Step 1: What's a Butt Table ??
Step 2: Architecture
1) The table top (or butt)
2) The stand
3) The "feet"
Step 3: Tools and Materials
- Electric chain saw (about $50)
- Alternative to chain saw: reciprocating saw
- Chisels (be sure to buy chisels that are already sharpened)
- Electric sander
- Jig saw
- Dremel tool
- Nail gun
- Large stump for the table top
- Thick branch for the stand
- Medium thickness branch for the feet
- 150 and 220 grit sandpaper (lots)
- Oil-based stain
- Satin polyurethane
- 2 and 3 inch screws
Step 4: Terminology
Banana split: A length wise split down a branch, much like the way you cut a banana length-wise for a banana split. Some people also refer to these as rip cuts.
Butt table slice: Same as a banana cut , but taken out of a trunk rather than just a branch.
Crotch: A limb containing a branch that shoots out at a good angle for making a hook. Warning: a crotch stick can be rather itchy, though. (thanks to spanner1969 and anabelle)
Step 6: Table Top: Mark the Slab Width on Trunk (1 Min)
To help keep the resulting slab somewhat the same depth all around, first mark the depth all around the trunk. This will help keep your cut straight. A little.
Step 7: Table Top: Do the Cut Thang (2 Hrs)
Wear eye goggles and ear plugs!
Step 8: TIP: Ear Plugs
Step 9: Table Top: Raw Slab
Step 10: Table Top: Plane (2 Hrs)
For this I recommend an electric planer. (I wish I had known there was such thing as an electric planer a long time ago.)
You can also use a chisel or hand planer. If you use a hand planer I'd recommend using a workmate or similar type of bench/stand with dogs.
Here is a great Instructable with an alternative (and smarter) way to level off your butt:
Step 11: TIP: $@*#! Plane Away From Plastic Bags
Step 12: Tip: Work Bench and Bench Dogs
If you use a planer, you might want to engage a WorkMate-style workbench with bench dogs to hold down the slab.
Step 13: Table Top: Sand (1 Hr)
I'd recommend an electric sander but NOT a battery-powered sander because you will run down the battery excessively and be constantly re-charging it. A battery-powered sander is just not a good tool for butt sanding.
Step 14: Table Top: Alcohol Bath (optional)
To help keep the slab's cracks (hee hee) from splitting, you might want to soak the table top for a few days in a bath of denatured alcohol.
An easy (sort of) way to do this is to place the slab into a plastic trash bag, add three or four cans of alcohol and place the whole thing in a plastic bin.
Or you can just skip this step.
Step 15: Table Top: Crack (hee Hee) Filling (optional)
Also, here is an instructable for more thorough crack (hee hee) filling:
Step 16: Table Top: Staining Prep (5 Min)
Be sure to wipe down the slab with denatured alcohol. Canned air can also be helpful to remove dust particles from the smaller cracks (hee hee).
Step 17: Table Top: Staining, Cont. (5 Min + Dry Time)
I usually use two or three coats of stain, depending on how crappy the first layer turned out.
Step 18: TIP: Staining
Tap a few holes in the inner lip of the stain can (with a hammer and nail) when you first open it. This will allow the stain to drip back into the can on its own and will make it a little easier to close the lid and re-open it at a later time. Sort of.
"They" say to sand lightly between coats of stain (and urethane), but all that has ever done for me is scratch up the surface (even with 2000 grit sandpaper). Plus it means I have to wipe off more sand dust. So, eh whatever.
You might consider applying a wood pre-conditioner. Wood pre-conditioner is supposed to help the stain to seep into the wood consistently. I've never gotten much out of these products except an extra $15 or so on my credit card charges, so perform this step if you'd like to experiment with it.
Step 19: Table Top: Polyurethane (5 Min + Dry Time)
Be sure to mix this stuff up before using!
As you apply it (I use a sponge brush) watch carefully for lil' tiny bubbles that will show up on the slab; go over them (the bubbles) again with your brush if you see them. After all, you don't want to end up with a bubble butt table top.
