With all of the components now in place, I’ve started the tedious and time-consuming processes of cosmetic detailing. This is strictly a matter of appearances, mostly by removing tiny areas of remaining bark or cambium; removing excessive glue, and tool marks left by coarse grinding, rasping, chiseling, sanding; filling counter-sunk screw holes and less-than-perfect joineries; shaping/sculpting joints so they flow together; and chamfering/rounding all edges.
The final stages of sanding require multiple types of electrical power and hand sanders and grit abrasives, all depending on the desired final appearance. Another cosmetic process is using stain pens of different shades to conceal the wood filler in the joints and screw holes. I try to blend differences in color with a stain that matches other colors in the tree.
I have to admit that I’ve recently arrived at the point where my desire to have the bench finished is almost as strong as my desire to do the best possible job. That includes dealing with a sense of diminishing returns.
I’m often told that I will be the only one who will notice the imperfections, that everyone else will have a general impression of the bench. That’s probably true, with the exception of other woodworkers or carpenters. That’s when I remind myself that tree art is not comparable to fine woodworking. Even the best of tree art furniture lacks the precision construction and sophisticated finish that defines fine woodworking. The trees (as unprocessed “wood”) are not comparable to the exotic hardwoods used in fine woodworking.