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Author Topic: Dovetail Log Cabin Help  (Read 765 times)

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Offline ehewitt05

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Dovetail Log Cabin Help
« on: November 01, 2017, 05:02:44 pm »
Hi, new to the forum.

I'm a young guy in my twenties who just finally realized the positives of many of the things my old man has talked about for years that I thought were crazy at a younger age. I am wanting to begin the process of building a cabin with my family's mill. I was introduced to this mill and post/beam construction around 13-14 years ago as a kid working with my Dad.

My dad has a Woodmizer LT40 Super that he has built two barns, a wood shop, a smoke house, a pavilion and a guest house on his farm.  Everything has been made out of Eastern Hemlock, and I helped saw a lot of it and built a lot at some point as well.

The dilemma is I would like to build a dovetail log home with batten on the gables/gable ends. I really like the way a small portion of chinking looks. We have no experience with chinking and don't have much experience with building with logs. Most times we would cut posts/beams then frame a wall and make veneer logs out of 2x6s. 

My initial thought is 6x6 square logs of Hemlock with 2" chinking gap.

I would love to get to talk to some guys who have done this type of building, or anyone that would have some insight.

Some of the intial questions I have are;
1. Would square logs need to be coped to allow the chinking to get a good bond?
2. Could I cut a 6x6 log and route the corners off to give it enough reveal to allow the chinking enough room?
3. Would any planer/router be needed to clean the logs up? Someone suggested an WM MP100. After talking to the rep he said that might be overkill, especially if your going to chink. 
4. What are the pros/cons of synthetic vs. non-synthetic chink?
5. What is the thought on splicing a log section? (if we cannot span the full distance, two logs butted together)
6. Is building with green fresh cut logs a absolute no? What type of moisture levels would be recommended?
7. Is there anyone in the mid-Atlantic region that would be a good resource? I know there are classes but I am hoping there might be someone who is local and knowledgeable.
8. I've looked at several books, I'm apprehensive because I've always learned to build via doing it with someone who is experienced but does anyone have any suggestions on good reads?

I would really appreciate any help from the group.

Thanks.


Offline reride82

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Re: Dovetail Log Cabin Help
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2017, 06:25:53 pm »
Welcome to the forum!  Here is a good read on dovetail cabins:

http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php/topic,81229.0.html

If you can get ahold of Fred in Montana, he does awesome work with dovetails and can get you a jig for making the dovetail cuts. His website details that as well.  Happy building and I hope to hear more on your project.

Levi
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Offline ehewitt05

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Re: Dovetail Log Cabin Help
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2017, 07:46:53 am »
Thank you! I reached out to Fred for help and guidance. Several of my questions were answered in that thread you posted.

Offline badger1

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Re: Dovetail Log Cabin Help
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2017, 08:15:26 am »
Hi, new to the forum.

I'm a young guy in my twenties who just finally realized the positives of many of the things my old man has talked about for years that I thought were crazy at a younger age. I am wanting to begin the process of building a cabin with my family's mill. I was introduced to this mill and post/beam construction around 13-14 years ago as a kid working with my Dad.

My dad has a Woodmizer LT40 Super that he has built two barns, a wood shop, a smoke house, a pavilion and a guest house on his farm.  Everything has been made out of Eastern Hemlock, and I helped saw a lot of it and built a lot at some point as well.

The dilemma is I would like to build a dovetail log home with batten on the gables/gable ends. I really like the way a small portion of chinking looks. We have no experience with chinking and don't have much experience with building with logs. Most times we would cut posts/beams then frame a wall and make veneer logs out of 2x6s. 

My initial thought is 6x6 square logs of Hemlock with 2" chinking gap.

I would love to get to talk to some guys who have done this type of building, or anyone that would have some insight.

