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Author Topic: Log building  (Read 1091 times)

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Offline Mainecoast

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Log building
« on: September 26, 2021, 07:30:02 PM »
Howdy,

Iíve been interested in learning log building for years. I picked up a book by Allen Mackie. Itís pretty sweet and I havenít actually gone page by page and absorbed it all yet. I also learn very quickly hands on..is there anyone around Maine who is building one of these I could help with? Iím around the bar harbor area. Maybe I just need to put the sweat n blood (men donít cry right?) into my own small cabin to get this going. 

I built a timber frame pavilion a few years ago and I canít recall it being super challenging. Iím a builder/cabinet maker so I have some experience with being finicky.

Iím just curious if anyone has insight into this?

I grew up in a log cabin way up north. Chainsaw and axe marks all over the place. It wasnít scribed together or anything fancy. Just rope chinking and some chainsawed saddle joints. It was really cool as a kid and now when I go back I notice all those chainsaw marks and loose joints. 

Iíd really like to build the old time hunting cabins. Short walls, log purlins sticking way out over the porch. Figured someone would have some input.

Thanks!

Online doc henderson

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Re: Log building
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2021, 05:39:14 AM »
sounds neat, and you are young enough to pull it off.  I do not have the knowledge you seek.  but others will chime in.  I will follow.
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Offline Mainecoast

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Re: Log building
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2021, 07:21:49 AM »
I think Iím young enough! 32..weíre about to finish up our cabins down here on the coast...not timber framed or logs but simple artistic camps. Then weíre heading back north. 

Offline jake pogg

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Re: Log building
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2021, 11:22:36 AM »
I've been building with logs for a couple decades +,and been doing this current project since May.
It's the first time i use any sort of squared-off "logs",and do Not recommend it.
I'm far from Maine(unfortunately,i love Maine,and could really use some help:)),and am racing the season here,so have not much time for the internet.
But may try to answer some questions,if maybe you can be more specific?



 

 

This place is an L-shape,36'x28' main part,8'x14' mud-room on front.
I've been doing it all by myself,using a forklift,and lately a boom-truck,7-4T.
Can't say that it was easy,and yes,if possible,join an ongoing project before you start your own,if at all possible.
"You can teach a pig anything,it just takes time;but what's time to a pig?"
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Offline jake pogg

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Re: Log building
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2021, 11:40:30 AM »
But yes,like a friend(a Very experienced old builder)said:"To build with logs you just have to be smarter than a log".

It's true,it ain't rocket science.
BUT,you must Think,and do a good job of that,to plan and foresee things,and that'd be your most valuable tool.

"You can teach a pig anything,it just takes time;but what's time to a pig?"
Mark Twain

Offline Don P

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Re: Log building
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2021, 05:03:16 PM »
It looks like you're going to be dry before winter, good job!
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Re: Log building
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2021, 01:33:04 AM »
It looks like you're going to be dry before winter, good job!
Don,thank you,i SO wish you may be right!
But i don't hold out too much hope for it,the time is running out,and i'm ever so slow.
Two days ago i milled the last of my logs and remnants,but all my material is in 2x8's,and i'm edger-less,ripping everything to size on a tablesaw.
Also,there's been an expensive,time and materials-wise,redesign:I'm now raising the back half of the house by a 4'-5'-ish tall pony wall,and have modified my truss jig to the scissor config.
In short,a framed half-story on top of the back half of the logs.
It Is an indulgence,but a really humble one,the whole place is barely 1000 sq,and these extra couple hundred of attic,essentially,space is not extravagant by any means...But it'll probably sink us for finishing before winter.
I'm ok with that,as i've grown very fond of the project,and would rather see it done right-er vs sooner...
A few days ago,as i was starting on this first batch of trusses i  got a gentle reminder to wrap up...the first gentle nudge... 
 

