Keyway Cradle Holes

By Ronn Hann of Northern Comfort Log Homes

Reprinted from Fall 2006 newsletter

I use cradles for all my one notch logs and find them very convenient for roughing down these pieces. It occurred to me that if I accurately drill the hole for the cradle in the right spot, I can use that same hole as the back of the door or window spline and save a little time when cutting keyways. As I leave 2” of trim in my openings, I layout my cradle holes about 6” back from the openings. The one inch Ø hole I use is just two saw cuts away from being a keyway.

An early drawback I discovered is that the threaded rods of the cradles picked up and deposited sand (saw dulling sand) in these holes. The problem has been solved by making a rack for the cradles by drilling an off cut block and placing it on the ground near the opening. Cradles are put there when not in use and are easy to find. I also made up about 30 cradles when I made them so there is always a rack of them close at hand. The drill hole soon to be keyway also acts as a guide for the helpers on where not to staple when insulating and gasketing at restock time.
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Scribing onto the Scarfs

By Ronn Hann of Northern Comfort Log Homes

Reprinted from Fall 2006 newsletter

Scarf Saddle Board in Place

The notching system I use has best been described as “scribing onto the scarfs.” Follow me through. The scarfs are layed out and cut at the same time as the rough notches and are scribed onto for the final scribe. To layout scarfs, I use a scarf saddle board. I made it from several scraps of 1/8” thick pine boards, 6” wide and fastened the two scarf shaped cutouts with 1-1/2” pieces of inner tube and staples. I bandsaw cut these out about 12” longer than the biggest diameter log I use on the project. The two pieces hang over the log with about a 4” gap between them.

When cutting the scarfs, try to maintain at least a 4” width on top of the notch. This makes scribing easier because you don’t dip down on the scarf when scribing. This makes notching easier also because you can plunge cut out the bottom of the notch. Mini-pro bars are made 2-1/2” wide and do that job nicely.

Scribing the Rough Notches

Back to scribing the rough notches. For this job, I decided to use my tape measure body of approximately 1-1/2” thick as a scriber gapsetting tool. In use, the tape is laid on its side under the log to be rough notched inside near the notch. The scribers are opened up to the difference and you start your rough scribe lines.

Chevron in Sight

The tape is then laid on the log being scribed to and a short horizontal line with a V shaped pen mark (a cheveron) indicates the limit for the scarf cut. This also indicates waste material that can be cut out with the rough notch and for scriber relief. A requirement for a finish “scribed onto scarf.”

After scribing all the rough notches to within 1-1/2” of the log below, I take the logs down from the wall and cut the scarfs first. With the Cheveron in sight, this indicates the bottom edge of the scarf. When you sight the V shaped line, you easily can make that part of the log the horizon and with the saw cut accurately to the bottom edge of the scarf. On deeper scarfs, I often stop half way to check my cut. If not on or near my layout line, I restart the scarf cut. Time is saved by not cutting twice to  achieve what 1or 1-1/2 cuts will do. The step cut in the off cut of the scarf saddle shows that you at least looked at the line. Plane and sand to finish scarf.

If a lock notch or square notch is  required for the log, I just stand the tape up and this will leave about 3-1/2” for a final scribe and enough wood for a lock.

With the logs I use the 1-1/2” left inside the notch after rough notching usually means a final scriber setting of 2 – 2-1/2”. The taper in the logs then is what does the math of wall building and adjustments for log height is done by log selection rather than using scriber math. On some notch logs, this 1-1/2” gap means the log cradles are replaced by a 1-1/2” block near the door or window opening before final scribing.


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Wall Slots with the Craftsman Twin Saw

By Duane Sellman (reprinted from fall 2009 newsletter)

Duane Sellman

The “Twinsaw” from Craftsman can be a very useful tool. It has 2 circle saw blades that rotate in opposite directions minimizing the kickback tendency as the blades make contact with the material you are cutting. The two blades apparently have no set on one side as they are mounted very close together. I have found mine very useful in cutting wall slots and yesterday cutting off character post branches where they make contact with the stress-skin panels in the ceiling of the great room. After cutting, the sheet rock will be able to slide between the ceiling and the branch.

