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Forum topic by shelly_b posted 12-15-2012 03:31 AM 4728 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2117 days

12-15-2012 03:31 AM

I have always wanted to build/own log furniture, but the prices for the furniture are rediculous. So I figure why not do it myself. In some ways it seems it will be quicker and easier than the woodwork I have been doing. So far I have bought a 2in tenon cutter with the 60 degree shoulder, the taper cutter so the joints are seemless, a 1in radius tenon cutter(I plan on using my draw knife to cut the tapers, much cheaper that way), a draw knife, a big 20volt corded dewalt drill, and the 2in forstner bit. I already have a 1in forstner. So I think I am all set to go, BUT I have a few questions. I’m sure they have been asked, but I have searched and don’t have enough time to sit at the computer for hrs, or even and hr, looking.
1) Is there a reason pine is used? We own 10 acres of wooded land and wouldn’t you know we have NO pine trees. We have plenty of other nice straight trees with smooth bark that seem to be good candidates. Does anyone know of any other woods that work good?
2) Do you HAVE to wait on the wood to dry? And if so how long? I have peeled a fresh chunck of pine, and it was a sappy mess lol. I thought I read somewhere that once you finish/seal it, it will slow down the drying time so it reduced checking/cracking/movement.
3) Are there any good ways to cut angled, heck, even perfect 90 degree mortises/tenons without a big expensive machine? Homemade jigs/or a trick to holding the drill at the right angle.
I guess that’s all I can think of right now. I’m sure I will think of more. I will take any tips I can get right now though. Thanks!!!

13 replies so far

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3101 days

#1 posted 12-15-2012 08:28 AM

I’m no expert but I have learned a little along the way. Green wood is faster and easier to work with. Easier peeling with a draw knife and easier on both you and the tenon cutter. I would guess the type of wood might depend on if your going to use your furniture indoors or out (weather and such). I have never used any special jigs but your hands and arms will get a workout with the tenon cutter if you use just a drill as I have. The wood stores sell different clamps for your drill or router if you want to go that route. sells some good books on log furniture. I would make sure you bone up on the proper techniques for the joints. Drying time depends on the environment. I have a wood stove in my shop and it takes the moisture out of the air pretty quickly. Checking of the logs is natural and adds to the beauty of the wood.

Start small and go for it. Good luck…...................

-- mike...............

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3237 days

#2 posted 12-15-2012 11:22 AM

Pine is always going to be sticky for a long time unless it’s heated in a kiln to fix the pitch. Any other hardwood is better for green furniture. I wanted to make some slab benches using 3” thick limbs for legs and the cost of the tenon cutters was more than I wanted to pay. Another lumberjock user posted a jig he made for his router. I adapted that idea to a jig I bolted to my router table. It uses insert plates where I can change the size of the tenon by changing the plate. It only took about an hour to build and I’ve only used it two times. Once to try it out with some tree limbs and the 2nd time to make a stack of legs. I had several 12’ long pieces of 2 1/2” square walnut and I cut them into 18” lengths. I made 60 table legs in about an hour. I’ve still got a big stack of legs for benches and when they run out I’ll make more. I love rustic log furniture and I’ll be watching to see your new projects.

Click for details

This bench is made from bartlett pear with log legs and the project shows how I made it.

Click for details

-- Hal, Tennessee

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29232 posts in 2338 days

#3 posted 12-15-2012 12:55 PM

To my knowege, Hardwoods would actually suit you better. The other rule of thumb is use what you have! If you have that many trees available, some of them are just crying out to be furniture :-)

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3085 days

#4 posted 12-15-2012 04:34 PM

Pine was/is used because lodgepole pine grows like a weed in the forests and is inexpensive and easily available
in the areas like Montana where a lot of this furniture is made. Roy Underhill- the Woodwright’s Shop has some
books out and some shows that you can view free on his Woodwright’s Shop site that deal with using wet wood
so it will shrink to a tight fit on tenons. He also has plenty of other insights and tips that would help you. If you
can, I suggest that you add his books to your woodworking library.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View NormG's profile


6112 posts in 3003 days

#5 posted 12-15-2012 06:06 PM

I agree with Monte, use what you have. There is another lady LJ from Ohio I believe that has been making this type of furniture, though I have not seen any posts by her lately

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View hamburglar's profile


42 posts in 2099 days

#6 posted 12-15-2012 06:13 PM

3) There is enough slop in the m/t cutters you are using that you don’t have to be “perfect 90º”, just within a couple of degrees. If you were to take a more handmade approach the tolerances would be tighter.

