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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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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Staircase Jig

By Frank Vanderveur of Minnesota Logworks, Inc.

Reprinted from Spring 2012 newsletter

Here is another way to cut the correct angles on the top and bottom of the staircase. This jig that I have tried worked well for me, it was fast and accurate.

The stair treads are notched into the log stringers and then fastened with ¼” GRK screws. These fasteners are countersunk into the stringer and the holes are plugged with a dowel, so you will not see the holes in the stair stringers. The angle of the screw is important………

Picture 1

I used a 2×2 and added “filler wood” which includes the wooden guide, on which the pads mounted on your chainsaw bar glide on. The total sum of the “filler wood” and guide is equal to the height of the riser, which in this case is 7-5/16”. I slide the jig over the stair tread and fasten the 2×2 with screws to the top surface of the stair tread.
See Picture #1:

Picture 2

It depends on how long of a bar you have but if you can’t cut both stringers at the same time you can cut the first stringer and then move the jig from one end to the other end of the stair tread and leave the one jig in the middle between the stringers. Then cut the second stringer.

Picture 3

For the top part of the staircase stringer, I used a 12” x 10 ½” jig made out of 2×2’s and a 2 x 10 cut to the right run which in this case is 10-½”. I fastened these to the end of the stair tread using a piece of plywood and screws. See picture # 3.

Picture 3

If your bar is not long enough you can place a jig in between the stringers, cut the first stringer and just move the first jig to the other side in order to make a cut on the second stringer.

Good Luck and keep your chain sharp.

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Posted in Frank Vanderveur, Log Building Tips, Techniques, Tools and Jigs | 1 Comment

Wood Construction Design Software

From Dietrich’s (a GLLCA member) Website:

Software is our Business – Wood is our Passion

Wood uniquely combines the tradition and the future of the construction industry. It combines outstanding material properties, durability and ease of processing with the ecological advantages of a renewable resource with a negative C02 balance when sustainably harvested from local forests.

Dietrich’s was the first company to make design software specifically for the wood construction industry. In 1982, Josef Dietrich, a master of carpentry, developed the first programs for German carpenters to calculate roof shapes, compound angles and cuts. Today Dietrich’s is the largest provider of wood construction software in Europe and has grown steadily since entering the North American market in 2002.

Currently in Europe new buildings must meet high standards for energy efficiency through performance of materials and methods of construction. North American construction will soon have to meet similar high standards and your Dietrich’s software can be an integral part of your ability to design energy efficient, net-zero buildings.

Continuous, leading edge development has made Dietrich’s the most up-to-date wood construction software on the market.

Dietrich’s Celebrates Ten Years in North America

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What is the best lateral notch?

V-notch? Flat bottom? What is the best way to cut the lateral? Here is one response given by Gary Schroeder to a comment on Facebook.
There are many opinions as to which style is best, for the lateral notch. As in many approaches, experience brings in the need to improve on a style. In the log home handcrafting industry, more builders have moved away from a “v-notch” to more of a flat bottom or double scribed lateral. There are two reasons for such a move. The flat bottom leaves more wood to help prevent extreme checking and movement of the scribed edge outward from its intended seat. The double scribed lateral is even a more improved style. with two scribed lateral grooves: there is more wood left in place plus there is a notch at the top of the log to encourage checking,which helps to tighten the laterals. As there are more handcrafters, we will see additional improvements in older methods.
Please share your opinions and perspectives on the best practice for cutting the lateral.
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Roof Ventilation Issues Can be Resolved by Meeting Standards

By Dan Perkins of Dan Perkins Construction

Reprinted from Fall 2006 newsletter

As buildings have become tighter, a variety of issues related to roof ventilation—including ice damming, water condensation and mold within the building envelope—have tormented owners and contractors alike with increasing regularity. Many of these issues have manifested as costly court battles and insurance claims resulting in the general public’s heightened awareness of these concerns and increased accountability in the contracting community.

Professional roofing contractors have a distinct role to play to ensure ventilation standards are met–primarily at the ridge.


The ventilation standard is specified in the 2003 International Residential Code (IRC) Sect. R806. For roof areas over heated or conditioned spaces, a net free ventilation area of 1 square foot per 150 square feet (67 cm² per 1 m²) of ceiling area is required. This can be simplified by rounding the equation to 1 square inch of ventilation per square foot of ceiling.

In passive roof ventilation systems, the air flow required is divided evenly between eave vents and ridge vents so convection current naturally pulls cooler air through the soffit vent and exhales warmer air and moisture through the ridge vent. A gable roof forms a triangle with two points of air entry at the soffits and a point of exit at each side of the ridge cap. The net free air (NFA) rating at each of these points should be roughly equal, and when all four are added, they should equal at least the minimum free air required for the heated space below.