As purchased, the Twinsaw has the blade guard retraction lever in the way for my purposes. I cut this lever off and attached a wire to form a finger loop to utilize for retracting the blade guard. See photo. Now that the lever is gone, I can lay the saw with this side on a flat surface such as the ceiling and move it into the branch and score the branch all around. I say score because the blade can only penetrate an inch or two before the saw body contacts the wood. Once scored, a reciprocating saw, handsaw, or electric chainsaw may be your saw of choice to complete the cut. As purchased, the Twinsaw cuts about 5/8‟s of an inch from the surface it is against. This gives plenty of room to slip ½ inch sheetrock. I have not tried 5/8 inch sheetrock.

To utilize for wall slots, we have two options. The first is to make a jig to attach to the wall in the proper location for the wall and run the saw along it. Use the saw to score the outside of the wall slot without any tear out of wood fibers. Then use the electric chainsaw to deepen and clean out the wall slot to its full width. I make slots for the sheetrock on each side of the stud, not for the stud itself. My first stud is plumb and against the log which protrudes the farthest. I may have to notch into one or two logs so my stud contacts at least one log high on the wall to receive the timber screw of some type. This screw goes into the top of a slot cut in the stud to allow for settling. It is put in only snug, not tight. I like to cut 3” squares of ¼” plywood to act as wooden washers so the screwhead or standard washer does not dig into the stud restricting settling. It won’t actually restrict setting. More likely it would break the screw. The Twinsaw needs more than one and ½ inch width to rest against so I add a stud for additional width or custom cut blocks between the jig and wall. The saw may lose contact with the jig before penetrating the log without these blocks.

The second option, which I prefer, is letting the homeowner (or me) frame the partition stud walls and use the end stud to guide the jig as mentioned above. It may still be necessary to add a stud or blocking.

Another variation is having a pre-varnished trim board sit on top of the sheetrock. The advantage here is that slivers of unpainted sheetrock do not settle down into view over time. This recent house may be the first time I have done this. So this time I do not need a ½” slot for sheetrock, but a ¾” slot spaced ½” out from the framing. In theory, if I temporarily screw a 5/8” thick plywood to the framing to guide the Twinsaw, the outside of the scoring saw kerf should be at 1 and ¼”. Just right for the ¾” wood on top of the ½” rock. Actually I aim for at least 1/16” oversize; otherwise you will be cussing as the material will not go into the slot.

The depth of the wall slots is always a question. Ideally, the slot would go in to just make contact with the lateral groove thereby closing all gaps. Going too deep reduces the structural integrity of the logs sideways strength. There should not be two slots on opposite sides of a log at the same point as this would really reduce this integrity. This depth of the slot would be easy in the rare situation where all the laterals are 4” wide and are in perfect alignment. That does not occur in my houses with character (crooked) logs. So sometimes my sheetrock ends are not cut square. If they are not square, I have to ensure that after settling there will not be an absence of sheetrock at the lateral groove. It takes a little figuring for me to be sure the sheetrock goes straight up from each lateral groove at least as far as I expect that point to settle down. With the trim board on top of the rock, that board could be removed later and corrected, but with the sheetrock you are kind of stuck! Another place for sprayfoam, trim it, sand it, and paint it. That would work in my house, but not for my customer!

Of course, everyone knows that if the sheet rock is scribed with points to go in between the logs, those points can eventually break off as the logs settle. Some people think after a year or two the house is done settling. Myself, I estimate my houses settle to 80% in three years. I know of two log homes within 20 miles of mine that had settling occurring at 12 years. I find this hard to believe but the homeowners told me first hand. One of them was a log home builder also. Both of these homeowners came home and could not open the door because the settle board had come down enough to interfere with the door opening. Now this is a cut and dry situation. Either the door touches the settle board or it does not touch. So at 12 years of age, two log homes still had settling occurring. One was smaller red pine logs by our standards, but the other was probably 12” mid-diameter logs. I actually spent a week fitting logs on that house when it was built in 1982 and put an addition on it several years ago. Now they want more room again and I talked to them about another larger addition.

Another variation is wall slots for ¾” material such as pine tongue and groove. For this, I added a spacer onto the saw metal housing around the blade. This entailed drilling and tapping the thin metal for screws to attach the aluminum material I used for my spacer. I could see duct tape being used here!! Yesterday I removed my spacer since the plywood on the framing gave me more spacer thickness which I needed.