  
"You can teach a pig anything,it just takes time;but what's time to a pig?"
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Offline firefighter ontheside

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Re: Log building
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2021, 07:16:49 AM »
There are many ways to build log homes.  What will you be looking to do...full scribed, chinked, milled?  My home is full scribed with saddle notches, all done by hand.  It was built in Minnesota and then disassembled and trucked to Missouri where we re-assembled it.  I helped to put it back up, but I didn't have anything to do with the scribing and notching.  I then finished the rest of the project essentially myself with help from some friends.

There have to be some log home companies in the area.  Reach out to them and ask to come tour their yard.
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Offline jander3

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Re: Log building
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2021, 12:16:49 PM »
Built the Stump Ranch a while back.  1 guy, chainsaw and axe. Hand Scribed.

https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=33283.0


 


Offline barbender

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Re: Log building
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2021, 03:13:58 PM »
My log building was an epic "fail", did not complete. Let too many other things get in the way of the project and the logs went bad sitting there. So dont do it that way😁
Too many irons in the fire

Offline firefighter ontheside

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Re: Log building
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2021, 06:29:56 PM »
Looks nice @jander3 Looks like red pine like my home from Grand Marais MN.
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Offline beenthere

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Re: Log building
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2021, 06:37:51 PM »
Built the Stump Ranch a while back.  1 guy, chainsaw and axe. Hand Scribed.

https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=33283.0

(Image hidden from quote, click to view.)
 

(Image hidden from quote, click to view.)
How is the Stump Ranch doing? Some update pics would be great to see (or is this one ?). 
Enjoyed going along with you on that build back in the day.
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Log building
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2021, 09:19:36 AM »
In 1979-80 when I self built our log home I was 37 and a strong healthy feller. I had strong tool skills with wood but a log build greenie. Between books and other printed materials stolen from kit companies, and builder observations I pulled it off while working FT at my tech school with my wife entertaining three babies under 3 yrs old and a lack of MONEY! 
Fast forward to now and my off grid cabin is in slow motion between weather extremes, dead tractor, dying MIL, more bad weather, can't find any labor and my age and other realities. But I'm still pushing wood around and found a 15 yr old kid to try out soon. The one before him was afraid to climb a ladder, plus unsafe and so on. maybe this time I'll find a worker bee? A huge chestnut oak fell on/around my joists pile under a tarp and a huge branch/top section needs pulled away from a tree it lodged against but looks like it'll fall on a big hornets nest- life in the woods is interesting?  ;D
Have fun !

 
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Offline Stephen1

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Re: Log building
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2021, 11:09:57 AM »
Mainecoast, Your young enough for sure. I was 3 years in my back yard scribing the logs for the cabin on the left. 15 years getting it all finnished, so that when my ex left me, I had a home to live in. It has a basement with washroom and sauna, a loft bedroom and 1 room kitchen living room dinning room. 
B. Allen Mackie is the go to books for "full scribe". He brought back the skill. A book by Dan Milne was my starter book, the pictures and description for scribing was what convinced me I could do it.   I am sure there area lot of other good books on it now.  And of course UTUBE. 
My place has chansaw and axe marks and then I discover the 4" grinder with a #30 grit sanding disk.
I did mine with a 170 STHIL and a 2" chisel, a good swedish axe,  and a Scribe from Lee Valley Tools. 
It took on average 8 hrs to scribe and set each log, so the bigger the logs, the less time spent. I have 55 logs in my cabin. 
Ask lots of questions or take a log building course. At each course there will always be 1-2 guys actually building a place that you can go help with. That is the other way you get volunteers to help build your place, take the course, meet like people and ask them to come help you build yours.
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Offline barbender

