Building a hewing bench, part 1: getting the log and getting off the bark

Last week, my brother got a call from an old friend that she had some wood that we could pick up for free. It turned out that she wasn’t kidding. They cut down an oak, a beech and an old horse chestnut on the grounds of this beautiful old villa just south of the city. I had requested they’d save a longer piece of oak for me, because I had been thinking about making a certain thing out of fresh wood. The inspiration for it came from a book by Roy Underhill. In his book, The Woodwright’s Shop, he uses this little hewing/sawing bench made from a halved log.


I thought I’d upscale this idea a bit. Since I have no proper shop or even workbench in my house (you may have noticed I do all my stuff on my kitchen table), I could really use a bench outside to do the rough work on – sawing, hewing, planing, and so on. I found a bench that would be suitable for this on Simon Hill’s blog:

Hewing BenchMy bench will be slightly bigger and higher, and will double as a garden bench to keep my girlfriend happy.


We drove out to get the wood last saturday. My brother got some oak logs to put an anvil on and some beech to make stuff out of. I got this monster.



It’s 1,15m (45″) long and over 40cm (16) in diameter, without the sapwood and bark. It’s so heavy that it took four people to lift it into the trailer and it took two people to roll it to it’s place behind my house. It has a nice crack down the middle on which I can split it. But first, to get the bark off. The tree had been standing dead for a year and all kinds of little critters and molds made the outer sapwood and cambium their home.


IMG_0380cropped      IMG_0389I took the bulk of the bark off with this makeshift chisel: an old axe head.


The log was too wide to use my drawknives on. Luckily, my father-in-law had a solution for that. Read the story of my new, wider drawknife here.

IMG_0448 IMG_0470 IMG_0481

The new drawknife works like a charm. In my next post, the log will be totally smooth and hopefully in two pieces.

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