This is my current work-in-progress. I'm almost done but I've had a few setbacks (cracked leg). The milk jug is for scale :) Can anyone suggest a free picture gallery I can post the step-by-step picks on?
Wow, Justin. You are really SMOKIN'!!!!/size>
That is wonderful. You are really professional now. Thanks for sharing that. What is your armature, rebar? rebar and diamond mesh? And what concrete mix did you use for it? Keep up the good work!! BB
WOW! That is great Justin. I would love to se a picture of the top.
Try this site.
I've tried quite a few and I think it is the best. It is fast, flexible and always working.
Webshots on the other hand is often offline for me.
BB, thanks! The end result might look good, but it was/is a long road there. I did a lot of experimenting, some of which I liked and some I didn't. That makes it hard to describe what's in it. The base is a flimsy wooden tripod table I found. My brother and I made the armature around that and spray sealed it with silicone. Those pictures were lost, except one little camera phone shot :) I think you can get the idea from my Webshots album (linked below)
The tufa recipe was the normal 1:3 ratio. I can't find any vermiculite around here yet, so it was sand, peat, and perlite. The first layer had much less perlite and more sand to increase the strength. After the entire armature was covered I omitted the sand. I am using fiber mesh and plasticizer from Buttler's. Lately, I've been very cavalier about recording the details of the ingredients...I don't know if it's because I have to be very anal with protocols at work, or because I feel more comfortable with what I'm doing. I'm just in it for the pure fun and relaxation. Anyway, I'll leave the technical stuff to you guys and give my normal disclaimer that I'm furnishing my apartment...this would probably fall apart outdoors :)
Thanks, Tufaenough. I signed up for photobucket, but got mad when they tried to sucker me into filling out an application for spam, and didn't like the album options. I may try it out again later becuase my school site will be dropped shortly. I also realized I already have an old Webshots album, even if it is acting crazy at the moment.
With respect to the top of this thing, I would like some constructive criticism from anyone willing to give it. I've been carving deep grooves for the rings because I think it looks old and weathered. However, I get different comments about it. Does it just look fake? I'm still planning on coloring it, but maybe it would look better as a completely flat surface, with alternating light and dark colors??? Any feedback would be appreciated!!!
Great table! I am very interested because someone has asked me to make them a similar item and I have no idea where to start (or IF to start). Making the top look good is - in my opinion after looking at various photos - the hardest part of making an attractive faux bois table. I guess what I mean by that is that I have seen lots of legs/bases I think are beautiful and no tops I think are as good as the legs. I think your base is outstanding.
For the top you have shown in the thread above, I like it as well as any others I have seen. I would like to see the grooves you carved smoother and free of "grit". I think your deep grooves are artistic looking and the overall pattern is pleasing. I like the faint brush lines showing (for example - around the place you signed the table). I think you have a winner here.
It seems to me that there is no reason to change your table top unless you don't like it. I am sure you could also make a shallow/groove or no/groove top that would look good with these legs. Personally I wish you would make a couple more tables with these alternative tops so I could pick the one I like best! Would that be too much to ask??
I don't know, looks pretty good to me, Justin. Here is a link with lots of tree rings (scroll down the page) I like your top just like it is. Yours is similar to one or two of the real ones. Maybe the rings are more closely formed? But I wouldn't change yours. It's great.
Here is a link that might be useful: tree rings
Luara, I agree...the top is the hardest part. I really appreciate the constructive feedback!!! I think the real challenge is in deciding whether you want symmetry and smoothness or a rough, weathered look. In the first situation it's just hard to get that much detail and realism to come through (IMO). In the second situation, I find it hard to make the rough and weathered patterns look random enough to be realistic. I think the most accurate way to do it for an outdoor piece would be to make/use a textured stamp pad and an acid stain to create the rings.
BB, thanks for the link. Those pics should help me figure it out. The look I have in mind is a slice that's been cut and sitting around for 100 years, and then found and sanded. I would assume that the rings would weather differently, based on their density. However, I'm not sure if that's realistic or not. I'm debating on filling the carved grooves (grouting?) with a darker color. I may play around a bit and see what looks good. If I do, I'll take some more pics and hope to get both of your opinions again.
You may have seen part of a coffee table I'm making in some of the pics (looks currently looks like an octopus). Since that will get a lot of use, I was planning on making the surface of it smooth. That project is a few months from being done, though.
What a help to see a page full of real tree rings! I bookmarked that in a hurry.
