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Thread: Cordwood/Stackpole

  1. #1

    Default Cordwood/Stackpole

    Anyone have any experience with cordwood construction?






    Looks like a great method!

  2. #2
    Member Bushpilot's Avatar
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    How thick are those walls?

    One of the problems I foresee is running electrical on the outer walls. At least in a full log home, you can drill the courses as you stack them. It also looks labor intensive too, but if it's your labor, who cares right?
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


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  3. #3

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    wonder what the insulating property are in that type of construction. looks like its concrete between the logs, that really sucks up the cold.

  4. #4

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    Wiki has a little primer:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordwood_construction

    Walls are typically 8-24" thick. You want the mortar to be 'soft' or a little flexible, not straight concrete or brick mud, because the logs shrink and swell. Logs have to be dry, or at least acclimated to the climate for a couple years.
    Apparently, you want the logs to breathe in response to weather trends and keep pumping in that nice wood smell.

    R-Value varies. Not only with width of logs, but with building technique, mud mix, and percent of wood to mud. You can build 'double wall' with long sticks and pack a bunch of perlite in the spaces between masonry. R value ~.5-1.5/inch of wall thickness.
    Any kind of electric would have to be exposed conduit. No one saying we can't build our own though, or buy something that looks good. Good news is there's lot's of place to nail to....
    I like the fact that you can build curves as easily as angles. Round is cool.

    It also looks like no sweat to incorporate timber or log framing for roofs, decks, balconies, - fenestrated arches and flying buttresses if that's what suits your fancy...


    I'm thinkin that I could build a banya with this method...

    Start by digging out a 'weephole' foundation of football sized rocks under leveling courses of smaller stone topped off with a light penetrating slurry of portland cement/sand as a binder to hold the floor of beach sand and pallets or site-milled planks.
    This could support a sod, or even a native slate roof if it's footed out enough.
    Seems like the foundation would be a big deal whenever you think about cordwood masonry. They call it masonry for a reason..

    But it IS cheap.

    There's lots of materials laying around...





  5. #5
    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    Im not familer with it at all but that is beautiful work. Nice craftsmanship
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  6. #6
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Couple of notes

    While that river looks like a great source of wood it probably isn't. All of that would wood have to dry for several years before you could use it. The moisture content would be very high.

    It is also probably impregnated with sand on the outside. So you would need a lot of chains.

    Cement in Alaska is very expensive compared to other states. Hauling the number of bags you needed to a remote location would be cost prohibitive.

    Just a couple observations.

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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveinthebush View Post
    While that river looks like a great source of wood it probably isn't. All of that would wood have to dry for several years before you could use it. The moisture content would be very high.

    It is also probably impregnated with sand on the outside. So you would need a lot of chains.

    Cement in Alaska is very expensive compared to other states. Hauling the number of bags you needed to a remote location would be cost prohibitive.

    Just a couple observations.
    Thanks for the input!

    That beach is log towing distance from the beach front banya property on a protected bay in Kodiak. I've had about 20k board feet (5k cedar) racked above the tide on site for about 2 years now.
    You are right, harvesting drift logs is a lotta work. Peavys and saws and shovels and lewis winches and kedges and chain binders and towing warps and bridles and a lot of beer and beach partying ...

    A 42' Delta seiner makes a good tow vessel though. 15-20 40-60' logs at a time if you distribute the load across more than just the deck bit and tow S-l-o-w in mild (glassy) water. Only broke one tow in 5 trips, and that in the breakaway about 500 yards from the destination beach.
    Logs were landed on the tide with a skiff and then Go-deviled 40' up above high water with a 4-wheeler and a groundscrewed 12v winch attached to an 8D battery, attached to a 35 amp charger, attached to a 4000w portable genset.

    I will not be stopped...



    Most ocean logs are a little rough and spiked up from banging around on their long journey too. This hasn't been addressed yet, but all my logs are 95% good wood with a little salt pickling. No rot.
    9 miles of towing washes most of the sand off too. Maybe a drawknife will help smooth splinters, but leave enough roughness for the mud to get a good bite?