Some of the intial questions I have are;
1. Would square logs need to be coped to allow the chinking to get a good bond?
2. Could I cut a 6x6 log and route the corners off to give it enough reveal to allow the chinking enough room?
3. Would any planer/router be needed to clean the logs up? Someone suggested an WM MP100. After talking to the rep he said that might be overkill, especially if your going to chink. 
4. What are the pros/cons of synthetic vs. non-synthetic chink?
5. What is the thought on splicing a log section? (if we cannot span the full distance, two logs butted together)
6. Is building with green fresh cut logs a absolute no? What type of moisture levels would be recommended?
7. Is there anyone in the mid-Atlantic region that would be a good resource? I know there are classes but I am hoping there might be someone who is local and knowledgeable.
8. I've looked at several books, I'm apprehensive because I've always learned to build via doing it with someone who is experienced but does anyone have any suggestions on good reads?

I would really appreciate any help from the group.

Thanks.

To answer some of your questions above with my experience:

1. Square logs shouldn't need to be coped, the chinking should make a decent bond in my experience without any additional manipulation of the timbers. Use a foam backer rod of appropriate thickness between timber (your 2" should be sufficient and preferred, I've seen larger) and fill the remaining gap with chinking.
2. Rather than using a router along the edges of the timber, I've simply taken a SLICK (scarf slick for instance) and ran it along the edges of the timber to take the point off, this allows for a more rustic look and is sufficient.
3. Again I don't think a router is necessary, it depends on the look you are going for. If you want to router for a rustic look, I would take the milled timbers and go after the sides that will be exposed with a broad axe or adze to give it that "hand hewn" look. The tops/bottoms will not be exposed and will not be seen, saving you some time.
4. There are two main chink products, perma chink and another that can be purchased in 5 gal pails and used. Both good products and easily available. I would def go this route over the traditional chinking or cement as they last much longer and remain pliable. Cement is prone to chinking. If cost is a concern there are traditional recpies that I have and would have to dig up (can be found on this board) that use other products, but really I think if a guy can swing the initial cost, the newer pliable products are easier to apply and last longer with a better result.
5. Splicing should be no big deal. There are several methods that can be found on both this board and via google search. I would probably use a scarf joint and secure the joint with pegs (traditional) or screws/lags from the top/bottom to remain hidden. Splicing was common throughout history. Everyone used what was available and if your project is over 20" often those materials are difficult to find, more expensive, or less abundant etc.
6.Building green or cured/dried are both options and you can find experience from builders doing both. The only thing you have to take into account in my experience is settling. With green timbers there will be significantly more settling that can be planned for with larger spaces. Another option is to construct the structure green and then wait a year for it to dry before chinking etc. Again this depends largely on your timeline and individual situation. There are products that I can recommend if you go the green route and decide to let it sit to dry that will aid in protecting the timbers from mold/insects etc.
7. I'm in MN/WI and don't know of anyone in your region, however this board is an invaluable resource and most questions can be answered with a post and users knowledge. Additionally I encourage you to take classes and more importantly, use the internet, blogs and amazon to get a collection and build a library or reference material. For a couple hundred bucks you can have a bookcase full of reading material from some of the greats. This is what I did and I still use them for reference material. There are also manuals from the International Log building association that explain in detail the best practices for building with logs to ensure your structure is safe, sturdy and lasts past your lifetime. The majority of issues deal with moisture and keeping it off and away from your structure.
8. There are good book lists on this board. I can give you some personal recommendations later if you still need. Don't be afraid to go after it head on and learn as you go. Remember that the pioneers were not experts, they did their best and the structures looked good. Everything doesn't have to be perfect and many of the original structures are still standing today. With todays resources and knowledge you are already years ahead of a farmer with an axe and saw! When all else fails I always remember my instructor from a month long log building course who told me about SISU! Google it, its a Finnish word that basically means having courage in the face of insurmountable odds. Don't be afraid to take charge and just do it, many things in life are left to "I should have" etc. If it was easy I suspect everyone would do it. This is a life project and worth every second. You have the ability and gumption to put together your own home that will last past your lifetime. Not everyone has the ability or ambition. Take pride in that. A first cabin build with your own hands (imperfections and all) is much more impressive IMO than someone who stick builds or hires out a project. To each their own but don't get the "paralysis of analysis" and let planning or apprehension hinder you from starting your project. Jump in with both feet and research/figure it out as you go. The theory is simple, its really just doing it.

