Picnic Table, Take 1

One Log, One Picnic Table

Recently, I decided to try another experiment to see if I could transform one log into a picnic table. Using a chainsaw and a Granberg Mill, I set about turning an old spruce log into a new picnic table. I was aware that the end product might not be the most beautiful piece of outdoor furniture in the world, but it had to turn out prettier than the poplar bench experiment.

A log awaiting its destiny. Even as a seedling, this Spruce always felt like a picnic table trapped inside a barky shell.

A log awaiting its destiny. Even as a seedling, this Spruce always felt like a picnic table trapped inside a barky shell.

First up was the milling process. I am still working out the kinks to the Alaskan mill thing, and considering the type of logs I have lying around, I am not sure if it will be worth the time and effort. I just can’t bear to see the logs chunked up to rot when, with a bit of effort, they might be turned into something useful. These trees should not have died in vain. Plus it gives me something to write about. It also gives me a reason to fire up a chainsaw- which I find to be strangely therapeutic. It’s a zen thing.

It turns out that this log was just a bit too large for the 20” bar to rip through as you lose almost six inches of cutting length once the saw is lashed into the mill. It is a bit frustrating when, halfway through ripping a log, you find that the log’s knots, and a slight twist, halt the passage of the mill. In this case, I could take the saw out of the mill, trim the log, and then reattach the saw to the mill- a simple task, but it takes time and is annoying. Alternatively, I could use the smaller 50cc Stihl MS 271 to give the log a shave and a haircut. And hey, that means I get to use another of my babies.

Awaiting the Echo CS 590

After a shave and a haircut, this log awaits the surgeon’s touch to release it from its shell.

After a quick trim job to both sides of the log, which impacted my plan to leave the bark intact on one side of the boards destined to be the table’s top, it was back to milling. Given the log’s short length, and its soft wood, it was a pretty quick and easy bit of milling. Once the log was milled down, I was the proud new owner of four two inch thick boards, and a couple of log tops. The four boards should give me a table top and two benches, while the log tops would hopefully contain enough lumber to provide the braces to hold the table together in the shape of a picnic table. If I hadn’t made a mistake in cutting the angles on the legs, I would have succeeded in making the complete table out of just one log. Luckily I had a couple of milled spruce 2 X 4’s lying around to cut out a couple of braces and finish one very rough picnic table.

The Echo timberwolf has finished its chainsaw work.

The wrong bits have been removed. All that remains is for the tree surgeon to stitch it back together into its true form.

The log had been lying on the ground for almost a year, but the boards were still a bit green. I was afraid that the table might crack to the point of disaster under the hot sun, but the wood held together. I think the next log or two might go towards making a more refined table. Although this one has a certain rustic quality that gives it a bit of charm. Of course, there may be issues due to weathering as time goes on. We’ll have to wait and see how this beast handles its first Canadian East Coast winter.

The Echo CS 590 has done its work.

Bathed in the rosey light of a mid-summer’s dusk, the table finally feels at piece with its own form.

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