How to Make a Handmade Primitive Log Bench

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Making a primitive log bench using hand tools is a project easily adapted for a number of factors. The bench can be any size, from a small child's seat or a footrest to a large bench that will seat several adults. If the bench is made from a durable wood, such as oak, it can be used outside. If it's for use inside or on a porch, any easily split wood will do. Keep in mind the log should be as long as you want your bench to be, and the diameter of the log will be the bench's width.

Things You'll Need

  • Log
  • Axe or wedges and maul to split wood
  • Hatchet
  • Auger, 1-1/2 or 2-inch

Split the log in half. If necessary, use wedges and a sledge hammer or maul to keep the split as straight as possible.

Choose the half with the surface that's most level and smooth, and hew off splinters and uneven places with a hatchet. That will be the top of the bench. You can dress it even more smoothly if you want, using a plane, drawknife or adze. Save the other half of the log to make the legs.

Set the best half on a level surface with the flat side down and the rounded side up. Using a 1 1/2-inch or 2-inch auger, drill four holes for the legs. When drilling, angle the auger out toward the corners, so the bench will be more stable. You'll want the holes at least a couple inches deep, but don't drill all the way through.

Split the other half of the log a little larger than 2 inches by 2 inches to make the legs. For an adult bench, you can cut them about 24 inches long, but they can be much shorter for a child's bench or footstool. If you want to make two benches, you can use both halves of the large log for the two tops and cut the legs from smaller branches.

Round the corners of the legs a little with a hatchet, and taper the ends slightly so they can be tapped snugly into the auger holes. Don't worry if they're not exactly the same length yet.

Tap the legs into the top of the bench. Turn the bench over, and prop it so it sits level. Mark where to cut the bottom of each leg by tracing along the top of an object placed on the floor. Cut the legs as marked, and the bench will sit level.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the legs loosen over time, you can glue them in place. If you make the top of the bench from green wood and the legs from dry wood, the top will shrink as it dries and naturally clamp down on the legs to hold them tighter. Alternatively, you can drill all the way through the bench, saw a slit in the top end of the legs and pound a wedge in them from above, after they're inserted in the holes.

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