Best of luck and keep us posted, let us know if you have any other questions, everyone is here to help!
Contact me via PM, willing to help with projects for more experience

Offline kantuckid

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Re: Dovetail Log Cabin Help
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2017, 11:53:19 am »
Well answered so far, IMO. As for building with green logs, unless your out west using dead standing timber, there is no other choice? In the east, unless you have a multi year delay in building this cabin, then your gonna use green logs. In the east any log that lays long gets buggy! That's reality. My SYP cabin we live in since 1980 shrank/lowered for about 7-8 years which you build around or suffer the issues of crushed openings in log walls.
Non-synthetic chinking would = mud to my thinking? not cement or other manmade stuff. Unless your remodeling a historical landmark, I'd use modern chinking as only that will stretch.
Size isn't mentioned so must ask what log length to build from hemlock which is pretty tall if big enough for a log wall? Log wall openings utilize shorter logs around windows and doors, Draw up your pattern to see what works before you starting dropping trees.

I have on order a bark peeler that fits on a chainsaw, not one you see much here on this forum or otherwise. It goes on the powerhead in place of the bar/chain. I ordered it on ebay from Russia.
have the overall plan in place before you cut anything or buy anything.
My plan is for dovetail corners using oak "D" logs 6" thick x ~7-8" wide. 
Kan=Kansas;tuck=Kentucky;kid=what I'm not

Offline rjwoelk

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Re: Dovetail Log Cabin Help
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2017, 01:13:38 pm »
Just in the process of doing trim work on my son's 22x26 cabin you can pm me for more pics. Dovetail jig permachink products all around. Can givenyou some idea of cost.
 

  
Lt15 palax wood processor,3020 JD 7120 CIH 36x72 hay shed for workshop coop tractor with a duetz for power plant

Offline MbfVA

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Re: Dovetail Log Cabin Help
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2017, 02:27:22 pm »
 That bark remover/bark peeler sounds unique. Most of the ones I have seen go on the end of the chainsaw bar. Would you be willing to post more information about it?  We're not building a log cabin, but a debarking tool is on the list.
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Offline MbfVA

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Re: Dovetail Log Cabin Help
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2017, 02:30:18 pm »
 Realtors in our area, in fact most of the ones we've talked to in the Commonwealth of Virginia tell us that log cabins are fun to own but hard/expensive  to insure and even harder to resell.  That mainly applies to the larger ones, the ones used as full-time residences.

Our 5000 square-foot restaurant building is a log cabin, genuine in front (cement chinks, logs secured with rabbit wire, 1920s construction) and made to look like it in the back (log slabs on studs). It's a bear to insure & maintain, and a bear to keep clean--round logs are great dust catchers..  It's historic, fun for the customers and downright charming, though.
www.ordinary.com (really); Jim
Always learning & questioning authority
Peterson WPF 10" Hi-Lo w/ 5' slabber
Dougherty RS3000 Tree Saw
Liebherr 621C, Bobcat A300, 430
NH TN90F, Kubota B3000
Polaris 6 seater, JD old gator
Ford/Chevy/Porsche
and a few more...
Did I mention, a very small bank account?

Offline kantuckid

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Re: Dovetail Log Cabin Help
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2017, 05:37:28 pm »
That bark remover/bark peeler sounds unique. Most of the ones I have seen go on the end of the chainsaw bar. Would you be willing to post more information about it?  We're not building a log cabin, but a debarking tool is on the list.

