Log Railing and Log Furniture Tools
We get a lot of calls asking what tools can be used to make log railings and furniture. There are several possibilities depending upon how quickly you want to build and how much effort you want to invest.
This article will focus on log railings although much of what is discussed can be applied to log beds tables etc.
(Many of the Log and Twig furniture making books start with the premise of making a ladder (a vertical piece of railing) then expand on the concept to make head boards shelves tables and more).
Railing Codes vary around the country but at least for residential structures in Oregon you need to have railings around your porch if it is more than 30 off the ground. Your bottom rail is not to be more than 4″ from the porch decking and the top rail must not be less than 36″ high. The spaces between vertical spindles are not to be any wider than 4″. Why so particular? 4″ is considered to be the size of a baby’s head and some unfortunate youngsters have had their heads stuck in railings before the codes came into place.
We only have space here to discuss the mortise and tenon type of construction. The mortise is a hole created by a drill and the tenon is the whittled down end that fits in the hole.
After you have done the layout for your project you’ll need to cut the material to length drill holes create tenons and assemble. For log railings you’ll want to connect the top and bottom rails with the spindles first and then attach that unit to the vertical posts. The spindles can be made extra secure with finishing nails before the unit is attached to the posts if desired.
Making the tenon
A basic tool that will make tenons is a drawknife. It will be hard to be precise and your project will take longer but if you only have a small project then this may be the tool to try first.
A quicker and easier approach is to use a tenon maker. This is a tool that attaches to a drill and works like a big pencil sharpener. To use this setup you need to clamp the material to be “tenoned” and ideally brace the drill against/in some unit rather than hand hold while tenoning. Take a look at the drill carriage and log clamping device for photos of this. (this unit is set up for the Milwaukee Super Hole Shooter). The tenon cutters drill carriage and clamp are professionally designed and built for serious amateurs and professionals. Many log furniture and log railing manufacturers use this for all their work.
A less expensive and still efficient system is the EZ Tenon Maker.
This handy all-in-one tenon maker can make a variety of sizes of tenons–from 1 to 2-1/2 (mfg. states 7/8″ up to 2-3/4″). Use with any 1/2 inch chuck drill…even a battery pack cordless drill. (The bigger the drill the easier it will work). Due to it’s profile it’s necessary to predrill a 3/8″ diamet hole in the center of the (future) tenon…which the EX Tenon Cutter will use as a stabilizing guide.
Click on any of the links throughout the article or below for additional information photos and on-line ordering.
- Tenon Cutters Drill Carriages Clamping Devices for holding material
- EZ Adjustable Tenon Maker
- Drawknives InShaves RotoMax Nozzles
- Log and Twig Furniture Making Books
Finally a potential source for log and rustic railing or furniture stock can be found at LogWorld.com