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Re: Log building
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2021, 03:02:23 PM »
Iirc I have a lot of pics in my gallery of my log shell/failed build. I would say the biggest considerations with a log building are time management, and moving things. Conventional building there isn't much you can't throw over your shoulder and carry. Not going to happen with a 50' 18" diameter log😊 Design your house so that it minimizes the need for really long logs. I had a wall with a 36' run, that required 40' logs. Once you get a string line on all of those nice straight logs you thought you had, you realize that straightness was an optical illusion😊 But by using shorter length walls in your design, and using shorter pieces between doors and windows, you can really cut down on the number of long ones needed. 
  If you look at log houses built around 100 years or more ago (or prior to the resurgence of log homes in the 70's) you'll notice that the logs they used were a lot smaller. That wasn't because they didn't have big ones available, it was because those were the size that could be moved by manpower. Just things to consider🤦🏻‍♂️
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Offline Stephen1

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Re: Log building
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2021, 03:30:30 PM »
BB is exctly correct. My logs i could handle by myself,  but I couldn't lift them by myself. Parbuckle up to scribe, and parbucle down to carve, up and down . While I was building i remember reading the average log in a log home gets handled 17 times. From when it is cut down to finnally in the wall.
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Offline Coastallogger

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Re: Log building
« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2021, 12:39:40 PM »
BB is exctly correct. My logs i could handle by myself,  but I couldn't lift them by myself. Parbuckle up to scribe, and parbucle down to carve, up and down . While I was building i remeber rading the average log in a log home gets handled 17 times. From when it is cut down to finnally in the wall.
I am avoiding the full scribe method mainly due to time and the fact that I donít have machinery to handle the logs for me, and I want to minimize handling and time spent on the project generally.
I am going with dovetail so nothing needs to be scribed or fitted. The notches are layed out with math. 
So in theory, I can fell the tree, cut it to length on the spot, mill the sides off on the spot with my edging mill, move it out of the woods, get it on a cart and hand tow it to the sawhorses, get it on the horse, peel it, and cut the notches, then hoist it directly in place, handling it twice only.

Would you say that method would save a lot of time compared to full scribe?
Building 20X20 dovetail log cabin off grid.

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Re: Log building
« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2021, 07:19:30 PM »
that sounds like more than twice.   :)  go for it.
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Offline Mainecoast

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Re: Log building
« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2021, 08:17:08 PM »


Do you think a log loader or small crane truck would be best? Once in awhile I see midsize international crane trucks for sale around 6-9k..Iíd really like to incorporate some log building into my business. Thinking about building high quality but remote cabins way up north. So I could handle the logs with the crane load my tools, logs, supplies and my son and I head out to the forest for a while. Probably pre build the cabin at home. 

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Re: Log building
« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2021, 09:17:12 PM »
Most profesionally built log homes are built in the back yard/shop yard . They are then taken apart and moved to the permanent location. 
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Re: Log building
« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2021, 01:35:36 AM »
Your site will have an effect on what you need for lifting. There is a wealth of knowledge out there on rigging for gin poles and other low tech overhead lifting/block and tackle set ups. A crane is great but who can afford a decent quality machine when a log house project often is about cutting costs and getting back to the land? Look in my photo gallery, I made a redneck hoist that I moved with my atv and lifted some surprisingly large logs. Maybe I should've patented "Barbender's Mobile ATV Carry Lift Crane" but I never got around to it😁
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Offline Don P

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Re: Log building
« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2021, 07:10:07 AM »
Most boom trucks would not have the reach to take a log over a wall and set it across the house on the opposite wall. If you can't drive all the way around it I'd think twice. I like to think I'm a fairly quick study but more than once I've put a tire in the fill. If you have a load up and put a tire on soft ground beside the house it gets exciting.
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Re: Log building
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2021, 07:21:35 AM »
that sounds like more than twice.   :)  go for it.
For sure it would be depending on how one defines a handling.

I would consider a handling a significant move. So one handling from where it falls to the sawhorse/trestle. Then hoisted directly from the sawhorse to its place in the wall.
Everyone else I see seems to peel their logs, then handle them onto a crib, then they rummage through the crib for the right size log for where they are in the project, and haul it back out of the crib back to a spot where it can be hoisted.
Of course, having all your logs felled, peeled, and stacked in one place would make the walls go up faster once they start going up, but it seems like it makes the whole project go slower due to how many times one has to handle them for that method. But of course there is always a factor I am not thinking of. Is there a good reason for doing things that way that I am not considering?
Building 20X20 dovetail log cabin off grid.