I ordered on ebay. Se item #292024012222
It's for sale there now under the same item number. If you look around on google images you'll eventually see it in action. The blades fasten in the cutter head like a jointer knife but not the same blades as a power hand planer like the Log Wizard and they are double/use edges. It's orange and mounts in place of the bar, no mods to the saw.
To the guy here who admonished me for not hand peeling oak logs- it's my project, thank you...

On the 22 x 26 cabin pictured above: looks good! but those measurements don't make sense based on what I see in the picture if I use the door width as a reference to the front width?
Kan=Kansas;tuck=Kentucky;kid=what I'm not

Offline kantuckid

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Re: Dovetail Log Cabin Help
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2017, 05:51:24 pm »
Realtors in our area, in fact most of the ones we've talked to in the Commonwealth of Virginia tell us that log cabins are fun to own but hard/expensive  to insure and even harder to resell.  That mainly applies to the larger ones, the ones used as full-time residences.

Our 5000 square-foot restaurant building is a log cabin, genuine in front (cement chinks, logs secured with rabbit wire, 1920s construction) and made to look like it in the back (log slabs on studs). It's a bear to insure & maintain, and a bear to keep clean--round logs are great dust catchers..  It's historic, fun for the customers and downright charming, though.

To a realtor it's all about turning a dollar and they know logs homes are a niche market item.
 I built mine to raise our family and live in until I'm gone, thus it's not about resale for me. I built what we wanted, end of story. it sits back in our woods/acreage and looks like it belongs here!
 I'm 74 next month and never had one of those mortgages they deal with daily, as I've built every (adult) house I've lived in. My insurance is based on my replacement value and cost isn't at a premium either! KY Farm Bureau.
Hard to insure hasn't been a problem for me? other than when I was building and several turned me down at that point in time when interest rates peaked around 17-18%. They said I was going to burn it down and turned me away. The same agents called me later asking for my business and guess what I told them?
Log buildings do require periodic maintenance not seen with say a brick building. 
They are also dark inside due to the darker wood surfaces so lots of windows helps some.
Dust is true indeed and we vac ours twice a year. Outside lizards have a play ground  & bats sleep under the overhangs.
Kan=Kansas;tuck=Kentucky;kid=what I'm not

Offline rjwoelk

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Re: Dovetail Log Cabin Help
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2017, 10:31:10 am »
In regards to cabin size. It is 22 wide 26 long plus a 6 ft deck. I should know i built it.   :D here is a better pic. For you to guesstimate.
 

 
Lt15 palax wood processor,3020 JD 7120 CIH 36x72 hay shed for workshop coop tractor with a duetz for power plant

Offline Don P

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Re: Dovetail Log Cabin Help
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2017, 05:43:01 pm »
I was in my gallery looking for a pic for another post and came across this old one.


It is a typical full dovetail with a French dovetail draftstop. I oversized the draftstop, it should be maybe about an inch deep. I was playing around, I've done it with a square cut draftstop ~1/2" long which worked at blocking that gap to outside that happens with a regular dovetail as the timbers shrink. I was ruminating whether the French draftstop would keep the joint pulled up tight as it seasons, I doubt it would. Anyway, another idea.

Offline ehewitt05

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Re: Dovetail Log Cabin Help
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2017, 08:45:56 am »
Thanks everyone for all of the help/insight! So awesome to see so many people coming together and helping.

I haven't broke ground yet but I am itching to get going. I have a load of logs I'm cutting for some other things/all framing lumber.

Does anyone have a good rule of thumb for log shrinkage? Obviously it depends on your species, as I said before - I'll be using Eastern Hemlock. We always build green but the lying share of what we have built hasn't been for living space. (So big difference there) 

I'm having a heck of a time getting images uploaded or I would post more of the project that we finished up this fall. Its another post/timber building. Here's some framework of the structure; 



  


Offline Don P

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Re: Dovetail Log Cabin Help
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2017, 05:00:40 pm »