Memories of an Old Tree

Introduction: Memories of an Old Tree

About: Freelance woodworker by nights and weekends.

I cut this approximately 60" old hollow tree last year. Estimating at 1/8" per ring, it was about 250 years old; around 1765. I did a google search on events that occurred in 1765 and according to, there was a total of 24 events listed below:

Jan 11th - Frisia bans Voltaires "Traité sur la tolérance"
Jan 16th - Charles Messier catalogs M41 (galactic cluster in Canis Major) Mar 9th - After a public campaign by the writer Voltaire, judges in Paris posthumously exonerate Jean Calas of murdering his son. Calas had been tortured and executed in 1762 on the charge, though his son had actually committed suicide. Mar 22nd - Stamp Act passed; 1st direct British tax on colonists Mar 24th - Britain enacts Quartering Act, required colonists to provide temporary housing to British soldiers May 3rd - 1st US medical college opens in Philadelphia May 7th - HMS Victory (Admiral Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar, 40 years later) launched May 18th - Fire destroys a large part of Montreal, Quebec. French Enlightenment Philosopher VoltaireMay 29th - Patrick Henry's historic speech against the Stamp Act, answering a cry of "Treason!" with, "If this be treason, make the most of it!" Aug 14th - Massachusetts colonists challenge British rule by an Elm (Liberty Tree) Sep 21st - Antoine de Beauterne announces he had killed the Beast of Gévaudan, but was later proved wrong by more attacks. Oct 7th - Stamp Act Congress convenes in NY Oct 19th - Stamp Act Congress met in NY, wrote decl of rights & liberties Nov 1st - Stamp Act goes into effect in British colonies Nov 23rd - People of Frederick County Md refuse to pay England's Stamp tax Famous Birthdays Birthdays 1 - 33 of 33 Mar 4th - Charles Dibdin, England, composer/author (Sea Songs)/actor (baptized) Mar 6th - Jan Kops, Dutch agronomist/vicar Mar 7th - Nicéphore Niépce, French inventor of photography (d. 1833) Mar 18th - David H Chasse, Dutch baron/general (fought Napoleon at Waterloo) Mar 21st - Henry Fagel, Dutch/English baron/diplomat Mar 27th - Franz Xaver von Baader, German philosopher/theologist Apr 1st - Luigi Schiavonetti, Italian engraver (d. 1810) Apr 28th - Sylvestre François Lacroix, French mathematician (b. 1834) May 28th - Jean Baptiste Cartier, composer Jun 1st - Christiane Vulpius, wife of Johann W von Goethe Jun 1st - Friedrich Ludwig Seidel, composer Jun 6th - Cornelis Loots, Dutch accountant/poet (Dwingelandij) Jun 13th - Anton Eberl, composer Jun 15th - Johann Gottlieb Friedrich von Bohnenberger, German mathematician (d. 1831) Aug 21st - William IV of the United Kingdom (1830-37) Sep 17th - Gregory XVI, [Bartolomeo A Cappellari/Mauro], Italy, Pope Sep 18th - Oliver Holden, composer Sep 22nd - Paolo Ruffini, Italian mathematician (d. 1822) Sep 30th - José María Morelos, Mexican revolutionary (d. 1815) Oct 8th - Harman Blennerhassett, Irish lawyer (d. 1831) Oct 16th - Frederic Nicolas Duvernoy, composer Oct 22nd - Daniel Steibelt, composer Nov 4th - Pierre Girard, French mathematician (d. 1836) Commercial Steamboat Inventor Robert Fulton (Nov 14th)Nov 14th - Robert Fulton, Little Britain, Pen., inventor and engineer (1st commercial steamboat), (d. 1815) Nov 17th - Étienne-Jacques-Joseph-Alexandre MacDonald, French marshal (d. 1840) Nov 20th - Friedrich Heinrich Himmel, composer Nov 20th - Sir Thomas Fremantle, British naval captain (d. 1819) Nov 23rd - Thomas Attwood, composer Dec 8th - Eli Whitney, Westborough Massachusetts, inventor (Cotton Gin) Dec 10th - [Izaak J] Alexander Gogel, Dutch minister of Finance/patriot Dec 15th - Philippe-Jacques Pfeffinger, composer Dec 22nd - Johann Friedrich Pfaff, German mathematician (d. 1825) Inventor of the Cotton Gin Eli Whitney (Dec 8th)Dec 25th - Joseph Mazzinghi, composer Famous Deaths Deaths 1 - 26 of 26 Jan 4th - Joseph Franz Xaver Dominik Stalder, composer, dies at 39 Jan 12th - Johann Melchior Molter, composer, dies at 68 Jan 15th - Carlmann Kolb, composer, dies at 61 Feb 9th - Elisabetta de Gambarini, composer, dies at 33 Mar 3rd - William Stukeley, English archaeologist (b. 1687) Apr 5th - Edward Young, English poet (Love of Fame), dies at 81 Princess of Orange Maria Louise van Hessen-Kassel(Apr 9th)Apr 9th - Maria Louise van Hessen-Kassel, princess of Orange-Nassau, dies at 77 Apr 15th - Michail v Lomonosov, Russian scholar/poet, dies at 53 Apr 20th - Abigail Williams, American accuser in the Salem witch trials (b. 1674) May 17th - Alexis Claude Clairault, French mathematician (b. 1713) May 25th - Pierre-Joseph Le Blan, composer, dies at 53 Jul 6th - Ferdinand Zellbell, composer, dies at 76 Jul 15th - Charles-André van Loo, French painter (b. 1705) Aug 18th - Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor (1745-65) dies at 56 Aug 19th - Axel Fredrik Cronstedt, Swedish Chemist who discovered nickel and tungsten, dies at 42 Sep 2nd - Henry Bouquet, Swiss-born British army officer (b. 1719) Sep 10th - Jacob Gilles, pension advisor, dies at about 74 Oct 10th - Lionel Sackville, 1st Duke of Dorset, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (b. 1688) Oct 20th - William August duke of Cumberland, Engl supreme commander, dies at 44 Oct 21st - Giovanni Paolo Pannini/Panini, Italian painter/architect, dies at 73 Oct 31st - Duke of Cumberland, English politician/uncle of George III, dies Nov 30th - George Glas, British merchant and adventurer (b. 1725) Dec 3rd - Lord John Philip Sackville, British cricketer (b. 1713) Dec 16th - Peter Frederick Haldimand, Swiss military officer and surveyor Dec 25th - Antonio Tonelli, composer, dies at 79 Dec 25th - Václav Prokop Diviš, Czech theologian and natural scientist (b. 1698)