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Re: Log building
« Reply #23 on: October 06, 2021, 07:41:48 AM »

So in theory, I can fell the tree, cut it to length on the spot, mill the sides off on the spot with my edging mill, move it out of the woods, get it on a cart and hand tow it to the sawhorses, get it on the horse, peel it, and cut the notches, then hoist it directly in place, handling it twice only.

well I did a smiley face.   :)  sounds great and I was referring to your narrative and the list of processes.  so I guess it depends on what you definition of "handle" is.  you sound ambitious.  so it may only seem like twice to you.  I was having a little fun as an old guy.  cheers!  keep us in the loop, and will like to see pictures.  I agree with only moving the logs as is needed.
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Re: Log building
« Reply #24 on: October 06, 2021, 07:49:27 AM »
you might fill out your profile and it will let us put things into perspective, age, general location, experience.  are you doing this by yourself, or do you have a crew.  I like the idea of one log at a time.  but you will have to change gears from logging to peeling, to cutting joints.  I think you can try it, and if you find it more efficient, you may then alter your process to maybe doing 5 logs at a time for the felling and say, side milling.  just thinking out loud.  you will not know until you try.  sounds like a fun challenge.  for the record I am not a log/cabin builder.
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Re: Log building
« Reply #25 on: October 06, 2021, 07:51:42 AM »

So in theory, I can fell the tree, cut it to length on the spot, mill the sides off on the spot with my edging mill, move it out of the woods, get it on a cart and hand tow it to the sawhorses, get it on the horse, peel it, and cut the notches, then hoist it directly in place, handling it twice only.

well I did a smiley face.   :)  sounds great and I was referring to your narrative and the list of processes.  so I guess it depends on what you definition of "handle" is.  you sound ambitious.  so it may only seem like twice to you.  I was having a little fun as an old guy.  cheers!  keep us in the loop, and will like to see pictures.  I agree with only moving the logs as is needed.
Appreciate it. Good to hear I am not crazy thinking of doing it this way. I always get suspicious of my method when I donít see anybody else doing it that way.
For sure I am ambitious. Want to do it without a tractor or ATV as well. Not sure if I am TOO ambitious. Time will tell. Would rather be humbled than lazy. Will keep you folks updated. The first tree falls in just a couple of weeks. 
Building 20X20 dovetail log cabin off grid.

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Re: Log building
« Reply #26 on: October 06, 2021, 08:12:40 AM »
Stephen1- I like youíre method. Itís what Iíve been striving to do for a few years now. But I keep on taking on conventional building projects or cabinets and then another year goes by and no log building has been done. Iíd love to cut in the work yard..load up and deliver to the site. Iím also thinking hybrid buildings would be desirable..traditional walls and a timber or log roof. 

There is a log builder down the road about 45 minutes. They have a small crew and full scribe the cabins..I havenít reached out to them yet because Iím not sure I can take the pay cut to go get a ďjobĒ but maybe 6 months would teach me enough. 

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Re: Log building
« Reply #27 on: October 06, 2021, 08:14:07 AM »
Thanks. I did it.

I will get a social going on at some point for the build and will link it there.
Building 20X20 dovetail log cabin off grid.

Offline Joe Hillmann

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Re: Log building
« Reply #28 on: October 07, 2021, 10:18:30 AM »

I am avoiding the full scribe method mainly due to time and the fact that I donít have machinery to handle the logs for me, and I want to minimize handling and time spent on the project generally.
I am going with dovetail so nothing needs to be scribed or fitted. The notches are layed out with math.
So in theory, I can fell the tree, cut it to length on the spot, mill the sides off on the spot with my edging mill, move it out of the woods, get it on a cart and hand tow it to the sawhorses, get it on the horse, peel it, and cut the notches, then hoist it directly in place, handling it twice only.

