January 16, 2013

My Year Long Project

Here's a project almost a year in the making, and spoiler alert- it's not done yet.  I figured that if I blogged about it though, it was get my tush moving and hold me accountable to finally complete it.  It started with me swooning over this West Elm Natural Tree Stump Side Table:

And then nearly fainting over the price:

 200 Dollars?  For a tree stump?  I've lived in Minnesota too long to pay 200 bones for something you could find discarded in a forest or someone's log pile.  So I put my Dad on the hunt, and a few months later- he came through- big time.

Please forgive the green sled in the background- I really need to work on my garage shots.
  My photo records say I shot this on March 4, 2012.  Not quite a year, but I'm pushing it.  I don't want to give you the wrong impression and say that this was totally easy.  My Dad had to do some fancy chain saw cutting to get a flat top and bottom to make this bad boy level.  I was pregnant at the time, so choose not to participate in the chain saw fun.  Pregnancy= not the best time to learn how to wield a chain saw.  The log also has a pretty deep hole in the center of the top- but I think I can handle that one down the road.

So step #1- time for some made sanding to get the 30+ years of dirt and grime off the sides.  I used a combination of my hand palm sander:

 And my Dremel Multi Max sanding tip to get into all the curves and divots.  The Dremel may be my favorite tool in garage by the way... well maybe my table saw, or my new router... but this Dremel is one amazing little tool that can do just about anything. 

So yes, that is my gloved hand, outside in the snow, sanding down the trunk.  And herein lies the problem of why this project has nearly taken me a year.  It needs a lot of sanding.  A lot.  When we first brought it home we were just getting started on our Insane Home Improvement of 2012: Two bathroom guts, 600+ square feet of wood floors, refacing & finishing six sets of steps, creating a Nursery, etc... So I spent a little time sanding it down, but it mostly hung out in the garage waiting for me to have more time to spend with it.  I kept thinking I would get to it soon, but the projects kept stacking up, and before we knew it I looked like I was smuggling a basketball. 

When our little DIY project showed up a couple weeks early, I actually thought for a moment that I was going to have some time while on maternity leave to work on projects.  With both an infant and a four year old at home.  Yep, I'm nothing if not optimistic.  But of course it didn't happen.  Since sanding is so messy, I had to do it outside, and since it's so cold I couldn't bring the boys out with me.  Which meant I had to wait until they were both sleeping, and if that little miracle ever happened, the last thing I wanted to do was run loud tools that could wake them up. 

So I've only had a few occasions to get out there an work on this bad boy, and it's taking a long time.  For example, it took about 40 minutes to turn just this side from this:

To this:

You'll see that I got rid of a lot of the darker black color which was my goal, but picked up some new brown color in that streak in the center.  I think its going to look okay though, natural, but not dirty.  While the before and after both look pretty nice now as raw wood, when I finish this piece up with poly those dark black spots get really dark and splotchy looking, so it's worth it now to take them down rather than regret it later.

So here I am, officially on notice to get this little side table finished up before March 4, 2013- the one year mark.  Let's hope I get it done sooner than that, because the Hubs is chomping at the bit to get started with the Family Room.  How about you guys- am I the only one that has a nagging project that's been on the list for forever?  Anyone else like to sand outside in Minnesota in the middle of January?  My timing isn't great on this one, but it will have to do.


  1. I came across your blog a few months ago (probably looking for bathroom ideas.) And have now read it from the beginning to today. Wow! Thanks so much for taking the time to post everything. Your home is lovely and the work that you and your family are doing (and attention to detail) is very inspiring. Your writing is fun to read and I keep laughing at your Matthew McConaughey comments. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Mitch! We're admittedly slowing down a bit after nearly 2 years of constant work, but we've still got a few big projects coming up this year that I can't wait to blog about!

  2. I'm sure it will look awesome when it's done! I have several projects approaching the year mark :-/