Justin, when you mentioned grouting the deep-carved rings on your table top that made me think of something I saw online recently. There is no "how to" information here but the photo shows a concrete tabletop that combines "liquid glass" (whatever that is) with concrete in a way that might look good on the tabletops we are talking about. This is an indoor coffee table but maybe this photo will get someone's brain working toward a product for outdoor use???????
Here is a link that might be useful: try this
Hey Justin --- Outstanding my friend! If this is just your first try, it is a very impressive one! Keep at it and study closely the kinds of wood you want to replicate (the tree ring site is & has been one of my favorite resources for a long time). But also take a firsthand look at the real thing when you can and photograph the details you like for reference. Your observation that the rings weather differently is correct. There are actually alternating soft & hard rings that make up the pattern and they vary from species to species as well as from differing exposure. Sometimesyou will find a "slice" that has little differentiation and another will be very pronounced. Note that the "soft" portion exhibits more noticeable pores. They are the vertical "tubes" that carry nutrients and usually weather more quickly. Also, the spacing of rings will vary according to the prevailing weather conditions for that year. A "good" year for the tree will yield wider rings indicating fast growth and a "bad" year will produce very thin rings. Ironically, it's the "bad" years that make for the densest and most desireable wood. In fact, researchers recently determined that the wood used to make the legendary Stradivarius violins is likely the reason for their unique and unmatched tonal qualities. The lumber used by Stradivari came from growth that was traced to the last "mini-iceage" and is in itself utterly unique. It was literrally, very "cool" wood.
Congratulations and keep up the good work. Each one from here on will just get better, easier and more rewarding. About the only thing I might suggest is to try a more "detail friendly" and sculptable mixture. The less aggregate and lump material in the mix, the finer the details possible. As for "form"...you don't need any direction. You have a great "eye" and the design is just wonderful. All my best.
Laura, that liquid glass is really neat stuff. I'm going to have to read up on that!
Tango, thanks for the encouragement and insight! You're always so eager to help...we're really lucky to have you here. I'm having a blast trying to figure it all out, but I sure can't imagine having to do this under a deadline!
Thanks, I'll try a finer aggregate next time around.
Well, I went back at it with all the advice and picture refs in mind. I think I'm calling it quits on the carving part. Do you think some sort of varnish or wood stain would look good on this? It is for indoors, so I shouldn't have to worry about fading.
Justin, congratulation, fantastic job! Very tempting to try!
Hey Justin --- WOW! Excellent! Looks like you already have "colorized" and sealed it...and done a fantastic job I might add. What did you wind up using?
Fantastic table! I really love your finished table top - the additional rings/textures/colors make all the difference in the world!
BB, I immediately bookmarked your link to the tree rings - thanks for posting it. So far, I've been amassing information on faux bois, but haven't had the opportunity to try anything. (Last weekend got away from me, darn it! That's when I was going to attempt a stump planter.) :(
Great insight on the tree ring development, Tango. I'd forgotten some of that stuff from hort school, but it's that kind of detail that will make faux bois look more 'real'. As for the Stradavarius violins...didn't they also soak the wood in a water brine of some kind? Same idea as the recovered ancient heart pine logs that are being salvaged out of bogs and rivers now...the water causes a change in the cells, and affects the strength/resonance of the wood? Or maybe this is another urban legend?! ;)
It's SO great to learn from all of you talented folks... Keep on posting and explaining! (Someday soon, I'll have the courage to borrow a camera and post some of my feeble attempts here...aggggh!)
Justin, this is one of the most beautiful faux bois "tops" I have ever seen. Don't change a thing! except....... go outside right now and start making 10 (or whatever number sounds like a lot but do-able) of these table tops in different sizes and shapes. Try to duplicate the exact look you have achieved above while you still have the "muscle-memory" for repeating your work. I promise you, this will be a wonderful stockpile for your future table making. Or - you could sell just the tops!
Wow, thanks for all of the encouragement! Laura, I wish I had the time. Besides, the neighbors already think I'm nuts from seeing me carving on this thing for hours at a time :) I should have mentioned that the pics were taken after I hosed it off, so all of the shine and most of the colors are a result of the water. I'm hoping a varnish or stain might have the same look to it. I don't think I want glossy finish, though. I'd really appreciate some staining suggestions...stick with made-for-concrete stains, or try something for wood?
