Ponderosa Bark Basket / Bucket

by RDO
7 Materials
2 Hours
Living off the grid in the high Sierras, we are always on the lookout for for dead fall trees for firewood to ward of the winter cold and or to use to make stuff. Sadly in this case, I had a young, 54 ring, 70 foot Ponderosa Pine that had given up the ghost a few years back and was finally brought down by last year's nasty winter storms.

I say sadly, because there are very few Ponderosas left in my area of the Sierras. However, as it was blocking the access road to my mine, it was candidate #1 for my wood pile.  
While cutting and splitting the the dead fall, I noticed that I was building a large pile of heavy 2" thick bark. Thinks I to me self... “There has to be something useful I can make from this beautiful bark beside burning it in the shop stove.”

If the bark comes off this easily... What if I could remove the bark in one piece BEFORE I split the wood? “What the heck”, Sez I to me self... Lets give it a try!
Taking one of the long chisels we use in the mine for sampling, I carefully push it down between the log and the bark. Wow! Could not believe how easily the bark separated from the wood. The crack seam in the bark is an easy fix... a little Tightbond Glue will fix that.

Slowly and carefully I worked the bark up and off the wood.
Bingo! Eazy-Pezy! Now that I have a solid one piece core of Ponderosa Bark, what am I going to do with it? Ponder...Ponder... Ponder. Ah Ha! The Bark cylinder sez to me... “Hey Dummy, it's obvious, make a bucket... or an umbrella stand, or decorative container for whatever!”

Side Note: If you live in the woods long enough, you'll learn to listen to your surroundings as THEY Will speak to you.
So, taking the Bark's advice, I cut a a 3 inch thick bottom plug from the log the Bark once protected. Keep in mind that the plug cut will be inserted into the Bark fresh cut side first and will become the inside top of the base.
This is the top of the fresh cut base plug. When it is inserted into the Bark base, you will need it to match its inside curvature of the Bark. Otherwise it won't fit! So make sure you mark it with a pencil as to the Top and Bottom.

Next, grab your Tightbond and apply it liberally to the cut plug. I didn't bother finish sanding the perimeter of the plug as the rough edges will ensured a better bond with the glue.

Note: I do not derive any compensation from the makers of Tightbond. This is the only wood glue I use as I have found it to be the BEST. When gluing wood, it is fast drying and will never fail. Feel free to use whatever glue floats your boat. The same applies to Minwax mentioned below.
Here is the glued plug inserted into the Bark. Now we quickly have to address the cracked seem in the bark.

Next, carefully lay the Basket on it's side and using 6 - 2” wood screws, screw them equidistant into the Bark and the bottom plug. The nice thing about the thick Bark, is that you can bury the screws deeply into the Bark and they will not be visible.
Don't waste any time here as the Tightbond is starting to set! Taking a ratchet strap, I place it about 1/3 the way up from the base to the top. This extra pressure near the base will help the glue to bond.
Prior to applying a massive amount Minwax Polycrylic Gloss, I took the old chainsaw and trimmed the top of the basket to even it off a bit. Make sure you use copious amount of poly on both the inside and outside of the basket as there may be some unwanted 6 legged critters or larva inside the bark or the plug. Please make sure the Bark and plug are completely air dry before applying the sealer.
Viola!!! Here is the finished 14" diameter Ponderosa Bark Basket! No stain was used, just the Polycrylic. Actually, its not really finished. As I'm writing this, I hear the Bark Basket telling me... “Hey Dummy, why don't you cut another plug and make a LID for me”!?! So I'm off to the wood pile!

Thanx for Visitin' and Best Regards!

Resources for this project:
One dead fallen tree
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  3 questions
  • Barbara A. Miller Barbara A. Miller on Dec 26, 2017
    That is beautiful. Do you sell them?

  • Nina Nina on Dec 26, 2017
    I see that you said to coat the inside and outside with poly to seal in any insects.

    I know that there is a very serious problem with beetles killing the pines in the sierras. We are not even allowed to bring in outside firewood for fear of spreading the infestation.

    Do do you feel comfortable with your poly treatment of your bark project? Would you take it out of your area?

    BTW, I like your project very much.

  • Sandra Hayley Sandra Hayley on Dec 26, 2017
    Would this work on any other kind of tree you think? Our woods are full of dead trees and half dead trees!

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