As for angled mortises I just use a hole saw and start at 90º and tilt it into my angle, hit the “puck” as I call it a few time with a hammer and it pops out. You may have to chisel a little bit to get a flat bottom hole if that is important.

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2117 days

#7 posted 12-16-2012 12:27 PM

Thanks everyone! i’m glad to know it is ok to use hard woods. I went into the woods lastnight and found a fallen red oak that I thought was starting to dry, but from the weight I don’t think it has yet. It’s about 5-6 in in diameter and a 6ft peice is pretty heavy lol. Hal, your benches are beautiful! It is projects like that that have inspired me to try out log furniture:) We also have a woodburner in our garage so I am hoping it will help dry it fast. Peeling the wet pine was like cutting butter. I spend a few hrs sharpening my draw knife to a miror shine when I got it. Since it is hunting season again this weekend, I didn’t want to go too far into the woods. I will definately look into Roy Underhill. I really enjoy any kind of woodworking books/videos. Thanks agian! I will post videos as soon as I finish my first project:)

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18271 posts in 3675 days

#8 posted 12-16-2012 08:16 PM

Wear somethhing bright when ever you go in the woods!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2117 days

#9 posted 12-17-2012 03:09 PM

Redryder, I love your log furniture! I hope mine turns out that well! Topamax-I have never thought of wearing anything bright other than in gun season, but it sounds like a good idea:)

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2117 days

#10 posted 12-25-2012 10:44 PM

ArtieMax-yes, she likes to help me with alot of my projects:) she is 3 and very helpful…most of the time lol. she LOVES being outside and taking walks in the woods, and is amazingly good with her hands. she would prefer any kind of arts/crafts over any toy, so she is definately taking after me:)

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29232 posts in 2338 days

#11 posted 12-25-2012 10:53 PM

Hey Shelly,

when it comes to taking bark off, if you have access to a pressure washer with at least 2500 lbs pressure, it will peel to bark off most trees. Much easier than most peeling methods.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Pablocruz's profile


1 post in 1623 days

#12 posted 12-16-2013 03:50 AM

Hi Shelly,

Here in the Northwest of USA we use Lodgepole Pine, Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, Maple, Alder, and Aspen. Conifer wood is soft and so is easy to shape. Mainly folks will use what is common in there area. Careful with using wood that has been on the ground for sometime as it wicks moisture and may be way too soft on the bottom side. I like to cut mine dead standing when I can, but do only if your a expert timber feller.

View jdh122's profile


1012 posts in 2817 days

#13 posted 12-16-2013 12:15 PM

In my recent experiences with greenwood chairmaking I’ve found that the easiest way to drill angled mortises is to use a bevel gauge, speedsquare and brace-and-bit. You can really dial in the angle and hold it quite steady. I’d think you could do the same thing with the big power drill you’ll no doubt be using to drill those massive mortises. One problem is that you need to find the center of the log relative to that angle. I initially used a homemade center finder (a large V cut into a board with a nail protruding) and it worked well, but I’ve found that I can generally eyeball it relatively well.
I’ve often wondered about drying with log furniture, since most of them would require several years to airdry. It would probably be OK to assemble the furniture wet, since the mortise should shrink with the tenon (ideally the tenon piece would be a bit drier than the mortise, but you’re going to have a hard time building a lightbulb kiln big enough). Maybe you could put the tenon pieces in your heated garage but leave the mortise pieces outside. When assembled the drier tenon will absorb some of the moisture from the wetter mortise, swell up and lock the joint.
You probably know this, but the bark will be much easier to take off if you cut the tree while the sap is running (Spring or Summer rather than Fall or Winter) – although it probably won’t matter much if you use Monte’s suggested method.
Good luck and have fun.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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