Because a good looking set of legs needs a nice place to eat…
Here at LogFurnitureHowTo [dot] com, finishing what we start is what it’s all about! We complete our projects and we are here to help you complete yours.
That’s why today our good friend and guest instructor, Scott Shaeffer of San Juan Carpentry is here to follow up on his previous lesson “How-To Build a Log Bar Stool” with another look at how-to ‘glue up’ log stool seats and table tops.
You can view Scott’s Shaeffer’s San Juan Signature Collection here!
Then watch this video and read ahead for written instructions that are easy to follow!
Scott doesn’t have the latest and greatest tools in the shed but you can see, they get the job done.
So if you’re following along at home here’s a list of the tools Scott uses to ‘glue up’ log seats and table tops:
- Level or straight-edge
- Rubber or dead-blow hammer
- Compass or a pencil with a string tied to it
- Wood Glue
- Tape Measure
- Carpenters Pencil
- Jig Saw
- Biscuit Cutter
- Chop Saw
- Pipe Clamps
- Side Clamps
- Drill with a 1/8” bit and 15/16” paddle bit
- Disk Sander
- Hand Sander
- Table Saw
Before you begin, Think Safety.
Be sure you’re using safety glasses at all times and hearing protection when necessary. And keep your fingers away from the blades! Scott’s fingers have experienced the unforgiving wrath of a table saw in the past and he’ll tell you, “YES! IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!”
Scott will be using rough-cut, 2” milled aspen. The milling process is complete and the boards have been run through a planner to get them to the same thickness.
We’ll start by cutting our boards to length. Before you start, you’ll need to know your desired dimensions and which way you want the grain to run. Cut accordingly.
Scott wants to glue up a square tabletop big enough for four (arranged two-by-two) 13” diameter seats. He’ll need to cut his boards 27” long (leaving room for wiggle) and he’ll need to cut enough of them to measure out 27” wide when glued side-by-side.
Time for the table saw! Since the wood has natural edges, you can’t use the fence for this step. Using a level, Scott draws a straight line the length of the board as close to the bark as possible as to utilize as much of the board as possible. He’ll then have to run it through the saw, pushing it straight and steady.
To flatten and smooth the newly cut straight edge, we’ll run it through the jointer.
Once it’s flat, we’re headed back to the table saw to cut the other side. This time we can use the fence. Using your tape measure, find the narrowest point in the board and use that measurement when setting the fence on the table saw. Since you’re pushing the bulk of the board between the fence and the blade, utilize all safety precautions so you can focus on what you’re doing.
Now that you have all of your boards cut, find the ones you like the best and figure out which side of each board you want facing up. Also, you want to measure the width of all the boards to make sure you’ve reached your desired table width. Be sure to give yourself a little extra since we’ll be running the boards through the jointer one more time.
Before heading back to the jointer, number your boards in the order they lay for two reasons:
1. You want to make sure you get them back in the right order.
2. See next step.
The fence on the joiner may not be perfectly perpendicular to the runway so it’s important to alternate the direction of your boards as you push them through. MEANING: Face the number on the odd numbered boards towards you as you run both sides through and face the number on the even numbered boards away from you. That way, if the fence is off, they will cancel each other out. When pushing the boards, take your time and keep them flat to the fence.
Now put the boards back in order and line up all the edges the way you want. If you’re gluing this up just for a table top, skip this next part.
Using the tape measure, set your compass to the RADIUS of your desired circle. Then use the compass to draw the circles. Be sure to do a test circle (spin the compass without marking the board) to make sure you don’t overlap the edge or another circle.
TABLE-TOP PEOPLE! Join back in right here!
Now you want to draw two or three lines from board to board across each seam. Circle People – Be sure you have at least one line inside the circles and keep your lines at least two inches away from the edge of your circles.
The biscuit cutter is a tool that is easy to misuse. Be sure you have the fence and the blade set to the right depths. The blade depths correspond with the size of the biscuits you’re using.
Line up the center red line on the cutter with the lines that you drew over each seam. Keeping pressure on the cutter to keep it level and still, make your cut. Do not deviate from the lines you drew.
Now it’s time to glue it up! Use plenty of glue and spread it evenly across the surface of the edge to get good coverage. Place biscuits in the slots and set the next board on top. Make sure all your lines match and give it a little tap with the rubber hammer.
When you have all your boards glued up, use the pipe clamps to squeeze and hold them tight while they dry. Use side clamps to keep the table top from bowing away from the pipes.
Let dry for several hours. Overnight is recommended.
If you just wanted a table top, your work is almost done! Just square or design-cut your edges and sand it using your hand-sander. You can also choose to leave the outside edges natural (with the bark and natural shape).
If you’re cutting the seat tops, use a 4” blade in your jigsaw. Take your time and stay on the line.
Once you have your seats cut out, use the disc sander to sand out the harsh cut marks from the jigsaw and to round the top edge of the seat. Then use your hand sander with 120 grit paper to finish the sanding process.
Finally, using your 1/8” bit, drill holes where you want your legs to go. Then on the top of the seat, using the 15/16” paddle bit, drill counter sinks for your bolts. Drill it deep enough that you can get a plug at least a 1/4” inside the hole. You’ll use slices of 1” stock dowels as plugs.
You’re done – Great job!
Attach your beautiful seat to your beautiful legs and finish the piece in Danish oil!