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Author Topic: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"  (Read 861 times)

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Offline kantuckid

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Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« on: October 26, 2017, 11:48:19 am »
Ideas? Food for thought...
Here's the situation:
I/we own our timber and I have a Woodmizer LT15 mill. I'm going to build a small, off-grid cabin back in our woods. It will be ~14' x 16' with a small loft. As background, we live in a 2 story cabin I built from scratch 1979-80 using stack log construction of SYP hand peeled, inside & out logs with a timber frame addition I did in 2005. I used eastern white pine bought from a local mill for my timber frame as I have no mature white pine nor hemlock.
 FWIW, conversation, etc., those original logs came from a nearby CCC plantation and all are even aged trees of perfect size, etc.. Old house has ~ 300 plus of 16' logs built into the walls.
This time around I lean toward that same construction or "D" logs but have very little pine to choose from now as ice storms over the past 25 years have taken down most of the pine on this land Our woods is mixed hardwoods with lots of oak and yellow/tulip poplar at several elevations ranging up to ridges here in E KY.
I could cherry pick small poplars and clean 2 sides or 3 and hand peel the outside or larger trees and "saw through" for lumber & cabin logs. Thing is, much more of my poplar is mature, big trees that are really too large, best used as cabin material. I also know poplar has that tendency to split to the heart when used as cabin logs or timbers, otherwise it would be easier handle & to build into a cabin than oak.
I could also choose to do more of a hewn (bandsawed in my case) log look using the bigger poplars & modern chinking.
 
I do plan to do dovetailed corners via a chainsaw jig from Fred in MT.
Thanks for sharing your ideas!
Kan=Kansas;tuck=Kentucky;kid=what I'm not

Offline ChugiakTinkerer

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2017, 12:20:32 pm »
I'm sure you'll get some ideas about timber framing with oak.  Might help folks to know what species of oak you have easy access to.

I built D-log cabins here in Alaska many years ago.  We had good white spruce logs then.  Up here that's about all that's available, at least north of the Alaska Range.  How big are your poplars?  You might do a little experimenting with one or two trees and see about cutting D-logs from sides, assuming they're big enough.  You can turn the heart into dunnage, firewood, or siding.  I'm just pondering here, but might the three-sided logs be good enough to build with?
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Offline bigred1951

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2017, 02:53:50 pm »
Somebody else from eastern ky. I would be scared to use pine myself. Id always be worried how quick it would rot around here. Id almost be as worried about poplar but would rather use it then pine.

Offline Don P

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2017, 08:09:34 pm »
Most of the "chestnut" cabins I've been asked to look at were white oak. A few were poplar. Most had poplar at the second floor and top plate logs, I assume because it is easier to work with and nail to.

Offline firefighterontheside

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2017, 07:49:35 am »
The key with building log cabins that don't rot is keeping the logs dry and up away from the ground.  If you do that, you can use just about anything.  I built my log home with red pine logs from Minnesota.  One end of my house faces northwest, where all the weather comes from.  The logs in that end started to weather badly and even had a little rotten spot.  To remedy, I built a big roof covering my whole deck, which now keeps rain from blowing on that end of the house.  If I were you, I think I would build with oak.  Build your foundation at least 24" up off the ground and make large overhangs of your roof.  Situate your cabin so that the roof faces where the weather comes from.  I just recently got a mill, but I think about all the things I could have done 18 years ago when I built the house if I had a mill then.  Good luck.
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2017, 02:52:11 pm »
AK guy-This will be logs not timber frame.
 My poplars range up to 30" dia. and far too valuable to use for a wall log in that size, at least a sawed "D" log-other than the top logs.
Yesterday I took a cruise again thinking about whats out there size wise in oak/poplar.
 In either species I'll saw sort of like this: 14-16" log dia., yielding two D logs 6" thick x ~7 1/2"-8 1/2".
With a log~ 10-12" dia I can saw one D log & maybe 1x6/2x6 from edge.
Not being in business I need to choose trees within a logical size range to avoid lumber I don't need.
My lifelong woodworking hobby uses the better stuff over time but rough lumber I don't need beyond floor framing for most part in my way.

Big Red- I'm retired from the tech school in Morehead FWIW. If you follow the "off the ground" & the "substantial roof overhang" rules worry not with pine. My house has a front southern exposure and UV is harder on the yellow pine than moisture.
Most all wood these days gets the wood bee and small alien wasp issue, especially poplar and pine as they seem to drill more in softer wood. That's not a factor of choice for this small cabin I'm doing this time around. 

