July 28, 2012
I have been wanting to build a small guest cabin for quite some time.
The plan was to build a small, simple inexpensive cabin that could be
moved to another location in the future. I settled on an 11 foot by 15
foot cabin. It will be primitive, no running water or electricity is
I have some lodgepole pine logs that are 18' long that I purchased from
a logging outfit two years ago. The cost per log worked out to about
$20 each. These logs are very dry so that will minimize twisting and
I have a woodmizer LT15 sawmill that I will use to "square" the logs
and an old tractor to move them around.
The thickness of the logs (wall thickness) will be 7 inches. I checked
the log diameters and most are in the 10-13 inch range at the small
end. I could saw all the logs to be the same dimension. If I did that,
the height would have to be about 9 inches to work with the smaller
diameters. This would work but I really don't want the logs to look
identical. With the bandsawmill, it is possible to raise/lower the
sawhead while it is being pushed through the log. This way, I can vary
the vertical dimension of the log depending on the log size. I will
waste less wood this way and will have a more rustic looking cabin. I
estimate that after sawing my log height will be up to 10 inches in
height. So, I am using jigs that are designed for 7x10 logs
gap of .25
inches. Where the logs are smaller than 10 inches, there will of course
be a larger gap.
I did have a couple of large logs available so I decided to saw out two
7x12 beams for the bottom two logs. These will act as "skids" and will
rest on some foundation stones.
The skids only need the top half of the dovetail notch. Normally, a
chalkline is snapped down the center of the log face. For the 12 inch
tall skids, I snapped the line 5 inches down from the top edge. This
way, the excess wood will be on the underside of the skid and won't be
crowding the log above.
In the picture below, you can see the skids after notching. The
tool is a called a peavey and is indispensible for turning logs. There
is a similar tool called a cant hook that performs the same function;
however, the peavey has the advantage of the sharp point on the end.
This probably has several uses but I find it very handy for stabbing
the tool in the ground so that it is within arms reach when needed.
I wan't sure exactly how I wanted to situate the cabin at the
site so I built this simple lightweight frame from 1x4s to be the same
size as the cabin. I could then move it around until I was happy with
the location. I then used it locate the foundation stones. The stones
are just some local rock I found on the roadside and hauled over with
tractor (Cost: free!)
I leveled the frame using some scrap
boards and then used that as a reference to determine the column
lengths. (Only one corner of the cabin will bear directly on a rock,
other three will need short lengths of 7x7 columns).
After the skids were placed and braced, I placed the first two 11'
logs. Note how these are not uniform in height. I will show the sawing
process in a future posting.
Not bad progress for the first day.
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