Revisiting the Garden Gnome House

The garden gnome house was carved out of a solid poplar log that fell during a windstorm. Poplar is not the best wood for carving — it splits and rots easy — but it was big, free, and delivered from the sky in our backyard.

The garden gnomes have their house in a raspberry patch with a waterfall flowing just below the winding staircase.

A Stihl MS261c with the factory bar was used. That’s a mid-sized saw that idles well so the chain can chew slowly without too much gas. This allows for more detail work without revving the saw to high speed. The smaller bar on a MS170 was used to notch out the stairs. See more here…


So how did it do after a year in the sun, wind, rain, and snow? Not too bad considering it had two litres of linseed oil dumped on it. There was some cracking and a polyurethane glue was injected into the deepest splits. The wood was also stained anywhere water collected. Time for another coat of clear sealer or linseed oil as winter approaches.

Twisted Hazelnut Stand

These hazelnut branches were laying in a wood pile under a tarp for years. They were dry, but much of the bark was gradually eaten away by bugs. The outer layers contracted around strong fibers and left a very touchable, smooth, rippled finish.


The wood was cleaned with a dust brush and an air compressor. Some bits of bark were picked out with a small knife.

Each branch had a significant elbow and when propped together, they stood on their own. A couple of straps kept the trio together while 3/4″ hardwood dowels were drilled through and glued in place. The completed stand has held up to 100 lbs, 40 kgs, but being cautious, some extra support twigs were added to distribute the weight. The dowels age and start looking like knots.

Lo, it held a guitar! This was partially coincidence, but it works. Some extra sanding allows the guitar to settle in quite securely. It’s not going anywhere. The acoustic, spruce top guitar looks better, but the stand will only hold it upside down. For some one left handed with an affinity for natural wood, this would be ideal.

Little Bits of Old Fir Stand

This little table is 26″ tall, about 65 cm, and holds a coffee cup and a remote.

In the summer, some old fir planks from a demolition were made into a hairpin coffee table (see here), and these leftover bits of tongue and groove got glued together. The stand is surprisingly heavy and most of the weight is in the bottom while a lighter piece was used for the top.


Then it was lucky enough to be standing around on finishing day, and received a dusting of gold highlight and some clear top coat. The wood is likely from a tree harvested near the original building site over one hundred years ago.


This went to a friend who mused, “I need one of those little stand things next to my chair, for my phone.” Decadence.

Patchwork Barn Bench

Lots of leftovers? That’s what often happens around the wood shed. It’s Halloween and after a good harvest this KD (kiln dried) bench made of 2×6 ends makes a fine place to set out treats, or put on costumes in the hallway.


No nails or screws involved. The legs are cut at 10° and “picture framed” with some left over 2x4s. The surface is a patchwork of boards cut square on the chop saw. The dimensions are 42″ wide, 16.5″ deep, and 18″ tall. To even the surface, a 3.5″ planer was used to give it an old fashion look and feel. Sanding was at 60 grit and the sharp edges were sanded round. The ends of the bench top were planed thinner so the top doesn’t look like lumber.


The top is pegged to the frame with six hardwood dowels. Some artificial aging was added with a fine tip torch. This also highlights some flaws and grain. Because this is construction grade wood, cracks and knots must be ground out or someone sitting on it might get a sliver. Then the bench is coated in a mix of thinner and poly sealer to give it a soft, safe finish. The mix has no gloss and protects the wood with a rubbery durable coat that preserves the touch of real wood.


Budget: $0. and the end result is a strong, rustic piece that can serve multiple purposes. The legs and frame were originally made for another project, but didn’t get used. They were test legs, but very strong and can easily hold several people standing on it. The corners of the legs are under the center beam, with a direct transfer of weight through the center and down through all four legs equally.


#10-31-19 will host a bowl of candy on a leaf-covered, spooky porch tonight, for the convenience of neighborhood ghouls.

…and for our web visitors, here’s a peek of the fall colors around Prairie Bench…