Wood log chargers have become pretty popular over the last couple years, so there are now quite a few places where you can purchase them. But…they are pretty pricey, especially if you need several of them. I needed 6 for the Winter Weinerland themed table setting I was working on and the best price I could find, for the size I wanted, was $16.99 each. That was going to cost over $100. Should I do it? I thought long and hard…. just kidding. I decided real fast that it was a big fat NO. So once again I had a DIY project on my hands.
My initial idea was to use a ton of wood scraps I had to create the base of the log slice and then top it with a veneer sheet to create the actual wood look. That was all pretty easy to envision. It was the bark ring around the log that I spent 5 hours in my R&D lab (a.k.a. craft room) developing. I won’t bore you with all the things that didn’t work and trust me, there were a lot of them, I’ll just share what did work.
Ok, like I said, I had a ton of wood scraps. Why you ask? Because I craft, therefore I hoard. Every time my dad cuts a piece of wood for me and there is a measly little piece left over, he asks Do you want this? He’s joking of course, but this is serious business to me. Of course I want it. And then I proceed to have this internal struggle where the little crafter sitting on my right shoulder says Take it, while the more sensible, “normal” person sitting on my left says Toss it, you can barely move around your garage as it is. Luckily for this DIY wood log charger project, the little crafter on my right shoulder had won out more times than not.
I won’t show you all the wood scraps I used to make all 6 wood log chargers, but to give you an idea of a few different ways you can form the base of your log slice, I’ll show 2 examples. I wanted my wood log chargers to be roughly 12″ in diameter, so I needed to start with a 12″ square wood base. I had this 8 foot long by 1.75 inch wide piece of particle board. I cut it into seven, 12 inches long pieces and then used wood glue and clamps to glue them together into a single 12″ square piece.
In the second example below, I had an 9×12″ wide rectangular piece of particle board and a 3×13″ wide piece of white shelf board. The shelf board was longer than 12 inches but that’s ok because I was just going to cut a circle out of the entire thing anyways. Again, I used wood glue and clamps to attach those two boards together. The only thing you need to make sure of is that the depth of all your wood scraps is the same, so that your base is completely flat.
After I created all my 12″ square bases, I applied globs of liquid nails to the top of the base. Then I took a sheet of 1/4″ thick plywood veneer which I cut into a 12″ square and placed it on top of the base. I added a bunch of weights on top (you could also use books) until the liquid nails dried. For the veneer I actually used cabinet scraps that I had, but you can get 1/4″ plywood veneer at Lowes or Home Depot.
Once your veneer is securely attached to the base, use a jigsaw to cut a circle out. Turn the board over so the nice veneer side is facing down and then draw a circle onto the base. Don’t worry if it’s not a perfect circle, because log slices never are. Then using a jigsaw, cut along the circle. Again, make sure your veneer side is facing down when you cut with the jigsaw, because the side that’s facing up will have chip marks in it from the jigsaw, the bottom will have a nice smooth cut.
After you have your log slice cut into a circle, it’s time to create the bark. Measure the circumference of your wood log slice. Mine was 37″. Then add 2 inches to that measurement. So mine is now 39″. Then measure the thickness of your wood log slice. Mine was 0.75″ (the particle board was 0.5″ thick and the veneer was 0.25″ thick). Cut a strip of corrugated cardboard (from a cardboard box) that are 0.75″ wide and 39″ long (or whatever your thickness and circumference +2 are). This strip is going to wrap all the way around your wood log base. In my case, I didn’t have any boxes that were 39″ long so I cut two sets of strips that were each 19.5″ long, to total 39″. Then I cut 2 more of these same exact size strips (0.75 x 39″), so I had a total of 4 (however many strips you cut to wrap around your wood log base, double it (you’ll see why later).
When you cut your cardboard strips, you will want to make sure that the corrugated ridges are running from top to bottom not left to right. If the ridges run from left to right, then you will see them when looking down on your wood log charger, and you will be able to tell it’s cardboard.
In the picture on the left, I have a sheet of cardboard that I cut from a box.
If you look at the left side of it you’ll see that the corrugated ridges run from top to bottom. This means you will want to cut the strips lengthwise from left to right.
If you have cut your strips in the correct direction, you should NOT see the corrugated ridges when you look at the top of the strip.
If you have cut in the proper direction, you will only see the corrugated ridges from the side of the strip.
Next, using a utility knife, you will want to cut vertical slices into all 4 of the strips. Hold the utility knife so that it is parallel and almost flat against the cardboard strip, then make slices across the entire strip.
Go all the way across from left to right, then turn the strip around 180 degrees and make slices again from left to right, so that you’re going over the previous cuts but they are now being cut in the opposite direction. Then after you are all done, using your fingers, bend the cardboard strips along the entire length to break up the rigidity of the cardboard so that it will be able to be wrapped around your wood base. That’s about as clear as mud right? Yeah, I thought so. That’s why I made this video
Next, take 2 of the 4 strips and tear them into 3 different sizes. One set should be approximately 1/2 inch, the next 1 inch and the last set 1.5 inches. Don’t worry about measuring and trying to be exact, you want to be the opposite of exact. Also, make sure you tear, don’t cut with scissors/knife or they will look too perfect. Take the two, 0.75 x 19.5″ strips and using Elmer’s glue, attach the torn pieces to the top of them. Be random about it. Glue a 1.5″ piece then about 1 inch over from that, glue a 1″ piece, then a half inch over glue another 1″ then glue a 1/2″ piece and so on. Then glue some 1/2″ pieces on top of the 1.5″ pieces. Clear as mud again right? Watch this video
After your strips with torn pieces have fully dried, re-bend them with your fingers again, to break up the rigidity that has set back in from the glued pieces. Next it’s time to paint. You will want a brown and a black paint. It shouldn’t matter what kind of paint you use, as long as it’s a flat color, not shiny. I used acrylic paints, just because it’s what I had. Paint some brown sections, then some black. Paint a little black over the brown, then a little brown over the black. Leave some of the natural cardboard color also, don’t paint it all. Don’t forget to paint the top edge too. You’re almost there, this is the last video.
After the paint has dried you will want to attach the two cardboard strips to the wood log slice. I tried a few different types of adhesive and found caulk to work the best. I caulked the entire strip, then took one end and attached it to the wood log slice by nailing it. Then I pulled the strip taught all the way around and nailed the other end. On some logs there were one or two places where the cardboard strip didn’t seem to want to bend around the wood well, leaving a small gap. In these instances I pushed a weight (or use a heavy book) against it to hold it until the caulk dried. I attached both sets of strips to the log. If you find that you have a bit of overlap between the strips, simply tear off the excess prior to nailing the end. Once the caulk is dry, remove the nails.
And there you have it, your very own DIY wood log charger. I used mine for my Winter Weinerland themed table setting. How did you use your’s? I’d love to see your design on pinterest.