Fun With Cedar Logs: Rustic Cedar Log Speaking Podium for the Preacher

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 11-15-2008 11:55 PM 8346 views 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This Rustic Speaker’s Podium is not available to purchase.

If you would like something similar, please email me for more information:

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Project Story:
This story is a long way around to tell about a Podium, but the story was interesting to me, so I decided to document it.

I attend weekly, a small rural Christian non-denominational Community church. About 18 months ago the lady (Susie) that runs our Vacation Bible School at my church asked for some help with the decorations for a Rustic/Western/Cowboy style program. I can’t sing, dance, or lead a group of kids, so about all that I’m useful for in a VBS situation is for photography, decorations, and passing out food. I want to help, but I’m not that helpful. Susie knows that, and so I am eager to hear each Spring what the “Theme” will be for my behind-the-scenes projects.

Back in the Spring of 2007, Susie wanted several Rustic-Log items to use in the program, and all of it would be auctioned off at the end of the VBS. Each of the items I built would be sold and I would be given the funds from them. I don’t make much in my day-job, so my biggest struggle with volunteer work is paying bills while I do it. So, Susie’s offer to let me have the auction proceeds from my items was the encouragement I needed. So, I started making plans for a few little things with Cedar Logs.

Screeeech. Wait a minute, I’m not a Rustic Log maker of anything. That’s the first problem.

I don’t have very many tools to do rustic work with, like big augers, and big drills, and things like that, so that was the second problem.

But, the third and biggest problem was how to find “Logs” on short notice. I didn’t have any.

When Susie told me the things she wanted built, my mind quickly reeled through the major hurdles, as my head nooded, and my lips said, “I can do it!” But, on the drive home from the planning meeting, I was completely overwhelmed.

Ok, divide the problem, and conquer each step, leave the impossible stuff up to God. That about describes my business plan for my day-job work, and I decided it would work for the volunteer stuff also.

First Step, stop to Pray, ask God to work out the details that I couldn’t handle.

Ok, now the second stage was to find Logs.

Sure, I have a lot of neighbors that might pay me to go out in their pastures and cut down the Cedar Trees, but they would never be dry enough in time for the VBS program. I only had about 3 weeks.

Starting to get worried, I met a friend (Thom) at the Pizza Hut for lunch to just “talk”, and he arrived with his horse riding gear, and another couple of friends (Dan & Toni) from church who had been out with Thom moving horses around when lunch time arrived. So, we all four sat down for a Pizza Buffet, which is always good in my world.

I don’t “do” horses, they are fine with me, I just don’t need any distractions from woodworking, as it completely fills my plate, so to speak. So, I listened as we talked horses, and pizza, and what was new in the area.

The discussion came around to what I was working on in the shop, and I laid out my troubles with needing logs to help Susie with the VBS program.

The guy (Dan) that my friend (Thom) brought to eat with us just “Happened” to have a pile of cedar logs he bought at an auction when nobody else would bid on them. I was so shaken at the moment he said it, that I could hardly respond.

I really had expected God to handle the details I couldn’t, but this seemed waaaay to easy.

Dan didn’t tell me at the time, but he paid $15 for the log pile, and had been getting pretty beat up from his wife about the purchase, she seeing that he had no need for Cedar Logs. I have those same sort of conversations in my house every week, so I understood completely.

As, Dan told me about the pile of logs, he kept smiling at his wife Toni at the table, and I didn’t understand the dynamics at the time, but later put it together that he was feeling pretty good about being able to donate the Logs to the VBS program.

The logs had been cut several years earlier, and had laid out in the weather to the point that almost all of the bark was falling off. Perfect for making Rustic Log Furniture items.

Ok, God solved problem One, now onto the next problems.

So, next I bought a couple of large auger bits, and a new heavy duty electric slow-speed drill, and went to work.

I quickly found out that I needed a new chainsaw, so the cost of the “project” was starting to mount.

I need a good chainsaw anyway, as I heat my woodshop each winter with firewood. I decided to just tell my wife about the new saw when she got the credit card bill in the mail… month, and headed to the John Deere equipment place to get a new chainsaw, a Stihl if you gotta know.

For the flat boards that I needed, I just cut the logs length-wise with the chainsaw, ran them over my 12” jointer, and planed the other side. Sounds real simple, but it did take a lot of time.

But, working with the logs really was a lot of fun.

I had so much fun in fact, that I really started to get excited about trying to buy the entire pile of logs from Dan since I would surely use them for something.

