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How to Preserve Decorative Logs

Updated February 21, 2017

If you have a non-functional fireplace or like a rustic look, you may have considered purchasing decorative logs to use as decor in your home. Sets of fake decorative logs can cost between £32 and £58 retail, however, and often look as counterfeit as they are. Craft your own real decorative logs out of wood you find in near by forests. Simply preserve the logs you find once you've dried them out, and you can use them in your home decor for several years.

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  1. Select your logs carefully, avoiding any with small, even holes; these holes indicate an insect infestation. Look for wood that isn't directly touching the ground, since insect and rot damage is more likely. Preserving your decorative logs will only be possible if your wood isn't already rotted or insect infected.

  2. Bring the logs to your workspace and cut them to your preferred length. Round the edges of your logs' cut ends, if you want, using your rasp.

  3. Sand the logs' cut ends to make them even and easy to treat. Coat the ends with oil. If the logs immediately suck up all the oil, add another coat. Your logs will be in better condition once they've dried if you complete this step at this stage in the process.

  4. Store your decorative logs in a cool, dry and clean area, away from direct sunlight. If you plan to use the logs inside an unused fireplace, you could probably go ahead and store them there. Let the logs sit undisturbed for at least one month; before you can preserve the wood, you must allow it to dry.

  5. Re-sand the ends of your logs. Fill any cracks that have formed during the drying process with wood filler. Sand away any excess filler once it has dried.

  6. Spread out a tarp across your work space and put your logs on top of it. Paint polyurethane over the upward-facing, easily accessed areas of the logs. Once the first coat has dried, turn your logs onto their coated sides so you can cover the rest of the logs.

  7. Apply several more coats of polyurethane to your logs. Extra coats will help keep the bark from flaking off while preserving the look of the bark. Once your logs have dried, they'll be preserved and ready for use as decorative logs.

  8. Tip

    Use only oil-based polyurethane for this project, since you are using treating the wood with oil beforehand.

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Things You'll Need

  • Logs
  • Axe
  • Hand sander
  • Medium grit sandpaper
  • Rasp (optional)
  • Mineral or walnut oil
  • Tarp
  • Oil-based polyurethane
  • Paintbrush, 2 inches wide

About the Author

Katherine Harder

Katherine Harder kicked off her writing career in 1999 in the San Antonio magazine "Xeriscapes." She's since worked many freelance gigs. Harder also ghostwrites for blogs and websites. She is the proud owner of a (surprisingly useful) Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas State University.

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