Building your own home is easier than you may think if you opt for a log home. In addition to being robust and cosy, log cabins are an affordable solution for owning a home. This particular article is not a tutorial or a step by step guide on how to build a log cabin; this is a simple overview of how to do it. You can´t expect to find a complete guide on how to build a log home in one article, that would be unrealistic. However, our intention is to let you know that it is feasible to build yourself a home without having to spend huge amounts of money.
You don´t even need to waste your money buying a log cabin building kit ‒ there are basically three main construction methods for log homes: Saddlenotch, Scandinavian Chinkless, and Butt and Pass.
Construction: The Butt and Pass Method
The butt and pass method is suitable for beginners. Following Skip´s Ellsworth butt and pass method, even inexperienced builders can construct a home, spending much less than what they would spend on a log home kit. This building method eliminates pointless expense and labour. Typical log cabin construction methods require quite some time and skills to scribe and notch the extremes to fit together perfectly. Notching used to be necessary because there was no other way to tie the separate pieces to come up with a stable structure. If you have patience and crafting skills you can build a log cabin with traditional notching, but if your craftsmanship skills are not outstanding, Skip´s method will allow you to build a quality log within a quite short period, whilst at the same time saving money.
So, what are the basic steps to making a butt and pass log cabin?
- Buying a land, of course.
- Designing the log cabin and having the plans approved.
- Getting the logs.
- Clearing the ground and putting down the foundations.
- Erecting the log walls and building the roof.
- Putting in the floors, stairs if needed, and internal walls.
- Cutting out windows and doors.
- Chinking the walls.
- Installing the heating, electrical, septic, and plumbing systems.
- Finally, installing windows, doors, and flooring.
Once you have the land, you need to clear the ground where you intend to construct your log cabin. The next step is putting down the foundations, for which you will have to dig holes or to lay down concrete slabs. Erecting the walls is the following step, and it is possibly the most enjoyable and pleasing one since it´s at this time when you get to see your log cabin rising out of the ground.
Building the roof is the next stage. You can either make it yourself or buy one and put it up. Building it yourself will save you a lot of money as the roof is often the most expensive ingredient in the log cabin building recipe.
Once your roof is ready, you can start putting in the floors, stairs, and inner walls. You will see the inside take shape.
Chinking the walls is the next step, and then comes probably the most tedious and arduous part: heating, electrical, septic, and plumbing installation, and finally installing windows, doors, and floors.
So, these are the summarized steps you are going to take to build your log cabin. Now let´s see what else you will need to do. Besides the basic construction materials, you will need certain tools and additional constructing materials.
Materials and technology needed to build a log cabin
One of the advantages of this building method is that it doesn´t require expensive tools, just a relatively few standard tools are needed.
Of course logs are the primary material you will need to build your log home. You can opt for hardwoods such as oak, hickory, ash, maple, and birch, or you can choose softwoods such as Douglas fir, white fir, alpine fir, lodgepole pine, white pine, ponderosa pine, tamarack or Engleman spruce.
- Block and tackle
- Hand winch
- Alaska sawmill
- Hammer and sledgehammer
- Brace and bits
- Electric drill
- 100´ of chain
- Polypropylene rope, 600´ of 1/2” diameter
- Carpenter's level
- Hand level
- Rebar cutter
- Pick and shovel
- Post hole digger
- Tape measure
- Swede hook
- Carpenter´s square
- Chisel set
- Bark spud
- Digging bar
- Log dogs
- Plumb bob
- Chalk line
- Extendable ladder
- Construction knife
- Putty knife
- Mortar board
- Portable concrete mixer (if possible)
- White string
There are some basics or principles regarding the log cabin construction following the butt and pass method. Basically, to build the walls you have to take the logs, put them on top of each other making a spin wheel, and then you have to pin the logs together with the rebars (reinforcing bars), with no scribing, no notching and no close fitting required.
The log on one wall butts up against the log on the other wall, overlapping up the corners. The logs are kept up together with the rebar pin. Logs need to be drilled and nailed through, from one log to the following one, at the corners and every four feet.
We recommend the butt and pass log cabin building method since it is quite fast and economical and the results are durable, cosy cabins. It is possible to own a home and remain mortgage free, and log cabins are the best option to achieve the dream of constructing and owning your log home!