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Author Topic: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion  (Read 1109 times)

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Offline kantuckid

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Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« on: December 01, 2020, 02:24:23 PM »
I've been watching a few Montana Log Homes | Amish Log Builders | Meadowlark Log Homes - Meadowlark Log Homes  videos showing some of their log homes. They are an established Amish log home builder in Libby, MT with a large website and many videos of their work. Most are stack log with two peeled sides of lodgepole pine logs. They seem to mostly use a corner joint that has a V-notch which another log enters with a matching 90 degree cut, then tow screwed together. Their logs have a shallow rabbeted groove which gets a strip of foam gasket tape along with 5/8" steel pins, one per 4' or less log and every 4' in longer logs. I've seen them using DAP4000 subfloor adhesive as they stack the logs and a typical stacklog Loghog or Olylog timber screw.
I have never seen that adhesive used in stack log prior to their style build? I messaged the DAP techline and they suggested that Sashco's- Log Builder, a stretchy caulking would be the better product in that usage.
I also have never seen their style of corner.
I plan to use dovetail locking corners cut on site. I used the foam tape on my own homes build which is stack log back when it came into use in 1979 as a new product.
I'd like to hear comments on the use of various sealants between log courses in stack build. My logs will not have a T&G milled aspect but be flat top and bottom.
I have seen rebar used instead of spikes as I used on my homes build but plan to screw my current off-grid cabin logs as a better way overall than spikes. The Amish use a very stable, dry western log so I wonder why they are using the steel pins plus screws?
Kan=Kansas;tuck=Kentucky;kid=what I'm not

Offline Don P

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2020, 09:55:06 PM »
I built a couple for Wilderness that used that V and A corner notch in logs that were flattened to 8" thick, round inside and out. Looks pretty much the same as their details. They took a fair amount of fussing with the corners to blend the corners into one another then we would set the new log on the wall temporarily and scribe under and overlaps on the flats and drawknife to create slight overlaps and being sure to remove any water catching underlaps. "Drip edges not water catching ledges" While the log was on the bench I would run a power planer down the center of the underside. A flat face dries to a convex shape so this would make the log bear on the outside edges rather than on 2 center bellys. Also foam weatherstripping needs a space to live in, if you smash it flat it doesn't recover later if it needs to spring back. If you run a saw kerf down the center of the bottom it will tend to relieve a lot of checking stress there where it is not a problem.

The original owner of one log home company tried construction adhesive on his first log home and felt it didn't work well and probably increased checking. Not sure I buy that but there are probably better products to caulk with. Most people caulk by pumping caulk into a void till full. The better way is to have backer rod, foam, mylar tape or some form of bond breaker in the center of the joint this gives 2 point adhesion to the log below and the one above and a thinner unbonded center, then the caulk can flex. The thick fully bonded caulk joint can't move when it needs to so usually just detaches, seems like usually on the water gathering edge.

Driving spikes or pins works if the logs are truly straight. If one is rocking you can pound one end or the other tight but not both. Screws can pull a log down better. Even after olys and loghogs became standard we still carried a few boxes of 3/8" lags with us, more thread diameter can pull ornery ones down better. Alas they are low tensile so we popped plenty of those where the high tensile small diameter screws strip out before parting.

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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2020, 07:29:29 AM »
Thanks  for that answer.
I sort of knew you'd come through from your experience.  ;D
Thinking back to my phone call 40+ yrs ago to a rep from Norton sealants about their then new foam tapes for log home builds it focused on closed cell vs. open cell gaskets. Theirs was the one I chose and it remains pliable and rebounds even after all these years while crushed under tremendous log wall weights.
When I added a timber frame great room addition to our log home ~ 15 years ago the entry way was via removal of part of a gable end log wall between two windows as it were. I began at the edges of the entry opening and used two vertical logs as supports on the logs ends then removed the logs in between a piece at a time using a chainsaw and a sawzall. I got the chance to see the 100d- 12" spikes as I'd used along with the double gasket tape between the logs from 20+ years previous build date. it was still like new, bouncy, etc..
I know one local guy here a logger, not a builder, who used sill seal foam between his logs which I felt was a mistake, as it later proved to be given his walls leaked air.
Yesterday I talked to a guy in MT who's a non Amish sales agent for that MT log builder and he used to work on one of their crews. He said they've always used the adhesive and the A/V corners.
I'm thinking that between the foam tape and modern log wall screws the steel pins & adhesive are un-needed. I also think I'll not use any caulk/chinking exterior wise until the build has sat for a few years on my current project. Hopefully I'll be around to do that part. 
The local saw miller I'm buying most of my EWP wall logs from was a former partner in a log home business(they aged out), mostly from scratch. He says they never used the adhesive but did incorporate springs and various jacks to accommodate log wall settling near windows & doors. I used headspace above openings in my home.
I once visited a build site in N KY the 1970's of a kit going up using the all thread log walls that went up in bolted together sections.
The SYP logs in my home have presented zero air infiltration issues. They have two natural sides so very little checking or twisting.
The main looming problem IMO is the periodic re-finishing of the logs to keep it all healthy. The MT Amish builders use a 4' roof overhang at the gables but given their in Libby, MT I get that as a feature for that area. I'm sticking with 2' on all sides.
The MT Amish use only what looks to be ~ a 1 1/4-1 1/2" wide routed strip in the logs center for a 1" foam gasket. Their logs are  mostly forest fire logs, not beetle kill logs as I'd thought and air dried before under roof pre-construction then transport to final assembly.
Kan=Kansas;tuck=Kentucky;kid=what I'm not