Dan donated to me to use whatever logs I needed for the VBS Program, but I wanted all of them. More to that part of the story later.

On the last day before VBS started, I decided that we needed a Speaker’s Podium, so I whipped out a Log Podium in a couple of hours with the spare milled lumber and the logs I had left over.

On the last evening of the VBS program, we had a big food fest, and the auction of all the VBS items, including the Log Pieces I had built, and I think we raised about $1200 for me, can’t remember the exact details at the moment. But, I do remember claiming the income on my tax forms.

It was during that auction-dinner that I talked with Dan who had donated the Logs. I just didn’t feel right taking home the cash from the auction with him donating the logs. I decided to try and work some deal out that would settle it in my mind.

I asked if Dan would be willing to sell me the rest of the pile. He said, “No.” But, he would “trade” me for a project he had been waiting on me for about 6 months, which was an Oak Arm Rest for his Semi-Truck door.

The Semi-Truck arm rest was another of those projects that I kept putting off, and he was needing it.

So, I agreed to make the door arm rest for what was left of the cedar log pile.

It was just after our agreement was struck, that he told me that he had paid only $15 for the pile of logs at an auction. Ugh, oh well, they call that supply-demand economics, and no Government bailout was needed.

At the Auction, there was quite a bidding war over the Podium. Two people (Sara & Pastor David)wanted it, and a third guy (Warren) decided to make them really pay for it. Everyone laughed when Warren ended up being stuck with it in the end, which was pretty funny in itself. You know that type of auction-humor, you probably have to be there.

One of the other bidders was our Pastor David, and so Warren just gave David the Podium as a gift. David was thrilled and ran out with it and stuck it in the back of his “TAHOE”.

Catch that, it was a “Tahoe” he was driving, and the Podium fit nicely in the back of it.

I thought that the Auction would be the end of the Podium story….....but it wasn’t.

Pastor David is a very gifted speaker and singer and guitar player. He is so gifted in fact, that he gets a lot of requests for special speaking engagements, especially involving teenage kid groups. He’s done several Summer Camp gigs, and commencements, and other special events. And at each one, he hauls along his Rustic Podium to preach from.

Now, the trouble starts…..

With the $4.00/gallon gasoline this year, Pastor David was looking at his finances. He needed to cut some expenses, so he made the painful decision to cut loose his nice Tahoe and get a better mileage vehicle. When he was telling me about the decision he was having as hard a time saying “Taurus” as Fonzie did saying “I was wrong.” (That Fonzie reference is for the old folks that used to watch the TV show Happy Days.) But, David swallowed his pride and bought the Taurus to save some money.

He did this exchange of vehicles a couple of days before a Summer Camp speaking engagement in Colorado. He could have hauled everything in the Tahoe, including the bulky Podium, but with the gas-mizer Taurus he had to rent a trailer and tow it behind his car.

I can assure you as we all saw his new car parked out in the church parking lot with a U-Haul trailer attached, not many of us believed the little car would make it through the mountains with that trailer.

Pastor David made it out to Colorado and back from that trip without a problem, and has done several other speaking gigs where he has needed to haul the bulky Podium, and he just didn’t have room for it anymore in the small car.

I was over at his house for his 30th Birthday Party last month, and his wife was telling me about the Bulky Podium/Small Trunk problem. I mentioned that I could probably do some modifications to make it fit into a car trunk better. She told Pastor David about my statement.

This past week, Pastor David was booked to speak in Oklahoma at a Youth Event, and asked me if it would be possible to rebuild the Podium so that it would fit into his trunk. I am absolutely swamped right now with Christmas time project commissions, all of which are behind schedule, and so I really didn’t have time to do the modifications to the Podium this week. But, it seemed as though it was my responsibility to deal with. I can’t sing, dance, lead kids, or Preach, but I can help with a Podium, so I agreed to do it this week.

He came to pick it up at my house yesterday morning, and just before he was leaving I said, “wait, I didn’t tell you what this was going to cost you.” David said, “you are right, how much do I owe you?”

I told him that I wanted some photos to post with him preaching from behind the Rustic Podium.

So, this is the old Podium, rebuilt into a transportable Podium, and he is away today as I write this speaking to a large group of teens with the podium, in Oklahoma.

To make it possible to tear it down into pieces, I built four Bolts using Antlers as the T-Handles, and threaded T-Nuts. This allows Pastor David to quickly tear it apart, and put it back together.

