Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Eat that fish on a table you made with your own two hands and you’ll both be smiling for a long time!
Before we get started though, let’s get one thing straight. This article and video are Not intended to be your definitive guide to using a chainsaw or cutting a log.
If you have just recently purchased yourself a new chainsaw, or perhaps it is the first time you’ve pulled yours out in a while, please take time now to go thoroughly read and understand the owners manual and users guide that came with your saw.
And remember, when preparing to cut anything with you chainsaw be sure your are wearing all the proper safety equipment.
If you haven’t yet done so, now is a great time to watch >> How-to Cut a Log to Make Rustic Furniture <<
Keep in mind though, using our unique Log-Leg Furniture Kit you have the ability to construct your own picnic table any length you want while using any species of log you desire.
In Video 1 of this 3 part series Mitchell takes you step-by-step through the process of “slabbing your log” and preparing it for actual picnic table construction. You will see in the video, Mitchell is using his Husqvarna 455 Rancher 20-Inch 55-1/2cc 2-Stroke Gas-Powered Chainsaw to complete the entire ‘milling’ process.
As the video begins you will notice Mitchell has taken time to secure the log in a pair of ‘log cradles’. These cradles are used to both hold the log in place as it is being measured and marked, as well as elevate the log off the ground.
Taking time to cut a set of log cradles is well worth the effort. Cradles will keep your log from rolling while it is being ‘laid-out’ or marked.
Laying-out the log:
The first step in the process of making your log picnic table begins by measuring and marking, or laying-out your log. Ideally you are looking for three, 3″ – 3 1/4″ slabs for the table top, and two, 3″ – 3 1/4″ edge cuts for the benches.
Start on one end of the log. Find and mark the center point of the diameter of your log. From there you can begin measuring out your 3″ – 3 1/4″ slabs.
Remember, there is nothing that says you must cut all your slabs from the same log. If you do not have a 17+ inch diameter log available for your five 3″ – 3 1/4″ slabs, just cut them out of another log.
Next, after measuring out each slab on one end of the log, Mitchell uses his small 18″ level to plumb-up and scribe each ‘cut-line’. Then he transfers those marks to the top of the log before going to the other end and repeating this process.
Now it is simply a matter of connecting the dots, or marking out each cut-line down the entire length of your log. To do this, use a long straight edge like the 6′ level you see Mitchell using. Another equally effective method to mark these cut-lines is to use a chalk-line or snap-line. Either way, make sure to roll the log over and mark the opposite side.
Taking time to mark out each cut-line, all the way around the log, is important. Without these reference lines it is next to impossible to free-cut uniform slabs using your chainsaw.
Cutting the log:
The next step should be obvious. It’s time to grab your chainsaw and get to work. But before you do that let’s consider your options.
In the video you will see Mitchell has chosen to cut the log with it standing in an upright position.
While this is one of several methods you have when cutting your log to make a picnic table, keep in mind it is never a good idea to cut anything overhead. You will notice Mitchell uses his trailer as a landing to stand over the log which has been safely secured by the use of a ratchet-strap.
Keep in mind there are other techniques you may choose to use when slabbing the log to make your picnic table. These techniques include leaving the log laying in the cradles while cutting from above or even securing the log over a set of saw horses and cutting from the side.
It is entirely up to you to use which ever method works best and is safest for you.
If you plan on cutting logs to make more than one picnic table buy VPXL online or you are considering making enough log furniture for the entire cabin, you should consider a more efficient method of milling your logs. There are many options when it comes to portable milling equipment all of which will be covered here on this website in future articles.
Next, after cutting the three slabs you will need for your picnic table top, it is time to mill the bench seats.
The first step in this process will require you to mark some more reference lines. Using your ink marker and tape measure, establish which section of log you will be removing from your two remaining ‘edge cuts’. Make sure these seats are at least 2″ – 2 1/2″ after final sanding so you will want to cut them 2 1/4″ – 2 3/4″ thick.
Watch how Mitchell creates a rounded end, leaving approximately 3″ on the end of the log. This adds a rustic element of detail in the finished benches.
Finally, using the flat or bottom edge of your chainsaw bar, it is time to completer the rough cut for the picnic table benches. Start at the top or rounded portion of the line you scribed. Cut into the log until the chain connects to both lines. Continue moving the chainsaw over approximately 1″ at a time and repeat this cut until you have gotten past the radius portion of the seating area.
Now you can go back and easily remove each section of log little by little with your chainsaw blade. Repeat this procedure on the both ends of both bench seats before proceeding to remove the remainder of the log.
Click here to learn more about How to Make a Picnic Table Part 2 of 3
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