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Thread: Dealing with log diameter and taper

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    Default Dealing with log diameter and taper

    We've been harvesting beatle kill logs from our property over the last couple of years and I plan to take them and make a little 12x15 cabin out of them.

    Unfortunately there's not a lot of consistency in the size of the logs - diameter and taper vary a lot from log to log.

    With the variance in diameter I figure I can just use the larger logs on the bottom and smaller ones as I go up but how much taper can be dealt with to keep the walls level as they go up?

    Or if you end up with a big gap due to too much taper, what's a good way to fill that....shape a piece of log to fit it?

    Any input or advice would be greatly appreciated.

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    Member .338-06's Avatar
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    What I've seen in most cabins is that the logs are alternated butt-top-butt-top so that the wall evens out. Is this what you're asking?
    I may be slow, but I get where I'm going!

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    Quote Originally Posted by .338-06 View Post
    What I've seen in most cabins is that the logs are alternated butt-top-butt-top so that the wall evens out. Is this what you're asking?
    Thanks and yeah I will alternate them like you mentioned but my concern is even with the alternation and knotching them the taper will cause a gap....like a 10" gap to the log below it in some cases.

    It seems to me that most cabin builders are able to source mutliple (50-60) logs in the 8-10" diameter with little or no taper with say a 20 foot log. My challenge is that in order to get the required number of logs, they range a lot in both butt diameter (8" up to 16") and some have a lot of taper.

    Out of curosity I called a nearby saw mill thinking it may be better to buy some of the needed logs but at $3.95 a linear foot for a 7" diameter log I figured I'd try to make due with what I'm harvesting on the property if I can.

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    well there is a lot to learn about notching and stacking, but its NOT as difficult as it seems ONCE your on a role. one big key to help out is that you bring it all back to level every 4 foot.. or your roof will be screwed.

    but you will take more out a a buttend then you will the tops.. and 12x15 your looking at 15/16 foot logs by ~ 18 foot logs.. if you have the ability to take those from the middle of the tree you wont have as sharp a taper on them
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    The good news is I plan to keep it fairly "short" with only 8 or 9 foot walls so good to know about bringing it back to level about every 4 feet or so.

    I'm keeping it short so as it not be as noticeable plus ease of dealing with ridge poles, the gable ends and the roof.

    We're sorting the logs by diameter as we peel them and that's a good idea about maybe making the log out of the middle of the tree to reduce the taper.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Do a google search for B. Allan Mackie. Some of his books are becoming out of print now and somewhat challenging to find, but they are the gold standard of log building instruction.

    Honorable mention to local author Tom Walker; Building the Alaska Log Home
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    one person 's way is to set up a chainsaw mill, then "uniform" each log in thickness.

    he cut top and bottom- left sides round.

    where he did have gaps, due to windows, a extra door, and a artic entry- he cut a slab that matched the hole.

    His first cabin- too get around the taper problem he did vertical logs-instead of standard construction.
    roof settled funny, but with maintence and jacks is still lived in.

    All joints were filled with fiberglass insulation as logs go together.

    He drills a 1 inch hole though two logs, altranting position of rods in the walls, and installs a piece of 1" re-bar cut SHORTER than the the logs are.

    his latest place really looks nice, made his own spruce shingles, as well as all of the window/door casings.

    He says next spring will spray seal all the outside.

    something about wood needing to breath and settle before sealing.

    hope this helps,
    Chris

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    Turtle2
    I have never built anything like that but I always thought a "scribe cut" leveled out the differences.
    Kevin
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    Turtle. Years ago I worked for a guy who owned a sawmill and built some log houses for him as well. When he was cutting his house logs, I believe he needed a log with a consistent diameter of at least 12" to make an 8" house log. For a 6" house log I believe he needed about 10" of diameter. Don't quote me on that. That is just what I seem to remember. Call Poppert Milling and ask them what they do.