Firefighter-thanks but I know how to build with logs, etc.. I do lean toward oak as I have an ample number of smaller trees to use. Plus it's interesting as not a wall log I've used before. Mixed oak ranging from red and white to chestnut and black pak up higher on and near the ridge. I hand peeled all my old house logs with a drawknife. My body is lots older now! My hands are nearly worn out! This latest cabin WILL not be hand hewn, that's for sure. I will say that even though I've peeled more logs than most people reading this I have never peeled an oak. Only peeled pine for this old house and hickory outer bark for my chair bottoms. It is tough work anyway you do it. YUK!

Don P- I'll say most older log homes (which are built from many species) they used what was at hand as many are mixed wood. Chestnut was the predominate tree in the eastern forests until it's decline thus there were lots of cabins built from it-back when. There are still chestnut fence posts on our place on boundary line fences.  Pine too because of the tree factors like size,etc.. No doubt a guy hewing a log liked the poplars pretty good.  I will say I've never seen a hickory, beech, buckeye or basswood wall log...
FWIW, I'm a chestnut freak and have a large stash used in my woodworking. I've torn down a bunch of old houses and barns over the years. Even me has to take a knife at times to make sure what an old board is from.
My old house I used the 12" nails for the stack log wall build but may go with a screw this time around. Several brands out there in use now and commonly used by log builders and timber framers.
My old house was built when log kits were becoming popular but some of the log finishes, fastners and chinking were not out there yet. Same for heating choices.

Anyone peeled oak logs by hand?  Not sure I want the look I'd get with a chainsaw log peeler? Maybe, maybe not...
Kan=Kansas;tuck=Kentucky;kid=what I'm not

Offline bigred1951

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2017, 07:17:25 pm »
I went to the tech school senior year and then almost 2 years after in welding

Offline kantuckid

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2017, 08:05:28 am »
I went to the tech school senior year and then almost 2 years after in welding
I retired, a buyout actually from there in 2001 and went to another county as a principal. Based on your age we didn't cross paths but you went to school with my niece in Rowan Co..
I saw "John" the Building trades teacher there this summer at Lowe's. FWIW, he built a log house for himself years ago. Was sawed log walls. That welding program was top notch when I was around, based on my experience there and in industry as a skilled trades person. I began in 1974 at the old school downtown.
My cousin in KS deals in old trucks like red one shown in the picture. Auction barn finds then he resells them as is.
Small world stuff huh?
Kan=Kansas;tuck=Kentucky;kid=what I'm not

Offline bigred1951

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2017, 09:43:16 am »
The welding program was great. But looking back I wish I would have taken a different course probably johns class. I graduated high school in 09

Offline kantuckid

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2017, 10:50:48 am »
Adding another trade to welding is good too. It crosses over to other stuff well, like mechanics or other industrial skill sets. The better wages in welding are a "hit the road thing" mostly, thus many do pipeline or construction instead of relatively poor paying area factory jobs.
We often heard from area industry that they wanted the "do it all" skill sets w/o the pay that sort of person should earn.
That's why I turned away from working in my skilled trade here when I moved to KY in 1973, I chose not to starve, so to speak. So I actually went into another low paying field called education-HA!!!
Factoid: I made more as a union millwright one weekend than what KY paid me for a month teaching in 1974. 
I also gave up most of my SS check for my teacher retirement check, maybe I'm not so smart?
Kan=Kansas;tuck=Kentucky;kid=what I'm not

Offline dgrover13

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2017, 11:50:45 pm »
Here in northern Wisconsin we have poplar, white pine, red pine and other hardwoods.

I am in process of building a red pine cabin.  I have plenty of poplar on my land, but after much research I went with red pine. For me it came down to cost, ease of finding, and strength.  I would have gone with white pine, but its not as strong and costs more.  Both are tough to find in bulk (enought for a cabin - I need 40 foot lengths) - as the wisconsin logging industry has taken a hit the past 10 years.  Red is easier to find.

Oak?  I have read about issues with hardwoods for a log cabin.  Thoughts?
-Darren

Offline kantuckid

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2017, 07:48:57 am »
A couple of Ozark area (MO) commercial kit sellers use oak for logs. I'm not sure what problems can be? and I'm a wood freak. Some log kit companies tried poplar many years back when they started producing from forests further south and stopped due to the tendency of larger poplar cuts to "split to the heart" when drying. used in wall logs or for timber framing that will happen more so than with pines, especially white pine.
My SYP logs have some splitting, not much or enough to matter. All wood does that with exception of say, catalpa, which is the only one I know of in that regard  and not what you'll build a cabin from.
I'm stuck on oak for now as my only other choice is poplar in my own forests.
We had two ice storms, maybe was 1993 & 1995? that took down many pines here. Prior to that time I had enough pine but gone is gone & only a few remain.
Kan=Kansas;tuck=Kentucky;kid=what I'm not

Offline Don P

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2017, 08:09:22 am »
Oak moves more than pine, there's the main argument. Denser woods do move more and tend to dry slower.
We went to look at a large white oak that needs slabbing yesterday. The house was once JEB Stuart's brother's. By the end of the visit we had toured most of the buildings and will be supplying enough white oak logs to repair the log barn and smokehouse.

