Log Home Construction Techniques

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Building a home from logs is a time-honored method that results in a sturdy and aesthetically appealing house. As a type of construction with a long history over many different geographical regions, there are many different methods of constructing a log home. Details such as the way in which the logs are finished, the type of joint used at the corners of the home and even the direction in which the logs are placed can vary from one home to another.

Log Finishing

  • The way a log is finished before construction falls into one of two main categories: milled and hand-crafted. Milled logs are those that have been cut by the blades of a milling machine in order to peel the bark from the log and to give the log two or four flat sides. One milled log will look much like another from the same mill, but their uniformity means they may not require chinking to seal the logs. Handcrafted logs are peeled by hand with a drawknife. Some logs sold as handcrafted are water-peeled but the dimensions of the logs are not altered by machine.

Corner Joint Types

  • There are many different ways of shaping the ends of the logs in order to fit them together tightly at the corners of the home. Some methods are more suitable for particular sizes of log or specific types of wood. A round notch joint has a round section removed from a log so that it will fit over the round log below it. Post-and-beam corners have a vertical log onto which the horizontal log ends are attached. Scribe fit joints are popular for hand-crafted logs and involve scribing, or marking and carving, each log to fit precisely into the log below it.

Interior Walls

  • Interior walls can be wood logs or traditional Sheetrock walls. Wood log walls can either be structural or insulated. Structural log walls are the other side of the logs that are visible from the exterior of the home. If a home has insulated interior log walls, it means that half-logs are attached to conventionally finished interior walls to give the look of structural logs. Superficial interior log walls have better insulating properties and are better sealed than structural log walls, but this technique may not have the "authentic" feel many log home owners are looking for.

Stackwood Construction

  • Also called cordwood or stackwall construction, this method is a favorite of do-it-yourselfers looking for a low cost way of building their own log homes by hand. Stackwood construction uses short log pieces, the length of which determines the thickness of the walls. The logs are stacked almost like firewood and held in place by lime mortar so that only the butt end of the logs are visible. This method of log home construction is less costly and requires less heavy machinery than conventional log homes.

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  • Photo Credit log cabin corner detail image by Scott Williams from Fotolia.com
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