I think your table looks fantastic. The rings do have an old weathered appearence and I think it is super, I would say you achieved the look you were seeking.
The last pic shot of the top is nice, it really would look great with the high sheen and color of that shot, but not if that isn't the look you are after at this time.
Boohaha on your neighbors, I'm with everyone else. I think you should do some more and sell them. Even if you just do the tops for now. It really is a great piece, just super!
:) NCGardengirl (another Lurker of the forum)
Okay - go make ONE more table top.
I like the results of an exterior spar urethane by Minwax. It comes in gloss, satin, and semi-gloss finishes. It adds a slight amber tone; very wood-like.
I let it sort of slightly pool on some leaf surfaces to enhance the amber quality. I have just used it since May so I don't have a real history of how it acts during winter and continued exposure to the sun but it is used for marine applications like boats so it sounded good to me.
Laura, thanks for the suggestion. The amber color sounds perfect. I'll have to look into that this weekend. One more is on the way. I think you should at least try one for your self. For me, it took too much time and effort to ever be worth mass producing, but It's sure worth it if you're keeping it :)
NCGardengirl, thanks, the "Boohaha" comment had me rolling...that's a new one for me :)
Wow, what a fabulous table. I haven't been here in awhile, I've just been swamped. I'm sure glad I stopped by though, I wouldn't want to miss seeing this table. Wonderful work. Faux Bois is my favorite and this is especially nice. Thanks for sharing Rustinj.
Hey Justin, have you completed the finish on your table yet? We're all dyin' t'see the final results!
Tango, as you can see in the pic below, I had s slight setback. I got too eager to finish and cracked one of the legs. I guess I'm fortunate, because it was bound to be the leg or my back. I figured the old dental approach would be best...carve a big hole around the crack and fill it in. It just means I'll be waiting a little longer before moving it again.
As far as the finishing goes, I'll be trying something different (Hint: it's not organic or synthetic, but it burns like hell). I'll fill you in when I figure out if it was a waste of $60 :)
I am so impressed with all of this that I can barely stand it - yes, faux bois gets closer and closer all the time - I must at least "try it" once. What an inspiration your work is!!!!
Now, how can I go to sleep wondering what could possibly be not organic, not synthetic, and burn like hell? (and cost $60)???? This forum has made me wish I had taken a few chemistry courses or maybe an engineering degree.
ps sorry about your broken leg
Thanks, Vicki. If you're interested in faux bois you should definitely try it. I think it's something you can read and read about, but you only really start to get it when you try it yourself. A lot of the tips Tango has given in the past only made sense after I started this thing. For instance, there's no magic faux bois tool. I used a piece of diamond mesh to carve 90% of this, but that's just what was comfortable for me.
Laura, it's not worth the loss of sleep :) I'm attempting to limewash it for a finish, but I no experience with this stuff. I don't know what to expect, but I'm hoping it will give me the look I'm after. It may be a while before I know.
Hey Justin...just had to check in and see how the repairs are coming along as well as your final finish/color/seal/ choices. What's the latest...???...
Thanks for the interest. I bought some lime putty and was using lime-saturated water to coat the table. I was hoping that would give it a hard calcite shell/finish, but the table just keeps absorbing the stuff. I must have put on 8-10 coats by now. I do think it is fortifying the heck out of it, but it sure isn't doing anything for the appearance. It was a nice experiment, but not the result I envisioned. I'm going to let it dry out and then try a different approach. I'll post some pics when i can.
Take care, Justin
Just had to say Job Well Done, Justin. You certainly have a flair for that style of Faux Bois. I hope you find what you're looking for! LOL We all think it looks great. But I know about that knowing a thing from the ground up, you know all its supposed flaws. It's a great piece and you should be proud of it.
Thanks for the feedback! I am really happy with how it's turned out, but I'm definitely still learning. I now know lime wash doesn't look like I had hoped...it took 10 coats to figure it out , though :)
Justin, sorry the limeputty didn't work like you had hoped. In your experimentation with the product, did you think of anything it might work better for? I have never heard of lime putty so I don't have any idea of its usual uses.
Hi Laura, I too am unfamiliar with Lime putty so I did a quick search and here's what I found to help.
Hope these help.
GW wouldn't let me put these in the link option, so you'll have copy and paste the url's into your address bar. sorry.
Rockhewer - now I know a lot more about Lime putty!
Rock, those links look familiar...I guess there's not a whole of info out there on the subject. I had a hard time finding suppliers, but you can look up Niagara if you're interested in experimenting.
