In December I actual took some measurements and formed a plan. The small end of the log was fairly symmetrical, but there was a bow in the middle and the butt was quite a bit larger and out of round.
I made a cardboard template of the small end and transferred the pattern to the butt at the larger end. Using yardsticks and twine, I divided the log into sections and calculated where and how much I needed to shave off to end up with an even, straight length of cottonwood to fashion my canoe from. I didn’t really know what I was doing, just figuring it out as I went.
With more than a little trepidation, I began chipping away at it with the hewing ax and an adze. I was reminded uncomfortably of cutting out Valentine’s in grade school: cut a little here, cut a little there and keep trying to even it up until nothing is left but confetti. It was awkward and painfully slow. The snows came. I put my tools away.
When it warmed up again, I resumed my work. The hand tools were proving too tedious so I fired up the chainsaw and started whacking slabs off the sides of the log. I was pleased to discover the wood inside was sound.
It went better than I expected it to. I rechecked my measurements and it looked like I was pretty close to where I wanted to be. I decided which side should be the bottom, and using the peavey, rolled it over and chocked it in place.
I plan to use it as a Dutch oven table for cooking, and chop away the charred bits with an adze until I get it hollowed out. I started last night, heating some water over the coals and making myself a whiskey toddy. The results were encouraging – it burned down from the coals, toward the center of the log, but didn’t seem to spread to the sides. I have a long way to go, but it looks controllable.
Today I am chipping out yesterday’s burn and cooking a roast in the Dutch oven. Stay tuned for more updates.