had some trouble with my ISP, and I got busy with other things. Perhaps I’ll write about some of that.

I found a buyer for my Texas flag coffee table. At least, he said he was coming over with money. I won’t say it’s sold until I get the cash, but I’m pretty confident that I’ve made the sale.

The buyer wanted me to add some bracing to the legs, which is why the lower supports. I think it’d be pretty hard to break the joint at the top of the legs, but this table will likely be subjected to a lot of abuse aboard a party boat. I was happy to make the modification if it meant a sale.

With that one gone, I thought I’d make another table.  This one, though, will have a Colorado state flag.

Why Colorado? Two reasons:

  1. I grew up there, and love the place.
  2. It’s another easy flag, like the Texas flag and the American flag.

I need a scalable vector graphic (.svg) file for the flag, and whereas the ones I’ve downloaded look okay to the eye, every one I’ve examined seemed slightly imperfect. I need that “C” to be centered perfectly, or my flag is going to look kind of wonky. At least, that’s what I thought.

So I went looking for the flag’s specifications. Here’s the language from the Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 24, Article 80, Part 9.

A state flag is hereby adopted to be used on all occasions when the state is officially and publicly represented, with the privilege of use by all citizens upon such occasions as they may deem fitting and appropriate. The flag shall consist of three alternate stripes to be of equal width and at right angles to the staff, the two outer stripes to be blue of the same color as in the blue field of the national flag and the middle stripe to be white, the proportion of the flag being a width of two-thirds of its length. At a distance from the staff end of the flag of one-fifth of the total length of the flag there shall be a circular red C, of the same color as the red in the national flag of the United States. The diameter of the letter shall be two-thirds of the width of the flag. The inner line of the opening of the letter C shall be three-fourths of the width of its body or bar, and the outer line of the opening shall be double the length of the inner line thereof. Completely filling the open space inside the letter C shall be a golden disk; attached to the flag shall be a cord of gold and silver intertwined, with tassels one of gold and one of silver. All penalties provided by the laws of this state for the misuse of the national flag shall be applicable to the said state flag.

Yeah, that’s a mouthful. Let’s take a closer look at the dimensions:

  1. “The flag shall consist of three alternate stripes to be of equal width and at right angles to the staff,”
    Easy enough.
  2. “…the proportion of the flag being a width of two-thirds of its length.”
    So if the flag is 1 unit long, then the flag is 2/3 unit wide. That makes each stripe 1/3 of 2/3 units, or 2/9 units, which is … my head explodes. Let’s say that each stripe is one unit wide. That makes the flag three units wide and 4.5 units long. That should be easier to deal with.
  3. “At a distance from the staff end of the flag of one-fifth of the total length of the flag there shall be a circular red C…”
    So the left edge of the ‘C’ is 4.5/5, or 0.9 units from the left edge.
  4. “The diameter of the letter shall be two-thirds of the width of the flag.”
    Well that’s easy enough. The flag is three units wide, so the circle is two units in diameter.
  5. ” The inner line of the opening of the letter C shall be three-fourths of the width of its body or bar,”
    Now this is a problem. It says that the line is 3/4 the width of the letter’s body, but it doesn’t say how wide the body should be. And is that “inner line” the arc of the inner line? Or is it the length of the chord connecting the endpoints of that arc?
  6. “…and the outer line of the opening shall be double the length of the inner line thereof.”
    Not a problem, once I know the answer to #5.
  7. “Completely filling the open space inside the letter C shall be a golden disk;”
    And just how large should that disk be? We can infer it from #5, but that requirement is insufficiently specified.

If could be that #5 and #6 are sufficient to define the width of the letter and as a result the diameter of the inner golden disk. The Wikipedia article says, “On March 31, 1964, the legislature further dictated the diameter of the gold disc to be equal to the center stripe.” I don’t see that in the statute, so perhaps there is only one solution that satisfies the conditions. I’ll have to study the geometry.

Note also that nothing in the language says anything about the vertical placement of the ‘C’. As far as I can tell, that letter could be placed anywhere along that vertical line, 1/5 of the length from the left edge of the flag.