Would you say that method would save a lot of time compared to full scribe?
I am doing something similar, but I promise, that will feel like way more than two steps.  I am cutting the trees, dragging them to the mill, bucking them to length, lining them up with the mill, rolling them on to the mill, milling them, peeling it(depending on the time of year this can take minutes per 30 foot log or hours).  Once milled, I move them to a trailer or the ground, from there to the pile to dry.
In your case you would pile them directly onto the house.  But that requires all your logs being from the same place and close to where you are building.
Trees aren't as straight as they appear.  A tree that looks straight as a gun barrel may have a 10 inch bend it it end to end so you will have to cut it into two shorter logs to make it work between windows instead of as your first full length log.  They have rot you can't see from the ground, they may get to be too small of diameter as you get to the very end.
I have about 12 logs that I have a specific spot for.  The rest are just going to be puzzle fitted into place where they work the best between windows and doors.  When I was in the woods I just cut the longest straightest sections I could with what I had to work with.
And the biggest reason (for me) not to build it as I cut the logs is time.  It took me a bit over a year (I started August 9, 2020 and just covered my finished milled log pile in the middle of September 2021)  I would assume if I was also building the cabin at the same time I could double that time frame.  I would be very concerned about my lower courses of logs, and my first floor floor joists being exposed to the weather for 2+ years.  Some of my logs were exposed through the winter and just now got covered, it really bothered me for them to be exposed throughout the summer, they darkened, didn't dry and began growing mushrooms. I am working full time and then some so if you average it out over the entire year I probably was only able to work on the cabin for 2 hours a day(712 hours total).  If I had a few months off of work I could have made much faster progress.
By the time I have the cabin built I figure I will have moved each log by hand 10 plus times.  I also figure what I took out of the woods was over 100,000 pounds, what I have in my stacked pile now is about 70,000 pounds and once it is all dry it will be closer to 40,000 pounds.  That is a lot of weight to move,  The only time it wasn't moved totally by hand was from the woods to the log pile, my tractor and winch did that.
Drying all the logs first has given me time to change my plans based on what I have learned while working on them and based on what material I finally end up with.  If you start building from day one your logs have to match the plan instead of the plan matching the logs, which can be a good or bad thing. 
When I am stacking my logs on the cabin the logs should weigh half of what they weigh now, and the final shrinkage once the cabin is built should be less.

Offline Coastallogger

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Re: Log building
« Reply #29 on: October 07, 2021, 02:56:14 PM »

I am avoiding the full scribe method mainly due to time and the fact that I donít have machinery to handle the logs for me, and I want to minimize handling and time spent on the project generally.
I am going with dovetail so nothing needs to be scribed or fitted. The notches are layed out with math.
So in theory, I can fell the tree, cut it to length on the spot, mill the sides off on the spot with my edging mill, move it out of the woods, get it on a cart and hand tow it to the sawhorses, get it on the horse, peel it, and cut the notches, then hoist it directly in place, handling it twice only.

