Making a log shelving unit - part 2

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Blog entry by ~Julie~ posted 11-24-2010 03:59 PM 1027 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve made the rungs (see part 1) so the next next step in making my shelving unit is the ladder legs or uprights.

Of course, there are four and the pieces I had ranged from just over 5’ up to over 7’. The ends were not even and one was a bit punky, so I figured the maximum height I could use was 5’ 1”, which seemed just right for this project.

These pieces I had were mostly already peeled, but there were a few places that had some bark that I stripped with a carving knife. I also needed to clean up some little branches sticking out from the sides so I did that by using a small handsaw parallel to the logs. After that I did some light sanding trying to leave character in the wood.

Now to the holes in the uprights. I decided on five shelves with a 10” spacing between them. Marking them wasn’t so easy because, unlike wood that has been planed and cut straight and parallel, these logs not only weren’t dead straight, but also they changed in diameter from 1 1/2” – 2” and had curved faces. Wood off the jointer, planer and tablesaw is much easier to work with!

The widest diameter of each of the four pieces would be the bottom of each upright, so it would narrow at the top. I marked out the center of each hole for the rungs by using a long straightedge. At first I was going to drill the holes with a spade bit but then realized that the long point on the end of that might go through the log and make a hole in the other side, which I didn’t want. So I had to buy a new 5/8” forstner bit to match the tenon cutter I had. I put a piece of masking tape on the bit to give me some idea of how deep to go with the drill. This is not precision because, as I said the logs are not straight and change in diameter.

So, five holes were drilled in each upright and then the rungs were set in as evenly as possible. I had some rearranging to do because not only were the uprights uneven, but so were the rungs. I had to fight with it a bit and realized that some of the tenons will not be as far in the holes as others because of this unevenness.

I glued and clamped the rungs in the ladder legs:

Here’s the two ladders finished:

Next post… finishing the unit by getting the planks ready and making the cross piece on the back…

-- ~Julie~

5 comments so far

View swirt's profile


2736 posts in 2969 days

#1 posted 11-24-2010 05:53 PM

That is going to look great!

-- Galootish log blog,

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 2833 days

#2 posted 11-24-2010 06:31 PM

Looks great. I just bought some forstners yesterday and they are making life much easier already.

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2836 days

#3 posted 11-24-2010 11:02 PM

One way to keep all your mortise holes aligned down the length of the log (so the mortise holes don’t wander across to the outside edge of the log) is to cut the first hole- then make a plumb line with a heavy nut or washer on the bottom. Pound a nail into the center of the first mortise hole stand the log up on end and let gravity pull the plumb line down. This line will give you the true center down the length of the log- all you have to do is measure down and mark.

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View ~Julie~'s profile


607 posts in 3032 days

#4 posted 11-25-2010 04:52 PM

Good idea, Rivergirl. Never thought of that!

-- ~Julie~

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2836 days

#5 posted 11-25-2010 05:24 PM

Guess how I figured that one out? It sure wasn’t from a book! LOL When I built my first chair- and one of the holes was off center- which was problematic when I put the pieces together. Ended up using a little wood filler- which was obvious. I never did bother putting the seat on that chair. AFter that I was determined to find a way to center those holes on wavy curvy wood. So Len and I brainstormed and it really does work.

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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