Homemade Cant Hook and Optional Log Lifter

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A Cant Hook is a tool used to roll a log. A Cant Hook is great for handling logs, cants and beams around the sawmill and rolling logs when cutting firewood. I use it exclusively for the latter. For example you cut half way through a log, and to avoid hitting the dirt with the chainsaw you roll the log halfway, and complete the cut(s). You can use it to reorient a log by moving only one end etc.

I made one using this design a few years ago and have corrected some problems before making this one for this instructable. This design has held up well.

I got it into my head to make one back in the day when these cost over $100. They can be had for less now but with scavenged parts this came in at around $4. For me the original delay in making one was finding a substitute for one critical piece. A cant hook typically has a curved part with a hook on the end. I wasn't going to heat and bend a piece of metal, and a cold piece of metal bent would just unbend when used. One day I recognized a piece of a garage door opener that could serve the purpose, and it has.

This cant hook design has served me well on logs over 30" in diameter. I try to avoid larger logs because of the size of my chainsaw.

Since starting this instructable I came up with an attachment to add to this project to allow the cant hook to be used as a log lifter/log jack. This would be used to lift the log a few inches off the ground for cutting. It lessens the chance of hitting the ground with the chain saw chain. This begins at Step 5.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

The critical part for me was identifying the J-bar that connects an automatic overhead garage door opener to the garage door as a part I needed. In the photo above the J-bar is shaped more like an "L". What I also use is the straight bar that is typically attached to the J-bar but substitutions for that could be improvised. Two of the J-bars are needed for the cant hook. (I tried with only one and it was unsatisfactory.) Only one of the straight pieces is needed. Most new door openers come with these so find two door openers being replaced and ask for these (old or new) or go to an overhead door installer and there should be a pile of used discarded parts including these for the taking, after asking permission. There is remarkable consistency between the J-bars of many opener brands over many years. Try to get two for which the holes match up and save a lot of drilling. This Instructable assumes that the two you use match.

Read this instructable and you will see that a lot of parts can be substituted out with the exception of the J-bar. I would not recommend going smaller on the pipe. A lot of leverage is needed to roll some logs and a smaller pipe may result in a bent pipe.

Parts:

  • 2 - J-bars (as described above)
  • 1 - straight piece (as described above) 5 holes in one end and 3 at the other
  • 1 - 1 5/8" x 5' length of galvanized pipe (buy or get from a discarded chain link fence)
  • 2 - 1 5/8" chain link fence Galvanized Brace Band ($1.57 each at Home Depot or get from a discarded chain link fence)

  • 1 - 2 3/4" x 2" piece of 1/4" thick steel (I used a chunk of scrap angle iron)
  • 1 - 1/2 x 2" bolt and nut
  • Some washers with at least 3/8' holes to be used as spacers. Total space needed about 1/4"
  • 6 - 3/8 x 1-1/2" bolts and nuts with at least 1 nylon lock nut

    Substitutions of these can be made but since the existing holes in the J-bars are 3/8" the 3/8" bolts are easiest

Tools

  • electric drill with 3/8" and 1/2" bits
  • saw to cut metal, e.g., hacksaw, angle grinder with cutting disk, band saw, etc.
  • bench grinder or angle grinder (or I suppose a file) to put a point on the 3/4 x 2" bolt
  • wrenches for the nuts and bolts
  • hammer and tapered punch that can open a 3/8" hole (optional)

Step 2: Create a Point for the J-bars

Place the rectangular piece of steel between the J-bars so that it blocks the last two holes in the J-bars. Mark where the holes need to be drilled through the metal and also draw/trace a line like in the photo. This will form a sharp point that will grab the log. Drill the two 3/8" holes and cut along the traced lines to get the results as shown.

Step 3: Drill J-bar for Rigidity

There are already 2 holes in the short leg of the J-bar but I prefer they be further apart for rigidity so I drill a third hole. The new hole needs to line up with a hole of the straight bar as shown in the picture. Place the straight piece on top of one of the J-bars and line up the one existing hole with a bolt through them. Then mark and drill the new hole using the straight piece for the exact location. Repeat for the other J-bar.

Step 4: Put a Point on the Bottom of the Handle Piece

Grind a point on the threaded end of the 1/2 x 2" bolt.This point will also stick into and grab the log.

Drill a 1/2" hole through the pipe about 1" from the end of the pipe. This will be the "bottom" end of the handle.

Put the pointed bold through the pipe and put the nut on and tighten.

