Sunday, September 17, 2017

Squinted half lap with draw bored pegs

First before we get to the squinted half lap joint I had to put in the cross tie that would hold the cabin walls together and support the loft floor hoists.

The original cabin cross tie log used to support a second floor to the cabin had a half dove tail cut on the bottom. With the log laid the original way there was quite a sag and I did not want to put a post under it. I decided to rotate the log and cut a new half dove tail on the side.

After drilling, sawing and chiseling the log fit nicely.

The cross tie is back a bit from the 7 foot distance I planned for but did this to be able to use one of the existing notches. This will cause a bit of a problem with the scaffolding and winch but will work around it.

Ran short of 24 foot logs and need to add a piece to the extra 18 footer I had. After putting some sleepers under the logs to support them I did the layout.

This is a tricky joint and with logs can be problematic. Careful planning and lots of thinking is required.

There are four basic cuts for a squinted half lap and they are all important! First the squint angle was cut on the ends. Then the half lap was ripped with the saw. Next the waste piece of the half lap would be cut off. This is always the part that gives me pause... there is a 50 - 50 chance of getting it wrong so I like to look it over a couple of times from different angles to get it right. The "X" marks the waste... or is that the piece I want to keep? The squint angle keeps the long piece of the half lap locked into place and secure.

Got it right and the pieces fit together. Now with some parallel clamps holding them together it is time to "saw up the kerf" and get the joint tight. Here you can see the gap at the point where the pieces meet up.

Run the saw through the kerf making the cut parallel, do this on both sides, drive them together and repeat as many times a necessary and you will get a tight fight.

And last, "draw bore" the holes for the pegs that will hold the joint together. What this requires is drilling the peg hole through just the first piece of the half lap. Take the pieces apart and then drill the second half about 1/4" to the side of the hold so that when you drive in the peg it will pull the two pieces into the squint. In the picture you can see the amount of offset by the blue line on the bottom of the hole. Here again your have a 50 - 50 chance of drilling this on the wrong side of the hole and getting it wrong. Thinking is critical. Those pioneers are pretty smart.

 And here you have it a squinted half lap joint joined with draw bore pegs. Nice and tight. Pretty neat!

Here the log is in place on the cabin wall. This log has some rot issues and was placed in the down position to shed any water. Also in this round as the next round will have to support the roof rafters so the joint will not be an issue. Only one more round, 4 logs to go and then the log work for this cabin is done!

Next loft floor joists, the rafters, the gable ends and the stairs to the loft. Piece of cake right? The porch roof will have to wait until the cabin is on site because the post for the porch will sit on a deck.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Let the challenges continue

For sure the first logs to go on above the windows are the most challenging!
First there is the challenge of getting the 24 foot solid oak log to the top of the wall. Ramps were out of the question because when the ramp gets over your head you have no leverage to push and at 400 to 500 pounds there is a lot of friction between the log and the ramp. This would require a winch. I recycled one of my 2000 pound capacity 20:1 worm drive winches from a past covered bridge project. Mounting a 16 foot 4x4 to my scaffolding on wheels would do the trick. I could move the set up around to the different walls and safely lift them from the inside.

With the winch mounted and a snatch block above I would build a holder for the Milwaukee Hole Hawg drill that would drive it.

This went very well. Two boards were used. They would hang on the scaffolding and form a sandwich that could be loosened.

This would allowed the drill to be slid back so that the hand crank could be used for fine adjustments and better control of the log when notching it.

Just one more thing was needed. A remote switch that would allow me to turn on and off the drill during the raising process to make this a one man operation. The remote was later changed to an in line hand held switch that was more reliable. So now I could rig up the log and control its raising to the top of the cabin wall. Pretty neat!

The laying out and cutting of the two logs over the door and windows was a challenge and required the better part of two days! But a good learning experience for sure.

The last step in the process was to drill 1.5" diameter holes for pegs that would be used to pin the lower wall segments to the top log and knit the walls together. Now this oak is hard as rock and trying to put pressure on the drill from the top of a 10 foot ladder is a problem.

