How Do I Hollow Out Logs From End To End?

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Forum topic by evenstill posted 10-11-2012 06:55 PM 26499 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 2252 days

10-11-2012 06:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tool bit hollow method wood log


Someone recently requested that I make some wooden gnome houses out of logs (for the kids or maybe the garden) but I’m unsure what type of tool or bit I need to hollow out the middle of the logs from end to end leaving the exterior portion of the logs intact.  Whatever it is will need to cut holes ranging in diameter from 2” up to maybe 8” (in 2” increments) with a cutting depth/length of 6” to preferably 12”.  Originally I was thinking something that could cut a usable core out of the log would be best so I could use the core for other projects but I’m having trouble finding anything like that so even a more typical drill bit would be acceptable if that’s all I can find.  Also, money is VERY tight so I’m hoping to find something that won’t break the bank either.  Does anybody have any suggestions as to the best method for doing this, the tool/s I need, or the best type of bit/s?

Many Thanks,

12 replies so far

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2463 days

#1 posted 10-11-2012 07:04 PM

And adze and an ax may work. If you have a chainsaw, that may make some quick work of some of it (careful though b/c it’s dangerous to hollow with a chainsaw).

Worst case, use a circular saw to cut several slits down the log and then chisel them out. Repeat as much as you can.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2484 days

#2 posted 10-11-2012 07:16 PM

Will the logs be standing on end or laying on their side when you’re done?
If you have a band saw you could do these like you’d do a band saw box for the larger ones. The small ones you can look for a spoon bit, or drill a series of holes in a circle and then separate the waste, knock it out, and clean up the inside with a gouge (if the insides need to be clean)

The EASIEST way, would be the same way we make didgeridoo from an Agave stalk. Split the log, hollow out the halves, and glue it back together.

View OnlyJustME's profile


1562 posts in 2575 days

#3 posted 10-11-2012 07:16 PM

For the smaller holes (2”) a good sharp forstner bit should do the trick. Might be able to find an extension large enough for the bit to increase depth also. Once you have the hole down the center it would be easy to enlarge the hole with a carving gouge from both ends.

Could also cut/split the log in half with bandsaw/axe and carve out the center and then glue it back together.

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View Wildwood's profile


2471 posts in 2333 days

#4 posted 10-11-2012 07:35 PM

Really depends on style you choose and tools available. Pick a style that can do with tools on hand.

I can make 2” or larger diameter variety on my lathe no problem. Bandsaw is great for removing center of half a log too. If really good can remove center from whole log on the bandsaw. I am not that good. Forstner bits for doors and windows, and forstner bit with extension great for removing wood from center on floor drill press.

-- Bill

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3846 days

#5 posted 10-11-2012 07:42 PM

One of the traditional ways to do it is burn it out with
a hot poker.

You’re really getting into a laborious project hollowing
logs. Traditional cultures also find ways to get termites
to hollow out the logs.

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2463 days

#6 posted 10-11-2012 08:34 PM

I was envisioning this totally wrong. I’d quarter it with a bandsaw, hollow it out, and then glue it back together.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2883 days

#7 posted 10-11-2012 09:36 PM

maybe a 55mm cannon at 50 yards (check windage and elevation first).

I’d bore the side holes first with a spade bit (1 1/2” is probably max before you start talking bodily harm). Then go into the ends with shallow cuts using a 4” hole saw (I said shallow otherwise the heat will kill the hole saw)...chisel and repeat. Doing the sides will give you some relief when doing the ends. then start enlarging your holes with whatever you have (actually might need a truck load of beer also).

Or find a plumber that has cut-offs of schedule 40/80 PVC pipe (sewage plants use 10” and up) and paint them to look like logs.

View Bagtown's profile


1739 posts in 3928 days

#8 posted 10-11-2012 10:42 PM

I like the split it, remove wood and glue it back together idea the best. If done right nobody will know.

-- Mike - In Fort McMurray Alberta

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3182 days

#9 posted 10-11-2012 10:55 PM

Welcome To LumberJocks,
I went to see if you posted pics of your shop to see what tools you have to work with, but no help there.
Do you have a Lathe? If you have and have a 4 jaw chuck or a face plate it would be the easiest way to bore out the center.
Maybe if you listed the type of tools you had to work with, it would be easier to give you better advice as to how to achieve this process.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View TeamTurpin's profile


85 posts in 2259 days

#10 posted 10-12-2012 12:10 AM

How “perfect” does the inside hole need to be? If it doesn’t have to be a perfect cylinder, what about boring a circular series of 1” holes with a long twist bit? Once you have the holes bored, you could use a long slender bladed saw to connect the holes (like a long keyhole saw or any thin saw with a blade that can be removed and reconnected inside the log—like a tree branch saw). It would leave a jagged interior, but you could clean up the ends of the log with a sharp chisel. Just thinking out loud.


View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2484 days

#11 posted 10-12-2012 01:10 AM

If he has a band saw you can tilt the table slightly and basically cut a slightly tapered cylinder. It’ll fall right out. :)
These are split and hollowed, then glued back together…

View evenstill's profile


2 posts in 2252 days

#12 posted 10-12-2012 05:39 PM

Thank you all for the great tips and advice. The tools I currently have at my disposal are:
Table Saw
Sliding Compound Miter Saw
Circle Saw
Scroll Saw
Belt Sander
Drill (corded and cordless)
Impact Driver (cordless)
Hammer Drill (cordless)
Dremel Rotary Tool
Various Hand Tools

It sounds like the Band Saw and Lathe ideas would be the simplest and fastest but without the capital to invest in any more tools at this time I think using a forstner style bit to “eat away” at the interior will probably be my best option. I picked up 1” & 2” Irwin Speedbor Max Self Feeding bits and a 12” extension to try.

Thanks again . . . and if anyone has any further ideas, tips, or tricks, I’d love to hear them. :-)

~ evenstill

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