SSLH was included in the 2011 Fall Log Home Living Magazine.
The article written by Janice Brewster talks about creative cozy cabin alternatives to the
traditional (horizontal) log home.
The article is available below in plain text, or in PDF format
A Different Angle
Appreciating logs from every direction.
ANY WAY YOU STACK THEM, logs make for a cozy cabin. Most wall logs are stacked
horizontally, but you can use shorter vertical logs or combining horizontal and
vertical construction in your cabin. No Logs? No worries: You can even build a getaway
place from firewood. For cabins, in particular and especially if you're planning to
build your own, alternative log-building methods are worth a second look.
Vertical log building, sometimes called stockade construction, offers benefits to the
DIYer (Do It Yourselfer). Eight-foot, relatively straight logs are all you need. Folks
with a chain saw, pickup truck and strong backs can horse logs of that length around.
Erecting the walls on your cabin foundation can be as easy as standing the logs up next
to each other and spiking them together.
Of course, if you want your vertical log cabin to last longer than a kid's fort, you
should refine the technique a bit. Hewing or milling the logs flat on the two sides
where they meet creates a more snug fit. If you prefer to let professionals handle the
grunt work, Stock Style Log Homes in Nova Scotia (www.stockadestyleloghomes.com)
produces logs that are milled flat on two sides and feature a groove that accepts a
spline. The plywood strip, or spline, locks the logs together and creates a barrier at
the point where the log faces meet.
Log shrinkage concerns all log-home builders and owners. As logs dry, they shrink in
diameter, but not much in length. In vertical log building, the walls won't decrease
in height as the logs shrink (which can occur with horizontally stacked walls), but
the logs will tend to pull apart from each other, possibly leaving vertical gaps
between logs. Historically, vertical-log cabin dwellers used whatever they could put
their hands on to bridge those gaps: mortar, mud, newpaper, wool, you name it. Today's
more high-tech chinking and caulking materials would help keep a vertical-log cabin free
from drafts. Starting with dry logs would lessen the impact of shrinkage, too.
Combining vertical and horizontal stacking methods in your cabin offers the best of
both worlds. Piece-en-piece, or "stack-and-rack," construction calls for vertical log
posts, which serve as a timber frame of sorts. The posts are infilled with short logs
(about 4-feet long) stacked horizontally. For the handyperson, this method allows for
the use of shorter logs than those necessary for traditional horizontal log building,
while easing the problems of gaps formed by shrinkage in vertical building.
Vertically challenged, but still in the market for a cabin? With cordwood masonry, you
can use log pieces as short as 16 inches or so as raw building materials. Rob Roy of
Earthwood Building School (cordwoodmasonry.com) preaches the gospel of cordwood masonry
as an ecologically sound, thrifty and charming way to build a mortgage-free cabin. His
school and others like it offer workshops that teach the technique. A finished cordwood
masonry home resembles a mosaic, with the log ends visible and surrounded by mortar.
Whichever method you choose, remember that keeping your cabin design small makes for a
much more manageable (and enjoyable) project.