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Making a fire surround

Chris Head

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Some techniques for making your own fire surround.

Start by marking out, using a spirit level chalk a vertical line into the narrowest end of the log then square off the first vertical to the dimension you want. Next 'snap' a chalkline to the other end of the log and do the same again, you'll now have two corresponding shapes at each end of the log.

   Try not to leave too much sapwood on although a little won't matter, it can be cleaned off later.

Before you start cutting make sure there is no mud or anything on the log that could dull the chain. Now for the cutting, scribe a line with your chainsaw to the waste side of the snapped chalkline keeping it as straight as possible , it will be easier to follow than the chalk. Introduce the bar to the top of the log and cut down the vertical chalkline but again keep outside the line. You can always take more off but you can't put it back on! As you work your way along concentrate on following the scribed line and keeping the bar perfectly vertical. You'll have to brush the dust out of the scribe line. Stop and step back and look often.


 Notice the log is off the ground, that's just to ensure the chain doesn't make contact with the ground when it breaks through the bottom of the log. As you finish one side, roll the log over and snap another chalkline and do the same again. Wedge the log if it it's unsteady.

The same procedure is used for the legs, don't forget concentrate all the time on attaining as much accuracy as you can....and don't go inside the chalklines. Bar and chain condition are really important as well, I tend to have the chain much tighter than I would do if I was carving.

Ok so you've cut the components now to join them together. Mark out the mortices (the holes) they should be roughly a third the depth of the leg, so if your legs are say 18cm square then the mortice would be 9cm  by say 14cm wide and suitably deep, perhaps 12 - 15 cm. Cut the mortices then measure them and cut the tenons to suit. I use chainsaws for the whole thing but use whatever you have to, drills, chisels, handsaws etc.

Test fit the pieces together, this is the hard bit, you'll need help, nibble away until you have the desired fit.

Now it's time for cleaning or shaping the timber using whatever tool you need to get the right result. On this fire surround I used the hoof trimming disc I pictured in below post to leave a rough texture. 

This is the installed project, I hadn't pegged the joints in the piccy but did later, although the pegs weren't needed as the whole thing had been bolted onto the existing structure. 

The same techniques can be applied to all sorts of stuff, be creative!

You don't have to stick to square, there aren't any rules..... apart from, relax, be safe and enjoy it!

Cheers, Chris

PS I can't accept any liabilty through people using these instructions or by people using chainsaws innapropriately. If you're ever in any doubt seek the help of an experienced proffessional.

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Impressive! You make it sound sooo easy Chris.

A note about safety: be careful, very, very careful!

Our neighbour was rushed into hospital a couple of hours ago after cutting his forearm badly. He was on a stepladder sawing through a beam (he's 73 and is renovating the cottage next door), slipped and fell when he got kickback. He's no novice either and is usually very safety conscious, but, you can never tell what's going to happen.

He's lost a lot of blood and is having an op now, so we hope he'll be OK.
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I'm so sorry for your neighbour Zeb, keep us posted,,,,but 70 odd, ladder, chainsaw, the risk assessment wouldn't look too good! I didn't go down the safety route as it's been well covered already and I don't want an anorak label.....but take care folks. The chainsaw and the router are the two most wonderful and flexible tools available but both are dangerous tho, be careful out there.

I've had several emails in response, two from saw pro's who think my post is irresponsible....both are raising liability questions, perhaps it should be bleeped before I get my bum sued?

Cheers, Chris

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[quote user="Chris Head"]

I've had several emails in response, two from saw pro's who think my post is irresponsible....both are raising liability questions, perhaps it should be bleeped before I get my bum sued?


Chris if you think the people who contacted you have raised good points, perhaps you could edit/add to your post, to address the points they made.

If you do think there's a problem, which can't really be solved by editing, you may need to pm a mod, or James to alert them, because they may not have seen you raise the question. [;-)]

Zeb, I hope your neighbour makes a good recovery. Those things scare the wits out of me.

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