Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Small logs

There's a story behind this:

Until five years ago, we lived on 40 acres, most of which were covered by second growth douglas fir.  It had been untouched since being clearcut perhaps 3 decades before, so the forest was choked with far too many trees and brush.  I spent years clearing the brush and thinning out the douglas firs.  One result was that I had many logs that were too small to have commercial value that I wanted to find a use for.

One day, in very early spring, I had an idea.  I selected several dozen nice logs and used a drawknife to peel them.  At this time of year, they peel very easily and, with care, I got a nice surface, very natural in appearance and showing few tool marks.  Then, I cut them into 6 foot lengths, quartered them on my bandsaw and put them away in the barn for a year.  My reasoning was that this would prevent the wood from splitting, which it did.  I ended up with pie slices of perhaps 80 degrees after radial shrinkage.

During that year, I decided to build a Morris chair and, for some reason, the idea came to me to build it with the quartered douglas fir.  What you see is the result.  The joinery was mostly completed with hand tools.  I dealt with the irregular surface by attaching square scraps of plywood to the ends, so the logs would sit flat on my bench.

I have made numerous other items in my house from these logs, some of which I will post later.   I really like them and am pleased with what I allow myself to think is an original idea, though I am sure it is not.

The major point of this post is that it is possible to find good uses for small logs that we think of as having no value.  I have gone on to extend this idea and will post some of the results later.  To my eye they are quite beautiful, not because of my craftsmanship but because of the visual interest which small live edge pieces can create.  So, if you have access to small logs, what can you do with them?

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