My wife, Cathy, is the true artist in the family, having created hundreds of artistic works in her lifetime, mostly paintings and drawings and a number of amazing murals. This story begins in the summer of 1992 with one of her first murals, a beach scene in our sons' bedroom. Two of our teenage sons shared a large bedroom and the older one wanted to have the perfect wave painted on one wall. He loved and still does love surfing, as do his wife and kids. He makes use of his family's vacation times for them to all travel the world exploring the great beaches, looking for the best waves.
So, jump ahead to 2004 and both of those boys have moved out and are married as are most of our other kids. We now call the bedroom "The Beach Room" as the mural has endured all those years and is a centerpiece of art within our home. When new friends come to our home it is one of the first things that we share with them while touring the house. In fact it is still there today (2022) so has held this prominent spot for almost 30 years.
Just Waiting to be Released
In God's Perfect Timing
My wife now (in 2004) wants to decorate the room with a "seafaring" theme, adding items unbefitting a teenager's room such as seagull figures and seashells and - a porthole. So, it is at this point that I come into the picture. I enjoy looking for eclectic artifacts on eBay (an online shopping network much like an internet garage sale), where people sell their stuff they no longer want or need.
So, I volunteered to find a porthole to decorate the wall.
So now (April 2004), since I won it, I had to buy it. It was shipped to our home on a wooden pallet and I said I thought it was cool and that I would do something with it at some later date, like maybe make a porthole table out of it. I had seen porthole tables while browsing eBay and they were generally not much to look at but it was all I could think of at the moment. Little did I know what it would take to get the job done!
Every now and then I would mention the porthole to my family, saying I was going to make a table out of it. It became the big joke as I was all talk but little to no action.
So, moving on, I retired in 2015 and started to settle in to my new life. My wife and I had plans to fix up our home and I worked on a number of remodel type projects around the house as well as spent more time with my kids and grandkids. Between these projects, my grandkids and my naps, it kept me busy most of the time. I would think about the porthole and had different ideas running through my head but didn't do any real work on it until COVID. It's not that COVID really prompted me to do it, it was just the timing as things slowed down at home, and I needed to clean out my garage (still a project to finish by the way). I went looking for a project and decided that it was time to really focus on the porthole and what to do about it.
I moved to designing the base for the table. It had to be strong enough to hold up the 100-pound porthole, the 60-pound tree round and the glass plate I was planning to add to the top. It also needed to be able to roll around so it could be moved in the room and be able to be dismantled so the table could be moved into the house. My wife was not sure she wanted this in the house. I knew she would love it when it was complete but she just didn't have my vision for the piece yet!
So, now I had all of the raw materials in the works and I just had to finish them and assemble. Hah! The work had just begun!
After all was glued and done, we sanded the boards to a smooth sheen and finished them with Total Boat epoxy, giving them several coats. They looked great and I was excited to get going on the trunk slice. But it was not ready for me.
So, the first thing to do was epoxy the trunk and, as suggested by Scott, to add a supporting piece of plywood under the ring to give the tabletop an extra measure of strength. So, I cut a shaped piece of 1/4" plywood to fit the bottom of the tree trunk and sanded the bottom and the plywood with several different grits of paper in succession - 60, 120, 220, 320, 400 and 600 grit. I then applied epoxy on each and using screws, connected the plywood to the tree.
After applying several coats of epoxy, with more sanding in between, I called the bottom done and turned the trunk over and was ready to start work on the top. This is where another problem reared its ugly head. Once epoxied, the wood turns very dark and no grain is visible, a most unappealing and unwanted result. This was ok on the bottom but certainly NOT what was required on the table top.