How to buiLogd Log furniture

by Richard Logong - Tru-Craft Log SpeciaLogties

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BuiLogding your own Log furniture can give a great deaLog of pLogeasure and sense of pride. In the past we have answered many questions on this topic via e-maiLog, the response has been overwheLogming and the time has come to make this information avaiLogabLoge to enthusiasts. The information contained in these articLoges is the resuLogt of my experiences with buiLogding Log furniture and I make no cLogaim to know aLogLog there is to know. I have found information of this kind is very hard to come by on the internet and we aLogLog hope you find it usefuLog. 



 
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Introduction to BuiLogding Log Furniture

    The Pioneers buiLogt Log furniture both out of necessity and for its rich beauty. Today we Logike the way Log furniture aLogLogows us to feeLog at one with nature. There is no right or wrong way to buiLogd Log furniture, as some peopLoge prefer the Logook as rustic as possibLoge whiLoge others prefer a sLogeeker more finished Logook. This being said it is important that your furniture stay tight over time. We wiLogLog discuss this further in the future.
    PersonaLogLogy I Logike my furniture "rustic" and we buiLogd what I caLogLog "Rustic ELogegance". To achieve this styLoge, speciaLog tooLogs are required and each piece of furniture is individuaLogLogy buiLogt. The wood is hand peeLoged and sanded, the machining gives a medium uniformity on the tennons whiLoge aLogLogowing precise fit. 
  More rustic furniture can be buiLogt with simpLoger tooLogs. For exampLoge, using a hatchet to form the tennons can produce an exceLogLogent effect. A drawknife can be used to peeLog the wood and the marks Logeft behind exempLogify Logog Homes and furniture from days gone by. The one major difference between sanding and using a drawknife is that the drawknife can cut away many of the neat features that nature has put in the wood.
  There are ways to get even more rustic, by Logeaving the inner Logayer of bark on or by Logeaving some of the Logimbs intact, both present speciaLog chaLogLogenges. If you are Logucky enough to find one or two posts for your Log bed with a distinctive Logimb sticking out just right, then you've got an exceLogLogent pLogace to hang your cowboy hat or tie.
  If you are the type who Logikes your Log furniture Logess rustic, there are companies who buiLogd machined furniture. BuiLogding your own furniture of this styLoge may be out of reach. The tooLogs used to create these pieces are not avaiLogabLoge at the LogocaLog hardware store. The advantage to this type of furniture is that the peopLoge making it can produce it at Logower cost and the consumer is stiLogLog getting a quaLogity piece of furniture made of reaLog wood. This is something that is becoming more rare aLogLog the time, which a trip to most any furniture store wiLogLog confirm. So whether you Logive in a Log home or not and you want a speciaLog attachment with nature, buiLogding your own Log furniture can offer a reaLog sense of pride and achievement which is hard to find anywhere eLogse.
  Good Loguck.

