How to Build a Log Cabin for a School Project

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Build your own log cabin for a school project. These instructions are enough to do a basic layout and contain suggestions for customizing the cabin, though what is done with the cabin will depend on the purpose of the assignment that is being done.

Things You'll Need

  • Pocket Knife
  • Glue gun
  • Glue sticks
  • Sticks
  • Cardboard
  • Apron
  • Goggles
  • Saw
  • Craft Glue

Insert the glue sticks into the glue gun. Plug in the glue gun and wait for it to heat up. Since there is a risk of dripping hot glue, make sure that precautions are taken so dripping glue does not land anywhere it should not. A cardboard box that has been cut open and splayed out on a table makes a good workspace. Wear an apron and any other safety barriers that will prevent burns from the hot glue. Goggles will prevent injury to the eyes from debris as you prepare the wood. Look for floor plans on the internet from companies selling full-sized log cabins or make one up.

Get your sticks from branches that are already dead. Using the pocket knife, remove the bark from the sticks by cutting away from yourself carefully. Don't make the job too perfect since the goal is to make the cabin look natural. Break the sticks at the desired length. If the sticks don't break easily, use a small saw. Be careful not to cut on any surface that is valuable for being scuff free (a work bench would be ideal). Hold the stick firmly braced against the surface of the work bench or table with one hand. Make sure that there are at least three inches between your hand and the saw. The best way to do this is by making the stick longer so that there is enough to grip at the end of the stick. Cut the stick at the desired location by making long, smooth strokes to help avoid having the saw "jump out" of the cut.

Cut a base out of cardboard that you will use as the "ground" around your cabin. Do not decorate this until the cabin has been glued down. The landscaping will be done in Step 5. Outline the footprint of the cabin. It might be a good idea to plan out the cabin from a drawing or photo of a cabin that you choose online. Look for the plans with very few square feet since they tend to be easier to build. At this time, make notches as desired in the logs to make them fit together like real cabins (see resources below for examples). Plan gaps for windows and doors. "Glass" can be made from plastic bottles and other sources of clear plastic packaging.

Start to glue the sticks in place one at a time. Start first with the foundation logs. Gradually add logs on top of the foundation logs. Because the bark has been removed earlier, the sticks should adhere to each other well. When the cabin arrives at the top, make the roof from cardboard. If the desired look is "corrugated steel," tear off the facing of the cardboard to expose the corrugated part underneath and paint to the desired colors. Don't make it too perfect. Again, look at the photos of cabins on the internet for an idea of what to make.

Glue the roof in place. Add vegetation from the yard or buy it from a hobby shop where model trains are sold. Use coffee grounds or a confetti of crushed leaves to cover the ground around the cabin with texture. Attach the landscaping with craft glue. Make sure that whatever you glue is dry and free of anything undesirable. Do not use food that may attract insects as part of the decoration (crumbs, for example). Paper or more sticks can be added for effect. Every cabin should probably have a woodpile. Mini bricks can be bought from a hobby store and pebbles are available outside the front door that will add to the authenticity of the project. If dolls or action figures are used, modify them to make the experience better by painting (them carefully) and using them judiciously.

Tips & Warnings

  • Authenticity and following the directions for the project are the key to impressing your teacher. The more realistic that the project is, the more that your teacher will be impressed. Make sure that you follow all instructions that the teacher gives so that you meet any criteria for the project. Some teachers will award extra points for creativity but authenticity is usually the way to go with these projects. Make it look like the real thing as much as you can. It would be better to follow all of the full scale techniques in building this project, time permitting.
  • This project requires adult supervision/participation. The glue and glue gun can be extremely hot. Knives should never be used unsupervised and it is safer if all of the tools are used by an adult, depending on the capacity of the student. The older and more capable the student, the more involved they should be with the production of the project (with appropriate guidance).

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