Join The GLLCA Network

The GLLCA is an organization of professional log builders and others interested in the art of handcrafting log structures. The organization is dedicated to “PROMOTING EXCELLENCE IN THE HANDCRAFTED TRADITION” and joins a network of professional craftsman to share tricks of the trade and advance the art to builders and homeowners.

Are you a log craftsman or in a related industry like restoration, furniture, carving, or supplies? Consider joining the GLLCA to promote handcrafted log building, learn about the trade, and keep the tradition moving forward.

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The Creative Method in Log Home Construction

by John Schroeder

Reprinted from Spring 2012 Newsletter

John Schroeder

Creativity. It’s a word that is often associated with the fine arts of painting, drawing, writing, and music, etc., but as you are well aware, there is a large aspect to handcrafted log construction that is creative work. If log builders weren’t creative, then there is no way they’d be handcrafting log homes. Am I right? Every industry requires creative thinking to survive, grow, produce, and succeed. How can you use creative thinking to improve your log construction? How can you use new ideas and new innovations to build upon a centuries-old craft?

As a student, instructor, and obsesser of the creative process, I encourage the reading and study of A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger Von Oech. This book is subtitled “How to be More Creative” and offers great instruction on how to think more creatively, which can push your success in any industry.

For the scientists in the crowd, there are some great parallels to be realized between the creative method and the scientific method. In the progression of the creative method/process, Von Oech explains that we wear four different hats or play four different roles: explorer, artist, judge, and warrior. In each role, there is opportunity to be innovative and take a new approach to your old routines, which can put you to the front, cutting edge of your industry.

Though I hope you find time to read the book on your own, I take this opportunity to
summarize the stages of creativity and scribe it to log home construction.

The role of the explorer, in brief, is the act of going out and gathering loads of information that may or may not be used later in the process. It’s great to keep a file or a journal to harbor the plethora of potential ingredients you gather. This step is merely the gathering of ideas and information, but not synthesizing or processing any.

In log construction, exploring may include Internet searches to see photos of buildings around the globe, as mentioned in the article “Inspiration via the Internet.” It may include clipping photos from log home or timber magazines. It could be notes on methods, floor plans, tools, jigs, patterns, and various information on construction. It can and should include inspiring media that at first glance carries no connection to log homes whatsoever. Maybe it’s a painting, a carving, a geometric pattern, or a photo of ancient architecture that can be later used to inspire new log design styles or trimmed accents. It may also contain ad clippings or other ideas for how to promote your business. Keep a file that collects all the possibilities you may use in improving your craft and your business. Internet, books, photos, floor plans, quotes, sketches, magazine clippings, and a limitless list of other sources can be collected for later inspiration.


The role of the artist is the peak of the creative process, in which you synthesize ideas and come up with a range of possibilities to accomplish your goal, answer your question, or solve your problem. The artist stage is for the right side of the brain, the creative side, in which no judgment should be place. It is for brainstorming; the judgment and evaluation of ideas comes later. This is similar to forming a hypothesis in the scientific method, except in creativity there are dozens and dozens of ‘hypotheses’ formed in brainstorms. Creativity is all about taking two or more unrelated things and creating something new by dovetailing them together.

In log construction, you may be using the role of the artist to come up with new and improved ways to do things in any aspect of the process. Is it a more space-efficient floor
plan? Do you add unique carvings on log ends or accents around windows to personalize the home? How about business models or techniques from other industries to make log building more efficient and cost-effective? An assembly line? New software? New methods of calculation? Maybe you find a way for works of art to influence your building design. How would Van Gogh build a log cabin? What would a log home look like if it were in ancient Rome? Finding inspiration in the most unlikely places may give your structures a
unique look that people will rave about.


The role of the judge must eventually come to play, or the endless stream of brainstorming would never end. The judge is necessary to evaluate what ideas would work, be the best, and serve to satisfy the ultimate goal.

In log construction, the judge is necessary to evaluate the ideas generated as the artists. Maybe building a cabin to look like a Swiss chalet was brilliant or the idea to mimic an Egyptian pyramid was a flop. Perhaps an assembly line can’t be done in the log yard, but that new idea for a jig is perfect! The role of the judge is where your years of experience and knowledge of the craft will be beneficial in sorting out the brilliant, innovative ideas from the ones that need to go back to the scrap pile.


Finally, there is the role of the warrior: the hat that is worn to carry out the mission and
accomplish the tasks. Without actually implementing the plan, the previous roles were of no use other than an exercise in creative thinking.