    I know salt and concrete don't mix, but i have been told that the layer of accumulated salt in the wood will speed drying in air and may actually help with dimensional stability. There's also not likely to be much salt leaching while the mud is wet, and less after it drys.
    A second opinion would help a lot!


    I'm thinkin that Delta would also carry a lot of cement bags to the site in the fish hold too.
    Although the retail cost of the cement FOB Anchorage is something I'll likely be stuck with, it may only account for 15-20% of my mix...

    "
    Rob Roy, an experienced cordwood builder, recommends a mortar mix by volume of 9 parts sand: 3 sawdust: 3 builder's lime (not agricultural): 2 Portland cement.[2] The sawdust should be from light, airy softwood and passed through a ½ inch screen. Saw mills and chainsaw dust are great sources. Saw dust, presoaked in water before use, acts like a sponge from which the mortar draws moisture, drying slowly and reducing cracks. A commercial cement retarder can be substituted for sawdust, but has a larger environmental impact. Builder’s lime makes the wall more flexible, breathable, and self healing because it takes longer to completely set than cement. Portland cement chemically binds the mortar and should be either type I or II.[4]
    Richard Flatau, in his book Cordwood Construction: A Log End View (2007) suggests using a mortar mix of 3 sand, 2 soaked sawdust, 1 Portland Cement and 1 Hydrated Lime. This mix is for non-load bearing cordwood (i.e. post and beam framework) and has the advantage of curing slower and displaying less cracking than mortars that are "light" on sawdust. Flatau also recommends shading the masonry work from the full sun and covering it at the end of the day. [3]
    Cob mortars are more environmentally green and use on site soil, but require further steps for weatherproofing and maintenance. External waterproofing finishes for cob cordwood walls include lime-sand plaster, linseed oil coatings over earthen plaster, and Earthbind 100 compound (a waterproofing additive). Long overhanging eaves and a high foundation also help reduce weathering."



    I'm also thinking I can wash enough beach sand to use as aggregate, but I may be off base with that idea. Cob seems a little far flung to be called Green in Alaska, but I like the wet sawdust idea. I could probably trade a cedar log for several yards of milldust, but it would probably be easier to buy it.
    Perlite and coco coir from HD may be practical for the 1/2 yd I'll need.. I think coco husk might look good in the mud.



    Thinking out loud mostly...



    Thanks for the help!

  8. #8

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    Ah another delta. I run a 58' in the summer in S.E.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by murphyslaw View Post
    Ah another delta. I run a 58' in the summer in S.E.
    Nice...


  10. #10
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default I know that boat

    I know that boat! I have seen it many times over in Valdez. Am I right?
    I would also guess that that is the entrance to the harbor in Valdez.

    Vietnam - June 70 - Feb. 72
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveinthebush View Post
    I know that boat! I have seen it many times over in Valdez. Am I right?
    I would also guess that that is the entrance to the harbor in Valdez.
    You have probably seen her lots of times Dave. It's tied up in the Seward boat basin now. You can find her here too

    http://ifqalaska.com/ifqcharters.htm



    Those big Deltas are some sexy shippy machines ay? They do their job well...

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  12. #12

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    here is my baby

    this is hauled out in seward last yr.


    and this is a pic my skiff man took this summer in tenakee inlet


  13. #13
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    Default Cordwood facts

    I SAW THE ABOVE POSTS CONCERNING CORDWOOD.I`M THE OWNER OF THE LARGEST CORDWOOD SITE ON THE NET AND WAS ONCE LICENSED TO TEACH CORDWOOD IN A SCHOOL I CO-OWNED.A LINK TO MY HOME PAGE IS..http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cordwood

