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Thread: Debarking, Spalting, Worm Tracks and End Tables?

  1. #1

    Debarking, Spalting, Worm Tracks and End Tables?

    These two trunk chunks came from a tall tree (maybe white oak) that fell on the family farm a few years ago. Our intention is to convert them into natural end tables--bark removed, smoothed, and finished--for use in a modern living room.

    You can see that the bark is partially gone already. . . Some had already fallen off of the trunk when we cut them and some more was easily brushed away. What remains is stuck, for now.

    If you look at the end grain, you can see there is still some moisture here and is that spalting?

    And there are some interesting tracks on the sides. Worm tracks? Insects?

    What can you guys tell me about debarking this wood without damaging the character just below the surface? Is a pressure washer the way to go? Drawknife?

    Would you stop at debarking, or slice away 4 sides to reveal the figure?

    Has anyone done a project like this before? If so, how did you prepare the wood? What finish did you use?

    Is there anything I should be doing to reduce further checking/splitting?

    Any other suggestions?
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    Last edited by Danny Thompson; 02-04-2009 at 12:28 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Yorktown, VA
    I tried something like this a couple of times. I found that the wood took forever to dry and since most of the moisture loss is through the ends, the end that sits on the floor gets very moldy unless it is raised up off the floor for air to circulate. I debarked using a power washer, pry bars and screw drivers and ended up not doing too much damage. Depending on the type of wood, there may still be critters tunneling deep inside the log. You probably don't want them emerging in your living room. The wood will probably check as it dries further and may even split all the way. I ended up putting my log on the lathe and hollowing it as deep as I could reach, leaving a 1.5" wall thickness. That helped and it dried with just some small end checks that I filled in with CA glue.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    That is not likely white oak. Even in a fuzzy picture, we'd be able to see the medullary rays which white oak is famous for.

    A solid log like this is virtually guaranteed to split as it dries and shrinks. The splits will mostly run from bark to pith. The log will still hold together, so this isn't a structural problem. You're the only one who can decide whether it is an appearance issue.

  4. #4
    The hollowing idea is appealing. Any other ideas about how this can be accomplished without a lathe?

    Hmmm. My father-in-law first said Hickory, then Red Oak, then White Oak. Is it any of these?
    Last edited by Danny Thompson; 02-04-2009 at 2:11 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Danny, I need to add that with the evidence of "critters" already apparently, you'll need to carefully think about whether or not you want to move forward with this. You've got some punk spalted wood already that indicates moisture, too. These are going to split radially unless you band them in metal and those creatures will very much enjoy transitioning to your home...

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    So, any ideas about de-crittering them?

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