Laura, I haven't given up on it completely. I found this stuff while trying to figure out how to make calcite (Calcium Carbonate). Calcite has special light refractive properties (see bifringent). I am hoping these properties will give depth to the surface of my table, mimicing that of finished wood grain. Other than plasters, limewash, and what I'm trying to do here, I haven't come up with any other uses for the stuff.
To read about calcite:
to picture bifringence:
Justin, I am flattered that you think I could understand bifringence. I don't think I mastered all the info on the site (wild laughter) but those neat interactive graphics gave me the idea of the quality of depth you are talking about. You are bound to discover some interesting results from your experimentation.
Am I older or wiser than the rest of you ( chuckle, chuckle)? I grew up in Europe after the IIWW, I remember builders used the lime putty for mortar, people white washed the walls, fences with it. Very strong and dangerous stuff.
Andrea, you're right...those are the buildings that are ancient and will still be there long after the cement structures fall apart. As Tango can testify, lime is very nasty, especially the stuff that hasn't had water added to it yet (quicklime?). I'm not sure what he was using it for, but I avoided most of the danger by buying preslaked (water saturated) lime (also the only form I could find), but it is still nasty stuff if you get it on your skin or in your eyes.
Laura, I'm flattered you think I understand that site...you were only supposed to look at the picture. Hee hee hee!!!
Here's a few recent pics of the repaired leg and after "limewashing" it....not much has changed.
Wow, Justin...excellent aged effect! Have you sealed it yet? I really like the softer matte finishes, but "flat" sealers can be hard to come by and all of them I've been able to find are solvent based. Supposed to penetrate better & last a lot longer than the water based, but are nastier to work with. Guess everything has a price.
Thanks, Tango. No, I haven't sealed it yet. I'm still tinkering with the colors and the lime wash. I think I'm just afraid to commit to something :) I'm going for the worn-wood finish, but I haven't figured out how to get it yet. Maybe rubbing it down with raw linseed oil? I have the advantage in that this is going to be an interior piece of apartment furniture, so I'm really not worried about sealing so much as getting the final look right. I can't really imagine anything penetrating very deep into your "neat" cement surface finishes, compared to the sponge-like hypertufa. I guess every little bit helps. I'll post a few pics when I get it done.
take care, Justin
Justin...Most of the work by well known concrete guru Buddy Rhodes seems to be finished with nothing more than a penetrating sealer (matte or gloss of your choice) and good neutral old bee's wax. That's basically the same combination I employ for both interior & exterior use. I also use Carnuba, such as you find in most high-end automotive waxes. Gives a nice low sheen that mimics old wood that's been handled a lot and also resists water/stain penetration. Another trick is to turn the sealer into a "glaze". If you want to highlight the texture, you can add a little color tint into the sealer. Takes a little experimenting to achieve the right color/intensity, but can make a huge difference in the finished appearance. There are also tinted waxes made for "dark" furniture finishes (see Min-Wax)that provide a similar effect and would be fine for any interior application. Another nice thing about tinted waxes is that, unlike tinted glazes, if you decide you don't like the way it turns out...you can either add more...or completely remove it with relative ease.
Whatever route you take, we're all cheering you on and anxiously awaiting pix of your final product. Outstanding work, sir.
Wow, that was a huge help! The Carnuba finish sounds exactly like what I'm going for. Do you use that after the penetrating sealer or as a stand-alone finish? I'm going to try and find some on my way home, but I can't figure out whether a craft store, grocery store, or an autopart store is the best place to find it...seems this stuff is in just about everything. I actually tried to buff it down by hand, but one blister was enough to see the folly in that (The tiny section I buffed looked real nice though!@#$). Also got carried away with the limewash and now have a chalky-white layer on the base to get rid of. I keep tinkering with it and en up getting farther and farther from the look I want. I'm hoping it will be aquick fix.
Thanks again for all of the great insight. I figured the indoor and outdoor sealers and stains would be completely different. I'm going to keep my eyes open for the tinted waxes. As you might have guessed, the do-over option of the tinted waxes sounds really appealing.
Briwax is great.
Comes in several wood colored tints as well allowing you to gradually add woods tones to your work.