My 175 pounds could not get the job done. I had a choice, go home eat and gain 75 pounds or rig up something to do the job. Well I had some disc weights around so I strapped them up. With one on each side of the cabin wall it worked pretty good. Yes the drill is sharp but the heel clearance is very slight and with this hard of material it takes a lot of downward force to get the bit to bite.

You have heard of the saying, "putting a square peg into a round hole". Well this is a good application of that. This is a temporary peg that will hold the logs. Having only four points of contact the peg can be sawed off and easily removed when the cabin is dissembled and taken down. For final assembly full 1.5" diameter round oak pegs will be used and they will LOCK the logs together tight! The geometry used to calculate the size of the square peg would make my old high school geometry teacher smile.

Next up the cabin cross tie log and loft floor.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Cabin progress - Top of windows

Getting to this point required a bit of a different approach to setting the logs for marking and cutting.
But here we are to the top of the windows and now it will be back to handling full length logs and the last three rounds should go a bit faster.

The ramps got longer as the wall got higher but the process of getting them on the wall was the same. Except - Prior to putting the log up a vee block had to be put on the free end by the window and a ladder holding a support board leveled to the wall height put in place. This had to be done on each side of the window frame. This supported the log so it could be rolled for notch cutting. This little process would have to be done about 40 times!

Once the log was up the end needed to be scribed to match the vertical window frame. I used a parallel piece to get this. The ends were full of square nails and caution was the watch word or bye bye chain saw blade.

The bottom picture needs to be rotated 90 degrees but you get the idea. I made a small screw type jack with about an inch of travel for fine adjustments and also to raise the logs to remove shims. Worked but needs some work to make it more stable.

So here we are at the top of the windows. two thirds of the walls up. Just 3 more rounds of logs to go.  And the loft, and the roof rafters and the porch and the gable end framing. Snap right?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Welded Yard Art Class

Here are the very nice folks that took the Welded Yard Art class at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, WI this past weekend with all of their creations. They brought their "good junk" to the class and I worked with them to gain some welding skills and knowledge so they could make their dreams into... some very interesting critters! Pretty neat to make these things with your own hands and new skills.

I just have to say they were extremely good, hard working, dedicated learners and problem solvers and their projects say it all. We looked over the various welding machines and equipment. Then tried it. Then we reviewed, learned some more about the equipment and different processes. Then tried it some more and this continued for two "serious fun" filled days.

There was something for everyone and they took advantage of it all. Hopefully these new welders are reading this and can not only weld but gained some new knowledge along the way. Here is a list of welding things we covered. For each welding word rate yourself Beginner if you can tell one thing about the word, Advanced if you can tell two things related to the word and Proficient if you can tell three or more things about the word relating to your new welding skills.

Have some serious fun -


Cutting Torch
Cutting Tip
Welding Tip
MIG Welder
MIG Wire
MIG Welding Tip
Stick Out

Complete Circuit
Ground Clamp
Wire Speed Control
Angle of the torch
Travel Speed

Tank Regulator
Regulator Adjusting Screw
Working Pressure
Oxy Acetylene Cutting Torch
Oxygen cutting lever
Torch handle Needle Valves

 Arc Welding
Stick Electrode
Electrode Holder
Chipping Hammer
Welding Mask/Helmet
Wire Cutters
Brass Filler
Paste Flux

Oxy Acetylene Torch Welding
Oxy Acetylene Welding Torch Tip
Filler Metal
Bench Grinder
Hand Held Grinder
After the class was over I had a few scraps and in a couple of hours and knocked out this rotating piece in celebration of tomorrows eclipse. It shows a very neat shadow on the garage door when the sun hits it. Had fun and it was great working with you folks. Keep welding that "junk"!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cabin Window Framing

With the first three rounds of logs up it is time to build the frames for the windows. I wanted to make sure that after the frames were built the windows would fit so I bought a pair of them to build the frames around.

The rough sawn 2 x 8 boards that I had to work with were pretty rough and varied a lot in thickness and width. It was easier than I thought as I cut the vertical pieces first to control the window frame height and then cut the horizontal pieces to fit. They fit and open with no problems. Although the hinges may be a bit on the light side for the weight of the window and two latching closers will be needed.

