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Eagle Scout Project: Split Log Benches & Guidance Needed

Mike1950

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Use farmers math...block the bench to the sitting height on a flat, relatively lever area. Take the foot log, slide it up against, perpendicular to the seat. Use a strait edge to extend the plane of the foot log to see where it intersects the bench. Mark out the half round. Use the same end of the foot to mark the other side. Repeat for the other foot, with the other foot, then roll the bench over and carve out the half-round with a chainsaw.

You want to minimize notching the feet, to maintain maximum roundness for water run-off. I assume you are using oak. Osage and black locust work well too. Are you pining the bench to the feet? Lots of folks use timber spikes or landscape tie nails and so on. They rust in nice. They have hot dipped galvanized too. You can use hidden pins also. Doweling and glue just don't cut it if you have real winters. What I did at the camp I managed was used the twisted tie nails. Pre-drilled 2 pilot holes into each foot, hammered them it to depth, cut them off to the length I wanted to go into the bench, marked the bench bottom and drilled the pilot holes, used a grinder to point the cut off ends of the spikes, placed the bench, used a sacrificial block to protect bench, hammered together.

Now just nailing down through the bench (using pilot holes) is far easier. This was an outdoor sanctuary, so wanted to limit any rust chances from ending up on kids clothing. Plus the nail ends puddle water and expedite rot.

Some folks notch both the bench and the feet, like a log cabin corner. However, log cabins are built ( the old school real cabins) with roofs extending to protect from direct water. With some of the oaks, locust and osage, even with both notched, you might get 20-40 years.
I would mark as Mr. Peet suggested then cut down to close to line at 2" intervals. Bust out leftover with hammer then fine tune to line. I have watched modern cabin guys do it that way.
 

Steve in VA

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Steve, they look great. Got one question though. When you made the legs, were they the other half of the log that was the seat? ......... Jerry (in Tucson)
No, they weren't Jerry. The bases we from completely different logs. We used three logs split in half for the seats, and then 3 different ones split in half and then cross cut in 2' lengths for the bases. Right or wrong, we picked them based on what we thought would make the best seats and then went from there.

The park has some very strict regulations about building materials and such. In fact, we could not use ANY type of finish on the logs at all. There are apparently two issues with finishes. One is potential runoff into the Potomac River and leaching into the ground as they decay over time. The second is potential liability. A natural log is apparently just that; natural, as in just as found in nature. The second you put a coating on it becomes a project that must be maintained. Someone slips and now it's due to the finish that was put on or the lack of maintaining the finish. Don't ask me more than that, I'm just the free labor that moved some "natural" logs around that just happened to fit together :unknown:
 

Mr. Peet

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Another thought...I recall seeing somewhere....they used a torch to char the portion that contacted the ground. Charcoal can last hundreds (thousands) of years. It retains and adds to soil quality. It does not draw moisture well, and creates a natural interface between the ground and the sound wood to slow the rotting process. I have not used this process so can't say personally how good it might be.
 

Steve in VA

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Another thought...I recall seeing somewhere....they used a torch to char the portion that contacted the ground. Charcoal can last hundreds (thousands) of years. It retains and adds to soil quality. It does not draw moisture well, and creates a natural interface between the ground and the sound wood to slow the rotting process. I have not used this process so can't say personally how good it might be.

Interesting idea Mark! But now that the benches are down they are not getting moved, at least by me! I'll have to tuck that one away in the back of my mind for the future. Thanks!
 
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