Here is a link that might be useful: Great wax on concrete
Justin...the penetrating sealer needs to go on first, then the wax. The BriWax above is excellent and should be great for an indoor project such as yours. For a finish exposed to the outdoor environment, I'd reccommend pure Carnuba. It is quite a bit harder and lasts longer under those conditions. Pretty easy to find at auto parts stores, but check the labels for contents. There are a lot of synthetics and such labeled as "wax" that don't really contain any and while I do know the history of Carnuba & beeswax...I'm not sure what "silicones" will do over time or to concrete.
I should have mentioned that BriWax isn't the best wax for outdoors.
But for Justin's indoor project I thought the selection of colors would be perfect for experimenting.
Briwax isn't really cheap and the one pound cans go a long way but there used to be a sample pack of all the colors.
That would be handy.
I only use the clear Briwax myself but have been known to mix in a little shoe polish for a bit of color.:)
Tango and David,
Thanks for all of your help! I dropped a lot of money on this darn lime putty, so I think I'll stick to what I can find locally. There are two types of Aqua Mix ultra seal at Lowes, one is water-based and the other didn't list what the base is (at least on-line). I think I'll get one or the other and some carnuba wax at the autopart store (save the briwax for my next big purchase). I'll post some pics when a get back in town and wrap it up.
Here are the last shots. I'm really happy with the way the top turned out, but not as pleased with the colors on the base. I think it all boils down to which area was more comfortable to work on. I haven't had a chance to find carnuaba wax, but the sealer I picked up is pretty good stuff. The flash makes it look a little more glossy than it actually is.
It looks wonderful. This was worth all your hard work!
I still want you to make at least one more top. It would be a shame to waste all this hard-won expertise and those left over materials......
Bravo Justin!!! Excellent. The color on the top is great and has just the right look. Making the top surface lighter is consistent with how the real thing would age since it is more exposed and really would wind up more bleached by the elements. What's next?
Tango, I wish I could say I planned to make the top lighter based on the fading, but it just happened to work out that way :)
I am working on a coffee table, but it's been getting too dark before I get home. I made the armature out of 1/2" rebar from HomeDepot (apparently the only size they sell around here ). It is almost impossible to bend, so the base turned out more like an octopus than a tree trunk. I'm hoping I can make it look better by detailing the surface texture. After that, I'll be taking a break from tufa to focus on work :)
Thanks again for all of the advice and encouragement.
I'm terribly impressed, Justin. That looks like a lot of work. I have not attempted faux bois and I don't think I'm up to it yet. Your table will be a striking corner piece.
Hey Justin --- See if you can find a commercial concrete supply house locally. Not only will they have more options and fresher cement, but you'll find their prices for rebar and such are generally much lower than even the big "discount" stores. WARNING...they can be like "Toy Stores". Be careful with your credit card!
Beautiful finish job.
Thanks. Hey, Jazzbone, it looks like we're neighbors now...can you recommend any hardware or supply stores near Birmingham, other than Lowes and HD? Bending rebar is for suckers. I'm really jealous of anyone with welding tools! The last armature I made nearly did me in, and then I saw the thinner stuff at Lowes.
Tango, good point. I'll be keeping my eye out. I'm inclined to do a little more damage on my credit card and a little less on my back.
SSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO UNrealistic -- I can't believe it!!! :)
LOL! Good job, bro! If she doesn't like that, how can you like her? Ha!
Phone disconnected & got too late.
Hope you have a great Thanksgiving - we'll be in touch!
Yr table looks so realistic that it's hard not to take it for granite. set it off with a bushite plastic turkey, and you're ready for the hollerdaze. as the twig is bent, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. hope you and yr rib have a blessed tanxgiv.
rustinj - the table is SO convincing. I love the texture/colour that you've achieved on the top. And even your name scratched on the top adds to the impression of an old old piece of wood. :o)
Thanks Jusin,your table is great. If you get a chance to visit Butchart gardens here in Victoria B.C. ,check out the bamboo made from cement garden features.
Hey Daybees --- any chance of seeing pix of the bamboo you mentioned? I just happen to be working on designing some cast concrete bamboo edgers and I'm researching anything I can find. Went to the Buchart website, but didn't see what you referred to. Being near the Gulf Coast I'm afraid it will be a while before I can make the drive, but would love to see the gardens in person someday. Thanx.
Hey, Thanks! I think someone posted some pics of that a long while ago. I hear the Japanese gardens are incredible!
I hope your weather is getting better,we heard about all those terrible hurricanes!! I have some pics of bamboo-cement and as soon as I can figure out how to post them I'll show you.
Have a wonderful christmas.