This page serves to document the proposed way to process rough (chain sawn) horizontal cut disks from the base trunk of the Belmont Manor English Elm tree.  As the process evolves, we’ll take notes and post them here for reference and subsequent improvements on new projects similar in nature.
We will be discussing the slab process with Howard County Recreation and Parks on 5 October.
These are the major points in chronological sequence:
  • HCWG will provide volunteer labor and expertise to prepare all three slabs for presentation.
    • Assist in the selection of surface processing location.
    • Oversee relocation of slab from current to surfacing location, and to drying rack storage as necessary.
    • Surfacing using a surfacing router bit, router, and traverse, truss and beam system.
    • Retreat with anchor seal to reduce cracking.
    • Final sanding.
    • Final finishing.
    • Design and construction of supporting bases.
  • HoCo will provide appropriate shelter, materials, and heavy equipment needed to process the slabs.
    • Shelter: An enclosed location, 3-sided wall with 1-side open air workshop is preferred, or four walls with adequate ventilation.  Heating is not necessary.  The location should be available for up to six years to allow for natural air drying.  The surfacing process will generate a lot of wood dust.  The area for surface processing should be chosen accordingly.
    • Shelter: Two independent circuits, 120VAC, 15AMP GFI power.  Overhead lighting if shelter is a four walled building.
    • Materials: nine 4”x4”x12’ posts to be used to horizontally stack the slabs in an open configuration for air drying.
    • Materials: 2”x8”x12’ boards for stringer and truss support during the planing process.
    • Materials: One gallon Anchor Seal and cheap four inch paint brush.
    • Material: Finishing (oil or water varnish, oil only, other).
    • Material: Sanding Disks for final sanding.
    • Heavy Equipment: Tractor with forks similar to that used in July by Rec & Parks crew to move the slabs.
  • Surface Processing:
    • Propose to schedule surfacing in 3-4Q15 at Belmont Manor.
    • Location to be determined.
      • Needs to be done out of direct sunlight,
      • In an area where wood chips and dust are easiest to manage,
      • Where heavy equipment operation is convenient, and
      • Less than 100’ to 120VAC power.
    • HCWG volunteers will work with Rec & Parks crew to move slabs from current location in the sun, to the shaded work area for surfacing.
    • HCWG will surface plane one side, reseal, and with Rec & Parks crew flip the slab in place and surface that side, then reseal.  The completed slab will be immediately relocated to the drying rack position.
    • Repeat for the remaining slabs.
  • Drying Cycle:
    • The three slabs will be laid one on top of each other, with a layer of three 4”x4”x12’ stickers starting with the stickers on the floor, then slab, then stickers and so on, finishing with a slab on top.
    • At a projected rate of 1” of wood thickness per year to dry to 12%, a five inch slab could take up to five years to get dry enough to sand and finish.
    • The placement of the slabs will need to accommodate such a long duration.
    • A monthly visual inspection should be made to check for cracks.  If any begin, notify the Guild so we can take measures to minimize the effect.
    • When the wood reaches about 12%, the drying time is done.
  • Final Finishing:
    • The Guild will provide volunteer labor to sand one surface of each slab for high contrast and smooth finishing with an oil varnish, gloss or semi-gloss, or whatever finish the County chooses.  The inverse side can be left sealed, sanded smooth, or sanded smooth and finished.  We can decide later.
  • Final Mount:
    • HoCo and HCWG can decide how the mount should be prepared and then using lumber from the tree, HCWG volunteers will fabricate mounts for the three slabs.