15 Lessons That Will Teach You All You Need To Know About Building A Log Cabin
In 1931, the great American writer and historian James Truslow Adams declared that:
Life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.
It’s clear to see in this wonderfully open-minded, self-expanding and modern age, that we all have the greatest privilege of all.
To define YOUR OWN riches, and make YOUR OWN opportunities!
So you may found have your perfect plot of land, or you may still be searching, but one way or another, your dream is taking shape and is on its way to becoming a reality.
You might even know where you’re going to get all of your materials from and be prepared to do what many dream to do, and build your own log cabin.
But don’t let a lack of ability get in the way of YOUR achievement!
These 15 videos highlight the crucial moments in the construction of your log cabin, so be over-prepared and avoid making mistakes that could be both costly and time consuming.
Clearing the site
Clearing your site can be very straight forward if the area is not heavily wooded. Basically you just need to ensure that you have a flat and clear area on which to prepare your foundation.
You should remove all branches, stones, leaves, anything that will get in the way of ensuring your floor is level and flat.
If the area is more heavily wooded, you may need to use machinery or be prepared for a lot of hard manual work! This video shows how trees are cleared from a wooded area.
Log cabins require more than just a simple shed foundation, but also do not need to be over engineered – they do not require the same foundation as a conventional brick and mortar house.
We recommend three different types of foundation: Raft foundation (concrete base), strip foundation base and pad foundation (concrete piers.)
Have a look at our guide to log cabin foundations to establish which type of foundation you need to lay.
This video shows how to prepare your ground for the foundation, how to set out your foundation area and how to pour a concrete slab.
If you have an existing strong soil base you can use concrete piers, which is also the cheapest form of foundation you can use.
Learn how to fell a tree with Mark Chisholm, a certified arborist and world champion tree climber by following these steps:
1. Look at the hazards:
- electrical hazards etc
- things that might affect personal safety eg branches and large dead sections
- hidden hazards such as vines
2. Assess the tree
- will it fit
- which way does it lean
- look at the branch structure
3. Clear the work zone
4. Cut the tree
- make the face cut
- set up the hinge
- double check escape route
- make back cut
Remember for every tree you fell, you should also plant at least two more to protect our environment.
Moving your logs
If you are sourcing your logs from a mill, you won’t need to worry about this but for those of you wanting to fell your own trees, you are going to have to think of a way to move them to the spot you want to site your cabin on.
Off grid warrior uses a system of snatch blocks, chains, cables and a truck!
How to debark
This is a great video which illustrates how to debark a pine log. The process is a lot simpler that most people believe.
You should debark your trees as soon as possible after cutting them so that the bark is easy to remove.
It may also be helpful to take a look at our article on preparing your logs.
Notching your logs
There are many different ways to connect your log cabin logs together.
Saddle notches are a group of notches and one of the most popular, especially for hand built cabins is the round notch. The round notch is made by cutting into a log to create a hollow that will interlock with the next log.
This video on scribing logs and cutting out the notch is split into two parts and although they are longer than the other videos we have shared, it is well worth watching them to get a good understanding.
This video shows the true craftsmanship of creating a perfect saddle notch, although there is no narration to the video, if it definitely worth a watch to pick up some tips from an expert.
To create the floor for your log cabin, you will need to firstly make floor joists. Watch this father-and-son duo show you how it’s done.
Once you have your floor joists in place you can lay a flooring of your choice such as tongue and groove flooring.
If you are going to have a different finish such as laminate, carpeted or vinyl flooring, you may want to opt for a cheaper option as an alternative to tongue and groove flooring such as plywood boards or thick OSB.
Chinking is a sealant material that fills in the gaps in between logs in a log home.
This process helps to insulate the cabin by protecting it from drafts, moisture and pests.
Take a look at this video which shows the full chinking process, from using the backing rod to finishing touches.
It is important to insulate you log cabin’s floor and roof to prevent heat loss and minimise your heating costs.
This video includes lot of detail as to how to insulate your floor and roof.
This is another great watch for installing roof insulation which shows you an intersection on a roof so you can see the steps of which way to layer your roof.
You can either build log gables or just wooden framed gables. Log cables are slightly more complex but have a much more authentic look.
If you want to save money on building your roof, follow these tips:
- Choose a low pitch so you have less materials to buy and it is quicker to construct.
- Don’t have any dormers or windows in your roof, it adds to the complexity and therefore takes longer to build.
This video shows how to construct your roof on log gables.
There are so many different finishes that you can use to roof your log cabin. Take a look at our article which explains each different roofing technique and the cost of each.
Shingles are one of the most popular options with most people simply buying the shingles, as they are widely available.
This video shows us how to shingle a roof.
If you are set on building your own log cabin from scratch and giving it a really rustic finished look, handmade shingles are a fantastic way to do this.
The video below shows how to make your own shingles and put them on your roof.
There you have it, from clearing your site, all the way to roofing your log cabin. A series of instructional videos to help teach you how to build a log cabin.
A cornerstone of the American dream, and certainly something for us all to strive for, is to live a life of freedom.
Freedom is no longer just an escape from the hum-drum, 9 to 5, monotony of urban life, but is rapidly becoming an adventure into a life void of care and worry.
Please use every resource that we have made available to make this dream life happen for you and let us know if there is any advice or building tips you have used in your log cabin adventure.