Offline kantuckid

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2020, 02:16:35 PM »
I don't own a power hand planer. To follow the notion explained above, that creating a shallow groove in the bottom flat face of each log will help create a concave surface as log dries & localize checking:
I am thinking why not do the exact opposite of the Amish MT builder Meadowlark Log homes by running a router using a dado bit ~ 1.25 or 1.5" dia., set ~ 1/4" deep down the center of the underneath flat (not the top as they do) and use either one or two runs of foam gasket near each edge of the log.
Their top side flat approach seems less effective to me as it doesn't have as much advantage of gravity? 
My handheld routers would pull no more amps on my generator than a planer I'd have to buy and easy to control the cut as well. 
When Sashco tech guy calls me back I'll hear his take on using Log Builder caulk as applied to my stack log flats.
 At this time I lean toward the groove underneath and two runs of closed cell foam gasket combined with log screws at 2' intervals, no steel pins. 
Kan=Kansas;tuck=Kentucky;kid=what I'm not

Offline Don P

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2020, 05:18:26 PM »
The wider you can make that relief groove the better. I'd run double that width. I think you'll be doing good to go 1/8 deep per pass swinging that bit, which is about all I did with the power planer.
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Offline firefighter ontheside

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2020, 05:49:45 PM »
My home is a Senty log homes build.  Swedish cope with chainsaw carved v and w sort of notch.  Fiber glass is laid in the notch before the logs are stacked.  The logs are 99% touching along every joint.  Corners are a scarfed saddle notch with neoprene foam sandwiched.  On the outside I ran a bead of Big Stretch caulk.  It has held up well for 20 years and is still pliable.

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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2020, 10:02:57 AM »
Nice home indeed! I've never learned nor had a chance to do cope logs. I have read that wool rope is better than fiberglass when looking at other products suitable for my own log walls. Maybe someday an archeologist will dissect yours and my home and make miraculous discoveries? :D 
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2020, 10:07:45 AM »
The wider you can make that relief groove the better. I'd run double that width. I think you'll be doing good to go 1/8 deep per pass swinging that bit, which is about all I did with the power planer.
I think I have a 1/2" bit that's even wider? Big drawer full, I'll check. 
In my own home as I sit and look at log ends crossing indoors, I see very few splits and zero are enough to matter at all. Same outside on peeled surfaces. My main enemy in recent years has been the wood bee which I sat on the porch and shot at in the beginning with a .22 pistol. :D Now I trap them try to dowel up their babies and spray serious stuff on my walls. This summer I had my gable ends wrapped in matching steel to our new standing seam metal roof. I suspect that really *pithed off some bees?
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Offline firefighter ontheside

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2020, 11:15:48 AM »
Yeah the carpenter bees are a problem.  They seem to leave my log walls alone for the most part, but like to bore into my log purlins where they make the roof extension on the gable ends.  I forgot to mention that my logs are all bolted together with long threaded rod all the way thru the walls.  In the basement there are springs on the ends and I had to tighten nuts on them for about 5 years until the logs had stopped shrinking.
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2020, 08:19:47 AM »
The wider you can make that relief groove the better. I'd run double that width. I think you'll be doing good to go 1/8 deep per pass swinging that bit, which is about all I did with the power planer.
In looking at large 1/2" shank router bits my largest is too small to be useful based on your 3" wide suggestion. On Amazon I see CNC spoilboard bits that run up to 3" dia but that's bigger than I want to run on a hand held router for sure. I saw some bits, cheapo Chinese versions, that area surface planing bits and around 2" diam. I've never been into using a router to plane a slab but thats the use these seem to be getting in the wood slab frenzy going on now. 
A brand name used power planer may make more sense for a log ? 
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2020, 08:23:28 AM »
Yeah the carpenter bees are a problem.  They seem to leave my log walls alone for the most part, but like to bore into my log purlins where they make the roof extension on the gable ends.  I forgot to mention that my logs are all bolted together with long threaded rod all the way thru the walls.  In the basement there are springs on the ends and I had to tighten nuts on them for about 5 years until the logs had stopped shrinking.
The traps really do work! Mine are designed after a web pic I saw. I used 4" sq red cedar as it's the wood bees natural wood of choice. You drill an upward angled hole 3/8" dia that connects with a 1" dia hole that goes out the lower end. I fastened pint canning jar lids onto my wood block then they fill up the jars. Hundreds of them! i put a wood fastening block on top to screw into a false rafter, etc..
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Offline Don P

