A couple years ago my family started drawing names for a Christmas gift exchange. The only rule was it had to be homemade. This is one I made last year and forgot to hit the Publish button on.
In 2013 there was a series of strong winds that swept across the mid-west and some of those 60+mph gusts found their way out to the countryside where Sue lives and unfortunately met up with a majestic maple tree adjacent to her house. This tree had been there for a very long time and stood strong against the winds but in the end lost a large branch that leaned over the driveway.
As I had been thinking of doing some woodworking for some Christmas gifts only to find the high cost of hardwood I wondered if there was an opportunity to use some of the downed branches. If only I had equipment to mill it.
OK, So I decided to go for it. They cut off a couple segments of straight branches (about 8" diameter) with a chainsaw and I went to work. Not having proper equipment was quite the challenge but made the entire endeavor that much more rewarding. I took the bark off and squared up the outside of the logs with my hatchet and hammer. Then I created a somewhat safe jig on my table saw to hold the wood as I cut it. The end result was 4 quarters that had at least (1) flat side.
Once the quarters were made I modified my table saw's cross-cut sled by adding a makeshift, somewhat safe jig to hold the wood in place as I sliced off 1" thick pieces. At this point at least (3) sides were flat.
I was pleased with how the pieces turned out and even sanded a few boards to expose the final grain/color.
As I readied the boards I began to think about the second part of the project. I wanted to take a photo of the maple tree and somehow transfer it or the likeness to the final piece. I decided to try a process that involves printing an image to common paper via a laser printer. It must be a laser printer that uses toner in lieu of an inkjet printer. The next step is to use a gel medium. I recommend a matte finish and one that offers the best transparent finish.
Since I was going for a smaller image on a larger board I carefully cut around the image leaving a thin white border. I then brushed a thick coat of gel onto the printed side of the image and place it on the boards. Use something like a credit card to squeegee the paper to remove excess gel. Do not make too many passes as the paper will become wet and may bunch/wrinkle.