The great thing about looking for a retailer or manufacturer of rustic log furniture is there are plenty of sellers out there these days, especially with the age of the world wide web. Since the birth of the internet everyone and their brother seem to have tried to start making and selling all types of rustic furniture online, but what I am sure that they found out is that making log furniture the right way is a hard task to achieve. Now don’t take me the wrong way there are some great builders of this style of furniture and you will notice they are the craftsmen that have been around for a while. So, knowing this let me tell you how to make the right decision on choosing your rustic furniture.
One of the first things you need to decide is the species of wood you would like to go with, there are dozens of them out there, but only a couple of good species that will stand up to the elements outside. There is hickory, cypress, pine (not recommended), aromatic cedar, eastern white cedar, Northern white cedar, etc. As for the species I mentioned I can tell a little about each, hickory is a nice species but I noticed the furniture I see made is that the diameter of the wood is always small and I get a little suspicious of the strength of it. Cypress has hardly any grain that I see compared to the rest. Pine is absolutely not for me; it is sappy and soft and it is not very durable. Aromatic cedar is a beautiful wood but when it weathers if turns dark in the elements untreated. Eastern white cedar people will say it is the same as Northern white cedar, but let me tell you it’s not, I know from working with it. The wood is really knotty and hairy compared to the Northern white cedar. The looks are similar in color and the aging process is the same. As for Northern white cedar, it weathers to a beautiful silvery gray if untreated and exposed to the elements. Northern white cedar can withstand the elements for years, some say that it will last for 50 years outside untreated, but I can tell you by experience that it really only lasts for 20 years. White cedar is not sappy at all, making it easier to stain or varnish, unlike other species, like pine that will actually have the sap come out years later, right through the paint or varnish that was on there.
Once you decided the species the next thing to do is find the retailer out there selling the log furniture with that wood. When you locate this seller, keep in mind that if that seller is just a middleman, you will not get the service you will get from the actual manufacturer. More than likely, if that person is not the manufacturer and is just a website owner or guru, it is probably just a drop-ship situation and they will surely tell you they can get you the furniture right away when they have no idea of the inventory or how busy the manufacturer really is (don’t be fooled with factory direct, sales pitches). Second, just how much can that person really know about rustic log furniture if they are just an order taker. Dealing with the person who is actually handcrafting your furniture and can tell you exactly when it will be done, is by far a more reliable way to purchase your furniture. Trust me, there are more websites out there selling log furniture then there are manufacturers of it.
Now we can get to the construction of the log furniture. Some log furniture is sanded smooth, some are skipped peeled, some have the bark on and some are completely peeled. As for which one is better, I can only tell you what I think. The sanded log furniture definitely takes away from the rustic feel, skipped peel is a nice look, but I wonder about the smoothness of the wood with just a peel on parts of the log. The furniture with the bark left on definitely has to have some sort of finish on it to keep the bark on, and sometimes I have seen where the bark will peel off over time. Completely peeled log furniture is smooth
without splinters and can easily be treated and has the true rustic look and feel. Getting past that you should then take note of how the log furniture is actually connected together. Some furniture is just butted up together and is nailed, I do not recommend that style of construction. Most have a mortise and tenon connection, which is extremely durable. Things to watch out for with this is the size of the dowels, some out there will go with a smaller diameter dowel meaning their logs are usually smaller too. I recommend asking the diameter and make sure it is at least 1.25” since that is the weakest point of the furniture. The diameter of the logs should be no less than 3” as far as I am concerned. Most of the rustic log furniture I see on the internet does not meet that size on a good percentage of their lines of furniture, even though it looks large in the pictures I would definitely ask the sizes of the logs to get a good comparison from one builder to the next. The hardware that is used on the log furniture is a big factor also because if you are going to have your furniture exposed to the rain and snow or whatever you don’t want the hardware starting to bleed or rust, all the hardware should be zinc coated on all parts of the furniture.