How to Build Awesome Lodgepole Furniture

February 11, 2020 11:41 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Pine lodgepoles don’t just have to be used for, well, lodgepoles and fence posts. There are plenty of other creative ways you can use lodgepoles in your various projects, including in custom furniture making.

In fact, the tradition of making lodgepole pine furniture goes back centuries, when people would use them out of pure necessity. The lodgepoles made for sturdy supports for benches, beds, tables and chairs, and lodgepole pines would offer reliable and straight pieces of wood that could easily be cut to the right size.

Today, the practice of lodgepole furniture building in Utah is done more for artistic purposes to achieve a certain design aesthetic than it is out of material necessity. After all, factory-milled two-by-fours are easy and cheap. Lodgepoles, though, offer a sort of rustic elegance that you simply can’t get out of your standard fir two-by-four.

Types of lodgepoles

When selecting lodgepoles, you can get one of two main styles. The ultra-rustic style involves hand-shaping lodgepoles with an axe, hatchet or knife. There are no smooth tenons that fit its mortises. It’s not symmetrical and certainly does not look like factory-made furniture, but that adds a lot of charm and artistry. This practice requires a lot of skill and patience, but it pays off big-time in appearance.

You can also get milled lodgepoles, which do have tenons that are cut with tenon saws or tenon cutters that are attached to a drill or lathe. Those tenons are created to be perfectly uniform and round.

Tools of the trade

When building lodgepole furniture, it’s important to have the proper tools. These include:

  • Draw knife: Used for peeling the logs, making the tenons and removing high spots.
  • Mallet: You’ll want a rubber or rawhide mallet to avoid making marks on the pine timbers while checking for rot or stripping the bark.
  • Putty knife: If you’re not using a draw knife, you can use a putty knife and mallet.
  • Tenon cutters: These are cutters that go onto a drill or a lathe.
  • Mortise cutters: Again, these can be drill- or lathe-mounted. Drill-mounted is the best for most applications.

Building the furniture

The first process when building lodgepole furniture is to skin the timbers with a draw knife or putty knife. If using a putty knife, you’ll have to let the timbers dry out longer—at least a month in a barn while lying out, not stacked. Strike firmly up and down the lengths with a mallet while on the sawhorse to loosen the bark, then begin using the draw knife or putty knife. If the skin doesn’t come off easily, then the pines are probably too green or wet.

Make sure you have plans in advance for what you’re building. This is a good rule for any woodworking project, but especially for one that requires much more time investment, like using lodgepoles.

For more information about how to build furniture with lodgepoles in Utah, contact the team at Huberwoods today. We look forward to assisting you soon.

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