Offline kantuckid

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2017, 08:29:33 am »
And White Oak's the slowest of them all! Closed cell structure. M
FWIW, my two story SYP house probably has settled ~ 3" since the walls went up in 1979.
A much smaller cabin, as I'm building this time around will have less downward movement, no matter the species. Still worth a thought to decide how much headspace for my oak walls? :P
Kan=Kansas;tuck=Kentucky;kid=what I'm not

Offline Don P

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2017, 10:21:32 am »
This is the prescriptive method to figure shrinkage from the log code.

Offline kantuckid

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2017, 10:45:33 am »
Based on the chart,  my humid, relatively warm E KY climate, using oak, green, would be ~ 2.5% movement downward in a log wall?
A ten foot wall x 2.5%= ~3"?
I'll buy that figure.
The white wood figure is shown as less-I see yellow poplar as moving more and much faster than this calculation but chart says less?
Kan=Kansas;tuck=Kentucky;kid=what I'm not

Offline Don P

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2017, 11:36:18 am »
white wood is conifers, look at it as rough ranges of density in the 3 columns, I'd put poplar in the right hand hardwood column.

On the following pages are the methods to figure settlement accounting for slumping of scribed coped walls and compaction of thin bearing edges and then shrinkage. There are 3 more prescribed and one calculated method.

Pa; 3% of wall height
Pb; 1% height per 4% moisture change
Pc; use the table I posted

Calculated method, wait a minute, I stuck it in a calc I think.
Here tis;
http://timbertoolbox.com/Calcs/logshrinkcalc.htm
The shrinkage coeff it is asking for is another table I neglected to put on that calc page, winter work  :D.
Oak Sradial: northern red 4%, southern red 4.6%, northern white 5.6, Chestnut 5.3
Yellow poplar: 4.6
Pine, EWP 2.1, jack 3.7, red 3.8 ...SYP's lob 4.8, long 5.1, short 4.6, slash 5.4

Offline kantuckid

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2017, 01:56:50 pm »
I always thought of white wood-in the lumber trade- as poplar, aspen and the like?
Thanks for the informative posts on wood shrinkage. As a woodworker, i.e. furniture,etc.,  I'm pretty well experienced but not as a log builder-only done this one i'm sitting in...
Kan=Kansas;tuck=Kentucky;kid=what I'm not

Offline badger1

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2017, 01:04:23 pm »
Here in northern Wisconsin we have poplar, white pine, red pine and other hardwoods.

I am in process of building a red pine cabin.  I have plenty of poplar on my land, but after much research I went with red pine. For me it came down to cost, ease of finding, and strength.  I would have gone with white pine, but its not as strong and costs more.  Both are tough to find in bulk (enought for a cabin - I need 40 foot lengths) - as the wisconsin logging industry has taken a hit the past 10 years.  Red is easier to find.

Oak?  I have read about issues with hardwoods for a log cabin.  Thoughts?

Where are you located in Wisconsin? I will be building in the spring 24x30 full scribe log. I have a friend who is a full time logger in the area, he told me almost the exact opposite. White pine is readily available and cheap, red pine more expensive. The classes I have taken all claim to love white pine and it being the preferred building material (northern Minnesota). My friend is always busy logging full time (especially when the tornados went through). He did confirm that lengths might be tough to find. I would like avg 10" diameter logs 30-32ft in length.

Send me a private message and tell me where you are located. I'd like to chat and hear more about your project, maybe we can discuss some things!
Contact me via PM, willing to help with projects for more experience

Offline Don P

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Re: Log Cabin Log Choices- Just Thinking "Out Loud"
« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2017, 02:06:00 pm »
White pine is easier to work with and shrinks less. Red pine is harder and has visually bolder grain. I've used them mixed.

I did a little more work on that wall height shrinkage calc. I'm still trying to put in a button for tangential grain but got some species on a drop down list so it should work pretty easily.
http://timbertoolbox.com/Calcs/logshrinkcalc.htm

In a full scribe shrinkage is only one part of figuring settlement. They go into another page or two on calculating compression and slumping to get the full scribe settlement allowance, that's also where the tangent numbers come into play more, the edges of the cope are out there more in tangential bearing.