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Thanks for reading along.
Mark DeCou

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Here are other Rustic Projects I’ve done:
  1. Fun With Cedar Logs #4: Rustic Entryway Stool
  2. Fun With Cedar Logs #3: A Sedona Desert Canyon Inspired Western Style Hat/Coat Rack
  3. Fun With Cedar Logs #2: A Rustic Impression of a Coat/Hat/Spur Rack
  4. Fun With Cedar Logs #1: A Rustic Impression of a Sitting Stool
  5. Stool-O-Marriage: A Rustic Impression of the Marriage Covenant
  6. A Naturally Twisted Walking Cane with Scrimshaw Art on Elephant Ivory of a Black Labrador Dog


Here are some Refined-Rustic Projects I’ve done:
  1. Naughty (Knotty) Refined Rustic White Oak & Black Walnut China Hutch, Antler Handles, Antique Glass
  2. Refined Rustic Dining Chairs, Lessons Learned from my First Side Chair Project
  3. Refined Rustic Dining Table in Burr Oak, for a Kansas Flint Hills Stone Home
  4. Against the Wind; A Kansa Indian and Buffalo Accent Art-Chair


Still want more?
Start with each of these links, and they will take you to other organized lists of my other niche products:

  1. Custom Knives
  2. Custom Art-Furniture I've Built
  3. Artisan Hat Making Tools
  4. Custom Walking Canes & Sticks

(this text, photos, and project design is protected by copyright 2008 by the Author, M.A. DeCou. No unauthorized use of this material is allowed without the expressed written consent of the Author.)

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

14 comments so far

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4525 days

#1 posted 11-16-2008 12:26 AM

Great story and a really neat podium.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4437 days

#2 posted 11-16-2008 12:27 AM

I am sorry to say this Mark, but I like your other projects a lot more than this one. I don’t disparage your efforts, I just find it too “informal” for it’s intended purpose, I guess (I’m not sure informal is the word I am looking for).

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2008 posts in 4968 days

#3 posted 11-16-2008 12:27 AM

It’s funny Thomas. When I was writing about not being a “horse” guy, I was thinking, “I hope T. Angle doesn’t see this.

ha, glad to have you back in the computer seat,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2008 posts in 4968 days

#4 posted 11-16-2008 12:31 AM

Thanks Rikkor, I was quite surprised to learn about the traveling use of this podium myself when I heard about it. I hadn’t even put my name on it until this week after I dressed it up a little better and added the antler t-handles. It’s fun to do things that are out of the normal work. I’m working on “dressy” Catholic church items this month, maybe that will swing things back the other direction for you.


-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4437 days

#5 posted 11-16-2008 12:32 AM

I really hope you don’t take offense. I am only expressing my taste. Your work is excellent. I just take my Churching pretty serious, and I find this a bit whimsical for that use.

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2008 posts in 4968 days

#6 posted 11-16-2008 12:43 AM

I’m not offended, that’s why they have fancy churches, and not-so-fancy churches. We all have a place to fit. The main thing I worry over is the content that is preached from a podium.

I did another church lectern last year that might help swing the balance of formal vs. informal back the other way.


-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4723 days

#7 posted 11-16-2008 12:44 AM

I like it… put a “natural” look to it…

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 4090 days

#8 posted 11-16-2008 03:40 AM

Great human story. Even simple inanimate objects carry their own history, usually forgotten. Love the flying by the seat of your pants, as it were. And great stand! I don’t think you lowered your standards, rather adapted to the situation.

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View TreeBones's profile


1828 posts in 4586 days

#9 posted 11-16-2008 04:32 AM

Totally awesome. Great project, you just couldn’t get this one past me, right down my alley. Great project start to finish, same with the documentary. Chock up another treasure for the “Treasure Chest”. Well done!

-- Ron, Twain Harte, Ca. Portable on site Sawmill Service

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4809 days

#10 posted 11-16-2008 07:30 AM

Well done my friend, the closest I’ve ever been to God was out under the stars in the wild in the middle of the night. You just can’t be beat. GB

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2008 posts in 4968 days

#11 posted 11-17-2008 07:10 PM

I’ve added more photos this morning. I’ll be back when Pastor David has some preaching photos for me to post.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View hap's profile


322 posts in 4352 days

#12 posted 11-17-2008 11:03 PM

very nice.

-- hap, gunbarrel city tx.

View scott shangraw's profile

scott shangraw

513 posts in 4632 days

#13 posted 11-17-2008 11:29 PM

As always, nice job!!!!

-- Scott NM,

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2008 posts in 4968 days

#14 posted 11-22-2008 02:01 AM

I added the photos tonight of Pastor David preaching with the Rustic Podium.


-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

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