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AkKevin View Post
    Turtle2
    I have never built anything like that but I always thought a "scribe cut" leveled out the differences.
    Kevin
    scribing is fitting.. however you can still fit 2 corners and have several inches of difference in level.



    bu the books Iofthetiaga mentioned.. they got me started, i only built 38 of them around Fairbanks, and no.. i am not into giving lessons anymore.
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    Member akgun&ammo's Avatar
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    I wonder if setting up a mill to cut three sided logs
    that way the depth of log is the same, and the height of logs can vary with the original thickness.

    Chris

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    Chainsaw milled 2 sided with scribed notches.cabin.jpg

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    Scan12.jpgBetter picture. During construction.

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    Bonanza....very nice, the extra effort is near perfection for fitting.

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    It turned out well. Only a couple places I could see light between the logs. Was a pretty big project for only one guy with just a chainsaw,comealong, and hand tools. The ridgepole was a bear! 28' long , but there were a couple strategically placed trees (since dropped) to rig and hoist off of.
    I splurged and flew in the plywood and roll roofing to cover it.
    It's my trapline camp.

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    Scan37.jpgScan3.jpgCouple more. To the OP-Consider 3-sided because a flat wall on the inside would be nice.

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    Thanks guys. We continued to cut and peel this weekend and trying to get the consistency in the logs is a big challenge.

    That chainsaw milling looks like it works well Bonanza and that's quit a place. Is it safe to say the small end of the log dictates the size of the log all the way down it?

    In other words if you have a 20 foot log that's 12" diameter on the butt end and 8" on the upper end, it becomes an 8" milled log?

    It looks like the majority of my logs have a taper of 12-14" at the butt end to 6" on the other end over an 18' log. In that case I'd end up with a 6" high logs which at that rate would mean more logs.

    I guess in the end though, I end up with a tighter structure which is the desired outcome.

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    if you have 8 inches on the small end and square two sides off you'll be down to about 4 inches.. maybe 5, if you square 3 sides you'll be smaller yet. you want a minimum of 4 inches flat surface to lay one log on to the other, if you are stacking milled logs.. round ones get away with it because of the bowl notch in the ends.. Round and milled stack differently, while milled is certainly faster, plumb becomes and issue as you go up and as the logs cure on the wall, They will twist, bow and beam when heat is applied in the winters. so a good connection and lots of screws are required.
    Quote Originally Posted by Turtle2 View Post
    Thanks guys. We continued to cut and peel this weekend and trying to get the consistency in the logs is a big challenge.

    That chainsaw milling looks like it works well Bonanza and that's quit a place. Is it safe to say the small end of the log dictates the size of the log all the way down it?

    In other words if you have a 20 foot log that's 12" diameter on the butt end and 8" on the upper end, it becomes an 8" milled log?

    It looks like the majority of my logs have a taper of 12-14" at the butt end to 6" on the other end over an 18' log. In that case I'd end up with a 6" high logs which at that rate would mean more logs.

    I guess in the end though, I end up with a tighter structure which is the desired outcome.
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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    Thanks Vince and I see what you're saying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhack Jack View Post
    I believe he needed a log with a consistent diameter of at least 12" to make an 8" house log. For a 6" house log I believe he needed about 10" of diameter.
    Quote Originally Posted by Turtle2 View Post
    Is it safe to say the small end of the log dictates the size of the log all the way down it?

    In other words if you have a 20 foot log that's 12" diameter on the butt end and 8" on the upper end, it becomes an 8" milled log?

    Perhaps I wasn't clear. If you have a tapered end with a 12" diameter, you can probably get an 8" house log out of it. It you have a tapered end with 10" of diameter, you might get a 6" house log. Like Vince said, after you cut off the round sections, you will only get 8" from a 12" diameter log. So for example if you have a log that is 20 feet long, but the tapered end is only 8" in diameter and you want an 8" house log, then you will have to cut it back to wherever the tapered end is 12" at diameter and you will not get the full 20 feet of length from the log.

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