By Robert L. Gifford (reprinted from fall 2008 newsletter)
Using the right tool can make a job easy, enjoyable, and safe especially if you have a tool that is designed for the task at hand.
In our line of work, Scandinavian Full Scribe Log Building, there are many tools designed for the job, but most of them were designed over five hundred years ago and some of these tools could take a little reinventing, even though they are still working
great. It is just that times have changed and labor is not cheap, and our work exposes us to liabilities that we, as businessmen and craftsmen, would rather not take a chance on.
Well, working by myself, I have had to come up with several tools that at times, seem very odd, but work great and make it possible for me to do the job by myself.
One of those jobs is locating the crown of a log, and turning it until the crown is on the outside of a log wall. This can take up to three people, two people with cant hooks turning the 24” log and a third standing back looking for the straight line that sometimes just doesn’t seem to always come up on top the way we would like. Also turning a log on the end of a wall, even if a rolling dog is used, can be back breaking labor and somewhat dangerous.
Well one day I decided that there had to be a better way, and that using gravity to accomplish this arduous task, instead of letting gravity and friction defeat me might be the way to go. In so doing I had an idea that could help any craftsman accomplish the same task effortlessly, and combine a couple other tasks at the same time.
Doesn’t look like much, does it? With just two of these under the log, about two foot from each end, the Crown Locator and gravity takes care of the rest. The Crown Locator will work on single crown, or double crown logs, with just a little adjustment. And while you are at it, do your measuring for the log at the same time, and write these numbers on the end of the log for your log list.
The dolly wheels, on the Crown Locator, are 12” diameter with a width of 3 inches. The cost for the dolly wheels is less than forty dollars each. The steel, two inch square tubing and four inch channel iron, with the welding combined cost just over $125.00 at a local welding shop.
The Crown Locator can hold up to five thousand pounds safely on solid ground, and the maintenance is just about zero. The dolly wheels are polypropylene, with hardened roller bearings and grease zerts that do not mark the logs. The total height of the Crown Locator is just twenty-four inches, and can be handled by just one man if they need moving, which is seldom. I leave mine in the same spot for the duration of the time it takes to build the log home.
The total time it takes to locate the crown is less than ten seconds. Then, using a 24” level, I mark the direction of the crown on the end of the log with an arrow, which is always a vertical line, with the head of the arrow pointing down. When the log is placed on the wall the arrow needs to point out from the wall on a level plane. This can be accomplished with a level and this gives me a horizontal line. Now I can mark a vertical line to represent the centerline of the log.
This simple tool can save a lot of work, and eliminate some of the danger that we, as Log Crafters, deal with on an average day of building a log home. One of our greatest dangers, next to using
a chain saw, is back injury. Anything that will make our lives safer is just great by me.
I am turning over the Copyright and Patient Rights, along with any of the Crown Locator derivatives’ to The Great Lakes Log Crafters Association. Maybe in some small way this will help support this great organization that my wife and I are proud to be members of.