I recently purchased two “DUAL-SAWS” from the TV infomercial. I was sure they would work great. And the first one did for a while. On TV they even cut a car body in quarters. Cutting brass and aluminum requires the use of a lubricant stick which looks like a hot glue stick. Anyway, this 3amp saw worked for a few slots, but got hot with the continued use. Five minutes to cut a slot, 10 minutes to set up for the next, and so on. It started to smell like a hot motor. A couple days later 5 minutes cutting a window (2‟x4‟) extension jamb down and it quit running.

The craftsman is 7 amps. I have to remember to give it sufficient cool down time! I may have paid $189 at Sears 4 or 5 years ago after Jim Grieb showed us his Craftsman Twinsaw at a conference.
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The Thin Tin Shim

By Ronn Hann of Northern Comfort Log Homes

Reprinted from Spring 2006 Newsletter

Several years ago, I made a simple 6” by 12” rectangle out of some aluminum flashing stock in order to lay out some 6” by 12” mortise and tenons that I had to cut and since then it has been called, “The Thin Tin Shim.” It gets used quite a bit for many more uses. It is called for to lay out lock notches, transfer square end cuts around a log from chalk line centerlines, floor joist mortise and tenon layout on wall logs and to square end log floor joists. It can also be used as a gauge to check widths of cuts. I also bend it over under hanging log ends when finish scribing the coved ends of a log. The flashing stock is easy to accurately cut with a utility knife and small nicks with the knife mark the center lines all sides. It is now very easy to pick up and transfer a 3” or 6” offset to cut a center line or snap line, layout square cuts on log ends or work off the center of a notch to layout a 6” wide lock notch. Then wrap around the log below at the double scribed notch to quickly lay out the female part of the lock. This flexible free mini square has many redeeming features. It can be left out in the rain and never rusts. It never seems to get lost or left behind. I have been using the same one for years.

Thanks, Ronn Hann
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Work Safe, Work Easy: Crown Locator

By Robert L. Gifford (reprinted from fall 2008 newsletter)

Using the right tool can make a job easy, enjoyable, and safe especially if you have a tool that is designed for the task at hand.

In our line of work, Scandinavian Full Scribe Log Building, there are many tools designed for the job, but most of them were designed over five hundred years ago and some of these tools could take a little reinventing, even though they are still working
great. It is just that times have changed and labor is not cheap, and our work exposes us to liabilities that we, as businessmen and craftsmen, would rather not take a chance on.

Well, working by myself, I have had to come up with several tools that at times, seem very odd, but work great and make it possible for me to do the job by myself.

Robert Gifford's Crown Locator

One of those jobs is locating the crown of a log, and turning it until the crown is on the outside of a log wall. This can take up to three people, two people with cant hooks turning the 24” log and a third standing back looking for the straight line that sometimes just doesn’t seem to always come up on top the way we would like. Also turning a log on the end of a wall, even if a rolling dog is used, can be back breaking labor and somewhat dangerous.

Well one day I decided that there had to be a better way, and that using gravity to accomplish this arduous task, instead of letting gravity and friction defeat me might be the way to go. In so doing I had an idea that could help any craftsman accomplish the same task effortlessly, and combine a couple other tasks at the same time.

Crown Locator Close-Up

Doesn’t look like much, does it? With just two of these under the log, about two foot from each end, the Crown Locator and gravity takes care of the rest. The Crown Locator will work on single crown, or double crown logs, with just a little adjustment. And while you are at it, do your measuring for the log at the same time, and write these numbers on the end of the log for your log list.

The dolly wheels, on the Crown Locator, are 12” diameter with a width of 3 inches. The cost for the dolly wheels is less than forty dollars each. The steel, two inch square tubing and four inch channel iron, with the welding combined cost just over $125.00 at a local welding shop.

The Crown Locator can hold up to five thousand pounds safely on solid ground, and the maintenance is just about zero. The dolly wheels are polypropylene, with hardened roller bearings and grease zerts that do not mark the logs. The total height of the Crown Locator is just twenty-four inches, and can be handled by just one man if they need moving, which is seldom. I leave mine in the same spot for the duration of the time it takes to build the log home.

