Lincoln Logs

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Blog entry by SPalm posted 10-15-2014 09:15 PM 23121 reads 85 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made two large sets of Lincoln Logs for the grandchildren. This is how I did it. There are a few steps involved so I used indexing stop blocks and such to make it more safe and repeatable.

I basically followed some of the same techniques as this post on the web but changed a few things and added roofs. Also I decided not to stain my sets as we kind of liked the clean pine look, and this is also completely non-toxic (and easier to make).

I put together two houses to see how it all worked. This is using less than one set:

First I bought a few 1×6 by 8ft boards at Home Depot. Actually I saw this pine there for not very much money and could not pass it up when I saw where it was ‘made’. I went through 4 of these by the time I was done with the two sets (and yes, they are 1×5s). They were $6 something each.

The main dimensions for all the parts are a 3/4 inch groove, spaced 3 inches apart, starting 3/8 inch from the end, and 3/16 inches deep.

To fit 4 grooves on a board requires a 10.5 inch length of Swedish pine. I really like this technique of cutting 4 groove boards and then cutting them up later into 3s, 2s, and 1s logs. By doing it this way, a lot of custom cutting and thinking is actually reduced. Seems safer too, and a good length for cutting, routing etc. I set a stop block on the miter saw and cut nine 10.5 inch lengths out of each 8 foot board using a thin kerf blade.

I then set two stop blocks on my miter gauge and installed a 3/4 inch dado blade. One of the stop blocks gave me the outside groove that leaves 3/8 inch, and the other flip stop block was three inches from the first stop block. Flip and repeat. Each board gets 8 grooves. I took my time setting up these stop blocks – they must be set accurately. I used scrap to test them to make sure that all the groves were on 3 inch centers.

I also grooved a few extra boards on their sides while the dado and stop blocks are set up. These will be used for making roof gables.

Then a quick sanding. This was all the sanding I did – yay.

I ripped these Swedish boards into 9/16 inch logs. Making the logs a bit skinnier than 3/4 inch leaves a little play in the logs to allow easier house building. A sharp blade made cuts that I did not have to sand.

Then to the router table with a 3/8 inch round-over. Each log received four round-over edges.

I stacked them in a tower to make sure that they worked. I threw ones that I didn’t like or ones that had knots into the bucket. These ugly ones were cut up to make 3s, 2s, and 1s, so they were not wasted.

I selected a few of the logs and split them in half. These will be used to start a house on the odd sides. Some of these get cut into 3s, 2s, and 1s.

Time to cut most of the long logs into smaller ones. I readjusted my miter fence so that the dado groove notch was 3/8 inches away from the saw blade. I then glued a thin 3/4 inch stick to a scrap of wood and inserted it through this opening. I then clamped this scrap to the miter gauge. I now was able to load up several logs that would straddle this stick. I used another scrap to make sure that they did not jump up and then I cut multiples of the 3s, 2s, and 1s.


I decided to make roof gables too and used the boards that I had stood on their edges when I routed grooves in them. First I reduced the thickness of these boards to 9/16 inch so they would fit into 3/4 inch grooves. To give an idea of how they are cut up, I drew lines on two of them. The top one will make two 3s, and the bottom one will make two 2s, and a 4 – so two bottom boards were cut per set. Not shown is the unused part of the top board can be used to make chimneys – two per set. I rough cut all these on the bandsaw.

I then tilted my miter gauge at 60 degrees and clamped a thin 3/4 inch stick vertically to it near the blade. This allowed me to slide a gable onto the stick and cut, flip and repeat. This felt very safe and the results were very nice. I used the same stick position for all three sizes of gables.

I ripped some boards into a whole bunch of sticks for use as roofing. Some of these were cross cut into 2s, and 3s. I ended up making a lot more of these sticks than in this picture.

I glued some little sticks to the gable ends. When the glue dried I sanded them smooth and did a round-over on the router table. These will help hold the roof boards up.

