LumberJocks

Stabilizing holes and gaps in a large cookie

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Pete Tevonian posted 07-07-2010 06:47 PM 1286 views 1 time favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Pete Tevonian's profile

Pete Tevonian

78 posts in 2380 days


07-07-2010 06:47 PM

Topic tags/keywords: siberian elm table top holes stablizing

I have a large “cookie” cross section of a Siberian Elm tree that I am prepping to become a coffee table. There are some areas in the slab, however, that have holes clear through to the other side. Not sure what caused them—rot, insects, wind shake, etc. But some of them are large enough to roll some marbles or even a ping-pong ball through. In other cases, the holes are just wide enough to slide a screw driver blade through. Around the bigger gaps, if you press on the wood that spans the holes or that is near the holes, you can detect some flex. Not surprising—there’s less wood there to hold them firmly.

What can I do to strengthen those areas? I’d love to keep the “swiss cheese” effect intact—it adds some character and visual interest to the slab. But I’d hate to go through the effort of finishing the table, just to have that chunk pop out or snap off at the end, leaving rough, unsightly edges or splinters.

Are there epoxy or other types of sealers or stabilizers that will lend any real strength to those fibers that surround the holes?

In one area, fairly near the sapwood edge, there was a crescent shape of soft, rotted wood that I simply pushed out with a screwdriver blade and my thumb. It crumbled away and fell out, leaving now a crescent shaped hole, maybe 1” wide and 4” long, with only 1” of wood around the outside edge. My fear is that the softer, thinner edge is going to give way either during drying, or during sanding/planing. Any way to avoid that?

Any advice is welcome.

Thanks,
—Pete

-- Pete in Wilmette, IL


7 replies so far

View lilredweldingrod's profile

lilredweldingrod

2495 posts in 2569 days


#1 posted 07-12-2010 06:35 AM

I only guessing here, but you could build a cradle around and under it, set it in the “box” and pour an epoxy resin over it.This would keep it from getting broken and yet keep it visible to show off the grain. Do you have a matching or complementary wood for the frame around it? If the wood is that fragile, you will want to protect it from damage. Rand

Glad to meet you, Pete. I just noticed you this evening, so a late welcome to Lumberjocks. My adopted son, Hovic Papikyan, calls me “the redneck Armenian”. lol We will have to set up a sampling of your barbecue. Your reputation is on the line. lol Rand

View Pete Tevonian's profile

Pete Tevonian

78 posts in 2380 days


#2 posted 07-12-2010 05:26 PM

Rand, interesting idea, but I’d prefer to leave the wood exposed. If I can figure a way strengthen those holes a bit, I like the idea of having visitors be able to touch the wood and explore the nooks and crannies.

As far as my Armenian barbeque goes, I fear I don’t uphold the traditions. I’ve heard of excellent kebobs from my countrymen, but only in stories so far. Still, we Armenians need to stick together!

-- Pete in Wilmette, IL

View lilredweldingrod's profile

lilredweldingrod

2495 posts in 2569 days


#3 posted 07-14-2010 07:43 AM

Pete,
I afraid it is my duty to report you to the Armenian Mafia. lol Hovic built an underground oven like in the old country. We just had a llama BBQ. Wasn’t as good as the lamb though. No fat on it any where. My wife cooked some up in the oven here at home and it was much more moist. The meat is right up there with prime lamb or beef.

How about a picture of the slab of elm? I would like to see the finished project and how you arrived at the solution to the problem. Maybe you can run a blog on the process.

Nice to meet you. Give our regards to the family. Rand

View Pete Tevonian's profile

Pete Tevonian

78 posts in 2380 days


#4 posted 07-14-2010 05:18 PM

I will get some photos posted…eventually. I sadly failed to get photos of the whole process, from cutting to storage to applying preservative to slow drying. My main current issue is dealing with some mold growth on the pieces, but that’s a different thread (literally).

I have high hopes for the finished table, though. The grain pattern and colors in the wood are awesome, if I can just bring the wood through drying unscathed.

-- Pete in Wilmette, IL

View lilredweldingrod's profile

lilredweldingrod

2495 posts in 2569 days


#5 posted 07-16-2010 02:48 AM

I’ll be watching for the finish of this. I favorited this just to make sure I don’t miss it. Good luck on the drying.
I’ve crossed my fingers, toes, legs, arms eyes,, Well you get the picture. lol I’m sure it will turn out beautiful.

Just curious, did this slab come from Armenia? I’ve never seen Siberian Elm. Some woods have the most beautiful iridescent colors in their grains. Good luck, Rand

View Pete Tevonian's profile

Pete Tevonian

78 posts in 2380 days


#6 posted 07-16-2010 10:33 PM

This slab came from the parkway outside my house in Wilmette, IL. But Siberian Elms in general came from China. They are a Dutch Elm resistance relative of the American Elm, so they were brought to the states as a potential replacement for DED Elms. Unfortunately, after being planted widely in certain areas, folks realized they’re kind of nasty as far as trees go. They grow extremely quickly, they use up a lot of the available ground water (starving other plants), their limbs are brittle and have a tendency to fall (on people, some claim), and they are hard to get rid off, with roots and stumps throwing out suckers even after the main tree is felled. They are considered a weed tree by many, and at least one arborist I’ve read called them the single worst tree in the world. To make matters worse, they are also called piss trees because the wood smells a lot like a barnyard as it’s milled.

All that being said, the grain is a very cool two-tone brown, with orange and rosy hints. They have a thin, dramatically white sapwood, which is a great contrast to the heartwood. And they apparently work well and take finish well. It’s a light/medium density hardwood, softer and lighter than American Elm.

I have found that the grain will have hard rings and soft, feather wood between the rings. I just got some Crystalac grain filler that I’m going to use on some finishing tests. I love the way the grain looks on the samples I have going with regular shellac, oils and varnish. And some 320 and 400 grit sandpaper has produced a very smooth feel, aside from some pock marking in those in-between grain areas. The filler should fix that.

Anyway, there’s no marked for Siberian Elm. Nobody grows it (on purpose), there’s not enough volume to stock it in a lumberyard, and thus you can’t just go buy it. You can find some slabs here and there online, and plenty of folks have it nearby, but it’s not even on the list of “woods I want to use for this project” for most woodworkers, so it doesn’t get talked about. I happened to have access to 600 bd ft of it, and it looked great when they were cutting down the tree, so I had a local guy mill it for me. This cookie-slab is project #1. I have planks of sufficient size and thickness to make a great dining table, or numerous smaller pieces.

I’ve only found a couple examples of Siberian Elm furniture online, most of which are part of this site:
http://www.dumonds.com/table_coffee_accent_siberian_larger.htm
http://www.dumonds.com/table_dining_accent_siberian_elm2.htm

-- Pete in Wilmette, IL

View lilredweldingrod's profile

lilredweldingrod

2495 posts in 2569 days


#7 posted 07-18-2010 09:40 PM

Hi Pete,
Those pictures show a beautiful grain. The table you mentioned is going to be a beauty. I especially like the grain in the crotch of the two slabs. To bad it is such a pest.

I had a Chinaberry in my yard and it was constantly sending up sprouts all over the yard. I finally cut it down and then had to contend with having to dig up the stump and roots. I finally poured Copper sulfate on all the root ends to kill everything out.

I’m looking forward to seeing the finished pictures of you table. How about a blog showing the step by step on this one?
Be safe, Rand

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com