How to turn a log into a table

Published: July 23, 2019

Side table made from a log By Stacey Brandford

Wood kept in its natural form makes an inviting textural addition to your cottage. A large hemlock on our property that was growing dangerously close to the hydro wires needed to be felled. As we cut the tree into firewood, we saved several 75-cm sections and transformed them into tables. Adding casters lets you roll the tables in or out as needed, providing extra surfaces when you’re feeding a large group or just having a snack by the fire. We actually built four: Two stayed at the cottage and we liked them so much we made two more to bring home.

Materials

Log section, about 75cm high and 45 cm in diameter

4 locking casters

Screwdriver and 2” deck screws

Water-based polyurethane finish

Chainsaw

Belt sander and 80-grit sandpaper

Level

Bristle brush

Plastic spray bottle

Bottom of log table with wheels
By Stacey Brandford

Step 1:

Salvage. Find the fallen tree trunks. Local mills are also a source for uncut timber. Hemlock, maple, and many other woods work well.

Step 2:

Cutting. Using a chainsaw cut a 75-cm section from the trunk. Try to make both cuts parallel and as smooth as possible. Let green logs dry, at least until they stop bleeding sap.

Step 3:

Preparing the logs. Sand the top and bottom of each log, ideally with a belt sander, using 80-grit sandpaper. (Don’t worry about getting it too smooth – a bit of texture looks better at the cottage.)

Step 4:

Finishing. Once you have sanded your log so it’s level and smooth, apply two thin coats of water-based polyurethane to the top and bottom surface with a bristle brush. Using a spray bottle filled with water-based polyurethane, spray the sides of the log to seal and protect it. You will need at least three coats to get a good finish. Let the polyurethane dry completely between coats.

Step 5:

Attaching the casters. Measuring 7 to 10 cm in from the outside bottom edge, mark four equally spaced locations for the locking casters. We used 2” deck screws to secure them.

Tips

  • These logs can weigh in excess of 50kg each, so when transporting them, grab a friend to share the work. You can also roll the logs onto an old tarpaulin to pull them from the bush.
  • If casters aren’t your thing and you’re sure you have found a permanent home for your table, sit it right on the floor (adding a few felt protectors to avoid scratches). Or screw pre-made wooden feet on the bottom of the log. These can be found, unfinished, at the local building centre and stained to match your cottage decor.
  • Customize your table by using a Dremel tool to engrave a monogram or a simple design on top before using polyurethane to seal it.
  • For a completely different look, skin the bark from the logs and stain them.

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