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Chronicals of the making of a tree stump fairy house

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Been doing more sanding when weather permits, kind of cold out there sometimes, and way too much dust for in the house.  Doing more of the fine sanding now, getting the wood very smooth.  I figured out where I want doors and windows, at least part of them but haven't had the courage to cut yet, cutting is so final.  I  think I am going to work on the bed, I can do lathe work in the house on the tiny lathe and it is not very messy, at least no dust and I can do it on newspaper to cleanup fast.  The bed spread is done now, I finished it last night.  The final act was sewing on the ruffle, I started matching the two pieces but quickly realized that wasn't going to work because it buckled the ruffle up making it look awful.  I had to pull the ruffle a little to get it right, the bad part of that was undoing about 4" of hard won ruffle because stretching the top part made it way too long.  It is not the easiest part to undo because of all the rows that only knit part of the row and turn, plus the yarn overs and knit two together make it easier to lose a stitch while taking it apart on such tiny work.  I think  my next knitting project will be a blanket or maybe more then one, I do have a blanket chest to but in the bedroom.  I am going to work on designing the bed first then start in.  Since my iPad battery is dead I have no way of putting pictures on there so I will if I get the battery fixed.

Been doing more sanding when weather permits, kind of cold out there sometimes, and way too much dust for in the house.  Doing more of the fine sanding now, getting the wood very smooth.  I figured out where I want doors and windows, at least part of them but haven't had the courage to cut yet, cutting is so final.  I  think I am going to work on the bed, I can do lathe work in the house on the tiny lathe and it is not very messy, at least no dust and I can do it on newspaper to cleanup fast.  The bed spread is done now, I finished it last night.  The final act was sewing on the ruffle, I started matching the two pieces but quickly realized that wasn't going to work because it buckled the ruffle up making it look awful.  I had to pull the ruffle a little to get it right, the bad part of that was undoing about 4" of hard won ruffle because stretching the top part made it way too long.  It is not the easiest part to undo because of all the rows that only knit part of the row and turn, plus the yarn overs and knit two together make it easier to lose a stitch while taking it apart on such tiny work.  I think  my next knitting project will be a blanket or maybe more then one, I do have a blanket chest to but in the bedroom.  I am going to work on designing the bed first then start in.  Since my iPad battery is dead I have no way of putting pictures on there so I will if I get the battery fixed.

I haven’t posted in a while because this is a really busy time on the farm getting ready for winter, plus I am still doing a lot of sanding on the inside to make the wood smooth, and sanding is a boring topic for a blog.  Sanding makes a mess and has to be done in the shop, and it is very cold out there right now.  I have been wavering on making windows then cutting holes or making holes then the windows, I can see pluses and minuses to both ways.  Windows are going to be tricky because of the nature of the stump, I doubt the thickness of the walls is exactly the same anywhere in the stump.  I have decided on a small curved top window with a single vertical pane divider.  My inspiration is a odd window in the back of my barn.  To combat the varying thickness I am going to make a 3 part window and file the trim inside the opening to match the walls.  The door will also be curved on top.  There will be 3 windows in the front, two upstairs and one down,  and the door, so far one on the side downstairs, and that is as far as I have gotten.  The other side with the large opening will have a door in the opening so I don’t think any other downstairs willdows will be necessary.   It seems like I need to know where furniture is going before deciding on other windows, so I will think about that.  

I started knitting on my bedspread, the center is done, now doing the 4 side strips.  I like how it is coming out with the DMC pearl cotton Andalusia US size 0 knitting needle.  The below picture is the one that cane with the pattern

 

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I was excited to get my led lights from Evans Designs the other day, I am waiting for some crystals to work on the light that will go in the peak of the roof.  I need to get it in place before I do more work on the roof so the wires can run between the layers.  I think I may gave to get some chain to hang it, I was originally going to fix it in the peak, but hanging a little would be better.  I have been doing a ton of sanding, and still have lots to do, the curves of the stump and the hardwood will make it a long project.   The door is cut, and that is making it easier to sand some of the inaccessible parts.  I have been playing around with door and window placement and have settled on a door and window design, I would like them rounded on the top, the door will be strips with bands at the top and bottom.  The windows will be rounded on the top with a single divider vertically, I got inspiration from a window in the way back of my barn that is built like that.  

