Fabricating Log Furniture
The art of log furniture fabrication is an art more so then carpentry by today’s definition. Most all the same carpentry skills will apply but when fabricating furniture from logs either purchased or foraged some rules do change. Purchased stock will be more dimensional where as foraged may not be depending on what your looking to do. Log stock you buy will also be dried, checked and ready for use a lot sooner.
Foraged logs just require a little more preparation work before they can be used but will open up many more different design ideas. Crooked, twisted, bent, bowed, cracked, split, and warped are not desired in the world of building. When these attributes are utilized in log furniture fabrication this is what truly separates one artist from another.
Preparing Foraged Logs
Preparation for logs you forage require a bit more work then kiln dried stock you purchase. Do you want bark left on or stripped off of your material ? If not then the logs have to be shaved removing it with a device called a draw knife. Not difficult to use but time consuming and adds one more step to your project. The draw knife is readily available and will set you back usually less then fifty smack-ah-roos. If your interested in foraging your own logs then this is a must have item for your arsenal .
The second item I would recommend is a high quality wood/log sealer. Anchor-seal 2 is a high quality end sealer that provides protection to prevent end checking in freshly sawn green logs and lumber. I like Anchor-seal 2 because it was formulated mainly for North American hardwoods. This product is made from renewable natural components and has less petroleum-based material in it. AS2 seals the ends of logs and lumber to protect against end checking and costly degrade, during the air-drying process. Anchor-Seal 2 will ultimately reduce split ends (Checking Process),conserve product, reduce staining (spalting), and is environmentally friendly to use.
Log Furniture Fabrication Tools
Although you don’t need a pile of tools for log furniture fabrication there are some you can’t be without. Now some you will already have but others will have to be purchased for your new endeavor to transpire. Below is a list and a short video for you to have a clearer understanding of what’s needed.
- Draw knife
- Tenons (Glorified pencil sharpener)
- Saw (Hand or Electric)
- Tape Measure
- Hole boring drill bit (matched to tenon)
- Hammers (Rubber mallet,dead blow,carpenter’s)
- Ratchet strap
Log Furniture Fabrication Assembly
Below is a short video of step-by-step assembly of our custom engraved King Size Log Bed.
Log Furniture Finishing
Now that our piece of log furniture is complete it’s time to make the decision to finish it or leave it as is. Well if we decide to not finish this piece then this article ends here and that’s no good. I don’t believe there’s any one finish that’s absolutely perfect for any one job.
Different finishes will offer up different levels of protection in my opinion with results varying in application, strength & durability and appearance. Also I don’t believe there’s any particular finish that will excel in all the above categories Below I will discuss some of the different finishes available on the market today.
As with all things proper and correct steps must be taken to assure a good outcome with the finish you choose. Making sure everything is sealed & sanded, dust free and free of any contaminants which could inhibit your finish from adhering to the wood itself.
Before we start the finishing process I apply at least 1 good coat of sanding sealer. The reason is due mainly in part to the materials used to fabricate log furniture in the first place. Pine & Cedar are both very porous and can also “Bleed” resins and saps out. By sealing we greatly reduce the chance of this but also cut down on the number of finishes coats needed to complete the project.
It is a plastic resin that is carried in solvents. Available in either water-based or oil, polyurethane is a favorite to use but does have its pros & cons. It goes on relatively easy, has a low odor, very durable and readily available. However if applied too heavy it will run and its dry time allows for free floating dust particles in the air to settle in the material.
This is probably my most favorite of all the finishes with its ease of application, depth & richness it imparts in wood. It has a moderate to strong durability rating and dries very quickly weather brushed or sprayed. Its drawbacks are sensitivity to certain solvents & cleaners, moderate water resistance and a tendency to turn yellow with age.
In my opinion this is one of the toughest coatings to use on your projects. It’s durability comes from a much higher ratio of solids in the varnish itself. It can be brushed or sprayed without much difficulty, is quite resilient to water, scratches, UV light and chemicals. The down side is its drying time and much like polyurethane is subject to free floating dust particles in the air.
Our shop uses shellac primarily as a protective coating over our engraved painted images. I use the wax free & clear in a spray can for this purpose. Shellac comes in different shades, waxed or DE-waxed and can be brushed or sprayed. It also has wonderful blocking properties and helps with resin from pine knots and other oily woods. With a short shelf live I keep only a can or two in the shop but for the above mentioned it has its purpose.
Well I hope everyone now has a clearer understanding of how log furniture fabrication if done. With just a few tools, some time, and a creative imagination most anything can be fabricated . Whether you choose to forage for your stock or purchase it this will soon be an undertaking you’ll want to do again and again. As always introduce a child or young person in your endeavours and please be safe.
Thank You for taking the time to read………..