Make a Rustic Log Side Table

Construct a unique, natural side table from gnarled tree branches and logs.
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Furniture maker Travis Schafer of Bismarck, N.D., employs basic carpentry skills in this log side table project.

Materials and Tools:

5-7" diameter log and branches

screws and power drill/screwdriver

wood glue

band saw

table saw

jigsaw

biscuits and biscuit joiner

thin plywood

nails

hammer

clamps

handheld electric belt sander

router

safety glasses

wood yardstick with holes drilled in 1" increments

pencil

tape measure

knife

level

nail punch

2" x 4" pieces of wood

1" wood slats

drill press with various bits

polyurethane

paintbrush

Steps:

  1. Cut a 5- to 7-inch diameter log into 30-inch lengths. Cut a total of three logs.
  2. Split each log in half lengthwise with a band saw. You will need five half logs to make the table.
  3. Nail a thin piece of plywood to the cut side of the log. Use this as a guide to straighten one side of the half logs.
  4. Rip both edges of three of the half logs on a table saw.
  5. Straighten only one edge of the outer two logs, leaving the natural log curvature on the outermost edges for the tabletop.
  6. Measure the location for the biscuits along the cut edges. Make the cuts for the biscuits with a biscuit joiner.
  7. Fill the biscuit cuts with wood glue, insert the biscuits in each cut and press the five log halves together edge-to-edge to make the tabletop.
  8. Clamp the logs together at each end and in the middle. Let glue dry overnight.
  9. Remove the clamps. Sand the tabletop smooth using a handheld electric belt sander.
  10. To shape the two curved ends of the tabletop, place a wooden yardstick with holes drilled along the surface on the tabletop. Place a nail punch through the end hole to anchor the stick and a pencil in the hole along the yardstick at 24 inches. Swing the yardstick from one side to the other, marking the curved line. Repeat the movement on the other side of the tabletop to mark the curve on that side.
  11. Cut the two curved ends of the tabletop with a jigsaw.
  12. Cut two 3-1/2 to 4-inch half logs to support the table underneath.
  13. Construct a frame using 2" x 4" lumber and 1-inch crossbars. Place the tabletop upside down inside the frame. Rest the router on the frame and move it back and forth, creating router slots.
  14. Cut and sand four branches for legs. Chisel the bark away using a knife.
  15. Drill two holes the diameter of the leg branches into each log support.
  16. Glue and screw the legs in place onto the support logs.
  17. Glue and screw the support logs in the routed slots under the tabletop.
  18. Cut and sand four branches for horizontal crossbars on the legs. Drill holes in the legs to fit the horizontal crossbar branches. Glue and screw the crossbars onto the legs.
  19. Cut the legs to level the table.
  20. Sand the top and apply polyurethane to the entire table. Let dry.
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