Saturday, October 08, 2011

Hatchet Bench

I made this log bench from a oak tree cut down by my husband. He grew up on a Minnesota farm and chopped up trees for firewood for many years. When a neighbor needed help cutting down a tree that fell on an outbuilding on his hobby drug den out in the country, I volunteered my husband. I asked him to bring me a suitable log for this project. He did, but not before he saved a man's life.

It turns out that my neighbor had never used a chainsaw but rented one for this project. My husband used the chainsaw for most of the morning and warned my neighbor that cutting down such a large tree was tricky and dangerous. He even regaled him with story of a close call that happened to my father-in-law, who was an experienced logger. Our neighbor said that even though he had never used a chainsaw that he understood the physics involved, and picked up the chainsaw while my husband was taking a break. He revved it up and proceeded to chop the tree down. On top of himself. The felled tree folded the guy in half at the waist. My husband, who had not seen, but had only heard the tree fall, ran to find the guy pinned under the tree and the chainsaw a few feet away. He grabbed the chainsaw and cut the tree, then lifted it off the guy. He pulled his phone out his pocket and called 911 while holding the tree with one hand. The guy's son took the phone and my husband was able to move the tree enough to free our neighbor. (Neighbor Guy was lucky to have only suffered one broken vertebrae. He is walking now and will soon return to work.)

My husband stayed after the ambulance took our neighbor away and finished the job. He even remembered to cut a log for me. He used the chainsaw to cut the log in half before returning the tool to the rental shop. My hero.

To make the bench, I stripped off the bark using wood chisels. I then sanded it and used a planer to smooth out the seat. I used a skill saw to cut slits into the bottom of the log for the hatchet blades to fit in and then pounded the hatchets into the slits. At Metal Arts class I made brackets out of angle iron and securely attached them to the log with 2.5 inch lag bolts. Then I welded the hatchets to the brackets. I added the twisted rod for stability. The rod was made by torching then twisting a flat rod at precise intervals. I sealed the log with a polyurethane sealer and painted the hatchet heads and rod black.

I really like it. It looks comfortable and brutal all at the same time, just like a lumberjack.