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Woodworking

Make a Rustic Sitting Bench from a Log

25 Nov , 2015   Video

A friend of mine is a professional photographer and wanted a small bench for a toddler. It was for a series of family Christmas photographs for a Christmas card. I was provided a picture off the internet for reference and set to work finding the idea piece. The plan was to obtain a piece of wood from the cabin and combine it with a thick wide board from the lumber store. After numerous trips to the lumber store, I couldn’t find the right piece of wood. The boards were actually in too good of shape and would take a lot of work to distress to a more rustic look. Then I went home and looked around the workshop for a suitable piece of lumber, but just couldn’t find it. So, I grabbed a coffee and sat on my deck staring at the pile of wood drying in a neat row. My eyes picked out a piece that was sticking out from the pile and realized it was a little bit longer (19″) and wider (8″) than the rest of the logs. If it was cut lengthwise, it would make a fantastic bench. Note: The first bench (pictured above) was made from Cedar. YouTube video was the second bench made from Douglas Fir.

Bench- rough wood

Picture taken from the 2nd bench made for Douglas Fir. Note the rough cut marks from the chainsaw.

First, the piece had to be split to form a crude seat. Since my axe head broke off, I took an old splitting maul and positioned it a few inches off the centre. All it took was one whack from a 6-pound sledge hammer and the wood split. Did the same on the other side. A quick go over with a hand brush and all the surfaces sawdust off. Next, the piece was secured in the vice and the large burs were removed with a 3/4″ wood chisel. Lucky for me, the wood had been drying for about 2 years and the chisel easy knock off the imperfections.

IMG_9433 Bench
The next step was to sand the sitting part. The log was placed on top of a bench mate on a foam mat.  (I don’t like to sand inside the shop, the sawdust settles everywhere and the mat keeps the surfaced from being damaged from the hand sander.) Started with a 60 grit sandpaper in the orbital sander and then a 100 grit. Try to get in all the nooks and crannies. One the surface is fairly smooth, use a fine grain of sander paper like at 200 or 400 grit. I use one of those soft sponge like holders for the sandpaper. Works better for inconstant surfaces.

Legs
Before I put a finish, I like to put on the bench legs. Find a thick branch about 2 inches in diameter. It should be more than enough strength to hold a small child and the occasional adult (it happens).

T-Nut

T-Nut

The legs will be connected to the bench by a thread system. The nut will be inside the bench and the bolt will be secured to the legs. Go to the hardware store and ask for (4) 5/16″ x 2″ Hanger Bolts. and (4) 5/16″ T-Nuts. A hanger bolt is a bolt with a fine, machine thread on one end and a course, lag style of thread on the other. The lag part will screw into the legs. The fine thread will be simply screwed into a T-Nut. A T-Nut looks like a nut with teeth. It’s pounded into a piece of wood and then a standard bolt can be secured in.

Drill a 5/16 inch hole, at the end and middle of each leg. (I use the rings to determine the middle) To make things easier, it’s best to pinch the fine threads of the hanger bolt  between two pieces of scrap wood in your vice. Then just screw the lag part into the legs by hand. Ensure the fine thread is exposed.

The next step is to drill four 5/16 inch holes in the bench. Try to keep the drill bit as level as you can. It’s not the end of the world if the drill is on an angle, but you will run into problems screwing in the legs. Drill the holes about 1-1/2 inches id depth. The next step is to drill slightly bigger holes for the barrel (body part) of the T-Nut. Position the T-Nut over the hole and pound in with a hammer. Once the all the T-Nuts are in-place, try screwing in the legs for a test. Try not to tight the legs too much. It will grab the T-Nuts and shred the footings.

IMG_9434 Paint, stain or varnish
The next step is to add a finish to the bench. A spar varnish is a good route. Adds a glossy look and it very comfortable to sit on. The only downside, very stinky, expensive and will take a while to dry. I had some Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane left over from the Giant Jenga project. Whatever you choose to use, apply thin coats and sand with 800 grit, in-between each coat. I was in a bit of rush and only had time for 3 coats. The clear coat really brought out grain in the wood and made it look fantastic. IMG_9438

Once finished, the bench will work fantastic for little people. Depending on the type of wood, the bench can be easily picked up and moved to different locations. It also makes a great foot stool for the tired legs.

Cedar-kids-bench

The first bench was made from Western Red Cedar. It was reclaimed from the firewood stack.

fir-kids-bench-black-dress

The second bench made from Douglas Fir

fir-kids-bench

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Buildings and Renovations,Wildlife

How to Make a Bat House from Scrap Wood- Part 1

24 Sep , 2015   Video

This video will show you how to construct a bat house from lumber and plywood scraps.
This is a fairly easy project and can be constructed with only a few tools. Most of the materials can be found free from a lumber yard or left over from a home renovation project. (Plans to come)
Bats are a critical part of our ecosystems. A bat house is a good way to increase the bat population and to control nocturnal insects.
I would like to thank Margaret from www.BCbats.ca for her suggestions on plans and where to mount the bat house.

Bat-house-painted

bat-house-material-break-down

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Hauling, digging, etc,Heat and Cooling

Using a Winch-in-a-Bag to Move Large Logs

8 Apr , 2015   Video

  • Strap on log
    Strap on log
  • Lay of the land
    Lay of the land
  • 50' Trees
    50' Trees
  • Plywood used to skid the logs
    Plywood used to skid the logs
  • Winch on wood box
    Winch on wood box
  • Two logs hauled
    Two logs hauled
  • Ready to be processed
    Ready to be processed
  • Rollers help the logs
    Rollers help the logs
  • 2000lb rating
    2000lb rating

This portable winch is a must have for an off-grid dweller or off-road explorer. It’s set up to work off a trailer hitch, 12 volt car battery and has a pulling rate of 2000lbs. Picked up last year, on sale, for only $79 dollars (regular $129.99).

The project I needed it for was to move some large logs a distance of 50 feet and up a hill at our off grid cabin. Decided to try the “Winch-in-a-bag”. Since I didn’t have a trailer hitch, I had change the mount for my application. Used a come-a-long hand winch anchored to a tree and the other hook through the trailer hitch base plate. Found a wooden box used for hauling wood scraps and put the winch on it to keep it out of the dirt.

The winch comes with a 30-foot cable, but I still had another 20 feet to go to reach the logs. Found a heavy-duty ratchet and strap in the workshop and used that to snag the logs.

It worked quite well. Had no problem pulling the logs up and didn’t see any safety concerns.

 

 

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