The Colorado flag with three stripes and the red ‘C’ with gold interior was first described by legislation in 1911. It was revised in 1929 to say that the red and blue must be the same colors as the U.S. flag, but the “golden” color doesn’t appear to be specified anywhere. The size of the ‘C’ wasn’t specified until 1964. I find it curious and somewhat amusing that the statute doesn’t define the vertical position, and that the rest of the description is so wonky. You’d think they would have hired a consultant to clarify the language so that anybody with a ruler and compass could easily draw the flag.

Good thing I paid attention in high school geometry, huh?

Jim’s building furniture?

I might have mentioned a while back that Debra bought me a one-year membership to TechShop for Christmas last year. She also gave me a gift certificate for five classes. The way TechShop works, a member has to take a class covering Safety and Basic Use before using most of the equipment. The five classes I’ve taken so far are Wood Shop SBU (covers table saw, bandsaw, sander, drill press), Jointer, Planer, and Router, Wood Lathe, Laser Cutter, and Sandblasting and Powder coating.

Since January I’ve spent lots of time at TechShop, mostly cutting up logs for carving wood. I have a bandsaw at home, but it can’t cut material thicker than six inches, and its throat depth is something less than twelve inches. The bandsaw at TechShop can cut a twelve-inch-thick log, and has a much deeper throat. I can cut bigger stuff on their bandsaw.

In late August, I saw that my neighbor who owns a handyman business had a trailer full of wood. It turns out that he had removed an old cedar fence and deck for a client, and was going to haul the wood off to the dump. I spent six hours pulling nails, and drove home with a truckload of reclaimed lumber. Then I got busy making things.

I had seen an American flag made from old fencing, and wanted to make one. Given that I now had plenty of old fence to play with, I cut a bunch of one-inch strips, painted them up, and glued them together. The result is this flag, which is 13 inches tall and 25 inches wide, matching the official width to height ratio of 1.9:1.

I’ve since made two others that size, and one smaller. Then I stepped up to 1.5 inch strips to make a flag that’s 19.5″ x 37, and got the crazy idea that it’d look better in a coffee table than it would hanging on the wall. So, blissfully ignorant of what I was getting into, I set about building a coffee table.

The only thing I’d built from scratch before was that oval table, and it got covered with a tablecloth. Besides, all I did was slightly modify a work table plan that I found online. I designed this table myself, and set the goal of making it from 100% reclaimed wood. I’ll save the step-by-step instructions for another time. Suffice it to say that it took me an absurdly long time and a lot of mistakes to finish constructing it. But the result is, I think, very nice.

The table is 17.5 inches tall, and measures approximately 42″ x 26″. The only wood on it that’s not reclaimed is the eight dowels used to hold the apron together.

Mind you, the table is constructed, but it’s not finished. The flag is recessed about 1/8 inch below the border. I’m going to fill that space with epoxy resin. Most likely, the resin will also flow over the border to protect it. I’ll use an oil finish, probably something like tung oil, on the rest of the wood.

I couldn’t build just one table, though. So shortly after I finished that one I made a Texas state flag. Last night I completed construction of my Texas table, which measures about 42″ x 30″, and is also 17.5 inches tall. It’s wider than the other table due to the Texas flag’s width-to-height ratio of 3 to 2. So a 36 inch wide flag is 24 inches tall.

This table, too, has the flag recessed, and the space will be filled with epoxy resin.

The construction of the Texas table is a little different than the first one. Most importantly to me, I constructed the apron with finger joints rather than using dowels at the corners. That allows me to say that the table is 100% reclaimed wood. Plus, the finger joints are easier. Dowels are a pain in the neck.

I’m going to make at least one more of each of these tables, probably using the Texas table design. But before I do that I need to work on a project for Debra. That one’s going to be especially fun because I’ll get to play with the ShopBot. Once I take the class, that is.

Rebuilding a bench

Driving home from work one day in April, I spied this bench sitting in front of a neighbor’s house. It had a sign on it that said, “Free. Just needs new boards.”


That’s what I needed: another project!

The bench certainly needed new boards. The metal also had some rust and I figured if I was going to the trouble of disassembling the thing to add new boards, I’d refinish the metal, too.

The next question was what wood to use for the boards. About a week after I acquired the bench, I was out at my friend Mike’s place. He had an old cedar post that he had no use for. Said he’d been saving it for me because he thought I might want it for carving wood.

So I took the post to TechShop and cut it into boards. Here it is on the bandsaw, shortly after I started cutting it up.


