Build Log Furniture: a Split-Log Table and Bench Set

Six illustrated steps for making rustic and rugged log furniture.

| May/June 1984

  • Log Furniture Mark Leg Holes
    Use a paper template.
    CHARLES ANDREWS
  • Log Furniture Split Log
    Split two benches from a single log. 
    PHOTO: CHARLES ANDREWS
  • Log Furniture Slot
    Slot for compression.
    CHARLES ANDREWS
  • Log Furniture Drill Leg Holes
    Drilling the leg holes.
    CHARLES ANDREWS
  • Log Furniture Split Legs
    Use a hatchet to split uniform leg blanks.
    CHARLES ANDREWS
  • Log Furniture Whittle
    Shaping the legs.
    CHARLES ANDREWS
  • Log Furniture Wedges
    Splitting the wedges.
    CHARLES ANDREWS

  • Log Furniture Mark Leg Holes
  • Log Furniture Split Log
  • Log Furniture Slot
  • Log Furniture Drill Leg Holes
  • Log Furniture Split Legs
  • Log Furniture Whittle
  • Log Furniture Wedges

Since the procedures for making log furniture don't vary much from one particular item to another, I'll go through the steps only once—in this case describing a bench. To make the table, just repeat the steps, modifying only the dimensions. (This table and bench set is kiddie-size; you may wish to make yours larger.)

Tools and Materials

Step 1: The tools you'll need for this project are a maul, two splitting wedges, an axe, a hatchet, a brace and 1" bit, a small saw, and a large knife. I split two benches from a single poplar log with an 11" diameter. The bench legs were split from a single 20" oak log. The wedges that secure the legs to the bench tops can be split from any hard, close-grained wood.

Splitting

Step 2: Begin the bench-top split by tapping a wedge into one end of the log at a 45° angle. Drive the second wedge into the spreading crack until the first can be removed. Continue until the log is split through. Now (if you wish), remove the bark.

Drilling the Leg Holes

Step 3: To assure a uniform position and angle for each of the four legs, use a paper template when locating and boring the leg holes. Use the brace and 1" bit, and drill completely through the split log.



Splitting and Shaping the Legs

Step 4: For each bench, split four 3" X 3" pieces from the 20" log (or from a log of whatever length you want the legs to be). Use the hatchet to shape them into uniform leg blanks. Now, whittle one end of each into a rounded dowel that will fit snugly into one of the 1" leg holes. Finally, saw a 4"-deep slot into the shaped end of each of the legs to allow for compression when you use your mallet to drive them into their holes.

Splitting Wedges and Attaching the Legs

Step 5: From the heartwood of a hardwood log, split four wedges about 1" wide, 1/16" thick, and at least 6" long. Whittle each of these to a thin edge on one end, and smooth any rough spots. Now, reopen the compressed slots in the protruding ends of the legs with a saw, and use a mallet to drive a wedge into the slot of each leg. When these are tightly in place, cut the protruding ends of the legs flush with the bench top, and trim the bottom ends of the legs as required.





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