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 DO-IT-YOURSELF Log furniture & Rustic Projects

DIY Log Coffee Table

Log coffee table

Rustic simplicity

A visit to a local sawmill produced a thick Ponderosa pine slab that was approximately 12 feet long by 25" wide (pictured below right).  This is what remained after I cut a 52 inch length for the coffee table.  I used Ponderose pine slabthis remnant to make a complimentary end table.

Even though this board had been air drying for more than two years, I measured the moisture content to make sure it was suitable for my purpose.  Solid wood (vs. veneers) tends to split (check) and can warp, which is not a desired effect for a living room table.

For legs I chose common fence posts while my cross members were made from tree limbs I obtained from the woods in back of my house.  I sifted through piles of fence posts to find some with blemishes and knots that would add personality to our table. Both the legs and the cross members were turned on a lathe to make them perfectly round.  This is not a required step as many people prefer the "natural" look of a debarked tree.  My goal was to assimilate the wood's imperfections into the design of our table.  Note the checking, bark remnants, knots and injuries in the pictures of the legs below.

I made my crosscuts (end cuts) at roughly the same angle as the sides.  This looks better and more natural than a squared off end cut.  This is evident in the picture at the top of this page.

Finishing

After the table was assembled, I sanded it with various grits of sandpaper with a final pass of 000 steel wool.  In order to match the seasoned wood in my home, I mixed brown pigment with natural Minwax stain-sealer and let it cure for 1-2 days.  Another rub down with steel wool removed any raised grain and I then applied 3 coats of Varathane. 

This photo shows the bold grain and knot holes emphasized in the finished project.  The unusual shape of the slab top is eye catching. 

Tools and materials

Log and most rustic furniture can be made using everyday hand and power tools, but some tasks require specialized tools such as draw knives and tenon cutters, etc.  Also, in my DIY articles I sometimes make reference to other tools or materials, so for reference I am listing these items below.

Stubai Drawknife
 

Miller dowel system includes a tapered drill bit to accompany the tapered dowels

Draw knife and/or a Spokeshave is used to "peel" bark from the log

Miller dowel system
Tapered dowels and drill bit

   
Tenon Cutters available in many sizes Gorilla Glue is the strongest glue available

Power Tenon Cutter
All sizes, competitive pricing

Gorilla Glue
Strongest I've found

 

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