Step 20: Table Top: Final
Step 21: Stand: Size
Here I used a branch that I'll cut to about 30 inches high, with two children branchettes near its top to use for more support.
Step 22: Stand: Strip Bark (if Needed) (1 Hr)
A sharp chisel works better than a dull chisel.
A tetanus shot is advised if you are a klutz. ahem.
Step 23: Stand: Cut (1 Hr)
I'd recommend a table saw for this task, but you could probably also use a reciprocating saw or even a circular saw if you have good balance.
Be sure to wear goggles and earplugs!
The photo here demonstrates the stand and table saw positioning.
Step 24: TIP: Table Saw Deep Cuts
Here, in this photo, you can see that the blade is set pretty low. Pass the branch through the blade, then raise the blade about a centimetre and go through it again, and so on.
Step 25: TIP: Table Saw Goggles
Step 26: Stand: Sand, Stain, Polyurethane (20 Min + Dry Time)
Step 27: Feet: Cut (1 Hr)
Make a mark along the length of the branch first to give you a rough idea of where you want the cut to be.
I haven't figured out the correct length that the feet should be but I had to make a new pair for this table because the feet were too short which rendered the table too unstable. If I find a good rule of thumb or if anyone knows of an equation to determine the best size feet, I'll update this step.
Thanks to Instrucable member sconners for pointing out that the feet should probably be about as long as the diameter of your table top slab.
Step 28: TIP: Table Saw Rip Cuts on Branches
A tree branch is not perfectly straight though, so makes the job even more difficult.
When I split my feet, I used the same technique as cross-cutting the stand; namely by doing many passes. It took about 45 minutes to complete the rip cuts.
Make yourself a rip stick: shown in the photos. At the tip of each of the claws of the rip stick is a pointy nail which helps grab on to the branch as you guide it through the blade. A normal push stick guides the branch from its back end. The fence keeps the branch from rolling away. Take your time and do several passes. After each pass, stop the blade, re-position the branch, then raise the blade and do another pass.
Step 29: Feet: Cut Result
Step 30: Feet: Put Side-by-side
Step 31: Feet: Place (temporary) Cross Braces Under Feet
Step 32: Feet: Attach Temporary Cross Braces (10 Min)
Use either a nail gun or screws to attach the cross braces.
Here, I used a nail gun but I recommend screws (you'll see why soon)
Make sure that the nails or screws that you use to attach the braces are short enough so that they don't go through the top of the feet. Yep. Been there. Done that too. < sigh >
Step 33: Feet: Create Template for Stand (1 Min)
Step 34: Feet: Stand Template Example
Step 35: Feet: UPDATED STEP
You'll have to use a pin or even a drill to mark the template's outline to its other side if you want to get a good fit and if your stand/branch is not very symmetrical.
Mine (my stand branch) was pretty symmetrical so I did not notice that the template was actually the mirror image of the outline when it is applied in to the bottom of the feet in the next step.
Step 36: Feet: Tape Template to Bottom of Feet (2 Min)
Tape down the template when the best position is found.
As mentioned in the previous step, the template is actually upside down here, so unless your stand branch is pretty symmetrical, you'll actually want to either put the template on top of the feet (rather than the bottom) OR puncture holes in the template and then flip it when placing it as in the photo on the bottom of the feet OR ignore this and just continue anyway.
Step 37: Feet: Drill Along the Template (7 Min)
Yes, you'll want to drill all the way through the feet and out the top of the feet.
Step 38: Feet: Template Drilling Complete
Step 39: Feet: Remove Template and Braces (2 Min)
In this photo I had to use a cat's paw to remove the stupid nails from the nail gun that I had used for the braces. This was tedious. <sigh>
Step 40: Feet: Clamp to Workbench (2 Min)
Step 41: Feet: Saw Out Template Marked Area (5 Min X 2)
Step 42: Feet: Complete Half Circle Cut Out (5 Min X 2)
Repeat for the other footing.