Step 5: Assemble

Use 3/8" bolts in the two drilled holes to fasten the cut point between the J-bars with the point facing towards the inside of the J. See Step 2 for the correct orientation.

Attach the straight piece to the J-bar using the existing hole and the drilled hole. See Step 3 for the correct orientation.There will be some of the straight piece past the J-bar. I left this for future adjustment but I have not needed to make any adjustments.

There is a hole at about the middle of the long legs of both J-bars. I chose to put a bolt through there with a nut between the J-bars to provide some rigidity. See the first picture above.

Slip a Galvanized Brace Band over the top of the handle and slide it until its about 12" from the point at the bottom of the handle. The non-J-bar end of the straight piece will be mounted on the brace band. The brace band holes are not quite big enough to take a 3/8" bolt. I chose to open the hole just a tad with a tapered punch. You could also try to drill it out with the 3/8" bit or use a smaller bolt. Repeat with another brace band and slide it so it covers the first brace band doubling them up. I tried using only one brace band and it is not strong enough. Put the end of the straight piece in between the holes of the brace bands and use washer(s) to fill the gap on the side(s) of the straight piece so it fits snug when the bolt through the whole thing is tightened. It must be tightened enough so the brace band does not slide on the handle but loose enough that the end of the straight piece is free to swing. Use the nylon lock nut.

Get log rolling.

Advance to the next step to make an optional log lifter attachment.

Step 6: Add on Log Lifter - Parts and Tools

There seem to be 2 types of door opener J-bars, the one we have used so far in this instructable and another which is roughly the same but with about equal length legs. This second type is what I used for the log lifter. If you only have the first type you should be able to cut and modify them for this purpose.

Parts:

  • 2 - J-bars (as described above)
  • 2 - pieces of 1/8" thick x 2" wide x 2" long on one leg and 3 1/2" long on the other leg
  • 3 - 1/4" x 1 3/4" bolts and nuts
  • 2 - set of 1/2" spacers/washers to fit the 1/4" bolts
  • washers to fine tune spacing if needed

Tools:

  • appropriate wrenches
  • hammer
  • bench or angle grinder or hand file if some fudging is needed

Step 7: Assemble the Lifter

The J-bars will be doubled up for strength. One of the legs of J-bars will have 4 holes. These are the legs that will have bolts through them. As illustrated there will be bolts through this leg only. The 1/2" spacers/washers will be placed between the J-bars and secured with the bolts. I was using spare angle iron I had laying around. These already had holes drilled in them. If you are not so lucky then drill a 1/4" or larger hole centered in one leg of each angle iron such that they match and align with each other. The size of the angle iron can diverge from what I have used but if you do choose other specifications understand that that these "feet" are subjected to a lot of lateral and vertical forces when lifting big logs. You will also be likely lifting logs on soft soil. Do not use lighter thickness metal, and retain or exceed the area contacting the ground to prevent it from sinking in too far.

The first illustration shows the parts loosely assembled for clarity. The second shows the same after tightening.

The point on the bottom of the cant handle already goes through he center of the pipe as shown in the third photo of this step. The unbolted leg of the lifter assembly goes in this end of the cant handle with the J-bars of the lifter assembly straddling the point's bolt. The bolted leg of the lift assembly faces away from the cant arm.

This can be secured with a few taps of a hammer. It can be removed the same way. The bonus of the taper of the lift assembly legs and the roundness of the pipe is that with a few taps the assemble is very secure. This provides easy and quick conversion from cant to lifter and vice versa.

If you have trouble inserting the lift assembly legs in the cant pipe it is probably because the point's bolt was not exactly centered. I know this from experience. Solve this problem by removing material from the J-bar that deserves it, using a grinder or file.

Get lifting.

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    7 Discussions

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    UkeDog

    10 days ago

    Nice...I particularly liked that welding was not required!
    Cant say enough about that!

    1 reply
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    andyboyUkeDog

    Reply 10 days ago

    I hear you. I was thinking of including for tools, , CNC machine, 3D printer, plasma cutter, etc. but the humor might not be appreciated. Instructables have raised the bar lately. I mentioned that this project came to fruition when I discovered the J-bar. Although I could have, I was not about to heat and bend a straight bar, and just bending a bar is not practical because it becomes weaker. I also could have welded but chose not to.

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    Jacob36

    13 days ago

    Brilliant! These things are still expensive and hard to find.

    1 reply
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    andyboyJacob36

    Reply 13 days ago

    I had always thought them over priced so I made do with a lever and fulcrum with mixed results.

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    jimvandamme

    13 days ago

    I don't have any L shaped pieces of metal, but I do have a welder.