Sometime size does matter.

I’m always a little saddened when I see a huge old tree chopped into pieces and discarded on the curb. There is so much missed potential in all that wood. Since originally planning the Metalworx shop, I’ve been keeping an eye out for a big log to be the center piece. Instead of a sterile metal pedestal, I wanted something different to mount the anvils on. It’s ironic, I know…to have a wooden centerpiece in a shop that is supposed to have industrial theme. But, I can’t help it. There is just something about a big stump that gives me a well-anchored feeling. We’ll this log caught my eye after picking up the kids. It was massive…exactly the kind of “presence” I wanted from a center piece. I returned to the site equipped with 10′ lever bars and went to work.


Gravity doesn’t always cooperate.stumpy 01

It took only a minute to realize that the target stump was out of my league, WAY out of my league. Even with the 10′ levers, I could barely budge it. So, I set my sites on its little brother. At only 22″ diameter, this little guy won’t be as impressive. But, gravity is what it is and I simply didn’t stand a chance to get stump-zilla. Turns out, if my good friend Jim had not been in the vicinity to help out, then even this little log would have stayed put. Jim and I levered the log onto the cargo rack and Stumpy was off towards his new home at Mentors & Makers.


stumpy 02Turns out, gravity followed me all the way to the shop. Stumpy is so massive that I had to put an 8′ lever on the upright dolly just to be able to rock it over. I decided to mount Stumpy on a wheeled platform because there is no way I wanted to repeat this challenge every time Stumpy needed a change of location. The furniture dolly claims to have a 1000lb capacity. We’ll see how it holds up. The original tree assailant made a really clean cut on the bottom end of Stumpy. But, the top needed to be planed and shaped.




Have you ever used a router to plane a surface?

Now, this should have been the easiest part of the process. A little nibble with the chain saw and then on to the fun. Unfortunately, my chain saw wasn’t very cooperative and really didn’t want to start.  Air filter? No. Spark arrester? No. Bad gas? Maybe. Carburetor tuning? Probably. Eventually, it gave me enough run time to get a couple of mostly level surfaces. I made two different heights to accommodate different users. I also put a slight ergonomic slant in the lower level. Though non-traditional, it results in a much more natural position for the wrist. After roughing with the chain saw, I finally got to the step I’ve been looking forward to. Using the router as a planer.


stumpy 03stumpy 04

I’ve been looking for an excuse to build an extended router base for planing large pieces. It went much quicker than I expected and wound up working like a charm. The long piece of polycarbonate and the 1×2 stiffeners were just laying in the scrap pile. What a blessing! After wresting against gravity and a stubborn chain saw all morning, it was quite a relief. The idea is to float this long router base over two rails that surround the work surface. I just screwed the rails directly to Stumpy. He wasn’t doing anything else at the time. I didn’t know what to expect routing this end grain and heart wood. The 3/4 bit and 1-1/4 HP Porter Cable chewed through it trivially and the result was pretty amazing. Just a little sanding removed the tool marks and resulted in a surface as smooth as our dinner table.

Every time I see the inner ring structure of an old tree, it gives me pause. Each one is so unique. They are always beautiful. Is it just me who thinks so?

“Come on Stumpy, Get a grip!”

stumpy 05After a few mounting holes, Stumpy is ready for some wood preservative/sealer. Eventually, the cells will dry up and result in cracking regardless of treatment. However, we can slow the process down significantly. Unfortunately, the sprayer/preservative combination isn’t available locally. As I’m waiting for the preservative to come in, we’ll go ahead and put Stumpy into service.


So, if you need some therapy, come by and pound until your heart’s content. Stumpy will be happy to help. If Stumpy inspires you to put some giant log to use, please let us know in the comments below.stumpy 06

I'm the manager of Mentors & Makers. That's not the most important thing about me, but the first concern that most visitors to this website have. Though I have a Ph.D in mechanical engineering, I don't fit well within many of the related stereotypes. I'm passionate about people, education, creativity, and God...not in any particular order. Mentors & Makers evolved from my long time investment in technology-based youth-mentoring programs. Specifically, I'm president of Brazos Robotics. Over the last two decades, we've experimented with a lot of programs, variations, and implementations. Mentors & Makers is the latest attempt to increase the impact that our investments have on the next generation.