And here are the rough cut boards, all of which are between one and one and a half inches thick. They’re about five feet long and almost eight inches wide. I put the boards up in the garage rafters to dry for a while (about two months), and put the bench aside. I also took the TechShop class on sand blasting and powder coating so that I could use that equipment when it came time to finish the project.

I had some time on my hands last week because there was a delay before starting my new job. So one day I went to TechShop with the metal pieces and the boards, planning to finish the bench. It took almost four hours to sandblast the sides and back, and another three hours to powder coat them. A long time, but the results were worth it.

My next task was to dimension the lumber: plane it down to 3/4″ thickness and cut the slats to size (2″ wide by 48″ long). Planing went as planned and when I finished I went to check out the table saw key. But the saw was down due to a faulty safety switch.

Two days later the saw was up and I got the boards cut to size. Then I set up a jig on the drill press and put the screw holes in the end. At about 6:00 that evening I put the bench together for a test fit.


I was so happy with the way it turned out. I knew I’d have to take it apart, of course, to put a finish on the wood, but it looked so nice! Until I sat on it and it sagged. Turns out that, although beautiful, that red cedar isn’t nearly as strong as whatever wood was originally on the bench. I’d have to strengthen the boards or the bench would be just for show.

So the next day I went back to TechShop and spent some time adding a spine to the bottom of each seat slat:


The spine is simply a piece of wood that’s 1″ wide by 3/4″ thick, and about three inches shorter than the slat. The spline is attached with screws and wood glue (and on this one, a couple of dowels). The spline is attached vertically (i.e. it’s one inch tall in this picture), and more than doubles the strength of the slat. By now it was Friday night and I had to let the glue dry for at least 24 hours before applying a finish.

I applied the finish on Sunday morning: two coats of Teak Oil. I let that cure for about 10 hours, and Debra helped me put everything together.


The bench now sits in a flower bed in the front yard.

More than anything, this project was a learning experience for me. I had to learn how to use the sandblasting cabinet (no trouble, really), and how to powder coat something. Although the powder coating turned out okay, there are some things I could have done better. I also learned how to dimension the lumber and make sure that all of the boards were exactly the same size. Even setting up the drill press and making sure the holes were all in their right places took a few tries. I was smart enough to use some scrap wood for that because I had only enough of the Cedar for one mistake. And that ended up being used because one of the slats had weak spot that would have broken the first time I sat on it.

And I certainly didn’t save any money on the thing. These benches are available band new for $70 or $80 online or in local stores. I spent nearly $50 on the brass screws! The powder for the powder coating was another $20, although I have about half of that left over. All told, the thing probably cost me $100 out of pocket for various hardware items and tools, not counting the cost of the class. Much of that, of course, can be amortized over many projects. It’s not like I’ll have to pay for another class when it comes time to powder coat the porch furniture that’s losing its paint.

It took a good four or five days of work between cutting up the lumber, stripping the paint prior to sandblasting, and then the sandblasting, powder coating, and extra wood work to add the spines. Learning new things takes time.

But it’s the best looking bench of its type!

Besides, I’ve said before that no self-respecting hobbyist would pay $20 for something he can build himself for $50 and a whole bunch of time.

It really was a good learning experience, and I could probably do it again for much less money and in a lot less time. If I run across another of these benches free for the taking, I’ll pick it up. I don’t have enough cedar to do another one, although I could likely get more if I wanted to. I do, however, have plenty of other types of wood that would look good on such a bench.

Splitting a log

Back in the summer of 2010, this oak tree developed some kind of disease and we had to have it taken down. It probably would have lived a few more years, but it was starting to rot at the base and it was close enough to the house that if a good stiff wind came along it would end up crashing into the house and ruining the new roof and siding. It’s kind of too bad we had to remove it; the tree provided a lot of shade on the south side of the house.

As an aside, I had a heck of a time finding the pictures of this event. For some reason I thought that we took the tree down in 2009, and I thought I’d blogged about it. But I couldn’t find it in the blog, and I couldn’t find the pictures where I thought they should be. I finally decided to check the year 2010. Hey, at least I got the month right.

I call this the Facebook problem. With Facebook, I’m much more likely to post a picture or two and a few paragraphs. Writing a blog entry is more work and doesn’t have the instant gratification of people pressing “Like” or leaving a quick comment. It’s way too easy to make a quick Facebook post and move on. I had to search sequentially through the history to find the old post. Then I discovered how to search my Activity Log . . .

