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Author Topic: Using northern white cedar for log house  (Read 416 times)

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Offline manofbush

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Using northern white cedar for log house
« on: September 30, 2020, 12:19:33 PM »
Hi there, another newbie here.  I currently own a property on Manitoulin Island in Ontario and have approx. 20 acres of good NW cedar.  I am wanting to build a cabin - approx 24 x 36 - and have some questions.  I was wanting to use square milled logs that are 8 x 8.  However, I am not sure about that.  It seems to me that is rather large for cedar as it would be fairly hard to get enough long enough logs .  I would like comments on this.
Also, is there some sort of rule of thumb on taper?  From what I can gather it seems like the taper is something like .75 inch diameter taper for every foot of log.  Is that accurate?
Is there some sort of "ideal" log length?
Thanks for now.

Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Using northern white cedar for log house
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2020, 12:39:23 PM »
The "ideal log length" is what you are physically able to move! ;)
As far as taper, I have Incense Cedar (what pencils are made from).  I can have a lot of taper at 1/2" per foot down to 1" in 10'!  All depends on where they are growing and how much water they have gotten in their life.  For an 8x8 you would need a minimum end size on a pretty straight log to be 12".  Is that size rare in  your woods?  Since you are having them milled (or yourself?), you could do 7x7 or 6x8?  A little wane would add character, too.
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Offline curved-wood

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Re: Using northern white cedar for log house
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2020, 01:20:30 PM »
I live in western Qubec so I dont know if the run of white cedar is the same as in your place. I saw quite a bit of cedar and a bundle of nice 8x8 is not easy to produce. Here when the cedar are big enough , quite often they are rotten in the center and that you will know it only when the trees are down. Also for exterior use it is better to have no sap wood; large roof overhangs helps. For the lenth it might be the diameter that will tell you where to but. Cut a few, me be you are in a good quality region.

Offline Don P

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Re: Using northern white cedar for log house
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2020, 06:21:41 PM »
There are, or were, several companies making N white cedar cabin logs that were 6x6.
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Offline Stephen1

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Re: Using northern white cedar for log house
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2020, 06:37:46 PM »
In Ontario, the best EWCedar comes from Manotulin Island. Not very much center rot. I would think 6x6 would give you plent of wall. The length is the problem, it takes a big log to give you 6x6 at 36'.
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Offline manofbush

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Re: Using northern white cedar for log house
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2020, 09:33:10 AM »
Thanks everyone.  I was thinking by the looks of other NW Cedar houses I could see on the internet, that 8x8 is likely hard to do.  It is only a cabin, so what does everyone think of 6 wide by 8 high.  I would still get the higher logs, just not quite the width.  I would also likely be OK with some wane.  I don't think I have mentioned before, but I am looking at a chinked log cabin.  Likely 2 inch gap. I don't have to get 36 foot logs though do I as Stephen1 mentions?  I was under the impression that I could use shorter ones vis-a-vis doors and windows and butting them.

Offline Stephen1

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Re: Using northern white cedar for log house
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2020, 12:05:09 PM »
 I don't have to get 36 foot logs though do I as Stephen1 mentions?  I was under the impression that I could use shorter ones vis-a-vis doors and windows and butting them.
Correct, you can butt them together, and put a corner in the 36 ft wall. 
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Using northern white cedar for log house
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2020, 02:17:32 PM »
In ERC the larger cants they export and mill into cabin logs is 6x6. I suppose there are white cedar trees just as there are occasional ERC trees. The KY farmer I bought ERC trees from for my two porch remodels got me buying a few large logs for other stuff even though I'm not a cedar furniture fan. I have a number of live edge thick cuts that are over 24" wide. One will become my kitchen counter in my own cabin build.
IMO, I'd make them "D" logs as I'll build with in pine. Weight wise wood doesn't get much lighter than cedar. Build the house based on the best use of the timber at hand not an arbitrary number or based on weight either. There are myriad ways to raise logs, some done by a solo builder. My home was built from plantation  grown, depression era, CCC Camp planted SYP trees and my size criteria was 8-8.5 small end and 11.5-12" large end. Since I did stack log construction with two natural edges they were somewhat lighter than full rounds, not much though.
I doubt 8x8 would be that much warmer to live in than a 6x6? 
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Offline manofbush

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Re: Using northern white cedar for log house
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2020, 09:36:56 AM »
The reason I am wanting 8x8 was for the look of larger logs 8 inch logs on the outside and thicker wall for heating.  I am OK with the 6 inch thick wall though, just still hoping for 8 inch high logs on the wall.  Kantuckid, would you mind sharing why you think to make them "D" logs over squared off logs?  Is it just because of the natural looks?  Or are there other reasons?  Also, weight is not an issue for me as I will have lots of help and access to equipment.  Also, I have read that the maximum length of a 6 inch log wall is about 23 feet.  Any longer than this, I would need to put a T or another cornerl to support a 38 foot wall.  Is this accurate?  I am learning lots!

Offline mudfarmer

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Re: Using northern white cedar for log house
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2020, 09:45:22 AM »
I doubt 8x8 would be that much warmer to live in than a 6x6?
Katahdin, one of the bigger cedar log home manufacturers says "Northern White Cedar has an R-value of 1.41 per inch of thickness"
So you'd get another R-2.82 from an 8" vs 6" which is not bad if you think of all the folks with R-13 fiberglass in their 2x4 walls :-X  R-11.28 for 8", R-8.46 for 6" and you get the benefit of the thermal mass of that extra 2" of log as well I'd think?


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