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Thread: quick question about securing log walls

  1. #1

    Default quick question about securing log walls

    What is the better way of securing or pinning log walls?

    1. Cutting a 3/4" hole through one log and halfway into the log below it, and then using a loosely fitting 5/8" dowel as a peg. This would allow the logs to settle without binding on the pegs.

    or

    2. Drilling a hole through each course and running a single allthread through the entire height of the wall. This would allow tightening as the logs twisted and settled.

    Are there other methods out there for a 13x15 scribe fit cabin?

  2. #2
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    I made drill extensions to drill the whole wall with an auger bit and used allthread, 5/8" I think, in a foot from the corner on each wall. I also used long smooth 1/2" steel rods dropped in beside the doors and window openings, and in an X pattern through the ridge and purlins, and used allthread down through the ridge to the door opening and window opening. 2x4 splined the window and door openings also on the larger cabins, but not the smaller ones.

  3. #3

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    Malamute,

    Did you drill all the way through on the walls so that you could tighten and compress the logs down as the twsited and settled?

  4. #4

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    Use timberlok screws.SBS has them.

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    i have never seen allthread used, it's pretty spendy. have seen rebar used many times, could use 5/8 in a 3/4" hole as you mentioned, or most times i've seen just 1/2" in a 5/8" hole. What size logs are you using? I find it hard to imagine anything greater than 6 or 7 inch being influenced very greatly by allthread and a bolt tightening as you mentioned. If they want to go, they're going to head that way doesn't matter if you don't want them to. I would think a substantial tightening system would likely split and crack the logs, have you heard of this being utilized? My experience is best to build when green, keep everything tight, and try to crown all the logs the same so they twist/bow with one another, as opposed to in opposite directions. Also, recommend building on a kiln dried floor, makes a huge difference.

    Just chink the inevitable cracks with fiberglass and then add sphagnum if you want the look. Can add some sprayfoam on the inside if you're concerned about wind blowing through. I think you are very smart to pin the logs at corners and below windows and above doors, and would use 1/2" rebar for what I would guess is a small cabin, but i'm skeptical about any substantial tightening working out the way you are hoping.

    AK spruce is some stubborn and onery stuff, just gotta let it do its thing.

    Timberlock screws cost a ridiculous amt and just aren't appropriate for this application.

  6. #6

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    andweav,
    I have heard of allthread being used, but was hoping to find another way because of the cost. Tom Walker's book on cabin building mentions using loose fitting pins 1/2 to 5/8 to pin two logs together. From what I understand, each log is pinned with the one below it. Could I use short sections of wooden dowel? And yeah, it's a small cabin so I figured pinning 2 feet in from the corners along with splining window and door openings should keep everything in line.

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    andweav- why are the Timberlock screws not appropriate for this application? Is it because of the cabin being scribed? Just curious. I used them on my 24x24 cabin with 8" logs and they worked great. My logs where milled though. Your are right about the cost of the screws!

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    My log home uses 1" square spruce pegs in 1" round holes around the windows and doors. The square-peg-in-a-round-hole thing actually works really well. It's tight enough to keep things in place, but still lets things settle easily. And for the record, it was done by a professional, so it's not just a screwy idea I came up with. I've also used 3/4" oak pegs (left over from a timber frame project) in a 7/8" hole and even a home made pegs cut from black spruce trunks in 1 1/2" holes. All worked fine. No need to worry about it. You are going to slot the logs for the window/door bucks anyways, so that will also help hold things straight.

    Each hole is drilled through the top log and about half way into the bottom log. As you go up, the holes are off set about 4" back and forth with each round. This is the standard and traditional way of doing scribe log homes. Just make sure the pegs are at least an inch shorter than the hole depth so as it settles it won't lift the log above it.

    The all-thread thing is for milled logs (and seems like a questionable idea there too). No way would I do that with scribed logs. Totally different application. Same with timberlocks.

    Yk

  9. #9

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    Yellowknife,
    Thanks for the info, that is the plan I've since gone with, using 5/8" pegs in a 3/4" hole (I'm a few courses up). You showed me some pics of your place a few years back and I really liked it.

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    many cabins have been built with small diameter spruce pegs, pounded into holes drilled by hand with a brace and auger bit. i have some pics around somewhere of one that I helped take apart and move that was built in this fashion. you could tell the holes were augered by hand. Boy do i prefer power tools.

    Good recommendations by YK. point of emphasis i'll repeat is to keep the pegs an inch or so short, and also agree regarding timberlocks maybe for milled logs not scribed, though i do think there are more practical options pinning milled logs too, not that the timberlocks don't work. how much did that ding your wallet steve? How many did you use?