OK first of the four double windows up on the wall. Amazing how the opening cuts in the logs were in the right places and close to width.

 A couple of pictures showing all the window frames in place and braced. Now it is back to work putting up logs. This time the challenge is to hold the end of the log that does not sit on a wall. These can be a problem, especially the longer ones as you have to roll them over to make the cut on the bottom side. Takes time and planing. Three more rounds of logs and I should be to the top of the windows.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Log Cabin Building 101 Part #1

Well it is hard for me to believe that it has been a month since I last posted about Lynn's log cabin project. So I will try to bring those interested up to speed and the process that goes into a project like this.

In the last cabin post of July 4th you saw the trailer load of logs and pictures of the 24 by 18 cabin they came from. Step one was to lay the logs out on stickers to see just what we had. One of the things we had were the top wall logs that were noted for the loft floor joists.

Next each log was numbered. There were 65 logs. All were hewed to about 6 inches in thickness. However they varied in length from 2 to 24 feet and height from 7 to 13 inches. I placed the recorded sizes for each log on a spreadsheet. Then I could sort them out by length (most important) and height (widest logs would be used for the bottom logs of the cabin).

It is noteworthy to consider the numerous square nails that were used in the first construction of this cabin 100 years ago as they will be a problem when recutting the logs for rebuilding.

After two or three days of sketching and drawing a full set of prints were made using Auto CADD. For that I used an average log height of 9 inches. Working from the log list I was able to select full length logs and decide on window sizes and placement to make use of the shorter logs. Then it was time to make a scale model using foam core board to get a feel for the proportions and how the porch roof would look. This also helped Lynn see just how the final cabin would look. Everything was good to go.

One more thing that plays into the construction is the size of the chinking joint. This is determined by several factors one of them by the angle of the half dovetail. I was going for from 2 to 2 - 1/2 inch spaces and like around a 17 degree angle for looks and water shedding. To put my mind to ease, since there were no extra logs I decided to use some of the 2 foot pieces and test out my joint design. I was pleasantly surprised. So I was time to get building!

I selected my location and found the highest corner point this would be zero. The other three corners would be blocked up accordingly to bring them to level. The plans were drawn with 2" overhangs on the corner joints. Making the log lengths needed 21' - 6" and 16' - 6". I want the cabin walls to be sitting on a 2x6 treated plate for moisture protection from the concrete pad the cabin will go on. Lucky me 2x6's only come 16' long so I would have to scab on a piece to get the 21' - 2" length I needed. Anyway I placed the boards on edge to get level and then laid them down and put in some more blocking the support them.

OK so now with a nice level, supported 2x6 treated plate. I made the door frame out of 4x6 material, placed and braced it plumb where it would go. This way I will have a surface to anchor the ends of the logs that do not sit on a wall for support.

The question always is, "How do you move logs this heavy by yourself?". The answer is. "I let the wheels and ramps do the work." These 24 foot white oak logs weigh in at between 300 and 400 pounds each! But with a roller under the log it moves easily out of the pile.

To get the logs from the pile to the cabin wall I have built a little contraption that does the job. With the log secured at its balance point all the weight is on the wheels and a 400 pound log "merrily rolls along"!

For the shorter logs I just strap on a set of wheels at the midpoint and roll these to the cabin wall.

Ahhh.. the feeling I get when a plan comes together and the results are what you wanted. The first cuts have been made and the clearance on the long walls is just a bit over 6" for a filler log piece.

Ramps are used to get logs higher up on the walls of the cabin. They will get pretty long for the top rounds of logs!

Windows and doors always cause a problem in the construction because there is nothing to support the log by the door or window when doing lay out. To solve this problem I have built a nifty little set of adjustable vee blocks that can be used. Here you can see them at work. When the log has been cut and fitted screws are ran through the door/window frame to secure it in place and the vee block removed.

So here we are. After a week of cutting and fitting. Keeping in mind to make the corners come out the same height. Keeping the walls plumb and the chinking gap around 2 to 3 inches. Next will come the window framing. After that the loft and then the roof. Will report the progress as I go in Part 2 of Cabin Building 101.