Building With Logs - Long Log or Scandinavian Log Building

Skills, Tools, Time, Safety | Falling Trees | Log Wheeler | Peeling and Storing Logs

Primarily this construction process is where the bottom of each log is cut with a long V that matches the contours of the log it will rest on.

The advantage of this is mainly for shedding of water. Water will run around the outside of the log until it reaches the bottom and this V. Since it canít run uphill into the V it is shed onto the next lower log.

The V is stuffed with insulation which stops drafts from entering the interior. Without this V cut the water will run around the log and then sit in flat area between the logs causing rot to quickly start.

When building in this method there are three steps for each log stacked on the walls. The first is to scribe the contours of the bottom log onto the top log. This is done with large dividers.

The second is to cut the V groove using a chainsaw angled to create one side of the V and then the other following the scribed lines.

The third is to cut the notch required at each end of the log to secure it to the adjacent logs. Typically these are saddle notches because this type of notch sheds water well and are comparatively easier to make than other traditional notches.

A saddle notch is where the top log has the bottom log's adjacent contour scribed and cut into it. The top log then settles onto the bottom log. The trick is to cut the V groove and Saddle notch in such a way that both fit the bottom log together, neither one to deep or shallow which would cause the other to not fit correctly.

The proper way to do this is to first cut the rough saddle notch's, scribe and cut the V groove followed by the final cuts on the saddle notch's The log is rolled in and out of place on the wall to test for fit. Check to make sure there are no knots or irregularities on the log before hoisting onto the wall. Once on the wall the log should be belly up with any bows or warps upright so when you roll inwards to work in it it will be stable.

When you position it on the wall ensure the center of the main log is correctly positioned dead center over the log below and not just the butt ends. Get off the wall and step back to check this visually. Periodically check the wall vertically with a level to ensure it is still straight.

As the wall is going up check with a tape measure the distance from the top of the wall to the floor in different spots on the log. Any differences will accumulate so these need to be sorted out on each log. By varying the notch depth you can even out the log height. The goal is to have the log level on the top and at the same height on both walls every two logs.

Start with a rough cut of the notch. This will bring the logs closer together and make the scribing of the V groove much easier. To start the rough notch with the log in place measure the largest gap between the two logs and setting your scribe to less than this distance scribe the bottom log contour onto the top log at each notch location both inside and outside. The goal is once the rough notch is complete the logs just about but do not touch or bind together when the top log is rolled into place.

If the top of the log is out of level then the depth of these notches can adjusts this as long as the log differences are not excessive. This is why you put so much time and work in choosing your logs and preparing them.

Roll the log inward and 180 degrees from its position. Dog down securely. Using the chainsaw cut out the material in the marked notch. Use the nose of the saw to create the contour. Be careful not to cut outside the line. Once both notches are done roll back into place and dog down.

Adjust scribe to the widest gap between top and bottom logs and add 1/2 to 3/4 in to the setting. This addition is derived from your measurements to determine log levelness and height to opposite wall.

Modern log scribes come with a double bubble leveling system that will indicate both vertical and horizontal level. This tool receives rough service so get a good quality one that will not move out of adjustment after setting when you are running it along the log contour. While keeping the scribe level (very important) move along both the inside and outside of the logs marking the top log with the bottom logs contour. Stop scribing about one foot from each end of the log. At each butt mark the bottom logs contour onto the top log. We don't want the V groove to run all the way to the end where it would then show. The end contour of the bottom log will be cut into top log so it rests on evenly.

Roll the log inward again and dog securely. Taking a sharp large knife cut a 1/8 in deep line along the scribe mark. This will stop chipping and tear out of material later. Now slightly roll log until one of two scribed lines is just off center on the side you use the chainsaw comfortable. Dog securely. Using the nose of the saw cut inside the marked line in shallow passes to the estimated depth of the opposite future connecting cut. This should be quite shallow and the angle between these cuts should be close to 180 degrees.

Stop cutting 1 ft from the butt end and with hand tools or with the nose of the chainsaw cut the short round groove in these butt ends to the depth of the scribed line. This cut is important as you do not want to go too deep. The depth should be such that the V groove edge just rests on the lower log when the log is in its final position.

Roll the log again into a position correct to make the second V groove cut. Use the nose of the chainsaw and stay inside the line. Now the log should have a nice groove in the center.

Using hand tools finish the saddle notches to the final markings. Make the center of the notch slightly deeper than the edge (like a shallow bowl) in case protrusion on the top of the lower log force the upper log up slightly and causing fitting problems. You want those edges tight to each other.

Again using hand tools cut the V groove back to its final markings. Roll the log into place and check fit. Continue to trim the log until the fit is perfect. Once your happy roll the log inward and stuff the V groove with insulation; roll it back into its proper position and move onto the next log.


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