    MURPHYSLAW.....A CORDWOOD WALL CONSISTS OF TWO OUTER MASONRY WALLS HELD TOGETHER BY THE LOGS.THERE IS AN INNER CAVITY THATS INSULATED...NOT SOLID MORTAR AS YOU MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT.I BUILD 24" WALLS WITH STYROFOAM BEADS USED TO FILL THE INNER CAVITY.16" OF STYROFOAM BEADS WOULD HAVE AN R-VALUE OF ABOUT 48.[I`VE ALSO DESIGNED A CORDWOOD WALL BASED ON R-VALUE ALONE OF R=96.PEOPLE WERE GETTING EXCITED ABOUT STRAWBALE HAVING AN R=60]

    BUSHPILOT......THE WIRING IS RUN THROUGH METAL CONDUIT WITHIN THE MASONRY WALL AND THROUGH CONVENTIONAL INTERIOR WALLS
    AS FOR BEING LABOUR INTENSIVE LIFTING 800 LBS PLUS LOGS IS MORE LABOUR INTENSIVE THAN LIFTING 10 LB LOGS.

    ISHMAL......THE WIKIPEDIA SITE IS FULL OF MISTAKES AND MISINFORMATION. FLATO ALSO GIVES A LOT OF INFO THATS DAMAGING TO BUILDING CORDWOOD.
    THE SALT IN THE LOGS YOU MENTIONED WOULD HELP PRESERVE THE LOGS.IT DOES AN OSMOSIS THING BY REPLACING THE MOISTURE IN THE CELLS OPF THE LOGS.
    AS FOR THE SALT AND CONCRETE DON`T MIX....THEY USED BEACH SAND AND SALT WATER TO BUILD BRIDGES IN MY AREA IN THE 50`S AND THEY ARE STILL IN GOOD REPAIR.ALTHOUGH I WOULDN`T RECOMMEND IT,BUT YOU COULD WASH OUT THE BEACH SAND.


    CORDWOODGUY

    PS: I HAVE A VISUAL DISABILITY,THUS THE UPPERCASE LETTERS.

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    Member garnede's Avatar
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    Check your beach sand under a magnifying glass. If the edges are rounded then I would not use it in building, it is cosiderably weaker than sand with angular edges. Otherwise it looks like you have a good grasp of how to start. I would start with an outbuilding and perfect my method before trying to build my house out of it.
    It ain't about the # of pounds of meat we bring back, nor about how much we spent to go do it. Its about seeing what no one else sees.

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    Member BakInAlaska's Avatar
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    Red face Earthquakes?

    I don't want to be the wet towel but what is the resistance of the cordwood construction to earthquakes? I was always told one reason you don't see a brick houses in Alaska is due to the rigidity of brick houses in an earthquake prone are like Alaska (and the expense). I noticed in the original posts that the pictures (it is a truly beautiful house) are located on the east coast of North America and not prone to earthquakes.

  16. #16
    Member garnede's Avatar
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    I don't know about the cement mix, but the Cob mortar mix holds up well to earthquakes.
    It ain't about the # of pounds of meat we bring back, nor about how much we spent to go do it. Its about seeing what no one else sees.

    http://wouldieatitagainfoodblog.blogspot.com/

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cordwoodguy View Post
    I SAW THE ABOVE POSTS CONCERNING CORDWOOD.I`M THE OWNER OF THE LARGEST CORDWOOD SITE ON THE NET AND WAS ONCE LICENSED TO TEACH CORDWOOD IN A SCHOOL I CO-OWNED.A LINK TO MY HOME PAGE IS..http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cordwood

    MURPHYSLAW.....A CORDWOOD WALL CONSISTS OF TWO OUTER MASONRY WALLS HELD TOGETHER BY THE LOGS.THERE IS AN INNER CAVITY THATS INSULATED...NOT SOLID MORTAR AS YOU MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT.I BUILD 24" WALLS WITH STYROFOAM BEADS USED TO FILL THE INNER CAVITY.16" OF STYROFOAM BEADS WOULD HAVE AN R-VALUE OF ABOUT 48.[I`VE ALSO DESIGNED A CORDWOOD WALL BASED ON R-VALUE ALONE OF R=96.PEOPLE WERE GETTING EXCITED ABOUT STRAWBALE HAVING AN R=60]

