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Slab-wood or “Slab” refers to the first cut from each side of a log. The process of turning round logs into square boards sacrifices the rounded part of the log. The sawyer’s job is to minimize the amount of wood lost in the process, but there will always be some slabs that are round on one side and flat on the other. Many sawmills sell slabs in bundles for firewood at a very reasonable price. Often they contain good material for slab-wood projects. 

With a few hand tools and simple techniques, these slabs can become benches, chairs, tables and other valuable furniture.

Building a slab-wood chair can be as simple or complex as you choose to make it. This one uses a number of techniques that include using a slab, roundwood legs, mortises and blind mortises. The best way to get proportions is to duplicate measurements from a comfortable chair. This one does trade comfort for simplicity because it has a straight back, but it is stout and would be a good indoor or outdoor piece.

SLAB-WOOD BUILDING TOOLS

Here are the tools that I typically use when building slab-wood furniture: 

  • Chainsaw
  • Skill saw
  • Drawknife 
  • Rasp 
  • Electric drill
  • Assortment of drill bits
  • Hand saw  n Wood chisels
  • Belt sander 
  • Hand planes
  • Electric hand planer 

Note: I seldom use glue, but wood screws are great, since you can tighten them up as the wood dries.

If you want to learn more about building rustic furniture, there are a number of helpful books that contain designs, as well as techniques. Making Rustic Furniture by Dan Mack is an excellent resource. It is available online at amazon.com.

This article originally published in THE NEW PIONEER® Winter 2015 issue. Print and Digital Subscriptions to THE NEW PIONEER magazine are available here.

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