by Todd Walker
This one is considerably larger than my “practice cabin.”
I built my practice log cabin just to see if I could do it and to hone my ax skills. However, the Big Log Cabin is being built to provide a basic human need, shelter. This will be my home base on the land I grew up on. Roots run deep here!
After completing the foundation piers in the scorching Georgia summer, I waited for things to cool down before stacking log walls. Heavy lifting equipment and help needed to be lined up for cool Autumn weather. Everything fell into place.
It’s a family thing. I’m thankful to have kin folk with heavy equipment. Chris, my across-the-lake cousin, hooked me up with yet another cousin, Wendy (A & W Mechanical and Fabrication), who was happy to let me use their 20 ton boom truck! This was a far cry better than my tripod and chain fall system I used to set logs on the practice cabin. The boom truck easily handled the two 46 foot sill logs.
On the chilly Friday morning, Donny, Woody, and I began setting the sill logs. Donny operated the crane, among other duties, while Woody and I coaxed the pre-drilled sill logs onto 1/2 inch rebar cemented into the piers. Lining up the holes in the sill logs as they floated over the metal anchor rods took some patient wrangling. Once the rod slide through the hole, we bent the rebar stub over the log to anchor the sill logs to the foundation.
About noon that same day, reinforcements arrived in the form one JJ Morris (Fuel the Fires). With a crew of 4 now, we made good progress and completed 2 courses of logs on the walls.
In the Butt and Pass method of log cabin building, each new row of logs has a length of half inch rebar driven through the top log into the log underneath to provide strength and stability to the structure. Each course of logs took about 45 sticks of rebar spaced apart at 30 inches. And each butt joint, the corner junctions, gets a stick of rebar to tie it all together.
This is the most time consuming part of the wall construction, drilling holes through the top log and partially into the lower log with a Milwaukee Hole Hawg 1/2 inch drill. Next comes hammer time! We drove the rebar into the bottom log with a sledge hammer.
By quitting time Friday, we had complete two rows on the walls. That may not seem like much to some, but it was a good day’s work.
Saturday brought more help. Melonie (Mel of the Mountains) arrived and jumped right in to help where needed. She did a lot of lifting of the heavy Hole Hawg to JJ and Woody as they drilled and drove rebar. She also was in charge of filming this monumental occasion.
My cousin, Chris, operated the boom which freed up Donny for ground duty. He mainly operated his tractor to lift and drag logs from the landing to the crane. Of course if you know Donny, he did way more than that… entertaining stories and BS is one of his specialties. Two of my nephews who live on the land, Blake and Kyle, also came to lend a hand.
Five rows of logs were up by the end of the day Saturday!
Building with “carrots” has unique challenges compared to dimensional lumber. You’ll notice in the pic above that the sill log doesn’t rest on the second pier from the left at the bottom… even though the piers are on a level plane. We remedy this by adding blocking to raise the pier to meet the log.
Sunday turned into a short day. I had enough logs on the landings for what I thought would make 8 or 9 rows. After sifting through all the straightest logs the two previous days, reality set in. Many of the logs had warped while laying there since May of ’21 making them unfit for the walls. That was a hard pill to swallow. We ended up only having enough logs to complete six and a half courses. We knocked off around two o’clock.
Before gathering more logs, 30 more logs to complete the walls, I will add more supports for the 2 landings. Too much blood, sweat, and tears goes into prepping straight logs to see them warp in storage. Lesson learned!
Even with the setback, I’m so thankful to my family and friends for their love, support, and hard work on this project! Happy Thanksgiving!
Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,
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