The Crown Locator Calculations

The total time it takes to locate the crown is less than ten seconds. Then, using a 24” level, I mark the direction of the crown on the end of the log with an arrow, which is always a vertical line, with the head of the arrow pointing down. When the log is placed on the wall the arrow needs to point out from the wall on a level plane. This can be accomplished with a level and this gives me a horizontal line. Now I can mark a vertical line to represent the centerline of the log.

This simple tool can save a lot of work, and eliminate some of the danger that we, as Log Crafters, deal with on an average day of building a log home. One of our greatest dangers, next to using
a chain saw, is back injury. Anything that will make our lives safer is just great by me.

I am turning over the Copyright and Patient Rights, along with any of the Crown Locator derivatives’ to The Great Lakes Log Crafters Association. Maybe in some small way this will help support this great organization that my wife and I are proud to be members of.
Be safe.


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The Lac Vieux Desert Ceremonial Lodge

By Brent Preston (reprinted from fall 2008 newsletter)
(Sent in by Neil Maclean of Timberlinx)
New technology helps an Indian band realise their vision of a traditional log structure.

The recent history of the Lac Vieux Desert Chippewa of northern Michigan is a story of remarkable progress and growth. Not recognised as an official Indian band until 1988, the Band had less than 100 members and an unemployment rate of 40% in the early 90s, but investment in housing, education and social services at that time laid the foundation for a rapid transformation. The Band has since increased its landholdings from 74 to over 1600 acres, built modern services, a golf course, hotel and gaming facility, and unemployment now stands at just 11%.

With this newfound prosperity, the Band approached Dan Wait of Frontier Builders in 2003 with a plan to rebuild their traditional ceremonial lodge. The building they envisioned would stand on sacred ground in the heart of the LVD Old Indian Village, and would be designed according to the traditions of the Chippewa people. Dan helped the Band create a preliminary design for a massive 75 foot diameter octagonal log building, with centre posts at the four compass points and grand entrance doors on the north and south walls. The 24 trusses would be built of 20 inch diameter pine logs harvested on LVD and adjacent federal lands. Dan gave the band a material list and told them to call him back in two years, after they had felled, peeled and air dried the logs. As construction time neared, Dan and his team at Frontier Builders took the Band’s design concept to an engineer. The results were disheartening. The engineer specified knife plates and multiple steel bolts to carry the massive loads generated in the long spans and large-diameter logs. “He called for something like three tons of steel in all” Dan recalls. This much steel did not fit with what the Band or Dan had envisioned. Dan began to look for alternatives. He met with Neil Maclean of Timberlinx at the 2006 ILBA conference in Montebello Quebec and talked to him about the LVD project. Timberlinx is an internal steel fastening system with excellent tensile and shear capacities. It also has defined mechanical values backed by full-scale testing, something engineers like. At first Dan was a little apprehensive about going with a new technology like Timberlinx. “It’s a little like going from a Model T to a Ferrari” he says. “Knife plates and steel bolts may not look great, but they are reliable, they have stood the test of time.” But when he took the idea of using Timberlinx back to the band, they were immediately enthusiastic. “The band was all over the idea of hidden fasteners, and that’s what sold me” Dan recalls. There was still the problem of engineering, however. Frontier Builders had already paid for the engineering of the structure and was reluctant to pay again. Neil recognised the importance of the project and the size of the potential order, so he offered to pay to have the plans redesigned using Timberlinx. Joe Miller of JFM Design in Galesburg, Illinois reviewed the drawings and developed completely hidden Timberlinx configurations that exceeded the original steel knife plate capacities. In all, 33 Timberlinx connectors were used in each of the 24 trusses. The joints with the highest loads had multiple connectors and hidden splint rings to augment the shear capacity of the Timberlinx. “By using different combinations of full and half Timberlinx connectors, along with threaded rods and split rings, each customized joint configuration could be specified using off-the-shelf parts” says Joe. “Since we could install the connectors in the line of action of all the axial forces, there were fewer shrinkage and load eccentricity issues compared to traditional knife plates.”

In January of 2007, Neil flew to Wisconsin to train Dan’s crew as they began to assemble the trusses. Timberlinx had made a special oversized drilling jig to accommodate the 20 inch diameter logs being used. “The first truss went really well” Neil recalls, “but on the second, we ran into some challenges.”
The custom jig, which guides the drilling location for the 1 1/8 inch diameter holes for the Timberlinx fasteners, was not working precisely on the irregularly shaped logs. Neil, Dan and the Frontier crew worked into the night, modifying and rewelding the jig, until they got it right. “There is always a learning curve with new technology” Dan said at the time. By the next day, the drilling and assembly of the trusses was running smoothly. By the time all the trusses were assembled “the comfort level in using Timberlinx was there” says Dan. He now uses Timberlinx regularly in many of his projects.

