For the past year, Mike and I have been harboring neighborhood fugitives in our garage: three stumps from the Great Storm of 2014 That Knocked Out Power and Trees.
Back last September, my dad helped me gather the three stumps from people’s front yards where they’d cut down trees that had broken and chainsawed them into sections for the city to pick up. I really wanted about eight stumps but we narrowed to three – two smaller and one bigger. The two smaller ones could fit in the back of his Prius, but the larger one he held and rolled down a hill while sitting in the back of his open Prius while I drove. Super safe, I promise.
And so, Stumps hung out in our garage. We left them for almost a year so they could dry out. Partly because mold, partly because bugs, and partly because it makes getting the bark off easier.
I don’t think anyone told Stumps that it’s supposed to be easy to remove the bark. It took me five nights of chiseling (and drinking) to get the bark off of just one of the small stumps. It was a slow process.
The first day I thought I could just whack off the bark while the stump was still in our garage. I was dripping sweat and was standing, so the next day my back hurt so bad I couldn’t sit properly. LESSON LEARNED.
A few days later, I had Mike move Stump to our patio, and I sat on the ground to work on it. That worked much better. I also approached from the side versus the top, which helped reduce the amount of times I nicked into the wood (versus just removing the bark).
This meant I now had to sand. I bought some sandpaper but thought it would be easier to borrow my dad’s sanders. He brought over his belt sander that worked well for getting the deeper nicks out that I chiseled in, and a rotary sander that did the rest of the job.
The directions I found online said to bring it inside for two weeks to “acclimate” before putting poly on it. So that’s what I did. I also put some felt things on the bottom so it wasn’t resting directly on the ground. I tripled up on the side that was a little lower to try to even out the top a bit.
I sanded a lot on the top but it still is not 100% level. I figured it was good enough, though. I did the super-scientific, precise “car” test and set a toy car on various areas on top to see if it would roll off. It stayed put except for that tiny section in the top right of the picture below, so it’s pretty level.