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Thread: I am now making a table-top child's log construction kit

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
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    I am now making a table-top child's log construction kit

    ((part 1 of 2)

    A few years ago, I made a "lifesize`log construction kit. See the thread: http://familywoodworking.org/forums/...t=construction

    Now, I find myself making a more traditional model size kit. Here is what has happened so far:

    Two weeks ago at Pellow`s Camp, my nine year old grandson Ethan brought a project with him to camp that was to involve the building of a “hunting” cabin. We decided to make the building out of scraps of cedar and, to that end, we planed some wood down to a thickness of 1 centimetre. Here is a photo of Ethan using my portable Delta planer:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Observe that he is wearing my glasses to guard against chips in his eyes.

    The thing that got Ethan started on the project was a model rifle that he saw in a Doll House supply store near his home. I asked him how long the rifle was in order that I could determine scale, but he didn’t remember well enough to be reliable. This put a halt to the project.

    On Wednesday night this week back home in Tronto Ethan slept over at our house, then the next afternoon the two of us went to the store to check the model rifle. It is 9 centimetres long. I imagine that the real rifle would be about 6 feet long. So this gives us a scale of 1 centimetre representing 4 feet. Ethan wants a cabin the represents a period about 100 years ago and, back then, Canada used the Imperial measurement system. So I decided that the world we are representing will be Imperial. However, I can still use the much superior Metric system for the parts I am making. Hence, the Metric to Imperial conversion.

    It suddenly occurred to me that the best way to build a log cabin model would be with model logs and that I should rip the boards that we had planed into strips and then cut and shape those strips into squared logs much like the logs in the Pan Abode cabin at Pellow’s Camp. We had not planed a large enough supply at camp, so I planed down a few of old cedar boards that I salvaged when I replaced a section of Kathleen’s fence in July.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Small log construction set 01 -Planing old cedar fence boards down to thickness of  1 cm -small.JPG 
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    Ethan and I traced out a rough plan of the cabin that he wants. It is to be 24 by 20 feet interior space divided into a kitchen, store room, and living/dining room on the main floor and a sleeping loft above the kitchen and store room part. A ladder will be used to reach the loft. It should be possible to easily remove the roof and to look inside. There will be a separate bécosse.

    The next thing that occurred to me is that I could design the logs and other parts with dimensions such that Ethan could build not only this cabin but other structures as well.

    On my tablesaw, I cut the 1 cm thick boards down to 1.5 cm (mostly) and .75 cm (a few) strips.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Small log construction set 02 -Cut boards down to 1.5 cm (mostly) and .75 cm (a few) strips -sma.JPG 
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    Thus, each part will represent a log 8 inches in width and 1 foot in height. Back 100 years ago, it was easy to get such squared pine timbers in Ontario.

    I beveled the strips slightly using this:

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    bit on my router table.

    Then, each strip was hand sanded to 120 grit using a Festool Granat pad:

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    Last edited by Frank Pellow; 08-28-2011 at 12:32 PM.
    Cheers, Frank

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
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    (part 2 of 2)

    Finally, I was ready to cut and notch some logs. There are going to be a LOT of them, so I needed to come up with some fast repeatable way of cutting the notches. Each notch should be 11 mm wide and 4 mm deep. This allows for a slight amount of slack and makes it easier to put logs together and tae them apart. After some experimentation, the notching method that I decided upon is as follows:

    (1) Using a homemade (out of Baltic birch) miter gauge on my large (40 cm wheel) bandsaw, I set a magnetic featherboard on the steal table to act as a stop block.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Small log construction set 05 -Cutting notches on band saw -about to make first cut -small.JPG 
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    (2) The bandsaw fence was set in a position such that the right hand side of the cut will be slightly more than 25 mm from the end of the model log.

    (3) The cut is lined up just to the right of a pencil mark on the fence. This mark is positioned so that the left side of the cut that is about to be made will be slightly less than 15 mm from the end of the model log.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    (4) The cut on the left side of the notch is made:

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    (5) Then, several small cuts are made to clear out the notch. Here is a picture of a half (7.5 mm) deep log with two completed notches:

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    I found that, with practice, I could cut a notch in about 6 seconds and that I could cut four notches into a full depth log in a little under a minute.

    In order to make as few unique parts as possible, the length of the log shown above will be used as the “standard”. This log is 175 mm long and the portion between the notches is 120 mm long. This represents 8 feet in the real word. Eventually, as much as possible, longer and shorter logs will be based on multiples and common fractions of this standard. But, Ethan will probably be gluing the logs of this original cabin together, so I will experiment with special non-standard parts and use all this as a learning experience.

    I built this set of logs to use as the base of the cabin:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Small log construction set 09 -Fitting together a few logs to start a small log cabin -small.JPG 
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    Yesterday evening, I was going great guns making more logs when the blade on my bandsaw snapped. I think that this was caused by me over-tensioning the blade. I don’t have the time right now to get a new blade, so the project is again on hold, this time for a couple of weeks. Here is what was completed before the halt:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The final thing that I did with each log was to sand it with 180 grit Granat paper, punch an identifying part label into it and enhance that label with a pencil.

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    Last edited by Frank Pellow; 08-28-2011 at 12:38 PM.
    Cheers, Frank

  3. #3
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    Mar 2008
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    how bout putting them on a sled and just running them over the TS dado to cut the groove. Not time consuming and you wont have wait for a new blade.
    Just a thought.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by allen levine View Post
    how bout putting them on a sled and just running them over the TS dado to cut the groove. Not time consuming and you wont have wait for a new blade.
    Just a thought.
    Allen, that's a great suggestion!

    I will give it a try right away.
    Cheers, Frank

  5. #5
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    North West Indiana
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    As I was reading the bandsaw cutting I was thinking the same thing Allen. Frank, on the second notch you might experience some "flexing" of the log making the cut shallower than wanted, might have to put a brace/board above the log on the sled holding it in place/down. Bet you will fly through them then, but don't forget where your fingers are!
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

  6. #6
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    Allen and Jonathan, I am happy to report that the suggestion worked like a charm. I ganged together 6 logs together with one already notched log to use as a guide. Here is a photo:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    It took only 3 minutes and 10 seconds to set up and to notch the 6 logs which is about half the time it would have taken on the bandsaw. And, the cuts are smoother!

    I am surprised that I did not think of using theis method , but this shows, yet again, the advantage of getting feedback from other woodworkers.
    Cheers, Frank

  7. #7
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    Looks like a fun project, Frank.

    And good to see you, too. I was thinking about you a week or so ago...figured we'd be seeing you before too long.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  8. #8
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    IM happy it worked well for you, wasnt sure if you had a dado set or not.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    Enjoy,

    Jim
    First of all you have to be smarter than the machine.
    VOTING MEMBER

  10. #10
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    August 29th Update:

    Yesterday afternoon, I showed Ethan the logs that I had made so far and he was very very happy with them:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    He got right into it and made several suggestions, many of them quite good. For example, Ethan suggested making floorboards for the loft, observed that that cedar would not be strong enough, and recommended that we use oak. Here Ethan is examining a prototype loft floor made a oak boards which he helped me manufacture:

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    A suggestion that I doubt we will actually act upon is a toilet (of the “drop down” type) placed in an area which small protrusion of the upper floor jutting out over the rest of the building:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    We had a great time together planning things and trying out a few of ideas. There is no way I would rather spend my time –and I think that Ethan feels the same way.
    Cheers, Frank

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