NFA ratings are measured in square inches of free air per foot run of vent (ridge or eave). On a typical sloped roof on a rectangular, the ridge and eaves follow each other parallel to the ridge in the center of the roof and the eaves at either side. If there are no valleys or hips in the roof system, it is relatively easy to determine what the NFA rating needs to be at these locations. You simply divide the width of the building in feet by four to determine the NFA rating required at each of these four points (W ÷ 4 = NFA). If a building is 24 feet (7 m) wide, you need an NFA rating of six at each eave vent and on each side of the ridge cap to satisfy the ventilation standard (24 ÷ 4 = 6).

On buildings with cut-up roof lines, this equation still works as long as the total linear footage of soffit is roughly twice the total linear footage of the ridge. When buildings have much more soffit than ridge (as in the case of hipped buildings), an alternative means will be necessary to vent the peak, such as a cupola or mechanical vent. When there is more ridge than soffit (as in the case of multi-valleyed roofs), creative means for introducing more air at the eaves needs to be explored.

Intake and exhaust vents must be positioned so they provide continuous air flow on the underside of the roof sheathing. In valleyed and hipped roof systems, it is important to position the intake vents so they feed the roof system evenly and exhaust vents so they draw the air evenly from the intake vents across the roof deck. When cathedral ceilings are under hipped or valleyed roofs, it often is necessary to design a ventilation system over the roof frame to obtain proper air flow.

The ridge vent system shown in this article is designed for buildings up to 36 feet (11 m) wide with a total NFA rating of 18 (a ridge vent with an NFA rating of 18 has 18 inches (457 mm) NFA per linear foot of ridge vent with an NFA rating of 9 per side). The venting portion of the cap is fabricated from 20-gauge perforated flat sheets with 1/8-inch (3-mm) holes drilled 3/16 of an inch (5 mm) apart. This product has 40 percent of its area open for ventilation. Simple alterations to the measurements of the vent and cap components can increase the NFA rating for wider buildings. We have designed and installed ridge vents for buildings up to 80 feet (24 m) wide with the ridge cap still looking appropriately sized.

We have been using this detail for many years in the conditions we face in the upper peninsula of Michigan. On the shores of Lake Superior, it is not uncommon for winds to approach 50 mph, and inland we can experience 300 inches (7620 mm) of snow during a winter season. We have not experienced snow and water infiltration using this ridge vent detail on our applications.

The use of air baffles at the ridge is particularly important when high-wind conditions are prevalent.

When homeowners experience ongoing problems with ice damming or moisture in the attic, the roofing contractor often gets the call. Inadequate insulation and ventilation is often the culprit. It is important to be proactive in addressing these problems before any roof installation. Following are some pictures of the details we have developed to address these issues in our area.

Dan Perkins, a residential and commercial architectural standing seam roofing installer and consultant from Northern Michigan submits these insights on the issues of roof ventilation from an installer’s perspective.

The ridge vent and cap shown are designed to be installed before the roofing panels are installed. This has proved to be a watertight system that can be applied more efficiently and safely than ridge caps that are installed after the panels are installed.

Each 10-foot (3-m) length of vented ridge cap is comprised of two perforated C-channels and a section of cap fabricated from the same coil material and color with which the roofing pans are made. The cap is crimped onto the vented Cchannels on the job before each section of ridge is installed. The ridge is affixed to the roof deck with screws or roof nails through the edge of the perforated stock that extends past the cap on each side.

Joiner caps are crimped over the adjoining ridge caps with sealant underneath. It is important to make sure there are no gaps where the ends of the perforated stock meet so there are no entry points for bugs, bats or rodents.

The roofing pans are “box panned” before they are installed into the ridge and baffles are applied to prevent wind from driving water and snow directly into the perforations in the Cchannels.

As the wind is diverted around the baffles and over the ridge cap, negative air pressure is created, increasing the air flow out of the roof system. The baffles are applied to the roof panels on a 1-inch (25-mm) butyl tape and screwed down with gasketed fasteners. It is important to leave a gap at the sides of the baffles for water to drain from the ridge assembly.

The ends of the ridge are closed with an end cap that is slid into the hem holding the cap to the perforated C-channels.

The angles and dimensions of the ridge cap will change with the roof slope. A minimum of 11/2-inch- (38-mm-) wide channel at the peak is necessary between the two perforated Cchannels inside the ridge cap to allow proper air flow. As the roof angle gets steeper, the cap needs to become wider to maintain the width of the air channel. A drawing with values for these measurements for different slopes is shown.

Cap Fabrication Values

Roof Pitch- Stretch   –  A   –  B  –    C
1/12             11″             4″    171º     9º
2/12             11″             4″    161º     19º
3/12             11″            4″    152º    28º
4/12             11″            4″    143º    37º
5/12             11″             4″    135º     45º
6/12             12″            4.5″  127º     53º
7/12             12″             4.5″  119.5º    60.5º
8/12             13″             5″   113º      67º
9/12             13″             5″   107º      73º
10/12           14″             5.5″  101º    79º
11/12           14″            5.5″   95º     85º
12/12           14″             5.5″   90º    90º

Ridge cap dimensions need to be adjusted for various roof pitches to  maintain a minimum of 1 1/2″ throat width. (goes with drawing of ridge cap)

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