The LVD ceremonial lodge is now nearing completion. Ancient Native American aesthetics, traditional log building techniques and modern technology have combined to create a sacred structure on a grand scale.

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Don’t Get Rid of Your Metal Scrap Piles

By Frank Vanderveur (reprinted from spring 2010 newsletter)

Frank Vanderveur

Some of us have piles of “materials” laying in our back yards, materials such as scrap steel – long pieces, short pieces, pieces of all kind. These piles sit around our places, until the day arrives where we find a need to build something for our use that we cannot buy in a store. In my case, the need for a sawmill became stronger and stronger. Up to this point, I was able to cut logs with my Alaskan sawmill, which did a perfect job. The only drawback was the initial setup time, which was very time consuming, so I went back to the drawing board.


Frank Vanderveur's Homemade Sawmill

The track system: I used 1 ½” angle iron x 12” welded on top of 3” U-channel for one side. For the other side I used the 3” U-channel only. In between the two tracks, I welded 1 ½” angle iron and ½” x 18” x 8” steel plate on top of it, on which the log will be resting. On one end of the steel plate I welded 3/4” tubing in which a 1/2” steel piece can slide to any height to prevent the log from rolling off.

Frank Vanderveur's Sawmill. Note how the wedge is being used.

Now the log dogs had to be made. Here there are many options to choose from. I kept it simple with two ½” x ¾” x 3” pieces of steel functioning as legs, which slide over the steel plate. These two legs are welded on either side of another ½” x ¾” x 3” piece of the same material in between. This middle piece has a sharp point grinded to the end that can be pounded in the log with a hammer. I know there are much nicer log dogs available, but this works fine for now.

Frank Vanderveur's Homemade Sawmill

The frame in which the chainsaw is mounted: I had some stakes left from a flatbed that was not going to be used. These are excellent materials to use for building a rectangular frame, one for each side connected with the same tubing material on the top of each frame. Now this is where we have to watch out for – make sure that it is braced while you weld it together, otherwise the heat can bend it slightly and then your wheels won’t run on the track. I had the wheels fabricated by a local welding shop. They were made out of aluminum with a groove cut in the middle so two of the wheels on one side will slide over the angle iron piece and prevent the frame from rolling off the track. On the other side of the frame, I positioned one wheel [not as seen on this picture which has four]. In this case, it is easier to adjust the level of the frame than using two wheels. To mount the chain saw with a 48” bar I welded a frame together that glides inside the existing frame. This inside frame can be adjusted for height by ¾” threaded rod that turns inside a nut which is welded on this frame. It is very important that the chainsaw bar is perfectly level in place. If not, your bar will cut downward through your tracks all the way to China. To beef up the bar, I placed a ¾” threaded rod through the bar near the nose for more stability. This bar came from my Alaskan sawmill and is about 48” long.

I have used this saw mill for cutting stair treads. It has really saved me some time. I can do 16 stair treads in two hours, including setup time. It is not a high production saw mill, but it works well for cutting logs in half. You have the option to make more tracks and cut longer logs. The sawmill is easy to transport on a 16‟ trailer and assemble on the jobsite. Above all, you got full use out of your metal scrap piles. I know a board member who has one of these very valuable “piles” in his backyard – and still makes use of them as I do!

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Scarf Saddle Boards

By Ronn Hann (reprinted from spring 2006 newsletter)

Using this layout, tool uniform scarfs are marked on the wall logs when rough scribing. The log is then brought down from the wall and all notching and scarfing is done on the ground

scarf saddle board

Ronn Hann's Scarf Saddle Board

The saddle boards are made from two scraps of 3/8” thick pine 5”-6” wide and about 12” longer than the largest diameter log I use on the project. I bandsaw or jigsaw cut the two scarf shaped boards and fasten them together with 1-1/2” wide strips of inner tube stapled to the boards. In use, the 2 pieces hang over the log with about a 4” gap between them. A saw cut center line nick acts as a gun site to line up the saddle board with the center line of the log below before marking with a pencil or pen. When cutting the scarfs try to maintain at least a four inch width on top. This makes scribing the next round easier because you don’t usually dip down onto the scarf of the log below when scribing. Notching the next log on the wall is easier because you can plunge cut out the bottom of the notch. Mini pro bars on your chainsaw are made about 2-½” wide and do that job nicely.