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2020, 08:44:29 AM »
A power planer is going to be faster and safer. Hand held routers with big bits is not a safe thing and very hard on the router. I've been through I think 3 little Makita's over the years and grabbed a DeWalt this time, I think it had another amp or two. It seized a cutter end bearing last winter but I replaced it and its still running but probably on borrowed time. Mine do get seriously abused in remodel work, they find old nails and lots of yuck. They are underpowered so a couple of light cuts is better than a full depth plow, sharp blades pay. I keep a carpenters pencil in my back pocket to clear clogs. Keep the fan inlet clear as well, they all seem to have trouble ejecting chips.
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2020, 08:50:13 AM »
My hand held 1/2 router is a Milwaukee good one and got it out yesterday to groove some walnut in a furniture project. it sits up[side down in a small table, not my big table. The bearing was noisy so I blew it out and thendosed it with molybendeum magic lube powder and motorcycle chain lube then blew that into the bearing and wala! it smoothed out. 
I see some buys on ebay for hand held planers, lightly used stuff in brand names. 
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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2020, 06:23:15 PM »
I've put up 4 traps that I made with similar design using plastic gatorade bottles.  In several years I have caught one bee.   My bees must be smarter than yours.
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2020, 06:29:46 PM »
Most of the dozen or so traps I have up will fill the jar. I use a solid cap on a pint mason jar but the tops rust out over a few years. I need a better top lid? Lots of designs use gatorade or water btls but I think my choice is the least ugly of all ugly choices. The little 8!@#%^&* will tunnel out when you dowel them in the larval hole. 
They really like EWP! I have a dry stack of 4x6 beams and they chew on them every year-hard to say what will be left when I fetch them for my cabin project this spring? I should have sprayed those beams.
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Offline Don P

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2020, 07:04:17 PM »
The future is a foreign country, they will do things differently there - Simon Winchester

Offline kantuckid

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2020, 07:21:51 AM »
I use a commercial spray but they are a tough pest. The Beegone is sold by log home supply houses.
What' s weird too me is that the wood bees went from a not often seen pest to a serious one? I've mentioned this before, but the first ones I ever saw were in mid 1960's in KS where I lived in an "A"-frame cabin on the banks of the Kaw River. The cabin was set on creosote poles that carried 3 large western cedar beams the length of the base. I saw this sawdust drifting through the air one day and became aware of wood bees. Bumble bees, their sort of look alike cousins, I unfortunately had met by getting stung in the upper back-ouch!
BTW, PT wood is no match for them as they'll bore (mostly) in any soft woods like pine, cedar, poplar, etc.. They have never bored in the hemlock I have behind my gutters on my timberframe room addition. 
I have not seen one bore in oak as yet or steel... 

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2020, 04:52:53 PM »
Asking how long a DeWalt cordless 20v planer will run on a battery- doing pine at full cut, both depth and width? 
Trying to decide if I want to operate on the generator with a 110v tool or cordless. Big difference in cost but I will use it off grid. 
Porter-Cable is the cheaper name brand in 110v @ $79.  Bosch seems to be popular in lower priced models @ $140. Saw one Bosch German made tool, a well priced pro model tool. Freud sells a 7.5 amp version and several cheap used ones available. 
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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2021, 03:54:24 PM »
The wider you can make that relief groove the better. I'd run double that width. I think you'll be doing good to go 1/8 deep per pass swinging that bit, which is about all I did with the power planer.
Don, would you run a kerf alongside the bottom for 2 sided logs? Or does keeping the top and bottom live edge reduce checking on its own?
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Offline Don P

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2021, 06:56:12 PM »
It does but it also guarantees the check will be on a face, not on the live edge. The shortest and easiest (weakest in tension perpendicular to grain) path for a shrinkage check to form is from the skimmed face to the heart.
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Stack Log Construction Techniques Discussion
« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2021, 08:53:26 AM »
Sort of related: I saw some two sided pine wall logs for sale on FB marketplace from an unbuilt log home kit in storage. They appear to be machine peeled, , 6" thick and all same diameters with a right angle V-groove centered on the top and bottom flats that's about a 3/4 to 1" wide & deep. 
I suppose they use a foam rod in that groove?
Just mentioning here based on  the grooved aspect. 

I have no interest in them as too many and too much $$$ too-plus I don't like their "look" anyway. 
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