Done. One large set fits nicely into a plastic storage bin.

Thanks for looking,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

25 comments so far

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4547 days

#1 posted 10-15-2014 09:23 PM

Lincoln would be proud of you Steve. Nice of you to share your method here.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View degoose's profile


7284 posts in 4567 days

#2 posted 10-15-2014 09:32 PM

Now that there is different…

-- Be safe.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26643 posts in 4318 days

#3 posted 10-15-2014 10:17 PM

Nice going Steve. Those logs will live on forever!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

555 posts in 4211 days

#4 posted 10-15-2014 10:45 PM

Nice job (as usual), though you look way too young to have grand kids…

I do have a question about your setup—on the back of your mitre gauge in pictures 11 and 12 you have a triangular piece of wood clamped with a red c-clamp. What’s is this for?


View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5095 days

#5 posted 10-15-2014 10:52 PM

Hey Greg, I started having kids when I was 12 :)

That triangle is a left over from the 3 groove gables. It had a perfect slot in it for gluing in the crosscut alignment stick. This triangle scrap was then clamped to the miter gauge. I have since figured out that I could use it as a chimney.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View JL7's profile


8787 posts in 4178 days

#6 posted 10-15-2014 11:44 PM

Steve – thanks for the detailed build blog – added to the favorites for sure. This is something I would like to try one of these days… grandkids here yet, but who knows, that may change…...nice work.

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View johnhutchinson's profile


1243 posts in 2842 days

#7 posted 10-16-2014 12:09 AM

Great technique, Steve !!! I’ve also used the Swedish “mystery wood” from Home Depot. Good stuff and the price is right. When I purchased some oak dowel the other day at HD, I noticed that they were “made” in China. Wood in general must be in short supply in the US. Or maybe the US is floating logs over for milling.

As an architect, I hope that you consulted with a structural engineer, pulled the appropriate permits, followed OSHA guidelines, and had a final inspection before thinking about giving them to your grandkids. :)

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View shipwright's profile


8747 posts in 4011 days

#8 posted 10-16-2014 12:12 AM

Hey Steve, you are a machine ….. with a heart.
How cool!

Thanks for the tips.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5265 days

#9 posted 10-16-2014 01:15 AM

Super COOL technique & procedure…

I will have to Check-Out the Home Depot lumber dept for SWISS MADE lumber!! Sure looks good!
... and a very reasonable price!! Would be fun to work with…

Thank you very much!

Your Grandchildren will LOVE’em… I guess you’re going to Finish all the pieces Dark Tree Bark brown?

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Karson's profile


35278 posts in 5613 days

#10 posted 10-16-2014 02:43 AM

Steve, nice set. we made 100 sets of these at the toy workshop a couple of years ago. Some prison inmates help cut paint and put into burlap sandbags to be given to some children at Christmas.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View CFrye's profile


11352 posts in 3052 days

#11 posted 10-16-2014 06:46 AM

Thanks for the blog, Steve!

-- God bless, Candy

View lumberdustjohn's profile


1263 posts in 4379 days

#12 posted 10-16-2014 09:40 AM

Nice Blog Steve, The children will have loads of fun.
Thanks for posting.

-- Safety first because someone needs you.

View hotncold's profile


788 posts in 2757 days

#13 posted 10-16-2014 12:05 PM

Steve that is a perfectly detailed blog and a great project! I absolutely have to try this for my 4 year old grandson!!
Thanks for sharing the details and inspiration!!

-- Dennie - Tennessee

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 4097 days

#14 posted 10-16-2014 02:32 PM

I assume the rough piece is 3/4 by 3/4 before the groove?

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5095 days

#15 posted 10-16-2014 02:42 PM

Hey jerrells,

The thickness of the initial 6 inch wide board is 3/4 inch. But this thickness is not real critical. This is why the dado height is set to 3/16 (3/16×4 = 3/4).

But the ripped logs are slightly less than 3/4 inch so that they fit in the 3/4 inch dado.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

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