How can I turn a large western cedar tree round into a low table?
I now have a large western cedar tree round. It's from a 100-ish year old cedar tree that a neighbor cut down. My wife would like me to turn this into a table for a covered outdoor area.
I don't need a fancy finish on this. It is something that will sit outdoors in a covered area under a deck between two chairs in the shade next to our garden. Think iced tea or cold beer.
It's big, hard to move and freshly cut. Roughly 4' in diameter and around a foot thick. I hesitate to call this woodworking, it is more in the direction of creating long lasting, workable for a lumber-jack, outdoor furniture.
How should I deal with this? What are the steps and the products that I will need?
1) I don't want it to check. Can I prevent this? I don't need to keep the bark. How long must it sit and dry before I finish the top?
2) I will clean it up and make the top surface flat and less rough. I would like to preserve the cedar color, instead of letting it go gray on top. What can I use for this?
3) It has some center rot which I currently imagine I can drill out, inserting a butterfly or other shaped plug made from another smaller log from the same tree. What should I do with the center rot?
4) I could finish the top with something and think that I will want to seal the butterfly plug in the drilled out rot area with something. What would work well here?
I am planning on using 7" or 8" diameter tree rounds to make stubby little legs for this. I don't imagine that I will attach the legs. They will each stand on their own and I will just use the tabletop's weight to keep them in place. I might gouge out an indentation for each leg on the underside of the table.
Help me make my wife proud!