Following centuries old practices, trees are cut when the sap is low, usually in late fall or early winter. Bark is taken off with a “bark spud” followed by peeling with a drawknife and laid out on elevated racks to start drying and to make selection easier.
Selecting which log to place where in building the log walls is as much art as science and very much a visual skill as each log has it’s own characteristics. Individually scribe fitting one log to another is a time consuming process yet amazingly precise. Interlocking all logs in the joinery process makes for an extremely strong building that can withstand the forces of nature over an extended period of time. All materials expand and contract with seasonal changes in temperature and interlocked logs are uniquely suited to accommodate these forces and at the same time have insulating qualities. The validity of this construction technique can be found in Scandinavia where you’ll find log buildings 500 – 1,000 years old.
Log crafters of old never had to incorporate plumbing and wiring into a log house so modern day log builders came up with inventive solutions for installation that accounted for settling of the logs and at the same time hid everything from view. Some modern log homes have an incredible amount of technology incorporated yet it’s all hidden from view so nothing detracts from the log work. The settling of the log walls comes from shrinkage of the logs as they dry and may take up to ten years to complete for large logs. Nothing in modern technology has been developed which will quickly dry a large diameter round log without making big cracks in it so the time tested method of drying in place serves well. Log builders account for this settling with windows and doors by first constructing a “box” in the log wall opening, with a settling space above, that allows the logs to slide by freely, then install the windows or doors within the box, and attached only to the box. Trim work hides the extra framing and all goes un-noticed as settling occurs. Different strategies are used with posts and stairs with the end result at the end of the drying period that everything has settled into place nicely.
Living in a handcrafted log house has it’s comforts in a high tech, rat race world because it’s a home where a person can relax and enjoy the seasons. It costs more that conventional housing or a milled log kit home, though the cost is very comparable with other custom housing. The trees that once found their home in the forest have become your home in a way where they can be viewed for many years to come in their natural form.
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