How to Build a Log Cabin

Living in log cabins is a long historical tradition. Building a log cabin with your own hands will require patience, time and a little skill.  According to, here is how you can build a log cabin.

Generally any kind of wood may be used as Log home materials. However, some wood functions better for the purpose than others. You want your logs to be straight and 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Optimally, there should be no more taping than 2 inches on a 16 foot log. Conifers such as pine, fir, spruce and tamarack are preferred because these softwoods are workable, durable and relatively lightweight. Hardwoods, particularly oak can also be used, though their sapwood is highly susceptible to infestation by borers and fungus.

Trees should be felled in early winter. Cold temperatures slow the drying time. This reduction lessens log checking, cracking and splitting. Allow your logs to air dry for at least two years. Stack all logs off the ground with smaller diameter logs in between the course. This allows for air to help the process. To increase the drying rate, you can partially peel off some park with a draw knife prior to stacking. Keep in mind that all bark has to be removed before building.

You’ll need a foundation. Stone or concrete walls and blocks are fine.

If you will not plan for a full basement, excavate the land below the frost line. Install footings and construct a wall 20 inches above grade level. Piers must be installed with the foundation and anchor bolts must be installed at the top of the wall to attach the sill.

Floor Construction

Cut the bottom of the sill logs flat and bore holes where the anchor bolts will go. Sill sealer must be used. Hew the top of the girder and place it over the support piers. Joint he sill with the mortise and tenon joint with 60d nails.

Cut the top of the joists and put them between the girder and sill logs so they are flush with the top of the girder. Install the subflooring perpendicular to the direction of the joists.


Use the scribe, fit, round-notch method. It is semicircular notches cut in the bottom of the logs to fit over adjacent logs. Also, a V-shaped groove is cut down the length of each log bottom so the entire length can sit flush on the log below.

Cutting the corner notches is a five-step procedure.

  • Roll the log into position. Secure the log.
  • 2. Scribe the shape of the lower log onto the uncut log.
  • Allow the notch to seat the log. Scribe the underside of the log running the blank leg of the dividers along the top of the lower log. Scribe both sides of the log into a ‘V’.
  • Cut the V-groove  to 1/2 to 3/4 in. Put log back into position. Rescribe. Cut the notch to the new scribe line. Use a gutter adze to take off the end of the log
  • Thump the long by picking it up at one end then dropping it. The marks will indicate parts of the log that needs to be trimmed. Trim those parts
  • Bore a 2-inch diameter hole 8 inches rom each corner and insert an alignment peg. The peg should be recessed 1 ½ inches and not tight. Install these pegs every 8 ft. They also go every 1 ft. of each window and door opening.

Alternate each successive log so that the tapered ends are opposing. Once you reach the desired height cut out the door. Brace the logs on both sides.

When the logs reach the top of all openings (doors and windows) brace the wall and cut the opening outs. Cut and insert spline. Place 2 logs over the opening. Peg the top wall log every 4 feet.

For the roof of the cabin, you may seek the help of a professional roofing contractorUse purlin or rafter construction for the roof. The purlins are set into notches cut in the gable ends; the rafters are notched into the plate log and ridge log. Install the purlins or rafters. Apply roofing boards and 15 lb roofing felt then install the shingles with the help of residential roof repair services.

Pre assemble all window and door jambs, install them in the openings, and add the windows and doors. Allow 3/8-in. clearance for each and chink with okum (hemp and pine tar).

Wash the logs with detergent to remove any dirt, and then with a solution of two parts household bleach to one part water to lift out any stains. Rinse the logs thoroughly with water and let them dry for a week. Then apply a mixture of one part linseed oil to five parts turpentine to the outside of the logs. This treatment should be repeated every five years.

Filed Under: Home & Maintenance


About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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