Log crafters are well acquainted with the role of the warrior. From enduring cold, winter temperatures to summer downpours of rain, it takes a strong and admirable constitution to build a log home. New and innovative ideas may take some additional planning, labor to create the new process, or a few more hours to add the artistic touch; but putting in the sweat and blood to realize a new improvement to the craft is well worth the effort and absolutely necessary.

Handcrafted log builders are by definition a creative crew of professionals. Play your strengths and see how creative thinking can improve your craft, your methods, and your

Concepts summarized from: Von Oech, Roger (1998). ‘A Whack on the Side of the Head’ Warner Books. New York, NY.


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Trip to Rockwood, ME

By Aaron Hyman of Backwoods Log Homes

Reprinted from Spring 2012 Newsletter

Aaron Hyman

From September to November, 2011 my crew and I built a log shell at my log yard in Western Wisconsin. We then shipped the log shell out to Northern Maine and spent 3 weeks on site preparing the site and re-erecting the log shell.

This project was unique for 2 reasons: (1) Location. The log shell was built in Wisconsin and shipped to Northern Maine which is a 35 hour drive one way. (2) Project Coordination. I was contracted by a kit home builder who is marketing full scribe log homes on his website. He made the initial contact with the home owner and was considered the project coordinator. For this project, I was in charge of ordering logs, building the full scribe log shell, shipping the house to Northern Maine and re-erecting it.

Throughout the project, my only contact for change orders or modifications to the building was the kit home builder. This aspect of the project made communication challenging. It was not until the end of the project that I started to have direct contact with the architect and homeowner. At this point, the communication channels opened up and it was easier to move forward with the building.

During the middle to end of building the log shell at my log yard in Wisconsin, the home owner flew out to see the house. This was the first time I had met the homeowner. At this time, I found out that the other builder had not told the homeowner what the arrangement was for building. He was very surprised to find out that the company he “hired” to do the log building was not actually the company building the house. Thankfully, he was very happy with the product that was being built and any confusion was smoothed over.

Although this was a very positive experience in many ways and a great adventure, if anyone has this opportunity arise in the future to contract building through another builder, I would suggest that no middle man is involved. Have direct contact with the architect and homeowner at all phases of the project so that there is no miscommunication about any aspects of the building. The other builder should simply receive a “finder’s fee” for the project and leave the project execution to the actual builder. The homeowner was great, he loved his home and was very generous during our stay in Maine but the execution of the original contract could have been handled better.

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Letter from the GLLCA President

By Bob Kenel of R.G. Kenel Log Builders

Reprinted from the Spring 2012 Newsletter

Bob Kenel

2011 was another great year for the GLLCA. The memberships are holding stable, thanks to all of you that continue to support our efforts. Welcome to our new members and to those that have come back.

Our organization has grown in knowledge and has developed greatly in organizational skills and planning, due to the commitments on behalf of the board members current and past. The treasury is doing fine and this year’s conference looks great. This year also will bring some newly elected board members, treasurer and president so please attend, your input and votes are needed. I have committed to be the chair for the 2013 conference committee, thirty year anniversary, and planning a building fund raiser to help build up our funding for the future. The GLLCA will need volunteers to work on this project in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I have been working on this since the 2010 GLLCA conference. Hear more about it at the Keweenaw Lodge this May.

Please bring an auction item for the conference, big or small, hand-made or purchased; they will all help with our operation budget. I am very proud of the website the GLLCA has been running. Please use it frequently to assure your information is updated and current. Also, see the GLLCA on facebook, linked in and others. Go to those sites, sign up and comment.

Watch for the new 2012 ICC Log Standards to come out soon. There are some changes and I was proud to be a “voting” member of the ICC Standards Committee. Thank you for having me represent the GLLCA on your behalf. For our Canadian members, the Canadian National Standards are also updating and changing energy standards. This may affect the projects going to and from Canada. Also, the U.S. government is trying to impose an inventory tax on builders and their supplies along with a service tax. I have been involved with other organizations to re-but against these bills. Please write to your officials and give your comments.

As always, you may e-mail me with any comments, suggestions or just to say howdy.

See you in Keweenaw.

