Birch Logs; I just gotta ask

bobblehead

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Thanks to everyone for the info they have previously shared on cabin building, moving logs, etc.

I don't see too many cabins (any really) made with birch logs, I can guess that is because they are heavy, skinny, and it's hard to find straight trees.

The forest in my backyard is in the birch stage, with the spruce trees still only 10 feet tall and spindly as they fight for sunshine. So with all this birch, why not build a small cabin in my backyard? I could practice my notch scribing skills, experiment with a foundation idea I learned on this forum. I know I would learn a lot, and then when I eventually head out to my remote property, it wouldn't be my first time building, which would save me a lot of time and cost.

Ok so long question short, why not birch logs?
 

AKDoug

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I have seen a few birch cabins. It's tougher to peel, harder wood, and much heavier than spruce. However, there is no reason why a guy couldn't use it for a small cabin, sauna, or playhouse. Be aware that birch is not rot resistant at all and will require a good oil finish to keep it alive. If it doesn't work out you can always cut it up into fire wood ;)
 

mit

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I helped build one in the early 80's. It is doing fine. You have to keep the water off of them, just like all wood.
 

bobblehead

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Thanks folks.

You know I figured it was heavier, harder to peel, and less weather resistant, but all those factors can be mitigated with the right equipment, tools, and construction techniques.

I have an abundance of birch logs that are straight, and 6-8" in diameter, so it looks like I have created another project for myself:). It will be a small 12-14 trapper cabin, just big enough to make it worth my effort. It will be a good training medium for notching, roof and floor designs, etc. Plus it will look nice in the backyard up in the trees a little ways.

Thanks again
 

Rock_skipper

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Birch takes a long time to dry out, so there might be a little more shrinkage problem than other woods.

I don't know as I've never built one, just thought I'd throw that in there.
 

matjpow

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Thanks folks.

You know I figured it was heavier, harder to peel, and less weather resistant, but all those factors can be mitigated with the right equipment, tools, and construction techniques.

I have an abundance of birch logs that are straight, and 6-8" in diameter, so it looks like I have created another project for myself:). It will be a small 12-14 trapper cabin, just big enough to make it worth my effort. It will be a good training medium for notching, roof and floor designs, etc. Plus it will look nice in the backyard up in the trees a little ways.

Thanks again

Just keep in mind that (depending on tree diameter and height of walls) you will need 400+ linear feet of tree. That is assuming you will frame in the gable. If you plan out your windows and door, you can save on that some.

I have peeled birch and spruce and here are the difference I have noticed. Birch has thicker bark because of that spongy under bark (whatever you call it.) Spruce has limbs that create knots making peeling harder on some spruce. Also some spruce has lots of dried sap. If you winter cut your trees it makes it harder to peel. If you have a sharp drawknife peeling a birch is not that bad. I've done it with a machete and it wasn't that bad. If you want to spend the money, you could get a log wizard. I think they sell them at AIH. A high quality drawknife could cost you $100 so they are not that bad considering how much work they will save you. With some practice, you can use them for notching too.

http://logwizard.com/index.php?opti...cle&id=4:log-wizard&catid=5:articles&Itemid=6

If you spray the birch with borates while it is still green, the borate will migrate deeper into the wood. The borate manufactures typically advise you to spray after the wood dries a few days before you stain it but I have seen some comercial cabin builders that spray it green, then again before you stain it. The theory is, osmosis will carry the salt into the wood because it is still damp. As long as you cover your logs, the borates won't wash off. You can use a cheap pump pesticide sprayer to apply the borates.

Here is a relatively inexpensive borate I found on the web:

http://www.mountainhomebuildingproducts.com/log-home-preservative-penetreat-3-1-2-gallon-bucket.html
 

chadcl

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Good stuff, I have some property in Skwentna area and was wondering about tree selection. What are the thoughts with mixing birch and spruce?
 

Big Bend

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Good stuff, I have some property in Skwentna area and was wondering about tree selection. What are the thoughts with mixing birch and spruce?
I think that I would advise against mixing the two woods . Each one is going to do its own thing and spruce and birch do not think alike . You will have different rates of shrinkage and amount of shrinkage .
 

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