We recently purchased a vacation home in the Eagle Crest Resort which we will be renting out as a vacation rental (check out our EagleCrest Getaway for more information, availability, and rates). So, after checking on the prices of lodge pole pine furniture I quickly decided to see if I could make all the furniture myself. It took some work but I have the wood and supplies and have just started on the process. Here are some of the things I struggled with and my solutions:

PROBLEM #1: Where to find lodgepole logs around Portland, Oregon?
SOLUTION: After much useless searching on the internet and in log home magazines, I contacted a log mill in Oregon whom I was able to set up a relationship with to get hand pealed lodgepole logs milled. I ordered over 60 8ft hand pealed lodgepole pine logs of varying diameters (2”, 3”, and 5”). Two weeks later I drove down there and picked them up. A note, though, these logs were not kiln dried so I had to dry them as well as I could and the jury is still out on how good of a job I did.

My pile of Oregon lodgepole pine logs drying in the garage.

PROBLEM #2: How to create the mortise and tenon joints for the lodgepole
SOLUTION: In this case an internet search was the key. After some searching I settled on a $90 2” Veritas Tenon Cutter. I contacted other furniture makers to get their recommendation and they agreed that short of a $500 professional tenon cutter this one was very good. I purchased it through Rockler Wordworking’s website and it arrived in about a week. For the mortise everyone agreed that a 2” Forstner Bit was the necessary tool. Lowes had one for $35 and the Home Depot guy hadn’t heard of one (although later I found them near the router bits for about $35 also). I would recommend a high quality bit since this will be one of your main tools. I chose a Freud Bit available at most home improvement stores.

Lodgepole Furniture Tools
The Veritas Tenon Cutter and 2 inch Forstner Bit

PROBLEM #3: How to use this monstrous tenon cutter?
SOLUTION: OK I am not stupid I know you use a drill to turn it and shave the wood but that is very much easier said than done. I first realized that no ordinary drill was going to
do here and I was blessed to have a coworker with an Electrician father and I was able to borrow his hole saw drill. This 30 year old Black & Decker beast is just the ticket. Another quick hint is to tighten all of the set screws on the tenon maker and adjust the blade before using it our, as I, you will be very disappointed in its performance. Now I had to figure out how to prevent a large round log from spinning and moving while I applied the necessary pressure to create the tenon. For the solution, I used a piece of plywood as a base and screwed two 2”x2” boards onto it to securely hold the sides of the board. Then, I used two long screws to screw a 1/2” piece of plywood on top of the board to act as a vice. To use my creation I insert the log and then tighten down the two screws on the top of the board to clamp the to-be-shaved log into place. Works great!

Lodgepole Vice In Use
My Lodgepole Tenon Making Vice

PROBLEM #4: The best way to create the mortise?
SOLUTION: Pretty easy for this one, a drill press with the forstner bit is the way to go. Here I wish I had a better drill press but even with the simple one I have this method works very well. Finding the center of the wood is still by the eyeball method but I have some ideas on improving this as well.

Once I really get into making the beds I am sure I will have more hints to offer. Lodgepole furniture has a great value and ease of creation for the do-it-your-selfer and I will try to put up some how-to’s to de-mystify it some more.

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