This is the city. Los Angeles, California.
This is the most popular industrial tree in the city and her suburbs.
Here’s one at UCLA, showing the buttressed trunk, it’s most famous feature.
This shows how this magnificent tree elevates sidewalks.
Sometimes, along with the sidewalk, someone’s front yard gets picked up, too. That’s when the County sends a tree crew to remove it. My call comes in the form of the sound of chainsaws nearby. My call to action. My chainsaws and I follow the sound like Pavlov’s dog. We don’t much care what’s being cut. If it’s a tree, or something like a tree, we’re there, between the cutting crew and the clean-up crew, getting under foot. This time it was that ubiquitous shade tree of industrial and suburban streets everywhere. The mighty Ficus. A bunch of that soaking-wet wood came home with me early this year. Been in the back yard, drying out, ever since. Until Saturday last, when it first sat for its portrait.
When this wood reached the back yard, it was about as interesting to look at as a wet paper towel. And about as wet as a wet paper towel. Going back to before the balancing act, here’s a photo showing how the drying process literally squeezed out the wax I had slathered on the ends.
I couldn’t get that most-useful (if not delicate) lathe-balancing tool, the chainsaw, started, so I had to come up with some way to make my machine stop dancing enough to get a tool on it.
Now you’re cookin’ with gas.
Now, it’s starting to look like a big bowl.
With some horrendous radial pithy ath cracks.
What to do? What to do? Gotta shore up the side and top edge, right? What to do?
I know what let’s do. Let’s remove some of the cracked area – a la Bird Opus One – and replace it with some attractive feature.
Something that looks loke a Feature Ring? Only,more like a Feature Panel, mebees?
Yeah. Like that.
So, after coming up with fourteen different designs on Sketchup for such a thing, and not a single idea as to how to actually make one, I settled on a block of Shedua, about an inch thick, big enough to bridge the cracks.
But, first, a pocket must be made for the block.
And hogged out.
Chisel’s sharp. Mallet’s whacking appropriately. But, this is really hard.
What to do?
That’s a little better.
And, it kinda fits.
Note how thin a wall I was looking forward to.
And now, because I’m incapable of leaving well enough alone, I have to get all too-clever-by-half about it all. Poke some holes, make some kind of eye-catching design with dowels.
Yeah. Three petals around a stamen. Whoops. The 3/4” Forstner blew the 3/8” dowels right out of their holes.
What to do?
Use a bigger Forstner. Bore it all out and fill the hole with one big fat plug.
Sharpen your tool.
This is what a sharp tool looks like.
Now, Undo what you spent all day Sunday doing. (Remnant of the 1-3/8” Forstner that walked.)
Hey. A wet paper towel, this is not.
It seems to have something to say. Let us amplify its voice.
A photo of a dirty camera lens.
Wet paper towel, indeed.
Some WOP, quick, before the cracks open up. Five coats.
I went through 101 photos. I spared you the vast majority in the writing of this epic.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.