It's more, you see, than a simple hand truck for hauling the heavy ones. It's also able to serve as a sawbuck . . . to hold a hunk of timber while you cut the log to stove-size lengths.
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Build a log-lifting tool to help you cut lumber and move heavy logs around the homestead. (See the log lifter photos in the image gallery.)
Build a Log-Lifting Tool
Folks who make the switch to wood heat often find that their saving in fuel cost is tempered by the extra effort involved in cutting, splitting, hauling, and stacking the cumbersome combustible. Still, the pleasure of tending a crackling fire — and the sense of independence that burning a renewable fuel can offer — generally makes it pretty easy to overlook the inconveniences.
There's no reason, though, why you can't make your wood harvesting chores a little less bothersome . . . and the log-lifting tool featured will help you do just that! It's more, you see, than a simple hand truck for hauling the heavy ones. It's also able to serve as a sawbuck. . . to hold a hunk of timber while you cut the log to stove-size lengths.
We made our lifter from 1-1/4 inch square tubular steel, assorted pieces of flat stock, and some garden tractor wheels. It would be a simple matter, though — if you didn't have these components on hand — to build your own version of the worksaver by simply using the dimensions given as a guide and substituting more common round tubing for the square steel . . . and replacing the tractor wheels with rollers of your choice.
The first step in any workshop undertaking, of course, is to gather the tools you'll need to complete the project. This one will require a welder, a hacksaw, a ruler, a protractor, and a power drill with a variety of bits.
Naturally, you'll also have to collect the necessary frame materials. When consolidated, these work out to 21 feet of 1-1/4 inch square tubular steel (with 14-gauge wall), a 3/8 inch by 1-1/2 inch by 40 inch length of flat stock, another piece of metal strap measuring 1/4 inches by 2 inches by 52 inches, a 1/4 inch by 5-1/2 inch by 15 inch plate, and a 1/8 inch by 1-1/2 inch by 28 inch piece of flat stock.
In addition, you'll need a pair of wheels, each with an overall diameter of 16 inch and a 3/4 inch axle bore . . . a 36 inch axle (with washers) to fit that bore . . . two pairs of tension springs (one 1/2 inch by 11 inch and the other 5/8 inch by 6 inch) . . . four 1/4 inch by 1-3/4 inch eyebolts . . . two 3/8 inch by 2 inch bolts with six nuts to fit them . . . and six 3/8 inch by 1-1/2 inch bolts, each fitted with a pair of nuts.
Once you've gotten your tools and materials together, cut the full-length steel sections to the sizes indicated in our illustration and prepare to fasten them together. Before you begin welding, though, cut the correct angles for the frame leg and overhead arm joints . . . trim 1-1/4 inches from each end of the handle on three sides (leaving two tabs that'll cover the open ends of the frame's uprights) . . . and bend the 36-1/2 inch-long rest bar — using heat if necessary — to form a 35 degree angle in its center (the ends will then have to be beveled to fit flush with the upright rails). Furthermore, this is probably the best time to drill the holes in the various support tabs.
After you've welded up the basic framework, the rest of the log-lifter's parts should bolt together easily. To assemble them, first trim out the slots in the swing braces that support the 3/4 inch axle rod, then install your fasteners. The rear springs should run between the triple-nutted pivot bolts on the back tabs and the 3/8 inch bolts at the rear of the braces, while the front tensioners clip to eyebolts mounted on the frame stanchions and the overhead arms. Once these parts are in place, slip the axle through its supports (with the wheels inside and the washers between them), and tack-weld those steel rings to the 3/4 inch rod so that the hubs can't "walk" inward while turning.
With everything put together, you can paint the metal parts and head out to the woodlot to put your new creation through its paces. It's been designed to be used like a peavey in that its legs are first tucked under the log and the frame is then pushed forward with the arms in the "up" position, causing them to fall down on the trunk and dig into the wood. After that, by pulling back on the handle, you can easily move the load to your cutting area. In order to use our truck as a sawbuck, simply lay it down on its rest with the log in its cradle, and slice rounds off the ends protruding from the right and left sides of the frame.
The tool's jaws will accept timber up to 16 inches in diameter, and — should knots or limb stubs on a log interfere with the action of the wheels during transport — the axle can be moved back to the rear notch to provide additional clearance.
Yep, it'd be hard to beat a tool that does the job of two and saves money besides. We figure you should be able to put your own lifter together, as we did, for about $50, and — if the device allows you to increase your reliance upon firewood — possibly bank several times that amount in savings over conventional fuels within a short time. That's a bargain . . . no matter how you slice it.