Things You'll Need
Wood slabs hewn directly from a tree trunk are used in a variety of ways that evoke a more rustic time. Depending up their length and width they make variety of table tops, interior and exterior walls and even doors. Pioneers did the work with an ax and adz, but a chain saw provides a faster cut. Round and oval slabs are easy, but a rectangular slab requires more experience in working with a chain saw.
Decide if you want round, oval or rectangular slabs. Set the log lengthwise on a ground mount such as other wood for round and oval slabs.
Cut the end of the log evenly across while facing the side of the trunk for a circle slab. Saw the trunk at an angle such as 45 degrees for an oval slab. When cutting circles or ovals, two cuts are required: the first to set the top side of the slab, the other to set the bottom. The thickness of the slab is determined by the width between the two cuts, and the cutting angle determines the length of the oval slab.
Cut both ends of the trunk off evenly to start a rectangle slab. Stand the trunk upright with the thickest end at the bottom. The taller the trunk the harder it will be to create slabs of equal width throughout.
Starting at the top, cut off the four sides of the trunk downward so that you have a tall, box-looking piece of wood left. Technically this is now a slab, but a pretty thick one.
Determine how thick you want the first slab to be and mark the width with a wide marking pen along the whole length of the log. Again starting at the top, cut downward with the chainsaw along the mark as you would slice a sausage. Apply steady, even pressure and do not allow the saw to drift to the side.
Continue to slice slabs from the remaining piece of wood. As the wood grows thinner you will have to prop it up by places wood blocks or other heavy material on each side of it to prevent it from falling over.
Leave the slabs as they are for the most rustic look, or smooth them with a wood planer for a finished look.
Your chain saw must be able to cut through the wood in one pass for the largest side of the slabs. The smoothest slabs come from a fresh sharpened chain.
If you are going to cut extensive slabs from a variety of trunks, then investing in specialized guides and saws is probably best.
Jack Burton started writing professionally in 1980 with articles in "Word from Jerusalem," "ICEJ Daily News" and Tagalong Garden News. He has managed radio stations, TV studios and newspapers, and was the chief fundraiser for Taltree Arboretum. Burton holds a B.S. in broadcasting from John Brown University. He is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Navy/Navy Reserves and the Navy Seabees.