Several of these super saddle boards will be used in this year’s pre-conference project and will be offered for sale in the annual fundraiser auction.


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Roof Structure Ideas

By Bill Olsen (reprinted from 2005 newsletter)

Some years ago, when I worked at Frontier Builders in Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin, company founder Jerry Wait and myself were out looking at buying stumpage when we stopped by a log home under construction.

A professional log crafter and former member of the GLLCA were building the home. The builder had just finished the roof
system and, at the time, I was contemplating the type of roof to put on a small log home I was completing for myself. The roof design he used was simple: first he covered the ridge and purlins with 2” x 6” T&G decking; rigid insulation was laid on top of the T&G; and 2” by 2” sleepers were laid on top of that. Long screws that penetrated through the insulation anchored the sleepers to the T&G decking and hold the insulation in place. Sheathing was then fastened to the sleepers. Tarpaper and shingles completed the job. During the drive back to the log yard, I asked Jerry what he thought of this building method.
“There’s no structure,” he replied.
What do you mean?
“There ain’t nothin’ holding it together in a big wind except prayer,” he said. That was as much as I would be getting from Jerry on the subject in light of his economic vocabulary
that was developed when words used to cost a nickel each. And come to think of it, there isn’t much more to say on the subject.
When it came time to do my own roof a few weeks later, I figured Jerry was right and I opted for Structurally Insulated Panel or SIPs. Although there’s plenty of strength with
SIPs, after the first winter in the home, I had something called “shingle ridging.” That’s caused when moisture migrates through panel joints and causes the OSB to expand and push up the shingles. Although the situation usually reverses itself after summer heat, the ridging will repeat every year—not a healthy situation in the long term. I’ve since sold that small log home, but the subject of roofs was a concern again last year on another home for me. I remembered Jerry’s concerns about sleepers and combined that with what I knew about SIPs and came up with something I call a “modified rafter” roof system. The following method was used on a cathedral ceiling that covers a 20’ by 30’ wing. It’s strong, can be vented or un-vented, and has an extremely high R-value (mine is approximately R-55). Although it’s a labor intensive roof to build, I believe it has high economical value and high structural integrity. Living in the snow country in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we receive an average of 250 inches of white stuff per year. So the roof had to be stronger than your average one, and since I have a penchant for working alone, the process had to be solo friendly.

You’ll notice from the pictures that the rafters running down the rake of the roof were spliced over the purlins. This was because I had a limited supply of rough-cut dimensional lumber that was at least 20 feet long. And also because I wanted 3” x 6” rafters supporting the four-foot eave overhangs but didn’t need rafter material that thick for the upper rake of the roof. (Incidentally, this past winter the roof easily withstood three feet of heavy snow piled on the eaves.)

If you’re interested in building a similar style roof here are a few pointers:

-Logs used for purlins and top plates should be straight—it is easier to build the roof system on top of them and quicker to install insulation if the logs have little sweep. A 6-inch space won’t necessarily accept three 2-inch sheets of foam. (Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. In either case, have on hand plenty of canned spray-in foam insulation to fill cracks and voids that you’ll inevitably have. (I went through 40 cans.)

-The key to this style of roof is the 16-inch Oly Log Fasteners purchased through Schroeder’s Log Home Supply. They hold the rafters directly to the ridge and purlins. Don’t skimp on screws (GRK Fasteners also work) or you’ll be the one who gets screwed in the end.

-On top of the T&G decking before the insulation was installed, I put down a layer of snow and ice shield—expensive but worth it. (A second layer of snow and ice shield was used over the  sheathing before shingling.)

-Stagger the joints of the sheets of insulation so heat or moisture does not have direct passages out. (Available now is a special tape to seal the seams.)

-This same roof design would be excellent for professional spray-in foam insulation applications such as Icynene. Although I considered it, the nearest contractor is 150 miles away and it was easer and perhaps a bit less expensive to use sheets of insulation.


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What is a Handcrafted Log Home?

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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