I find it a bit amazing how as life happens, you can stumble onto the opportunities for projects you have wanted to do. This project was spurred by just such an event when I went to a Christmas party hosted by my husband’s coworker. She was much like me and as she gave me a tour of her outstanding house, she explained she had a huge log she was hoping to make into a variety of things. It was quite serendipitous to say the least. I had already had thoughts about things I would make if I could get my hands on a wood slab or stump.
The above photo was the slab her husband cut for me. It was enormous and heavy. They had a lot of other log sizes, so I thought I’d grab a few other wood slabs with a smaller circumference. I hadn’t ever used a chainsaw so cautiously went into trying to cut a piece. It was super difficult, so we came to the conclusion the blade needed to be sharpened.
The two of us lifted this huge sucker into the back of my Honda Odyssey by bending from those knees. I felt pretty powerful after that. Definitely small but mighty.
Wood Slab Struggles
The wood slab was just too tall for what I intended. I searched around to try to find a sawmill to cut it in half. I finally found one in Pennsylvania who said they could do it. When I got there, it was too wide for their machine, so they used a chainsaw to cut it in half. It looked quite difficult and took much longer than expected. $50 later, I had two wood slabs, one that was relatively even and another in a fairly rough uneven shape. The rest of this story is about the one in rough shape.
One side was about 2 inches higher than the other. The best side still had chainsaw divets in it as well. Even trying to use a chain saw to even the height would be quite difficult. This is when the router came into play. A router can be used for a variety of projects and it seemed to be the only option for this one.
Materials for Evening it Out
- Drill and Screws
- Low Grit Sandpaper
The first task is to create a square from the 2×4’s just larger than the size of the wood slab. Then cut the legs for the stand just a smidge taller than the tallest point of the wood slab.
Next up, creating the router sled. Initially, I used some scrap wood. The boards were not quite long enough, which made it difficult to maneuver. I can verify for you, it’s much easier if you use boards that extend well beyond the frame perimeter. From there, it’s just a matter of setting the height of the straight router bit. I used a 1/2″ straight router bit but would’ve gone with a 5/8″ bit if I had it. Then, it’s just a matter of sliding the router back and forth on the sled, which is meant to keep it level.
SOOO MUCH SAWDUST
Sawdust is going to go everywhere with this project. Make sure to do it in a fairly clear space for easier cleanup.
Smoothing the Wood Slab
The router did a great job of leveling the whole wood slab out. It definitely kicked at times creating a few nicks. I decided to try using a handheld planer to smooth it out as a first step. It was just a matter of running the planer over the surface. I eventually paused on that to see how the sandpaper would work out instead.
Time to Sand
After the router, it was time to put the muscles to work to sand the wood slab with extra coarse sandpaper using the belt sander. That 36 grit coarse sandpaper was wonderful at smoothing it all out. Just be careful not to create a ton of sandpaper grooves while you are going. From there, it’s necessary to sand it with a higher grit to smooth out the coarse lines.
Look How Smooth It Is!
Not a ton of steps but definitely a lot of effort goes into this method. That was the reason I procrastinated so long on starting it. My back was aching after being bent over the slab for so long. When you don’t have all the special tools, it becomes necessary to find affordable ways to complete tasks using tools you may already have or would be useful in a variety of projects. I rely on this toolset quite a lot, so you can’t go wrong with purchasing at least a router, saw, drill, and belt sander. I hope this quick rundown helps you with your own wood slab project! Check out some other wood projects you could create with a router, like a Paddle Platter.
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