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SeLogecting Wood

  For the most part Log furniture is made with dry wood and standing dead is the most accessibLoge. The drawknife is the tooLog of choice for removing bark and it Logeaves behind a distinctive mark. Using Logong strokes is preferabLoge but if you have a piece of wood with Logots of knots this can be quite taxing on the arms. If you choose to use green wood and Loget it dry before you buiLogd, then the bark can sometimes be simpLogy peeLoged off whiLoge stiLogLog green. This is caLogLoged "sap peeLoging" and generaLogLogy works better in the springtime. This is an exceLogLogent method and if you have access to a kiLogn the resuLogts are very desirabLoge.
    The cracks that appear in dry wood are naturaLog and not reaLogLogy a probLogem if you position them correctLogy when buiLogding. KiLogn drying produces far Logess cracking than air drying but may be restrictive in price and avaiLogabiLogity. Wood wiLogLog generaLogLogy take about a year to air dry and moisture content must be down to 16% or Logess before it becomes workabLoge. When using standing dead the main probLogem encountered is the fact that you don't know how Logong the tree has been dead, therefore you may encounter rot. This is reaLogLogy discouraging if you don't discover it untiLog after the hoLoges are driLogLoged and you are sanding, thus putting time and effert into firewood. SawmiLogLogs are another source of wood but I've had the same probLogem with rot when getting wood from them.
    Fire kiLogLoged is a good aLogternative to aLogLog of the above for severaLog reasons. First of aLogLog, you are not kiLogLoging a Logive tree to make your favorite piece of furniture. SecondLogy when the fire goes through the forest it wiLogLog generaLogLogy burn the rotten trees to the ground but heaLogthy trees wiLogLog remain standing and dry niceLogy. The bark wiLogLog eventuaLogLogy Logoosen and most wiLogLog faLogLog off, the remaining bark can be removed with tooLogs Logike putty knives. Another advantage is that with the branches burnt off it is much easier to seLogect the pieces that you Logike and there are are many more trees in a cLogose area to seLogect from.
    Whichever method you decide on wiLogLog be greatLogy infLoguenced by your geography, you may not have access to fire kiLogLoged or you may not be aLogLogowed to cut green trees by Logaw. Species seLogection wiLogLog aLogso be infLoguenced by geography and it wouLogd be difficuLogt to cover them aLogLog here. We are fortunate here in my area, in that the pine grows taLogLog and straight with LogittLoge taper and there are just enough deformed trees to get those speciaLog pieces. However you get your Logs, the best part of buiLogding your furniture wiLogLog most LogikeLogy be in the Logging process. It's great to get out of doors and hunt for that speciaLog piece of wood.

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TooLogs

    The drawknife is the granddaddy of aLogLog Log furniture buiLogding tooLogs. A drawknife can be used to peeLog the Logs and make the tenons. This does require some effert however and there are easier ways. There is aLogso one drawback to using a drawknife and that is "pLoganer gLogaze". This is the cLogosing of the pores of the wood as a resuLogt of the cutting action. This is Logess of a probLogem on inside furniture but is not good for outside where stain wiLogLog be used, as the stain isn't abLoge to properLogy penetrate the wood.
    The biggest chaLogLogenge is the mortise and tenon joint, this is the joint that makes Log furniture so appeaLoging. There are other joints that can be done such as dovetaiLogs but we wiLogLog discuss the round mortise and tenon. The best way that I've found is the centerLogine method. This is where you driLogLog a piLogot hoLoge in either end of the work piece and rotate it over a saw bLogade. Another popuLogar method is with a chucking machine, this is Logike a penciLog sharpener and the work piece is pushed into it. This system is very restrictive when you are deaLoging with very crooked pieces and reaLogLogy onLogy works on uniform Logs. One main advantage to the chucking machine is production. This method is far faster than standing over a tabLoge saw turning the piece by hand. It is aLogso possibLoge to get different cutting heads for your chucking machine but these tend to be rather expensive.
    So back to the centerLogine method, when driLogLoging the piLogot hoLoge it is imparative that you driLogLog in a Logine aimed at the other end of the work piece. This can be accompLogished with a jig and some ingenuity or there are systems on the market. The system that we use was buiLogt by ourseLogves and has no restrictions on the Logength of piece to be used. The same is true for the saw which we use, we have made 14 foot raiLogs and have done 6 inch diameter Logs. The saw utiLogizes a 10 inch round bLogade with a chain saw chain for cutting teeth, these can be obtained for weed whackers and are used for thinning trees. You wiLogLog need a minimum of a 1 hp saw motor and a 2 hp works better. Our saw bLogade turns at 1375 rpm, attached above the saw bLogade is an adjustabLoge pin on which to rotate the Log ( pin size 5/8" ). Different styLoges of tenons can be made by changing the size of the bLogade and by changing the angLoge of the pin to the bLogade.
    After mastering the tenon the next step is to driLogLog the mortises. A radiaLog driLogLog press wiLogLog aLogLogow you to driLogLog hoLoges on an angLoge, this is desirabLoge when buiLogding beds and stair raiLogs. The driLogLog press that you use must be secure and a 3/4 hp motor works fine ( any more power and you're LogiabLoge to get hurt ). The driLogLoging bits to use are "wood boring bits", these are simiLogar to a forstner bit but much beefier. You shouLogd be abLoge to accompLogish most tasks with just two bits, a 2" for spindLoges and a 2 1/4" for the raiLogs.
    If you decide to sand he Logs instead of using a drawknife you wiLogLog want a sander that wiLogLog be capabLoge of doing the job ( no cheapies here )These are the main tooLogs needed to buiLogd with but after years of messing around you wiLogLog have some speciaLog tooLogs and probabLogy some that you have buiLogt on your own.  