Would you say that method would save a lot of time compared to full scribe?
I am doing something similar, but I promise, that will feel like way more than two steps.  I am cutting the trees, dragging them to the mill, bucking them to length, lining them up with the mill, rolling them on to the mill, milling them, peeling it(depending on the time of year this can take minutes per 30 foot log or hours).  Once milled, I move them to a trailer or the ground, from there to the pile to dry.
In your case you would pile them directly onto the house.  But that requires all your logs being from the same place and close to where you are building.
Trees aren't as straight as they appear.  A tree that looks straight as a gun barrel may have a 10 inch bend it it end to end so you will have to cut it into two shorter logs to make it work between windows instead of as your first full length log.  They have rot you can't see from the ground, they may get to be too small of diameter as you get to the very end.
I have about 12 logs that I have a specific spot for.  The rest are just going to be puzzle fitted into place where they work the best between windows and doors.  When I was in the woods I just cut the longest straightest sections I could with what I had to work with.
And the biggest reason (for me) not to build it as I cut the logs is time.  It took me a bit over a year (I started August 9, 2020 and just covered my finished milled log pile in the middle of September 2021)  I would assume if I was also building the cabin at the same time I could double that time frame.  I would be very concerned about my lower courses of logs, and my first floor floor joists being exposed to the weather for 2+ years.  Some of my logs were exposed through the winter and just now got covered, it really bothered me for them to be exposed throughout the summer, they darkened, didn't dry and began growing mushrooms. I am working full time and then some so if you average it out over the entire year I probably was only able to work on the cabin for 2 hours a day(712 hours total).  If I had a few months off of work I could have made much faster progress.
By the time I have the cabin built I figure I will have moved each log by hand 10 plus times.  I also figure what I took out of the woods was over 100,000 pounds, what I have in my stacked pile now is about 70,000 pounds and once it is all dry it will be closer to 40,000 pounds.  That is a lot of weight to move,  The only time it wasn't moved totally by hand was from the woods to the log pile, my tractor and winch did that.
Drying all the logs first has given me time to change my plans based on what I have learned while working on them and based on what material I finally end up with.  If you start building from day one your logs have to match the plan instead of the plan matching the logs, which can be a good or bad thing.  
When I am stacking my logs on the cabin the logs should weigh half of what they weigh now, and the final shrinkage once the cabin is built should be less.
Thanks Joe,
Very helpful response. 
What was the size of your cabin? The bigger the cabin I imagine the bigger the issue with curvature is. Mine is 20x20.

The cabin is being built with a passive solar design, so windows are a critical element in the build, so unfortunately they will be the boss of the logs.

However, I am designing the windows and doors as to minimize the amount of full length logs in the build specifically to minimize handling problems since I am doing it without machinery.

I have also designed the floor system to go in last for the reasons you mentioned, plus my tripod hoist for the walls will be easier to maneuver, plus I am using bubble foil insulation below the floorboards and that will trap water, so joists and floor go on after roof and windows.

Another critical difference is I will be working on it full time.

Another is that I am using a chainsaw edging mill, so I can mill the sides off and buck to length where the tree falls, before I handle it even once. I feel that also will also minimize the peeling required because I will be building over winter when peeling is hard.

It will grey a bit as I build, but I will be giving it a go over with a flap sander or brush on an angle grinder to brighten it up before sealing it once itís dried in.

Interesting on your timeline. That is the biggest unknown for me here! Which is critical because I am roughing it until I move in.

Thanks again!
Building 20X20 dovetail log cabin off grid.

Offline Joe Hillmann

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Re: Log building
« Reply #30 on: October 07, 2021, 04:08:53 PM »
Thanks Joe,
Very helpful response.
What was the size of your cabin? The bigger the cabin I imagine the bigger the issue with curvature is. Mine is 20x20.

The cabin is being built with a passive solar design, so windows are a critical element in the build, so unfortunately they will be the boss of the logs.

However, I am designing the windows and doors as to minimize the amount of full length logs in the build specifically to minimize handling problems since I am doing it without machinery.

I have also designed the floor system to go in last for the reasons you mentioned, plus my tripod hoist for the walls will be easier to maneuver, plus I am using bubble foil insulation below the floorboards and that will trap water, so joists and floor go on after roof and windows.

Another critical difference is I will be working on it full time.

Another is that I am using a chainsaw edging mill, so I can mill the sides off and buck to length where the tree falls, before I handle it even once. I feel that also will also minimize the peeling required because I will be building over winter when peeling is hard.

It will grey a bit as I build, but I will be giving it a go over with a flap sander or brush on an angle grinder to brighten it up before sealing it once itís dried in.

Interesting on your timeline. That is the biggest unknown for me here! Which is critical because I am roughing it until I move in.