    BUSHPILOT......THE WIRING IS RUN THROUGH METAL CONDUIT WITHIN THE MASONRY WALL AND THROUGH CONVENTIONAL INTERIOR WALLS
    AS FOR BEING LABOUR INTENSIVE LIFTING 800 LBS PLUS LOGS IS MORE LABOUR INTENSIVE THAN LIFTING 10 LB LOGS.

    ISHMAL......THE WIKIPEDIA SITE IS FULL OF MISTAKES AND MISINFORMATION. FLATO ALSO GIVES A LOT OF INFO THATS DAMAGING TO BUILDING CORDWOOD.
    THE SALT IN THE LOGS YOU MENTIONED WOULD HELP PRESERVE THE LOGS.IT DOES AN OSMOSIS THING BY REPLACING THE MOISTURE IN THE CELLS OPF THE LOGS.
    AS FOR THE SALT AND CONCRETE DON`T MIX....THEY USED BEACH SAND AND SALT WATER TO BUILD BRIDGES IN MY AREA IN THE 50`S AND THEY ARE STILL IN GOOD REPAIR.ALTHOUGH I WOULDN`T RECOMMEND IT,BUT YOU COULD WASH OUT THE BEACH SAND.


    CORDWOODGUY

    PS: I HAVE A VISUAL DISABILITY,THUS THE UPPERCASE LETTERS.

    Not many guys up here into corwood due to the fact that in this neck of the woods......we have stones and lot's of em. I believe cordwood came to be when immigrants had trouble finding the stones they needed to build wall. With that said.....I have a freind who is crazy in love with cordwood! he buys books, reads everything there is to know about it and wants to someday start constructing with the cordwood that you speak of. I need your help to get him on your forum....that's where he belongs. his face lights up whenever he talks about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bakinalaska View Post
    i don't want to be the wet towel but what is the resistance of the cordwood construction to earthquakes? I was always told one reason you don't see a brick houses in alaska is due to the rigidity of brick houses in an earthquake prone are like alaska (and the expense). I noticed in the original posts that the pictures (it is a truly beautiful house) are located on the east coast of north america and not prone to earthquakes.
    bakinalaska...........there are probably about 60 in newbrunswick and parts of that province are in an earthquake zone.never heard of a problem yet.there was a cordwood house built in california to meet earthquake codes.


    Cordwoodguy

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    Love it! I may incorporate some in mine.

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    Default

    My brother built one in Vernon (near Showlow) Arizona in the 70s and still lives in it. The big advantage in Arizona is the shag bark juniper (a cedar) that is so plentiful there is as crooked as it gets but also the best firewood around. So when splitting firewood he made a burn pile of the bent stuff and a building pile of the straight stuff. He made a jig to cut good square ends and made the wood all 12” long. He made his mud with 1 part cement, 2 parts sand, and one part saw dust from the chainsaw and still has no cracks worth worrying about. To build he snapped lines 12” apart on his cement foundation and placed mud 3’ inside each line leaving a 6’ void the center. Set wood in place and add more mud to no more than a foot high per day to allow set time. The void would then get filled with cellulose every day before laying the next foot of wall. Romex wiring was laid in the void as he went up. Plumbing was new fangled PVC-C at a 45 up the wall to get past the wood easier, but today PEX is the way to go if you must have water in an outside wall. On top he used ponderosa logs like any log cabin. He sprays it on the outside and brushes the inside every 5 years or so with linseed oil and that’s it.

    I have been there on a sunny -10f day and had to crack the door to cool it off as just the heat from the south facing window wall put in too much heat. It has even been through a 4.something quake that damaged chinking in the log cabin down the road. I see no reason it would not work well in Alaska, just a heck of a lot of work.
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