One day last year, my wife and I were driving through Amish country when we stopped at a yard sale. The Amish woman had a long cedar log she was selling for $10.00. We had one of those IKEA storage cube cabinets with cloth drawers the size of milk crates in my truck. We were planning on donating to St Vincent DePaul but asked if she wanted to trade for it. The woman had a few kids, and we figured she could use it for storing away all the kids’ stuff. She agreed to the trade, so I took it out of the bed of the truck and put it by garage. She was tickled to have it.
The log sat in my basement for months until Anita asked me last week if I could cut it up into chunks so she could use them in her booth to put topary plants on them. The different heights add visual appeal to the booth, and it helps her sell more plants
I sliced the log into small pieces as best as I could on the band saw, but the irregular shape of the log made it tough to cut the top and bottom parallel to each other. I sanded the bottom on my oscillating edge sander and then tried to sand the top parallel to the bottom by eye as best as I could. It didn’t work the best, and I figured there had to be a better way.
I looked at my go-to jig book, “Making Woodwork Aids & Devices” by Robert Wearing, but I didn’t see a jig that would work for my task so I kept thinking about it until I came up with this.
It’s basically an 1 1/4″ cube with a 1/2″ hole drilled through the middle. Then another 1/2″ thick piece of wood with 1/2″ hole drill in it and a slit cut to the hole so that a bolt could tighten the piece onto a 1/2″ dowel. At the end of the piece is a 9/32″ hole drilled so that I could shove a pencil into it.
After I assembled the jig, I set the pencil to the lowest part of the top of the log and gently scribe a pencil line all around the log. It’s the same principle as leveling chair legs but on a larger scale.
Once the line is scribed all around the log, I carefully sanded it to the line on my oscillating edge sander. I’m sure a random orbital sander will work, but this thing makes quick work of it.
After a few minutes, all of the log pieces are flush and level. It’s a stupid simple jig, and I’m sure I’ve seen it somewhere, I just can’t remember where.