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Thread: Building a model log cabin

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    Default Building a model log cabin

    Hi, this was the best place I could think of to ask this question. I would like to eventually build a cabin somewhere remote. I have a book as a guide to help me along with my first one. I would like to build a 'practice cabin' first.

    Has anyone heard of this or done it? Just build a small model cabin out of handle-able logs instead of heavy 17 footers. Any reason it wouldn't work out or tips?

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    Sponsor Duckhunter01's Avatar
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    search the forum..ton of ideas as well as internet. It is done all the time.

    Sounds like a fun project
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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Build a cache or smokehouse or small guest cabin first to practice your log skills while creating something useful.
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    If I were doing what you have in mind, I would consider an 8x12 structure. This would have been a very generous sized trap line cabin. It’s a size big enough to be useful shelter, and big enough to have enough clearance between your wood stove and combustible walls. It’s not so big as to be impractical for one or two people on a first-time and/or remote build. It could also be a guest cabin or storage shed in the future.

    Find a spot that allows water to drain away. Avoid swales or depressions. Avoid or cut down trees that could fall on the cabin. Build it on 6 concrete pads, each pad resting on mineral earth. A 12:12 pitched roof should allow a small loft sleeping or storage place.

    Put your door under the gable end of the roof on the 8-foot side. If snow slides off your roof, it won’t fall on someone entering or exiting (this can be very dangerous). Place the door on one side of centerline, or the other, so more interior useable wall space is available. Put a window on the other side of centerline.

    More windows are at your discretion, but south, east, and west would be best; you could put your bunks on the north wall. Make sure you can put up tight fitting 3/4 inch CDX plywood shutters on your door and windows using hanger bolts, nuts, and fender washers to make it more bear-resistant. If your door is installed to open outward, it will be more bear-resistant.

    Place your stove near centerline (but not on centerline) so the chimney pipe and chimney rise to penetrate the ceiling very near the roof ridge line. The chimney will vent better and it will be easier to clean if it’s straight all the way up, and mostly contained inside the cabin. If you place the stove near the entry door, make sure the loft and cabin have easy access to egress windows at the opposite side of the cabin.

    With the stove near the entry door, you could have two or three wall bunks stacked vertically in the half of the cabin opposite the entry door.

    Over-build your roof so you don’t have to worry about snow load if you can’t get there all winter. I would use 2x12 rafters on not less than 16” centers. Allow the rakes and eaves of your roof two feet of overhang to give better protection from rain to your cabin walls. Cover the roof with 5/8 inch CDX and then cover the whole roof deck with Grace water and ice barrier. Cover that with metal roofing. The Grace product covering your entire roof with metal on top is a solution that will not easily leak.

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    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rifleman View Post
    Over-build your roof so you don’t have to worry about snow load if you can’t get there all winter. I would use 2x12 rafters on not less than 16” centers. Allow the rakes and eaves of your roof two feet of overhang to give better protection from rain to your cabin walls. Cover the roof with 5/8 inch CDX and then cover the whole roof deck with Grace water and ice barrier. Cover that with metal roofing. The Grace product covering your entire roof with metal on top is a solution that will not easily leak.
    Lol 2x12 16" o.c. for a 4' span? I'd hate to see what you'd recommend for a real house span...just stack the rafters next to one another continuously? There's plenty of joist and rafter span tables out there.... Also, roofs need proper venting, especially hot roofs.....wrapping the whole deck with peel-and-stick is good, but don't neglect airflow.
    "– Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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    cdubbin is right, 2x12 rafters would be unnecessary for the structural integrity of such a little structure.

    I just ran an American Wood Council maximum span calculator for various dimensions of lumber on 16 inch centers. I assumed a 150 psf snow load and #2 hem-fir. The span is the horizontal distance from the inside edge of the bearing wall to the face of the ridgeboard.

    2x4 max span: 3 ft. 9 in.
    2x6 max span: 5 ft. 10 in.
    2x8 max span: 7 ft. 5 in.
    2x10 max span: 9 ft. 1 in.
    2x12 max span: 10 ft. 7 in.

    If you figure an 8x12 log structure has an interior width of 7 feet, the span would be less than 3 feet 6 inches. Accordingly, you could use 2x4s on 16 inch centers per the calculator.

    I just couldn’t do it though. One may say over-building is a waste of money that could be better used elsewhere. I understand that point of view, and I try to temper my “h*ll for stout” tendencies. But I still take a lot of satisfaction in building things significantly stronger than they need to be. That way, I wouldn’t worry about 6 feet of compressed snow lying on top of my little cabin.

    When American engineers designed warplanes on the eve of the Second World War, they didn’t yet have the precise methods or computing power to reduce structural components to the absolute minimum strength required by specifications. They erred on the side of caution. They rounded up...sometimes way up. It’s one of the reasons a lot of battle-damaged B-17s came home that shouldn’t have been able to stay together.

    Granted, nobody is going to fly this little cabin into the flak-filled skies of Berlin, but still, strong is good!

    So, if maximizing roof insulation is not desired, I take back my 2x12 rafter recommendation. Although 2x12s would allow generous room in the rafter bays for both insulation and ventilating airflow, they’re not necessary for adequate strength. 2x12 rafters are my default solution for remote cabins, and I needn’t have applied it to such a small cabin. For this little cabin, may I suggest 2x8s as a more practical “over-built” solution if less insulation is acceptable.

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    Good points brought up and thank you for the replies so far.

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    Member Gerberman's Avatar
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    The other thing to think about if the rafters are to close together, 12"to 16" is getting your stove pipe safely thru them. My span is 28 feet on each side of the ridge, so I put 11-7/8" TJI's 12" on center, 10/12 and 8/12 pitch. I used insulated pipe out thru the roof, and it is 32 feet to the cap from the stove. This was very expensive to do. I am still concerned about the heat of the chimney causing a fire. So I wrapped the area with ceramic cloth to protect it. It is 0 clearance material.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gerberman View Post
    I am still concerned about the heat of the chimney causing a fire.
    Just use Metalbestos where it goes through the roof.....

    And btw to the op......not an absolute requirement to use conventional lumber for rafters.........you can still use logs for them as well....not a problem.
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