Thursday, June 21, 2007

Going To School

In the late 90's I was looking through a copy of Backwoods Home Magazine, when I came across an advertisement for Lasko School of Log Building. Up until then I did not know such a school existed. Imagine that, a school that could teach you how to build with logs. I looked up the site on the Internet and became very excited about the possibility of one day attending this school of log building. This past April I finally got the chance to attend.
Bill "Mr. Lasko" offers 2, 4, 8, and 12 week courses. I was only able to attend a 2 week class, being somewhat restricted by my job. Bill made the most of the time I was there. I was in the practice wood pile the first day cutting practice scarfs, notches, and lateral groves. By the third day I was working on a cabin for one of his clients, cutting tenons on floor joists . By the end of the two weeks we had covered and had "hands on" all the basics of Scandinavian full scribe log wall and floor construction. Bill had three different projects going on in various stages of completion. Which allowed me to work on actual cabins and homes. I was very pleased with what I learned.
As a side note: To get the most out of my experience there, I spent months before hand reading and studying various books on log construction, I was already proficient with a chainsaw, and I have a background in rustic furniture making.

Rough Notched and Final Scribed.

Floor Joist Tenon
Lateral Grove

Look at the size of these logs!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Peeling The Logs

When most people start working for a Handcrafted Log Builder, they usually start working in the log yard as a log peeler. This is the low man on the totem pole. Peeling logs is a laborious and sticky affair. Handcrafters do this to these new guys to see if they have what it takes to be a log builder. If they don't have what it takes, they will quit early on before time is wasted in training them.Having peeled logs before, I was not looking forward to peeling 55 logs by my self. My little man was a big help.
You have to peel (debark) the log so that it will start drying out and keep the insects out of the wood. The southern pine beetle and others eat the cambium layer. This is inner bark, the layer between the wood and the outer bark. Once the outer bark is off the beetle larva can't survive.
When we get ready to start to build we will have to draw knife or plain the logs again. This will give them a clean tooled look. More on this when we start to build.

Working hard!

Peeled Logs

Stacking for storage

Log Peeling

Peeling a Log

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Log Rack

We needed to build a rack for the logs to get them off of the ground and to make it easier to peel them. This rack is also where they will be stored over the summer. The rack had to be level and it feeds the logs out to the temporary building site. A set of ropes and pulleys used with my truck made it easy to load the logs onto the rack. See the video to see how it works.

Loading Log Onto Rack

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Skidding a Log

Getting The Logs Out of The Woods

Now that the logs were on the ground I had to skid them up to our temporary building site. Moving a 1000 lbs. of log would have been an easy job for a logging skidder, but I didn't have one. :) What I had was a 4-wheel drive FORD truck, and it got the job done! Barely! If it had not been a 4-wheel drive it would not have moved them.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007

Cutting the Trees

I started cutting trees in January. I wanted to have them all down by the end of February, before the sap started to rise in the spring. Your suppose to cut your trees in the winter while the sap is down. This keeps your logs from checking (cracking) to bad when they dry. I had a total of 55 trees.

Just a safety note: Logging is one of the most dangerous jobs and should not be attempted by the inexperienced.

My helpers. No, he's not allowed to use the saw.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Our Land and Trees

We purchased our current home and 20 acres of land about 7 years ago. It has always been our intention to someday build here. Our current home is a small brick home located in one of the front corners of the property and sets on about 2 acres, the rest is mostly wooded. These leaves us with the other 18 acres or so to build on. One of the back corners of the property is about 50 yards from a creek. This area has a nice pound site that we hope to take advantage of. Our home site is wooded and about a 150 yards from the County Road. After clearing the under brush and a few unwanted trees we should just barely see the road.

This property was selectively logged about 12 years ago. Most of the mature timber was cut then, however our trees were passed over then because they were not big enough at the time. They are Slash Pine and are about 25-35 years old. They have an average butt diameter of about 12 inches and a average middle diameter of about 9 inches. They are 35-40 feet long.They are a little on the small side, but our house will be a "round log chinker" so they should work out fine. Were going to rough cut window and door openings as we go, so we can "stretch" the log.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bring You up to Speed: The Plan

We had hope to start our home next year, but we were in a bad drought last summer. The drought was putting a lot of stress on our pine trees. This causes them to be vulnerable to the dreaded Southern Pine Bettle, which can reek havoc on a stand of pines. We lost about 5 trees to the beetles that were going to be used for our house. So we faced a decision, stay with our plan to start in a year and take a chance of losing more trees this summer or go ahead and start cutting over the winter. We decided to go ahead and get started now. I'm thankful we did, because it has been another dry spring and summer so far. There will be a lot of trees lost again this summer.
Starting now would mean that I would be getting started before I had a chance to go to school. This wouldn't really be a problem. I could start cutting over the winter, peel and store logs in the spring and go to school in late spring. That's what we did.
As I have mentioned I love to work with wood. Particularly Rustic and Country style furniture, so cutting and peeling logs would not be foreign to me. This would however, be on a scale that I have not yet attempted. I looked forward to the challenge.

To put it simply, our plan is something like this. Cut and peel our trees, and store them on a rack up off the ground. Attend a log home building school. Work on a few small projects over the summer (a play house for my kids). Practice, Practice, Practice!!! Finalize our building plans over the summer. Start work on the log shell on a temporary foundation this fall/winter. Hopefully we will be finished with the log shell before it gets to HOT next summer. If I can handle the log shell, then we will start putting money into this dream. Clearing land, foundation, well, building materials, and the list goes on.

Our Log Home Endeavor

It has been a dream of mine since child hood to one day have a log home. I remember my first log home magazine, I was probably around 13 or so when I first fell in love with the look of the log cabins, and log homes. In my early 20's my growing love for the craft of wood working, started leading me to believe that I could possibly build my own log home from scratch.
Cutting trees from your own land, and building your own home from them may sound a little eighteen-hundredesh. But if early settlers done it with axes and mules and very little training. Surely a moderately skilled craftsman with a chainsaw, power tools, and educating himself in the art of log building can do it! Right? If not, we'll have one huge bonfire. :)

This blog will document my progress from learning the craft of log building, to hopefully building our own log home from scratch. The entire process will probably take 3 years. When we are done maybe we will have made our dream come true.

The next several post will be intended to bring you up to where we are currently in our endeavor. As I start this blog it is June, we actually started cutting logs in January. I will be posting pictures and video of my "on the job learning".

This blog is in no-way meant to teach or instruct in how to build a log home. Nor am I endorsing products, people, or methods. This blog is intended to document our journey in our endeavor.