Thanks again!
I am not sure on the size of the cabin yet.  The original plan was 20 x 30 with a 10 foot porch on the front and back.  But I have enough long logs to go 22x 32 and my rafters will be long enough if I go from a 12/12 to 8/12 pitch and almost all of my floor joists are 11'6" so they will be long enough too.  I have also changed the plan from a porch on 2 sides to a porch on 4 sides to protect the logs better.  I also changed the plan for the roof to start at the second floor to adding 3 or 4 rows of logs(depending on what I have left above the top floor floor joists.  I originally planned to stack it log on log but now I intend to put a 1 1/2 to 2 inch spacer between each row.  That will allow me to have the large cement chinking I want, it means I don't have to remill each log to straighten them back out after drying and it gives me an extra 2 1/2 feet of wall height with the same amount of logs.
My placement of windows and doors is based roughly on where I think I want them and the rest will be based on what I can get cheap.  I had agreed to buy windows that I thought would be perfect for my needs this spring but when building material prices went up they decided not to replace their windows.  And since then nothing was quite what I was looking for.  I actually agreed to buy some last week that I figured were cheap enough to be a back up in case I can't find what I actually want but the guy contacted me on the day I was supposed to pick them up and raise the price.  He said he has several others willing to pay full price.  But I see his ad is still up, so who knows what will happen there.  At this point I am thinking of making my own windows and doors.
Actually higher prices for building materials this last winter and summer brought the price of my cabin way down.  Originally I planned to buy my floor joists, rafters and sheeting for the roof, subfloors and floors.  But prices got so high I decided to mill my own so that brought my cost way down.
In my case the fist floor floor joists almost HAVE to go in with the second layer of logs because I am using log joists.  I am sure they could be fitted later but it would be much more difficult

Offline Coastallogger

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Re: Log building
« Reply #31 on: October 07, 2021, 04:52:22 PM »
Thanks Joe,
Very helpful response.
What was the size of your cabin? The bigger the cabin I imagine the bigger the issue with curvature is. Mine is 20x20.

The cabin is being built with a passive solar design, so windows are a critical element in the build, so unfortunately they will be the boss of the logs.

However, I am designing the windows and doors as to minimize the amount of full length logs in the build specifically to minimize handling problems since I am doing it without machinery.

I have also designed the floor system to go in last for the reasons you mentioned, plus my tripod hoist for the walls will be easier to maneuver, plus I am using bubble foil insulation below the floorboards and that will trap water, so joists and floor go on after roof and windows.

Another critical difference is I will be working on it full time.

Another is that I am using a chainsaw edging mill, so I can mill the sides off and buck to length where the tree falls, before I handle it even once. I feel that also will also minimize the peeling required because I will be building over winter when peeling is hard.

It will grey a bit as I build, but I will be giving it a go over with a flap sander or brush on an angle grinder to brighten it up before sealing it once itís dried in.

Interesting on your timeline. That is the biggest unknown for me here! Which is critical because I am roughing it until I move in.