Step 1:

The tree was hallow all the way up to the branches and it was cut for firewood which kept us warm for more than a year. I wanted to make some thing in memory of this tree but couldn't find anything on the trunk or branches. Yesterday, I went for a walk in the woods and saw this bump in the corner on the inside and decided to get it out to see if I can turn it into something.

Step 2:

Using a wedge, it took a few swings to detach it from the stump. I was encouraged by the looks of it, but not sure about how rotted it was.

Step 3:

Not surprising, this piece had a bunch of rocks an dirt embedded in it and I was not about to ruin a saw blade to detach the round section I was interested in. So, using an old axe, I managed to separate the two.

Step 4:

Back home this evening and back to the project. I took the piece to the band saw in an attempt to round it off as much as I could before placing it on the lathe for shaping. The problem was that the 12" band saw was just a few inches too small to tackle the job. So, what I ended up doing was to hold the piece at an angle while shaping. (Not recommended)

Step 5:

Next, I used the joiner to flatten the bottom so it could be mounted on the lathe. Looks like a well developed brain, doesn't it?

Step 6:

I went ahead and started to turn the piece the best I could. The combination of dirt and rocks took a toll on my tools and they had to be sharpened every so often to continue with the project. Nevertheless, I managed to give the outside and the inside a descent looking shape. As you can see, the piece looks like a sponge. I had termites, spiders and other wood boring creatures flying all over my face during the process. Using my marking knife, all spider webs were removed. (These were not spider webs, but something like 10x strong as a spider web would be; almost like wool with string like eggs in them)

Step 7:

250 years of life now contained in this little vessel and I want it to speak well of this tree's legacy.

Step 8:

At HD, I found this "wood hardener" and soaked the bowl in hops that it would solidify it- wrong. $7 down the drain and all it does is to make it shiny and stink to high heaven even after it is dries. Regardless, the project moves on.

Step 9:

I went ahead and got some combination of walnut and oak sawdust from my sander and mixed it with glue to make a dough to fill all the depressions in the project, leaving some of the natural edge intact. This will be set in the house to dry over night before going any further.

Step 10:

This is just not happening at this moment. I put it back on the lathe today, and you guessed it by the middle picture; the glue/sawdust mixture was superficial and it did not penetrate inside the cavities. Basically, I went to plan B and covered all the exposed cavities with super glue and will wait till tomorrow to see how it holds out. I have started a new, similar project making another bowl from a smaller hollow tree. No sense of watching glue dry when you can be doing something else, RIGHT?

Step 11:

So, apparently this bowl is saying, " Why can't you love me just the way I am". regardless of what I have done so far, she wants to show her figures despite all my attempts to cover them up; so be it.

Step 12:

I sanded it starting from 40 to 60 to 100 and then 220.

Step 13:

Five coats of Watco Teak oil later this is what it looks like. I need this finish to soak in for at least a week and possibly apply a few more coats before sanding and applying the final finish on it. Will bring this bowl indoors as the night are going to be in the 20's all next week.

Step 14:

So, here it is... A 25 years old reminiscent of an old tree story held by my beautiful daughter of 22. Hope we all can appreciate the contributions of nature to our lives.

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    6 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    That sir is a beautiful Burl Bowl... very prized and very expensive in a retail/collector setting..... and the work you put into the history... kudos to you!

    This is great!


    5 years ago

    I think it's gorgeous as it is! The tree wasn't perfect and neither is the bowl, but that's part of its story. I don't mean to sound stupid but I think that filling in the holes, whether with sawdust or super glue makes it a fake. So, obviously, I think you're done! Add more oil if you like but I'd stop where you are and display it with pride!


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Izzypup, I think you are right. Teak oil is a good blend of varnishes to strengthen the wood. A top coat of polyurethane or lacquer should give it the "glow" it deserves.



    5 years ago on Introduction

    This looks interesting thus far. Any ideas what you're going to make out of this? It'll be great to see what you come up with.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Hey seamster, I thought I post this as I go. So, here is the rest of the story as it progress. Hope you enjoy it.