Tuesday, January 31, 2012

That's a big feather

The log supply continues to go down but looks like I will have enough to finish the cabin. Just 2 twelve and 17 fourteen foot long logs left on the rack.
As I worked to get the 9th round logs into place on top of the wall I paused to reflect. This was a lot of work. It dawned on me that this work would need to be repeated when the cabin was being dismantled and move to a permanent home. A problem that required a solution. Instead of rigging up a parbuckle I think a jib crane would be better suited for the job. More to come on this soon.
There is an eagles nest a few miles from where I am building the cabin. I took a field trip the other day to have a look. They say their nests are pretty large and some can weigh over 1,000 pounds or more. Along the ATV trail near the nest (upper left corner) I came across a feather.
Now that's a big feather!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Brisk working weather

No wind, sun is out, temp above zero...pretty nice day but, might need gloves.  Had breakfast with Alex (South Wayne bridge building student) a few days ago and brought him up to speed on the cabin building and what I was doing. When I told him I had some logs to straighten he looked puzzled and asked, "How do you do that?"

For their work as floor joists in the barn they needed only to be straight in one plane and the saw mill took care of that. However for use in a log cabin it is desirable to have them straight in two planes. For cabin building I think I would have left the log on the left in the timber.

I am sure there are many ways to get this job done. I start by snapping a chalk line down the "center mass" of the log. Then one one side, nail a straight 1x4 along this center line. The first cut to "straighten" up this log will be made to the right side on this end.

You can see the results above. The process was repeated on the other side and a slight hump was cut off in the middle area. You end up with a "straighter" log for the cabin wall. Looks like I will be taking just a bit off the far end of the second log on the right. And so it goes, straightening logs.

The walls have now gotten to a height where working from the ground is difficult. Some type of scaffolding was required. After some considerable thought and effort I came up with this idea.

Using materials that I had on hand I now have a catwalk around the cabin that I can stand on to layout and cut notches from. Nice!

The growing height of the walls presents another problem. With each log weighing in at over 200 pounds they are a hand full and it will only get worse as construction goes on. For now simple ramps and some c-clamps will do. Should be getting to the top of the door frames this week. May have to rig up a parbuckle. Better control and safer. May have to rig up a similar catwalk inside the walls also. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Good idea" ...

One of my favorite lines from the movie, Never Cry Wolf. In the scene a puzzled Eskimo hunter comes across the environmentalist picking up wolf skat. The environmentalist explains that he is trying to figure out what the wolves are eating to stay alive. He tells the Eskimo, "what goes in comes out." The Eskimo replies, "Good idea." I love this movie and the story of the government sending this guy to study the wolves.

Years ago a fellow teacher used to take me rabbit hunting. I remember we would drive around after a new snow and look for a patch of woods to hunt. He stopped on the road and then backed up onto the shoulder to get off the road. This seemed odd to me. After the third time doing this maneuver  I asked him why he didn't just pull off the road like a regular person. He told me that the way he did it (backing in) made a set of tracks in the snow and a path for the tires to follow when pulling out so he would not get stuck in the snow. Good idea.

Now when it comes to cutting 1/2 dovetail notches in logs to make a log cabin I think you need a "good idea" or two. Oh, and maybe one of those Easy buttons from Staple too just in case. What I wouldn't give to go back 150 years to see, first hand, an original log cabin builder at work.  Bridgewright, Will Truax touches on this a bit on his Bridgewright blog but that is another story line. Back to log cabin building. Most things I have read are pretty scant on what I will call "the details". Most are using sawn timbers or pretty straight "Lincoln" logs.  So how hard can it be? Really!

As a youngster my buddies and I would scrounge the neighborhood for any scrap boards we could find. We built many a fine tree house. No plans, no measuring, just cut and nail. Too long cut it again. Too short, nail a piece on. No muss no fuss.

Using "Tree house" mentality this is what the logs for a cabin would look like.

Here's what the cabin would look like. Stack'em up and away we go. That was easy!

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Round logs don't stack like this. How do you get them to stay in place? Now here is where a little knowledge and know how starts you down the path. Lets go for the details of 1/2 dovetail notch cutting and what we want the notches to do? Answers:
- hold the log in place
- determine the spacing between logs
- keep the center mass (chalk line) of each (below the top log) log level
- keep the center mass of opposite logs in the same layer at the same height
- keep the top surface of the top two logs level to support the roof rafters.

OK then, lets start a cut'en. In a nut shell with the top piece in place (the far side N log is done) and the top corners of it are at 4.250 height . The near "log" S is sitting in place on top and the corner at F is 4.750 high the other end is 4.875. Doing the math we need to lower F side .500 and the other end .625. We do this with the notch. We split the amount to be removed taking half from the top piece and half from the lower piece. You can see this layed out in red pen.

And that is how it works. After the notches are cut logs S and N are level and at the same height ready for the roof rafters. Well sorta.

Now I just have to apply this thinking to this pile of logs and I got my tree house (log cabin)!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

It's not all work, but it's Tricky

This is what the cabin was meant for. Taking a break from log notching to cook a nice pot of stew on the wood stove for lunch.

Not that we have been slacking off or anything, but the recent snow has slowed things down a bit.

Now for the tricky part... rigging up a holder for the hamburger cooker that will keep it over the nice bed of coals in the stove.

Problem solved! The ol' Odyssey of the Mind team would be proud.

After we finish lunch and take a nap I'll get down to the real problem. That will be log spacing and keeping the height of all four corners the same with logs that taper. Most of the instructions seem to skip this part of the process. Then maybe I'm just over thinking it. Could be the teacher in me. That stuff is hard to kill after 39 years of it. Details to follow... lunch.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Logs are stacking up now...

If the weather keeps up like this, 40 degrees today! The project is back on track and the logs are really stacking up now.

First three rounds of logs brought the walls up to about 24". It will take 9 or 10 rounds to complete the main cabin. Then 3 or 4 rounds for the second story. I'll keep you posted on the progress.