Wood logs are a wonderful raw material from which to make a wide variety of beautiful and useful items for your home and yard. Whether you have just one interesting chunk of wood, or a forest full of trees to manage, you can use wood logs, a natural, renewable, readily available resource, to make simple or elaborate projects.
Depending on the magnitude of the project you choose, the tools you need might be as simple as a small saw and a drill. Or you might need an axe, chisel, chainsaw, tenon cutters to secure legs into benches and tables, and a sander to smooth your finished pieces. Keep in mind these can all be dangerous tools, and they require caution and skill for safe use.
Slices and Slabs
Beginning woodworkers might try some of these projects to get some experience working with wood logs. Slice a small diameter log into coasters to use under glasses. Sand and finish them so they're smooth. Tiny branches of interesting grain can be cut into thin discs for earrings or necklace pendants, strung together for bracelets or fashioned into buttons. Jewelry findings such as earring hooks and bracelet wire and clasps are readily available in craft stores.
Large diameter slabs of a rot-resistant wood such as cypress or cedar will work as stepping "stones" for an outdoor path. A particularly pretty slice would make a good background on which to mount a clock face, photo, or artwork. Huge, irregular slabs can be used as tabletops.
Drill a circular hole into the center of a short chunk of log to hold a votive candle in a fireproof cup. Make several of different heights for a rustic centerpiece. If you have a sizable log that's rotting out in the middle, cut it into to 1- to 2-foot lengths, clear out the rot and use them as planters outdoors.
Make an edging for your lawn or flower bed with small-diameter logs of cedar or cypress. Cut logs into short lengths and set them vertically into the ground all along the edge of your landscaping. Decide how tall you want the edging to be and how deep you'll sink it into the ground to determine how long to cut your log pieces.
Another style of planter can be made from a log lying on its side, with an area chiseled out in which to put soil and plants.
Simple benches can be built with logs split in half lengthwise for the seat and 18-inch logs underneath for the legs. This is a good beginner project for learning to use a tenon cutter. Other furniture types, such as indoor tables and chairs, take much more skill and precision. Log beds are beautiful and sturdy, and can be a real work of art when constructed from carefully chosen logs.
Chainsaw sculpture is a popular yard decoration in many areas. Artists choose a log, set it vertically, and use a saw, chisels and other tools to carve bears, eagles, fish and other motifs from the log, sort of like modern-day totem poles.
Build a log fence to define the edge of your yard. Peel off the bark or leave it on. Use a tenon cutter to ensure secure joints between rails and posts.
Or, build a complete log cabin for use as a garden shed or a guest cottage.
- Photo Credit log fence image by David Sexton from Fotolia.com
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