Lumberjack Tools Blog
By: Jennifer Mueller
So you're ready to start building log furniture, but not sure if you have all the tools and accessories you need. That's what we're here for! Luckily, you don't need much, and you may even have some of them laying around your garage or shop already.
Just in case, we made a checklist below to help you get started. See below the checklist for more detail on each item on the list.
1. Tenon Cutter, Forstner or Self-Feed Bit & Plan Booklet
These 3 items are separate on the list, but we are going to talk about them as one item due to the fact that you can purchase a kit that comes with a tenon cutter, forstner or self-feed bit, and plan booklet.
In order to drill, cut and assemble, you will need all three of these items. The forstner or self-feed bits drill the mortise hole. The tenon cutter cuts the tenon on the end of the log. The plan booklet provides detailed tips, techniques and blueprints for how to build and assemble 20 of our most popular projects.
See HERE for the difference between the forstner & self-feed bits
Click HERE to shop kits
2. Vice/Clamp System
It is EXTREMELY important for the quality of tenons, but more importantly for safety, that you have a vice or clamp system to securely hold your logs in place. Our tools are very powerful, and if you do not take correct safety precautions, there is a very real risk of danger to yourself and others.
Due to popular demand, and based on customer feedback, we created a "Log Lock" vice to help secure logs in place quickly, easily, and safely.
Using the right drill is vital to the success of your project. 95% of the time, when people are experiencing issues with the tools, it is due to the fact that they are not using a drill with the correct specs to run the tenon cutter.
Check out our blog post HERE on the necessary specs to effectively run our cutters for optimal results.
4. Draw Knife
Last, but definitely not least is a draw knife. A good draw knife will last a lifetime, and be useful for many different tasks. You will need this for peeling bark, tapering down the end of logs if they are too large to fit in a tenon cutter, and many other tasks. If you don't already have one of these, we would highly recommend purchasing one.
If you have any additional questions, you are welcome to call us during our business hours (Monday - Friday 8am -4:30pm CST) at 715-720-4719.
By: Jennifer Mueller
You might not realize it, but having the right drill to operate your tenon cutters is equally, if not more important than choosing the right cutter itself. 90% of the time, issues that people experience with the tenon cutter are due to not having the correct specifications on the drill. Think of the drill as the brain of the operations, and the tenon cutter as the hands. If the brain doesn't function correctly, the hands won't work; even if there isn't anything wrong with the hands themselves.
Below are some of the major specs you need to ensure you have for optimal results when cutting tenons.
1. Low RPM
RPM's (revolutions per minute) is a measure of the frequency of rotation, specifically the number of rotations around a fixed axis in one minute. It is used as a measure of rotational speed of a mechanical component. We recommend a drill with 450 RPM's or less. This ensures that the drill has enough power to run our tools. If the drill comes to a complete stop while cutting, it means that the drill doesn't have enough power to operate the tenon cutter. In some circumstances, this can also occur if the log is larger than the tenon cutter will accept.
There are a lot of drills available that offer variable speeds. Many of them operate with a trigger function. These drills are not ideal for cutting tenons. The variable speed drills often do not have enough power to operate the cutters, and can also cause uneven tenons because of the speed variation. Variable speed drills also make it harder to keep the drill in place, and the user tends to do more of a rocking back and forth motion while operating it. Most of the time, variable speed drills do not have enough power to pull the tool through the wood.
3. Pipe Handle
While a pipe handle drill isn't necessary, it is an excellent feature to have on your drill. It allows you to have a better grip on the drill overall, and more control of the cutting process.
If we had to choose one drill to recommend, it would be the Milwaukee 1660-6. This drill meets all of the specs necessary to cut tenons, and has been tested with all of our tools. You will see it in any of our photos of the cutters in use. We offer it to our customers for sale as a courtesy, but you are welcome to buy it from any supplier for use with our tools.
By: Jennifer Mueller
Between all of our tenon cutters, there are 8 different sizes, from 1/2" to 3". After you've chosen which series you want, the next step is to choose your size. There are different factors to consider when choosing your cutter size.
Depending on what project you will be making, size can be a major factor. With the large variance in sizes, it is important to choose based on what types of projects you plan on making, and what type of detail you plan on including in them.
DETAILED PROJECTS - 1/2" and 3/4" Tenon Cutters
If you are looking to include detail on your projects, the smaller 1/2" or 3/4" tenon cutters are necessary to add to your collection. These cutters are perfect for chair spindles, detail on headboards, or hooks on a coat rack or tree. While you can use a larger tenon cutter for these projects, the smaller detail adds more character to the project and helps create a more intricate design, taking your project to the next level when it comes to professional looking furniture.
STANDARD PROJECTS - 1", 1 1/2" and 2"
If you can only afford to get one tenon cutter, the 1 1/2" tenon cutters are the most popular tools due to the fact that they allow you to build most projects with the single size. In fact, all of the plans in the 20 piece plan booklet included in each kit is based around the 1 1/2" size tenon cutter.
