Making Outdoor Log Furniture is Quick and Easy
(Author’s update December 2009: When I built the two pieces, I had two different styles of tables. The first I mortised holes for the table legs through the table top and the second I mortised only 75% through, leaving the top of the legs covered by the table top. Use the second method. The protected legs last longer. Also I had to refinish the original finish with Polyurethane after one year. HJ)
About a year ago, I felled a large tree in our suburban backyard. I learned two things that day; one never ever cut a tree that is hollow on the side towards the house when that tree is even close to the height that might reach the house. After taking the usual precautions, notching the tree, attaching a come along on the notched side and putting a strain to pull the tree in that direction, I began my felling cut. At that point things went bad and went bad fast. The tree fell in the direction of the hollow, which by itself was not a bad thing. I hadn’t planned on the top 30 feet of the tree separating upon hitting another tree limb and flying through the air as if some hand from heaven had reached down grabbed the tree and thrown it just far enough to add a new skylight to our bedroom. The second thing I learned was that wives are not very understanding of skylight additions that haven’t been previously discussed.
Fast forward a year, and most of that tree ended up in our outdoor fireplace as split logs, but the largest section still remained since it was too large to fit into the log splitter. I was able to cut a few pieces off the end, but when it takes two cuts with my 20” bar to make it through the log, I stopped after the third slice was finished. If you have a friend at a lumber yard, I suggest you contact them for some free slabs or drop ends. I decided to try my hand at making rustic furniture from the end cuts, using the 24” diameter log ends as tops for my tables and I also wanted to make a rustic slab bench that would look at home at a lake house or at a log cabin nestled in the mountains.
Tools used in the Outdoor Log Furniture Project
Cutting logs, I used a Stihl 280 with a 20”bar for large cuts, and a Prazi Beam Cutter attached to a Milwaukee Worm Drive Saw for smaller cuts and for cutting a slab to make a bench that will be featured in a later article.
I used Lumberjack Tools Professional Series Tenon Cutters in a 1”diameter for small tenons, 1.5” for making tenons for the sturdy legs for the outdoor tables and 2” cutters for making large tenons used in making bed rails.
I used 1”, 1 3/8” for the undersize joints, 1.5”, 1 7/8” and 2” Forstner bits from Porter Cable. Spade bits will work for the smaller diameters also.
I used the Milwaukee Compact Drill model 1620 and the Bosch 36 volt lithium cordless drill.
I used 4 x24 belt sanders by Bosch for the36 grit and Milwaukee with 80 grit for rough sanding and a 5”random orbit sander by Ridgid for finish sanding using the medium metal sanding disc by Microplane for the first pass and 220 grit for between finish coat sandings.
Weatherall UV Protector and UVII Protector, two step process to achieve maximum weather protection.