I lost all the images on my original web page, because TinyPic went out of business. I have had requests to reconstruct the page with new images.
Woodsmith magazine has a pattern for building a "man-size" set of Linkin Logs, similar to the smaller Lincoln Logs. They can't call the project Lincoln Logs, because K-nex apparently owns the copyright on that name.
The plans suggest poplar that is dyed to
the brown, yellow, green, and red colors. I am using poplar for my project.
The logs are 1.25x1.50 inches, which means I have to glue up Menards standard thickness 3/4" pieces to net the 1.50 inches wide.
This project uses a table saw technique
similar to cutting box joints. In that method, you use a wood key to index the
pieces for each cut........as shown on my Youtube video.........
I decided to make a different fence for each step in the project, including the 3/4" bars that ride in the grooves on the table saw. This avoids having to remember which steel fence I used (I have 3 of them).
I made the fences from pine 1x4's...........here is the 1st one for cutting the 15 degree notch........
For the key, I used a piece from a standard wood shim pack. I used 2 screws to hold the fence to the base piece. This fence has a starting position and a 2nd position with the key.
I ordered the dye recommended in the magazine article from DickBlick.com. I have never used this type of dye, so this should be interesting!
Special 1" Round-Over Router Bit
So I got the 2nd fence re-adjusted to the correct dimensions, and notched the 3 first boards. I set up the 3/4" wide dado set and started to dado cut. I then did a trial fit of 2 boards together at the notches. Again, "Houston, we have a problem!"
The top log was not setting clear down on the notch. I retrieved the magazine plans.......
figure C above, it says to set the notch width at 1-5/16" at the top of
the angled groove. With a 15 degree angle, it is going to be less than
1.25" at the bottom of the notch, which is the thickness of the mating
To have the logs set clear down in the notch, you want the bottom of the notch to be at least the same thickness as the mating log, or 1.25". You probably want to add a little to the notch width to allow for tolerance stack-up, so 1-5/16" would be about right.
I think what happened is that the illustrator in Figure C above, put the 1-5/16" dimension at the wrong point. He put it at the top of the notch, and it should have been on the bottom.
Fortunately, my existing work can be salvaged because the notch is not wide enough. I reset the 2nd fence to give the 1-5/16" width at the bottom of the notch, and re-sawed the boards.
Further Analysis of Notch Width
I laid out the original plan design in Google Sketchup again. It turns out that the radius's on the side of the log reduce the width that sets in the mating notch, if you have the radius correct.......
If the tolerances are 0, then the 1-5/64 width at the bottom will fit into the 1-1/8" notch width at the bottom, with 3/64" clearance......or 1.5/64 clearance on a side. Wow, this is too tight of tolerance given all the set-ups involved to generate this geometry.
This next Sketchup shows that with 0 tolerance, the 2 logs do fit together......
turns out that my trial logs did not fit together because my radius is not deep
enough from the router table. My fence board is a little warped, making
my radius off a hair.
Since I'm well into making logs now, I am going to leave my set-ups alone, because the logs fit together fine. If I change the router table radius set-up, then some logs will fit sloppier after the change.
My set-up gives 1-5/16 notch width at the bottom, so if your 1" radius is a little off, the whole thickness of 1-1/4" still fits fine.
Length Cut-Off Fence on Table Saw
Each board is about $14 at Menards, so you get 9 logs for $28.
1st Completed Batch of Logs Before Dyeing
Each dye bottle costs $7.00 and is only 10 ounces, and comes with an eyedropper......
The magazine article says the author diluted it by 25% with water. For the massive number of logs this project takes, it would take many bottles at $7.00 per bottle to dye all of those logs at that concentration.
I'm going to use maybe 10% dye and 90% water on the logs. Since there are only a few yellow and red parts, I will use them close to full strength. I will have to stretch the green dye also because there are 2 different roof sizes.
I think the lighter brown color will be fine for the logs.I dyed the roof pieces a very dark green, but I ran out of dye (I only bought 1 bottle of green). I ordered 1 more bottle of green dye, and 2 more bottles of brown dye.