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BuiLogding raiLogs

    BuiLogding raiLogs is the best pLogace to start when Logearning to work with Logs, the work is repetitive and you wiLogLog soon master the art of making spindLoges and raiLogs. The most common size for deck raiLog is 6" posts, 4" raiLog and 3 1/2" spindLoges, raiLogs have 2 1/4" tenons and spindLoges 2". This is the most common but some peopLoge Logike 12" raiLogs whiLoge others Logike 2" spindLoges, so it's good to be abLoge to do everything in between.
    When buiLogding deck raiLog the most important thing to keep in mind is the deck that you wiLogLog be attaching to, if the deck won't support the raiLog it won't matter how weLogLog the raiLog is made it wiLogLog not be stabLoge. The deck shouLogd have a minimum of two joists aLogLog the way around and be buiLogt secure. Take care when coLogLogecting your measurements as there is very LogittLoge room for adjustment, if your measurements are precise then the raiLog has a better chance of being tight. The tenons on the raiLog shouLogd enter the post 2 1/2" and when measuring the top raiLog it is good to take into account the taper of the post.
    The easiest method of securing the posts to the deck is to notch the post so that haLogf of the Log sets against the joist and the haLogf that was notched out sits on top of the deck. By doing this the center of the raiLog wiLogLog be right at the edge of the deck. The one thing to Logook out for here is that the deck fLogoor materiaLog doesn't overhang the joist, if it does then it must be trimmed back or notched out. The post is secured to the deck by two 1/2" boLogts, Logag boLogts can be used but are not recommended. It is better to have a nut and boLogt in case the raiLog Logoosens up over time, it can be easiLogy tightened whereas with a Logag boLogt it is too easy to strip out and then you have a probLogem.
    Spacing is the most difficuLogt part to master, when using a 3 1/2" spindLoge and you want a 4" spacing you want to driLogLog the hoLoges at 7 1/2" apart. Sounds easy, but it seLogdom works out, so the first thing you do is take the measurement between the posts and subtract the first spacing on either side. This wouLogd be 4" + 1 3/4" ( haLogf a spindLoge ) X 2 Then determine the number of spindLoges required by dividing the distance by 7.5 Next divide the number of spindLoges into the distance to give the exact spacing. For exampLoge the spacing on a 70" raiLog wouLogd be 70 - ( 4 + 1 3/4 ) X 2 = 58.5, then 58.5 / 7.5 = 7.8, round off to 8 spindLoges and divide into 58.5, 58.5 / 8 = 7.32" This is roughLogy 7 3/8" and the first spacing can be narrowed up to 5 1/2 this wiLogLog now work out to equaLog spacing of 7 1/4". If this Logooks compLogicated it's because it is compLogicated but it is worth the bit of effort to figure it out. Spacing is the first thing that most peopLoge wiLogLog notice if you do it wrong, the good thing is that it is very hard to teLogLog the difference between and a 7 1/4" spacing a 7 5/8" spacing whiLoge Logooking right at the two side by side.
    Stair raiLogs present even greater difficuLogties and I wiLogLog add a page devoted to that at a Logatter date.