Thanks again!
I am not sure on the size of the cabin yet.  The original plan was 20 x 30 with a 10 foot porch on the front and back.  But I have enough long logs to go 22x 32 and my rafters will be long enough if I go from a 12/12 to 8/12 pitch and almost all of my floor joists are 11'6" so they will be long enough too.  I have also changed the plan from a porch on 2 sides to a porch on 4 sides to protect the logs better.  I also changed the plan for the roof to start at the second floor to adding 3 or 4 rows of logs(depending on what I have left above the top floor floor joists.  I originally planned to stack it log on log but now I intend to put a 1 1/2 to 2 inch spacer between each row.  That will allow me to have the large cement chinking I want, it means I don't have to remill each log to straighten them back out after drying and it gives me an extra 2 1/2 feet of wall height with the same amount of logs.
My placement of windows and doors is based roughly on where I think I want them and the rest will be based on what I can get cheap.  I had agreed to buy windows that I thought would be perfect for my needs this spring but when building material prices went up they decided not to replace their windows.  And since then nothing was quite what I was looking for.  I actually agreed to buy some last week that I figured were cheap enough to be a back up in case I can't find what I actually want but the guy contacted me on the day I was supposed to pick them up and raise the price.  He said he has several others willing to pay full price.  But I see his ad is still up, so who knows what will happen there.  At this point I am thinking of making my own windows and doors.
Actually higher prices for building materials this last winter and summer brought the price of my cabin way down.  Originally I planned to buy my floor joists, rafters and sheeting for the roof, subfloors and floors.  But prices got so high I decided to mill my own so that brought my cost way down.
In my case the fist floor floor joists almost HAVE to go in with the second layer of logs because I am using log joists.  I am sure they could be fitted later but it would be much more difficult
Wrap-around porches are really nice. Can screen em in for use as a bedroom when too hot inside. The trade-off is it makes the cabin dark. I plan on fixing that by finishing the floors with danish soap, which gives it a white translucent finish.
I am the same as you. I intended on making my floor joists out of dimensional lumber as well to save time. But when my 3/4 in T&G plywood hit 60.00 a sheet, I had another look and changed plans to a log system as well. 
I am still putting them in last though. I am making my piers wider than the bottom plate logs so I can rest my log joist system on them completely separate from the bottom course of logs. Maybe not even fastened to the bottom course of logs. They donít need to be pocketed into the bottom plate logs. In fact, I think itís best if they arenít. I am reading from Alaskan experience that warm moist cabin air can make its way into pockets cut into the logs, where it condenses because it is closer to the outside and colder. Then your logs can rot. Since I am using it in the winter in a cold climate, I will need to put a vapor barrier between every pocket I cut into logs and the inside. I could do that but it will come loose with log movement over the seasons so best not to rely on that. The bottom plate is the hardest to replace if it rots.

Then if the floor joists rot any time, I can just go under and replace them one by one without tearing everything down.

I think you made the right choice going with a rounded log on the top and bottom. Saves a ton of work logging and I think it is more durable too. Flat on flat has major issues with trapping moisture and rotting. And I see a lot of people end up having to chink it in the end as well as it never seems to stay perfectly in contact. And then it looks sillier than if it has the normal-sized chinking anyways.

Building 20X20 dovetail log cabin off grid.

Offline Joe Hillmann

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Re: Log building
« Reply #32 on: October 07, 2021, 06:05:59 PM »
Darkness due to the porches is for sure a concern.  But our current housing situation only has windows on one side.  So all the bedrooms, kitchen and dining room have no windows.  We have adapted to it.  So even if the new house is dark by most peoples standards I am pretty sure it will have more natural light than our current place.  And if it really is a problem, I can make the porches smaller, cut in bigger windows, put in skylights or light tubes.

The porch to the south I intend to cover completely in glass(that can be opened so it is mostly shaded in the summer and traps heat in the winter to help passively heat the house.  The north and west porches may eventually be walled and glassed in to give us more storage space. 
And the east porch won't have any floor but dirt so I can use it as a carport now and in the future if I put a basement under the cabin can have the option to make that side a walkout or a partial walk out.

For now I am putting it on piers but with the plan that I may eventually put a basement under it so the piers will go deeper than the eventual basement foundation will be.  That way if I do put a basement I never have to support more than a couple feet of the house when I start removing piers, digging out the basement and putting up walls.

I never heard of the danish soap finish.  I'll look into it.

Offline Coastallogger

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Re: Log building
« Reply #33 on: October 07, 2021, 06:30:30 PM »
Joe I really like that porch plan! Would love to follow your build.

FYI Danish soap can be expensive because itís not common in North America, but historically, it was made DIY, it has fairly simple ingredients. Feels nice and warm on the feet too compared to oil or poly finishes.

Nice in a cabin to have a contrast where everything tends to be the same wood color, but still keep the rustic natural look of the woodgrain showing through.
Building 20X20 dovetail log cabin off grid.

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Re: Log building
« Reply #34 on: October 07, 2021, 09:28:07 PM »
Hey not to be a buzz kill but maybe start a new thread called ideas on building my cabin. 


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