flattening the top of a log

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Forum topic by Ntaskani posted 07-13-2015 02:33 PM 1058 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Ntaskani's profile


8 posts in 615 days

07-13-2015 02:33 PM

I’m relatively new to woodworking, I’m trying to build a log dining table out of logs I cut in my backyard. The logs will serve as the legs of the table, they are big, about 2 foot diameter. I’m trying to flatten out the top of the logs… I thought I cut them straight off the tree with my chainsaw but they’re pretty uneven and can’t put a tabletop on top of them without the tabletop teeter tottering. Anyone have a quick and dirty way of flattening the top other than spending hours sanding it down? Is there a wood grinder of some sort? They are really heavy, and I thought about using chainsaw again but I’m afraid I’ll be uneven again afterwards and I’ll shorten the legs more everytime I take the chainsaw to it.


17 replies so far

View mramseyISU's profile


406 posts in 967 days

#1 posted 07-13-2015 02:41 PM

You do it like this.

-- Trust me I'm an engineer.

View Wildwood's profile


1852 posts in 1556 days

#2 posted 07-13-2015 03:29 PM

This is least expensive option, can also fine some that work with 2” x 6” lumber.

Little more expensive option.

Would also recommend buying a ripping chain for your saw.

This is the first hand held electric planer that came up but most major brands sell something similar. Definitely save on sand paper.

-- Bill

View Andre's profile


993 posts in 1228 days

#3 posted 07-13-2015 03:52 PM

I bought the Lee Valley chainsaw mill, the small one for my 18” saw it works great but the chain on the saw is the tricky part! And yes the saw needs a lot of power!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View ForestGrl's profile


445 posts in 508 days

#4 posted 07-13-2015 04:02 PM

The links provided above are predominantly for ripping logs. If I understand your post, it relates to cutting the ends—correct? Beyond the challenge of flattening the ends, you`ll face problems of wood movement. What method of fastening do you plan?

-- My mother said that anyone learning to cook needed a large dog to eat the mistakes. As a sculptor of wood I have always tried to keep a fireplace. (Norman Ridenour)

View Ntaskani's profile


8 posts in 615 days

#5 posted 07-13-2015 04:05 PM

Thank you all for the replies! I was not aware of these portable sawmills, they actually will come in handy for other things I want to do and will be purchasing one. ForestGrl, you are correct, for this project I need to square off the ends. Can these devices be used for that? I’m trying to picture how I would use it for this purpose….


View Mark's profile


814 posts in 1396 days

#6 posted 07-13-2015 04:11 PM

+1 what FG said. Your cutting end grain all the way. Some kind of router sled. Real light passes, real sharp bit.

-- Mark

View Ntaskani's profile


8 posts in 615 days

#7 posted 07-13-2015 04:24 PM

Forestgrl: for fastening, my thought was to use dowels…bore 3 inch holes into the ends with Forstner bit (easier said than done, I tried to put a 2 inch hole in a smaller log the other day and I was sweating bullets to get barely an inch hole!)...

If I can get a hole to fit a 3 inch dowel into the end, then I would put a 3 inch hole into the table top. Not sure if I should glue it or not, it’s going to be a heavy tabletop (at least 4×8 foot), so I doubt it would move. I was just going to place the tabletop on top of the logs and keep them there with the dowels.

I would appreciate any advice you have….if there is a better way to do it I’d love to hear it.

View Wildwood's profile


1852 posts in 1556 days

#8 posted 07-13-2015 07:22 PM

Reed built this set up to cut bowl blanks but you could modify it to cut the way you want to get uniform cuts.

Robo Hippy Chop Saw

-- Bill

View gfadvm's profile


14929 posts in 2112 days

#9 posted 07-14-2015 12:07 AM

A router sled would be my choice. Or a sawmill with a jig to clamp them securely.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Wildwood's profile


1852 posts in 1556 days

#10 posted 07-14-2015 11:55 AM

Here is a router jig, might find more examples if do a “Project Search”!

Yes will have to modify for your use!

-- Bill

View Bluepine38's profile


3336 posts in 2507 days

#11 posted 07-14-2015 03:58 PM

How did you flatten the bottom of the leg? You should start with the bottom first. If you can clamp it
to a saw horse, work bench, etc. with one or two load strap ratchet clamps to keep it stable and in
position, you can use a hand saw held vertical to the horizontal surface to cut it to a rough face, then
use a coarse rasp to get it smoother. You can finish with a hand plane, then sandpaper. Be sure to
chamfer the edges of the log to prevent splitting. You can also use a draw knife for some of this. Once
you get the bottom flat, then flip it over, measure for length and do the top. If your log table top is
not the same thickness over all, you will have to adjust the length of the legs accordingly.

-- As ever, Gus-the 77 yr young apprentice carpenter

View gfadvm's profile


14929 posts in 2112 days

#12 posted 07-14-2015 07:56 PM

Bluepine38, These logs are 2 FEET in diameter!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View bigblockyeti's profile


3574 posts in 1142 days

#13 posted 07-14-2015 08:22 PM

Do you have a 4.5” angle grinder? This is what I used for power carving, you’ll again be doing this free hand, but the price of entry isn’t too high and it’s actually safer than I initially thought it would be. This really eats through wood fast, so much so that even though it’s typically recommended against, I have to have one hand gloved to protect from the high speed spray of tiny, sharp wood chips. Eye protection is highly, highly recommended!

View jgeorge64uk's profile


3 posts in 77 days

#14 posted 08-09-2016 08:41 PM

Hey guys,

I’ve been using the WEN 6550 12.5 planer for almost a year now, its a pretty reliable piece of kit.
The best place to pick one up is probably Amazon.

Here’s a great review of the WEN 650:

Not too sure about the DeWALT DW735 as I’ve never used it personally myself but I have heard its also a good piece of kit.

It just depends how much you are willing to invest to be honest.

Hope that helps.


View jwmalone's profile


769 posts in 124 days

#15 posted 08-09-2016 09:07 PM

Lay them all out as even as you can cut a few inches off the end attach to table. Flip table over run a masons line around it with a string level attached mark the lines use chain saw to chop em off even that’s the way grandpa use to do it. Of course he was making outside picnic type tables but they sat flat as hell. Until they started stretching and shrinking

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

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