Two pictures of the opening:

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I took a break from the roof line, mostly because I am not quite sure how I want it finished on the inside.  One of the 200+yo sugar maples lost a limb last summer and the biggest part of the stump is still sitting up there.  It is partly sawed up but I had the bright idea of using a slab to set my fairy house on.  The slab would give me ample room to landscape if I decide to, or the natural wood would be nice looking as a base.  The limb was about 1/3 of the tree and as big as a lot of 50-75yo trees.  I like the shape of it, lots of curves.  

The next part of my project is going to be cut an opening that will be hinged and open for inside access.  After thinking the whole thing over, and dithering about it, I waffled back and forth on wether the opening should be cut to the bottom, or slightly above.  If it is slightly above, then opening it won't interfere with landscaping if I go with that route.  I am delaying the actual cutting because it is going to be difficult, and I don't want to ruin the stump after all these hours I put into the hollowing.  

This is a picture of how I want it settled on the slab, then a picture of the slab followed by close ups of the interesting grain. I also included pictures of the curves.

 

 

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I got the outline of what I wanted to do on the roof, but should have thought about what I wanted the inside to look like, probably before I joined the upper and lower parts.  I have been muddling over this the past few days.  I thought to cut a hexagon piece of wood to place on the bottom of the peaked part, which will be the ceiling of the second floor.  Realizing that the top of the hexagon would need some treatment along with the v's that make up the peak, I thought about several approaches that could be done without taking the structure apart.  I finally thought about making the v sections out of strips of wood, maybe popsicle sticks, but longer.  Then I thought about a set of bamboo place mats that I got at Mardens, the set of 4 were 99 cents.  I set about taking one apart, and one mat provided 85 12" strips.  They have lines where the strings to hold them together were, but I like the look.  So I will start filling around with that, and plan a window in the peak.  I am thinking about lights, but haven't quite figured out where to run wires in a house without wallpaper or something to hide them.  

Picture of the structure in progress is the first picture. The second picture is the bamboo placemats with a bunch of strips from one taken apart. The third picture is a close up of the strips with the line across them. It 

 

 

 

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Today I joined the hexagon with the peak, I like the sizing.  The next step is to add cross pieces to attach secondary beams, then I will trim up all the beams.  The secondary beams will also end up all being at different angles.  I haven't figured out what to cover it with, but the shingles will be pine cone pieces.  A very good friend of mine promised to send me some large pine cones, I wasn't in a hurry, but she would mention it occasionally when we chatted.  She was a long time cancer battler, and the cancer finally won after many years.  About a week after she passed away a box came in the mail, I looked at the return address and a shiver ran up my back, it was from my friend, I don't know if she mailed it or if someone else did after she was gone, I do remember her saying they were all boxed up and addressed so maybe it was found and mailed.  I am sad that she will never see the final result, but happy that I am using her gift the way I said I would!

below is a picture of the cobbled together roofline, the second picture showed it from the top and you can see that the front is lower then the back.  I was going to even it out but decided to leave it the way it was even though it would be more work to put it together

 

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I decided on a roof line I liked for the stump and got started trying to cobble something together.  It has been hit or miss all week.  For some reason I ended up doing the peaked part first, bad move.  I made a bunch of tiny roof support pieces of wood on the table saw 1/2" x 1/4" and about 18" long, I figured I could cut all the pieces I wanted from them, however I may have to make more.  The first attempt was just a tryout to figure out the size, it was a real disaster, I don't know what I was thinking, but I didn't line up the pieces in the same direction so that next supports could fit on the wide section, that got trashed, or rather sawed apart to reused the pieces.  I then started with a dowel center and cut 30 degree attachments on each.  That ended up way too wide.  I am also finding that there is no place to put a clamp on after attaching the first 4 arms.  The third attempt was a much sharper angle with a dowel center, I didn't make any attempt to cut it to size at that point but I still thought it was too big and I was having trouble figuring out the next part.  So I started in a different route after looking at a lot of gazebo roofs, I made a 6 sided circle with 30 degree angles on some 2" pieces of wood, after glueing it together I started estimating the angles on the pieces to reach the stump starting on the front so the hexagon would be centered from side to side, but a little to the back.  I had them all glued Saturday night but pushed my luck to try it on the stump and dropped it with still slightly wet glue, mess!  I put it back together yesterday and added the final leg, but it was not the correct angle, so this morning I cut it off with the razor saw and corrected the angle.  I discovered yesterday that the third peak is just the right size to join to the hexagon so that will be the next step.  Once the structure is all together I will make a curved top probably from paper mache, then I need to figure out what the ceiling will look like from the inside before I finish the outside.  I would like to make a dormer either in the broad lower section or the peaked part, although I may just make a small window in the peak with a slight roof over it. 