Step 43: TIP: Watch Out When Cutting to an Edge ($#!&)
Wait for my next Instructable, "How to repair a deck edge ruined by a jig saw".
Step 44: Feet: Trim the Cut Out (7 Min X 2)
Step 45: TIP: Dremel Chuck
Step 46: Feet: Sand (20 Min)
Step 47: Feet: Position Together With Hole
Step 48: Feet: Trace Plywood Feet Shoes (7 Min)
Trace the shape of the feet onto the plywood.
Step 49: Feet: Registration Marks (2 Min)
Since the stand is not perfectly round it will only fit into the feet hole a certain way. Making these registration marks will help to re-insert the stand at the same location at a later time.
Step 50: Feet: Registration Mark, Cont.
Step 51: Feet: Cut Out Feet Shape of Plywood (10 Min)
Since the feet are not perfectly straight, the plywood will help keep them stable.
Step 52: Feet: Clean Up Plywood Shoe (10-20 Min)
Due to quantum mechanics, whenever you use a jig saw, and no matter how accurate you cut, the result will never be correct.
That is why they invented the Dremel tool.
So trim the plywood back to fit the feet.
Step 53: Feet: Glue Shoe to Bottoms of Feet (3 Min + Dry Time)
You can use the registration marks to double-check that the feet are in the same position relative to the stand, then remove the stand.
Let the glue dry.
Go have yourself an alcohol bath while it dries. hee hee
Step 54: Feet: Sigh More Trimming (20 Min)
Quantum mechanics will again play tricks on you.
Here I had to trim yet again after the glue had dried.
Step 55: Feet: Glue Plywood Shoe to Stand (5 Min + Dry Time)
Let the glue dry and go have another alcohol bath. This is why woodworking is such an enjoyable profession.
Step 56: Feet-to-stand: Reinforce With Screws (7 Min)
Pre-drill a few 1/8 inch holes for the screws (see yellow text).
Use a 5/16 drill bit and drill down about 1/4 inch to create a "dimple" on top of the pre holes (see magenta text).
Drill in 2.5 inch or longer #8 deck screws. By drilling a dimple, the screw head will sink flush with the shoe bottom.
Step 57: Feet-to-stand: Reinforce From Side (10 Min)
Here I pre-drilled 1/8 inch holes into the stand, then drilled a 5/16 inch counter-sink hole about 1/4 inch deep, and finally screwed in a 2.5 inch deck screw.
I plugged up the hole with a stick which will later be cut off and sanded flush.
Step 58: Stand-to-slab: Put Butt on to Stand
Step 59: Ahem.
Place shims under the stand top to hold the left/right level.
Here is a great Instructable with an alternative (and smarter) way to level off your table top once it is attached.
Step 60: Stand-to-slab: Level Front/back Axis (10 Min)
Here you can see the shims placed to position the level level.
This will become very frustrating and you will be defying the laws of physics, but continue to shim and level.
Step 61: TIP: Level Mnemonic
When the bubble tilts one way it REALLY wants to keep going, so tilt the level that way in order to get the bubble straight.
In other words, tilt the level in order to help the bubble try to escape.
Why remember this mnemonic?
Some time you may be using a level with one finger and holding a post, pole, or board with your other hand and don't have the luxury of tilting the level both ways to try to remember which way it has to tilt.
Step 62: Stand-to-slab: Attach L-brackets (7 Min X 4)
Step 63: Stand-to-slab: Disguise L-brackets (optional)
But I created another set of "feet"-like thingies and screwed them in to sort-of hide the brackets. Not sure if it looks better that way or not.
Step 64: Table: Stain, Urethane Feet (7 Min + Dry Time)
Stain, urethane the feet.
Use these cheese-pyramid thingies to hold up the table while you stain the feet. Helps keep your floor from getting stain on it.
Step 65: Finally!
Step 66: Two Seconds Later . . . (2 Secs)
Step 67: More Butt Stuff
Here's a butt moon.
For more stuff you can make from a tree, see: