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Why Is Log Furniture So Popular?

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By Tom Heatherington

Can anyone explain what makes a simple log table more appealing to many of us than a finely carved mahogany table? Is it merely a matter of style or taste? To be certain, some log or rustic furniture pieces do not blend well with every decorating theme, and few of us would place an Adirondack chair with a Chippendale kneehole desk, but in many settings log furniture has no equal.

In the traditional sense, most furniture is made from wood (which is nothing more than logs that have been "tamed"). However, log furniture is the antithesis of most conventional furniture. Traditional furniture makers favor pristine wood planks without knots or blemishes, while log furniture builders emphasize knots, diseased patches and even tree bark.

Oftentimes conventional furniture will feature graceful lines and delicate legs, while log designs boast thick, powerful verticals and cross members. Log furniture makers often rely on hand tools more than machines. The drawknife and spokeshave are essential tools used to peel logs and make tenons. Handsaws, chisels, hatchets and other hand tools are found in every log furniture crafter's workshop.

Log furniture is practical and it stirs our appreciation of human genius and resourcefulness. Unlike conventional mass-produced furniture, log furniture is particularly distinctive in that no two pieces look the same. The uniqueness of the logs and slabs ensure that every piece presents a singular appearance. Log furniture is a form of natural, hand-made freeform art.

It is this author's opinion that it is the bold and unique character of log furniture that speaks to us so intimately. Log furniture has a soul that whispers to us about our past when people produced furniture from the raw materials nature provided. Early pioneers built log furniture out of necessity, and it retains a romantic charm that inspires thoughts as daring as that Westward expansion. Log furniture is bold and gutsy - yet warm and inviting. It can be massive, yet graceful and it offers us a way to introduce nature into our homes.

The numerous answers to "why log furniture is popular" are as varied as the craftsman who produce these works. Simplicity, elegance, boldness, history, natural beauty... there is a difference between style and character. And that's the reason log furniture is so popular.