The first picture is the hexagon with the beams sticking out, I am gluing on the last beam.  The second picture is the peak, it looks angled in that picture where I have it perched on my crowded bench, but it is straight.

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While drilling and chiseling the inside I did break the back door off in half accidentally, but I think it will be a good thing because I wouldn't have been able to clean it out much less sand if smooth. I used the dremel carving tool to get it mostly cleaned out and the next step will be sanding using both dremel sanding drums and the 2" sanding circles that also attach to the dremel.  The inside of the main trunk was a trial and error process.  I started using a burr rasp that attaches to a drill, but it wasn't very good at getting rid of all the lumps and bumps, and was hated to manage.  I switched to trying the dremel, but that was just too small.  I thought about the angle grinder, I had used it for years with a rigid base that attached sanding disks, not for building projects but to trim pony and donkey feet, was quick and easy and just took offf a little at a time.  My angle grinder is a 4" not a 4.5", but I have disks in both 4 and 4.5". The 4.5" ones hange over the rigid disk and that proved to be an asset while trying to get into the curves of the trunk.  I was wearing safety glasses during this process but discovered that some of the little bits of wood shot out rather forcefully and resorted to leather gloves to protect my hands.  Most of the smoothing was done with 35 and 50 sandpaper disks. The inside is now smooth, and I was able to rapidly clean out some spots I couldn't get to withthe chisel or drill.  After getting it mostly smooth I added glue to some sawdust and filled in some places around the balcony opening.  

 

The next step was going to be cut an opening in the front to hinge for access to the inside, but I backed up and decided that a roofline should be astablished first.  I decided on a round roofwith a peak in the middle, maybe curved at the end, kind of like a whitches hat.  I made several attempts this week making a structure for the roof, and learned what I didn't want.  The first two peaks were too wide, and now I am going to do the gently curved part first.  The back of the stump is taller then the front, making it more challenging, plus it will end up being more of an oval then a circle.  I want to put a dormer in the peaked part of the roof.

The following two pictures are after using the angle grinder to smooth the inside, the first one shows more clearing out using the grinder.  The next two are a picture of the top where the roof will be, you can see the back is higher then the front.  

 

 

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I spent several weeks attacking the inside alternately with a drill with a 5/8" spade bit and a chisel and hammer, I ended up with a giant planting pot full of chips and a a very rough interior. I got the bottom leveled up, the final leveling will have to be done after all the center is cleaned out.  I went down back to find a shelf fungus to use as a balcony, with the dremel I did some fitting.  

 

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After doing some leveling I started by using the hole saw to cut the back door, then drills and chiseled to clear as much as I could.  There was still a lot of wood in the center as you can see by the second photo.  The third photo is looking in the side hole, that will need a lot of cleaning out too.

 

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I am a collector, let's face it, but when you collect tree stumps for future use you need a big storage place lol.  This tree stump was collected many years ago, I was trying to place it, I have been here on the farm about 25 years.  You tend to place things in time by major events in your life, sadly one of mine is the death of my husband 14 years ago, that day still seems like yesterday to me, I will never forget every event in that jumbled day, but dislike it being one of my major events.  A couple of months prior, I remember finding the tree stump down back and lugging it back up to the house, Gordon laughed at me, but kindly, then helped me carry it!  It sat around the barn for years because I just didn't want to think about the whole thing but this spring I decided it was time to do something about it. These are the first pictures I took of it, It is skewed to one side, and I wanted the big opening on the side to be upright enough to be French doors and a balcony.  The last picture is the "back door"which is a branch, before I cut the hole.  A lot of trimming and belt sanding occurred before I got it to sit the way I wanted it to look.

 

 

 

 

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