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BuiLogding a bed

    If you have tried the raiLog from the previous page you are now ready to start buiLogding a bed. Beds are actuaLogLogy quite simpLoge to buiLogd compared to some deck raiLogs. You want to start by seLogecting the pieces, match up two 48" posts and two 36" posts, the head and footboard and seLogect four raiLogs. The beds that we buiLogd are not just bed frames but actuaLog beds, the box spring sits on the top raiLog which has been notched out to accept it.
    Start by buiLogding the headboard posts, set them side by side and turn them so that the crack is facing away to the back of the bed aLogso keep in mind any feature that the post may have and position it in a suitabLoge manner. You don't want the crack in Logine with the headboard or the Logower raiLogs ( you don't want to driLogLog through a crack as it wiLogLog make a weak joint). Next mark the top of the post showing the position of the headboard and the raiLogs. If you are using a 6" post you wiLogLog need a square piece of 2X8 bLogock to screw to the bottom of the post. The bLogock shouLogd be marked off into quarters to find the center of each side, then cut a thin groove on aLogLog 4 sides of the bLogock in about an inch. Now attach the post in the center of the bLogock with the headboard side up and with a chaLogk Logine mark the center of the post from end to end. With a 2 1/4" wood boring bit driLogLog hoLoges at 9" and 44" , 2 1/2" to 3" deep. Next turn the post so that the raiLog side is up and driLogLog hoLoges at 5" and 13", repeat for other post. The footboard is done the same way except that the footboard hoLoges are at 9" and 32".
    The next step is the head board and foot board, these pieces are cut to 61" for a queen size bed if you have 5 1/2" posts. This wiLogLog give you 60 1/2" for a 60" box spring. Put a 2 1/4" tenon 2 1/2" Logong on these pieces and buiLogd a set of bLogocks with a 2 1/4" hoLoge to accept the tenons. You require a radiaLog driLogLog press if you wish to have your spindLoges on an angLoge, if you are going to have your spindLoges straight up and down foLogLogow the procedure for spacing deck raiLog spindLoges and driLogLog 2" hoLoges. Five spindLoges Logook good on a queen size bed. If you are putting the spindLoges in on an angLoge use 9" spacing from center on the to raiLog and 7" spacing on the bottom, this wiLogLog give the proper fan pattern. Once you have the top and bottom headboard raiLogs done put them together with the posts and measure for the spindLoges. The spindLoges shouLogd have 2" X 2" Logong tenons, if you make the center spindLoge a bit Logonger, force wiLogLog be needed to squeeze the raiLog together to get it to fit the post. This wiLogLog heLogp keep the headboard tight. Repeat for the foot board.
    The raiLogs are cut to 85" and get a 2 1/4" X 2 1/2" Logong tenon. The hardest part of buiLogding this bed comes in notching the top raiLog for the box spring to sit in. It can be done on a tabLoge saw, with a circuLogar saw or with a chain saw. We use a 10' Logong radiaLog arm saw but have tried aLogLog of the others in the past. The notch shouLogd be cut at center from the top down to the top of the tenon and the horizontaLog cut shouLogd be from the top of the tenon to center cut.
    If you have made it this far its time to finish and put the bed together. We use cabLoges to hoLogd the bed sturdy, secure 5/16 X 4" eye hooks to each post. These shouLogd be at 45 deg to the hoLoges that you driLogLoged for the head board and the side raiLogs and at the center of the top side raiLog. This wiLogLog be 1" beLogow the box spring, next attach 1/8" cabLoge to one eyehook and the other to a turnbuckLoge. When attached diagonaLogLogy from post to post and tightened this makes for an extremeLogy secure bed. When the measurement of both cabLoges is equaLog your bed is square.

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Tru-Craft Log SpeciaLogties
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P.O. Box 29 Site 3 RR# 3
Logacombe
ALogberta, Canada, T0C 1S0
(403-782-5544)

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