Many Table Saw fences Required for this Project
are 5 different table saw fences required for this project.......
This does not include the router table fences. I made separate fences for the first angled cut, and then the successive angle cuts. That way I did not have to remove and re-install a new key on each batch of logs. The 4th to the right fence is the 3/4" dado blade fence, and the 5th to the right is the cut-off fence for log length.
Pumping out Logs
I spent 1-day pumping out more Lincoln logs. I started with the 4-notch ones first until I got the desired 24 total pieces......then went down in size and worked on the 3-notch logs, etc.
The worst operation is the dado sawing of the notches. The dado blade throws dust and chips right back into your face. I have to shake out my shirt after each dado operation, just to get rid of the dust.
I finished the 4, 3, and 2 notch logs, 48 each. I then made a new fence for the connectors, since the spacing is closer together to get more logs per unit length of board.
On the trial run of 1 piece, I noticed I got up to 1/4" offset between the top and bottom notch on a log. They still seem to work ok, sometimes you have to flip them end-for-end building with them. I am not sure why this happened. When I get some more poplar boards, I need to follow 1 board thru the process, and check this dimension as I go to see what the error was.
Total Project Cost
Most of the cost is in the Poplar wood. I wonder if common pine would also work. You would need to sort and not use the sections with knots would be the issue. My total cost estimate was $355.
Routing the 1/4" groove in top and bottom of each Log
Routing the 1/4" groove in top and bottom of each Log
I used the set-up recommended in the magazine article with regards to using a feather board on the router table.
Once I got them all
notched, I moved the feather board to the table saw, and ripped one log of each
length size in half, to be used as the starting log. I did not take a
photo of this set-up.
Once I completed making all the logs, I started building the 2-story log cabin. As I needed pieces, I sanded and dyed them brown. The first problem I ran into was with the windows and front door. They were too large for my openings. I had to reduce their size on the table saw until they fit. The window and front door opening sizes is determined by the spacing dimension between notches, and the length from the end of the notch until the end of the log. Maybe my dimensions are just a hair different than the plan. I guess I should have waiting to make the doors and window until after I had the logs done, to verify the correct dimensions.
Here is the 1-story large version completed...........
this stage, what I had left to do was........
-Dye some of the logs a darker brown again that were too light
-lower the 1/4" gable dowels so roof slats did not interfere at top
-Dye some of the roof planks a darker green to better match the others
-Dye all the spare logs brown
I want to assemble the new
100 year anniversary set of Lincoln Logs, and photograph the 2 together for
Closing Thoughts on This Project
was a lot of work involved getting the 6 fences set up correctly for the table
saw, plus additional router table fences. Of course, once they are set up
correctly and verified, you can pump out a lot of logs.
Keeping alert making all the notches is definitely an issue. I had to force myself to keep "my mind on task" doing this repetitive and boring work.
The notch thickness threw me for a loop until I figure it out. I think my process with 1-5/16" thickness at the bottom of the notch is more forgiving from a woodworking process point of view.
My $72 Harbor Freight dado set I bought in early 2011 is not the highest quality, in terms of leaving a smooth bottom to the dados. Like most projects I have done with this dado set, it doesn't really matter if the bottom is perfectly smooth or not, in terms of function.
should wait to make the front door and windows, until you start assembling the
log cabin. The stack-up of tolerances could change the final dimensions
of these items.
To get the correct 1/4" dowel location for the roof slats, I placed the slats in place (before they were notched) and start-drilled the dowel location. But after I notched the roof slats, the they interfered at the peak. I sawed off the dowels, then start-drilled at the new location with the notched slats, and then they met at the peak fine.
My grandchildren have been playing a lot with the small 100th anniversary set of Lincoln Logs. My oldest grandson is 4.5 years old right now. He did get to stand in the monster set I made......
In another year or two, my grandson will be ready to play with the Monster set :)