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Octagon King Post Onion

By Duane Sellman of Sellman Log Structures

Reprinted from Spring 2012 Newsletter

Duane Sellman

The timber frame (my first) I have been working on has an octagon shape in one corner. It is 16’ across and the 8 sided king post is 14” in diameter. To get a 14” diameter up the log, I cut the butt section off a 50’ log with a 24” diameter butt cut. After positioning and tracing the octagon template on both ends of the log, I cut the first 4 sides on my Woodmiser sawmill after shimming the tip up appropriately. After the first 4 sides were cut, I used a 45º block to cut the 5th side at the proper angle and so on.

I decided to dress up the bottom end of the king post with an “onion” carving. Granted, I have not seen an 8 sided pointed onion either, but that is what it came to be called. It also reminds me of the Greek Orthodox church steeples I have seen in Canada.

Anyway, I made a plywood jig to get the proper curves. I used Ed Miller’s “tracer” guides on the chainsaw to slide along the jig. If you are not familiar with these, they keep the cutting teeth the same distance from the jig whether the bar is plumb or vertical. So I rough cut this shape and then laid the bar on its side to brush the wood down to the jig.
The jig prevents me from ever cutting too deep – sort of! I positioned the jig on all 8 sides and cut the proper shape. Then a little sanding and presto!!! I have a decorative wood onion.
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The Life of a Wife of a Log Home Builder

by Kay Sellman of Sellman Log Structures

Reprinted from Spring 2012 Newsletter

I am wondering if any other wives of log home builders feel the way I do so I thought of writing this article to see if anyone agrees with me.

Kay Sellman

My life as a wife of a log home builder is not an ordinary life. Usually, our yard is full of piles of logs, muddy driveways; lots of equipment parked every where, and the sound of chainsaws running all day long. As the wife of a log home builder I find it necessary to work outside the home just to get away from all the noise.

The life of a wife of a log home builder is one of working around my husband’s schedule. Because of his unique style of construction, log home builders don’t get home at 5:00 p.m. for supper because that one curvy, snarled log they picked out that morning was taking longer than planned to get scribed and positioned on the wall. A log home builder is not a carpenter; he is the creator of something special.

My life as a wife of a log home builder does not allow me to plan ahead for vacations. Our vacations have to be at a moment’s notice because we never know when Duane can get away from the building yard. He can’t go now because he just got a call from a customer and he has to meet with them to go over the plans and do an estimate. Then after many meetings and lots of wondering if he is going to get the contract or not, he finally gets a signed contract. Then there is no time to plan a vacation because he has to find a logger that has the right size of logs for the house he just got a contract to build. Then they have to be delivered to our building yard. Then he needs to get the logs peeled and get fungicide on them. He can’t go now because he has to get the walls up before they get wet. He can’t go now because he is working on the roof structure and the pressure is on from the home owner to get the house done. He can’t go now because he needs to move the house to its
final destination. Then just when I think I can call and book that dream vacation I have been dreaming of, he gets a call and it all starts over again.

My life as a wife of a log home builder is one of watching a man come home at night so excited because he was able to work a log into the wall that has a porky pine chew right where it will be most noticeable. I get to watch a man that even though his joints hurt, his back hurts and his muscles ache, he loves going to work every day just to see what challenges are out there for him to tackle.

But my life as a wife of a log home builder is one of pride because my husband is the only one that can create a home that someone has been dreaming about, planning for and saving for years. One that is so unique that there is not another one like it in the world. So I wait and dream and I know that one day Duane will come in and say, “I think now would be a great time for us to go on that vacation you want to take.” (Vacation that I want to take.) Because he would be just as happy to get that next call and be able to call that logger and say, “I need another set of logs delivered.”


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Window and Door Layout Adjustments for Sweep in Header Logs

By Ronn Hann of Northern Comfort Log Homes

Reprinted from Spring 2012 newsletter

On my first couple of log building settings, the header log on the wall resulted in not lining up with the centerline of the logs below. This was to get the coverage required to mount trim boards over doors and windows. Typically, this requires an 8” to 10” flat at about 89” to 91” of wall height.

I was trying to keep everything on centerlines and stretching my wall logs at openings using a level to keep everything in line. Then came the header log with its 3” to 4” of sweep to be set on the wall with the bow to the outside. I was not getting enough flat for those pesky trim boards.

So my solution was to layout the first courses with an offset to the outside wall. This resulted in the sweep at the header log centering on the stretched wall sections below. The amount of offset would depend on where the opening is in the wall. Usually I use ‘3/4” near corners and up to 1-1/2” offset towards the middle of the wall. See diagram below:

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