One great benefit of ordering a 1 1/2" cutter is that all our beginner's kits come with a 1 1/2" tenon cutter, 1 1/2" forstner bit and 20 piece plan booklet, and are the same price as the individual cutter itself. So basically, you get everything you need to get started for the same price as just buying the cutter itself. Awesome deal? We think so!
The 1", 1 1/2" and 2" cutters are used in conjunction to work on most projects. The 1" provides a more detailed look, without going into as much intricate or fine detail as the 1/2" or 3/4", and is also a little more structural for a better overall "hold". The 2" is better for more structural projects such as swings and bunk beds. Ideally, a kit with all three sizes (1", 1 1/2" and 2") would allow you to do virtually any project.
BIG PROJECTS - 2 1/2", 3" and 2" XL
Occasionally you will run into a project that will require the BIG tenon cutters. Some people like the look of large logs for railings or fences. In these cases, the 2 1/2", 3" and 2" XL cutters come in handy. They accept the largest size logs, and create bigger tenons for a strong, structural hold for those BIG projects.
2. Log Size
Another important factor to choosing the correct tenon cutter size is to make sure that the cutter you choose has a large enough log capacity to accept the logs you have available.
Click HERE to see the max log capacities for each size tenon cutter.
A couple notes to help out when choosing:
- The Industrial and Commercial Series Tenon Cutters have a larger log capacity than the Home and Pro. This is due to the mouth of the tool being wider because of the 60° tapered shoulder profile
- All logs are not perfectly round. If you measure the end and it is 2", there may be parts of the log that may be smaller or larger throughout the log
- If ever in doubt, choose the tenon cutter that is slightly larger than the log you are using. This gives you a little bit of leeway when it comes to the max log capacity
As always, if you are unsure, or have any questions, please give one or our tenon cutter specialists a call at 715-720-4719 (Monday - Friday 8am-4pm CST), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Jennifer Mueller
One of our most popular questions by far is, "What is the difference between series?". The answer is not just the colors; although they do help in identifying the type of cutter you are looking at, or choose to purchase. Let's take a look at the top differences between series that help identify which cutter is the best fit for you and your needs.
1. Shoulder Profile
The shoulder profile is what is created by the tenon cutter right below the cut tenon.
There are two options: the 60° Tapered Shoulder Profile and the Radius Shoulder Profile.
The first thing you need to decide is which shoulder profile you prefer. The 60° tapered shoulder offers a more rustic look, consistent with most rustic furniture projects, while radius shoulder profile offers a more refined look.
Which one is better? Neither! The shoulder profile just comes down to a matter of preference. Some prefer one over the other, but they are both equally sturdy and provide professional looking log furniture.
If you prefer the 60° Tapered Shoulder Profile - then you will want to choose between the Commercial and Industrial Series Tenon Cutters. These offer a larger log capacity than the radius shoulder tenon cutters and provide the "rustic" look found on most log furniture projects.
If you prefer the Radius Shoulder Profile - then you will want to choose between the Home and Pro Series Tenon Cutters. These provide a more refined look for any log furniture project you decide on.
2. Features & Specs
Once you have decided which shoulder profile you prefer, you have narrowed it down from 4 series to 2 (depending on if you prefer the 60° Tapered Shoulder or the Radius Shoulder). The next step is to decide which of the 2 series you prefer based on features.
The Commercial and Home Series Tenon Cutters are made from die cast aluminum. Die casting is a metal casting process that is characterized by forcing molten metal under high pressure into a mold cavity. The mold cavity is created using two hardened tool steel dies which have been machined into shape and work similarly to an injection mold during the process.
These are great, affordable tools that offer a lifetime guarantee and are perfect for homeowners, hobbyists, and anyone starting out log furniture building.
The Pro and Industrial Series Tenon Cutters are CNC machined from a solid billet of aluminum. "Computer Numerical Controlled" CNC Machining is a process used in the manufacturing sector that involves the use of computers to control machine tools. Tools that can be controlled in this manner include lathes, mills, routers and grinders. The CNC in CNC Machining stands for Computer Numerical Control.There are many advantages to using CNC Machining. The process is more precise than manual machining, and can be repeated in exactly the same manner over and over again. Because of the precision possible with CNC Machining, this process can produce complex shapes that would be almost impossible to achieve with manual machining.
These tools also feature our in-sight measurement system, which is a series of slots at the top of the tools that allow you to measure the tenon length by sight instead of having to use a tape measure. It also works with our quick stop pins, which is a pin and bolt system that fits into the tops of the tools to stop the log at the specified length.
3. Make Your Choice
Once you have decided which shoulder profile you prefer, and which features and specs you prefer, it should be easy for you to decide which tenon cutter series would be best for you. Of course, if you still have questions, you are welcome to call us during our business hours (Monday - Friday 8am -4:30pm CST) at 715-720-4719.