    I've used them for securing rails to fence posts before, and they worked well for that and are far superior to nails, but I expected the fence to experience quite a bit of torque through the years of heave/thaw so I thought it was a worthwhile expenditure, and I didn't need too many.

    curious to see pics of your walls going up bobble as it progresses. this can be your wall raising and pinning thread.

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    Member Yellowknife's Avatar
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    Yeah Bobblehead, we want to see pictures! Oh, and your PM box is full btw.

    andweav, I've actually done a few hand bored holes using an original hand 1 1/2" hand auger my dad found in a gold rush era cabin. It was pretty cool.... for the first few rounds. About half way up, we switched to a gas powered auger. Much easier! Here is that cabin.



    Good luck on your project Bobblehead. Sounds like you are rolling along just fine.

    Yk

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    I drilled as far down as I could, my longest bit extension is about 6'. I wasn't trying to torque the allthread so much as just keep slack out and tie the stack together. I left the ends exposed for the first year and snugged them up before chinking over them, I use dead standing logs, they don't shrink all that much. The winds along the Front Range here blow 120+ mph at times. I've seen a couple cabins that had the roof and top couple rows of logs come off. So far nothing I've built has come apart.

    I use full round logs and chink with Log Jam. Makes a tight cabin and simple to do, and it's easy to plumb up the inside walls to give a fairly even wall in the living space.

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    I believe the proper way to pin logs together is to drill a hole in the top log slighting larger in diameter than your pin, then drive the pin into the log below it. This allows the top log to settle and not bind when it shrinks. I have made my own pins from re-rod with a heavy duty washer welded on top.


    Quote Originally Posted by bobblehead View Post
    What is the better way of securing or pinning log walls?

    1. Cutting a 3/4" hole through one log and halfway into the log below it, and then using a loosely fitting 5/8" dowel as a peg. This would allow the logs to settle without binding on the pegs.

    or

    2. Drilling a hole through each course and running a single allthread through the entire height of the wall. This would allow tightening as the logs twisted and settled.

    Are there other methods out there for a 13x15 scribe fit cabin?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by hunterelk2002 View Post
    I believe the proper way to pin logs together ....

    I spike the corner joints similar to what you mentioned. I counter sink the heads, and overdrill the hole in the upper log, then drive the spike so it can slip as the logs settle.


    I believe there's many "proper" ways to do it, and most work well. Many log builders of long experience do it different ways.

  15. #15
    Member Yellowknife's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malamute View Post
    I believe there's many "proper" ways to do it, and most work well. Many log builders of long experience do it different ways.
    Yep, that's the truth. Most methods work, as long as settling is allowed for. And different ways are more "traditional" depending on if it's full scribe, chinked, or milled. In fact, although the most of my house is pinned with wood pegs, the top cap logs were done on (IIRC) 6 ft intervals with rebar, similar to what hunterelk was describing. No washer welded on though, since there wasn't any need for one. Just hammered down below the surface an inch or so.



    There are certainly as many ways to build a log wall as there are builders.

    Yk

  16. #16

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    I did my cabin with 2 sided (chainsaw milled) and used 8" spikes. Drilled thru top log for a loose fit, then half way thru top log with a larger hole for the head of the spike. So it's tight into the bottom log and floats inside the top log. One thing I'm very glad I did was to mark where all metal pins are so if/when putting in a window later, no surprises.

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    Whats the aftermath of the shrinking?

    Just curious of some of the guys that have built with green logs.

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    Rockskipper,

    Good question, I'd like to hear the answer so I can know what to expect...my logs sat for two years, but some are definitely more dry than others...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock_skipper View Post
    Whats the aftermath of the shrinking?

    Just curious of some of the guys that have built with green logs.
    Shrinking on an 8' high log wall can be a 3-5" loss of height. You need to leave plenty of space above doors and windows for settling. Any posts used to support beams etc. will not shrink at the same rate as the log walls and must have some way to be shortened as the walls shrink. Flashings around chimneys, vents, etc. which penetrate the roof must be flashed to allow for the downward movement of the roof.

  20. #20
    Member Yellowknife's Avatar
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    Shrinking is dealt using the methods mentioned by hunterelk. Bobblehead, you will still get a 2-3" inches of shrinking/settling once you put the heat to those logs. It will be less than if they were green logs, but still very noticeable. You will certainly want to account for in in your door and window construction.

    If you don't have it already, B. Allen Mackies book "The Owner Built Log Home" has a pretty good walk through of the construction of a "trapper" style cabin using classic log techniques, complete with lots of color photos. Or if there is anything specific you want to look at, I might be able to show you on my house.

    Yk

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