Anyway, back to the tree. What was left after they topped it is shown on the left: a 12-foot-tall trunk about two feet in diameter and a fork at the top. That ended up in three pieces, the largest being the bottom seven feet. I spent a couple of days cutting up the larger limbs and putting them in the firewood pile, and grinding up the smaller stuff for mulch. The larger limbs and the two smaller (if you call two and a half feet tall and two feet thick “small”) trunk pieces got stacked around a nearby mesquite tree so I could split them after they dried.

Debra and I, with the help of the lawn tractor, rolled the large trunk out of the way under some other trees. The idea was to let it dry for a few years and then carve it into something. I didn’t know what, but I wanted to try my hand at chainsaw carving.

But the log started to crack quite a bit and I didn’t really know how to prevent or even slow the cracking. So I left the trunk there under the other trees, figuring I’d cut it up for firewood (or BBQ wood) one of these days.

I did make an end table from the top trunk piece. That’s another example of the Facebook problem. I’ll have to post about that here another time.

A couple of weeks ago I got the crazy idea of trying to get usable carving or possibly building wood from that trunk. It’d be kind of cool to mill lumber from that tree and build a table or a small hutch or something. And seeing as how my little electric chainsaw would have some serious trouble getting through that trunk, I decided I’d try to split the log and see if I could get any usable lumber out of it. And, because I’m curious, I thought I’d see if I could split it without using power tools.

I started by driving my steel splitting wedge into the end of the log with a little four pound sledge. That worked well enough: a split formed at the top of the log and there and there were satisfying crackling sounds coming from the log as the fibers split. But then my wedge was stuck.

I tried making wedges out of oak branches and some scrap 2×4 lumber, but they disintegrated in short order when I tried to drive them into the crack.

A friend who was building a deck a few years ago gave me a bunch of cutoffs: 2×4 and 4×4 pieces that were six to eight inches long. The wood was Ipê: a very hard wood from South America that is commonly used for building decks. I carved a few birds from it, but the rest has been sitting in my shop waiting for me to come up with uses for it. It’s an okay carving wood. It makes excellent splitting wedges, though. A few cuts on the bandsaw and I was back in business.

Then it was a matter of driving a wedge into the log, moving a few inches, driving another wedge, etc. I had enough wedges that by the time I ran out the log had split enough that I could re-use those from the back of the line. I did have to make another trip to the bandsaw for more, though: even the Ipê isn’t indestructible. Between me whacking it with the hammer and the oak resisting splitting, those wedges were only good for two or three uses. I suspect they would have lasted longer if I’d been using a wooden hammer. I might try that if I ever split a log like this again.

When I got to the end of the log it was split most of the way through all along its length, but I didn’t have long enough wedges to complete the job. Debra hurt her finger (nearly crushed it) helping me roll the log over and it was almost dark anyway, so I reluctantly put up my tools (except for the steel wedge that was still stuck in the other end) and called it a night.

And that’s how I left it for a week. This evening I cut eight more wedges and used a steel bar as a lever to roll the log over. It didn’t take but about 15 minutes to finish the job of splitting the log into two pieces.

That’s a very strange perspective. Those two pieces really are the same length. The foreground piece is not as wide as the one in back (the log didn’t split exactly evenly down the middle), but they’re absolutely the same length. The picture makes it look like the foreground piece is longer.

You can also see the remains of the Ipê wedges there on the foreground piece. The rest of them are in splinters.

Both of those pieces have large cracks along which I’ll split off pieces, again by hand. I should end up with a about eight 7-foot pieces of wood of varying thickness. I’m hoping that I can get at least one piece that’s four inches square. I know that I will get several pieces that will allow me to cut 2×4 boards, and possibly even some 2×6 pieces. And of course I’ll get lots of stuff that’s one inch or less in thickness.

Once I get the log split into roughly the sized pieces I want, I’ll take them to TechShop and spend some time with the jointer and planer to make lumber. Unless, of course, the log is too far gone. Then I’ll just cut it up and use it for the smoker.

I learned quite a bit splitting this log. If I had to do another, I could probably do it in half the time. It was pretty interesting going through the learning process, and I have a new appreciation for how people did things before they had the benefit of sawmills that produce nice straight lumber as if by magic. Making your own boards is work.