How to Build a Log Cabin

Log cabins date is one of the structures that defined early American architecture. It was used as the homes and shelter of the early explorers and settlers of the new world and is still in use up to this day. Having a log cabin is like having a piece of history so follow these instructions and go ahead and make your very own log cabin.

Tools required

  • Construction kit
  • Hammer
  • Gutter adze
  • Chain saw
  • Pencil
  • Compass divider

Materials required

  • Lumber /log (8 – 10 inches in diameter)
  • Nails
  • Concrete


  1. The first step when building your log cabin is to have your design and measurements on paper showing dimensions and sizes. This can be found in various construction kits available in your local hardware and department stores. Then properly prepare your building foundation.
  2. Dig up the foundation a little below the earth and install some concrete footings on the ground. Make a wall about 20 inches tall around your cabin foundation and install piers on top of the foundation wall. Install anchor bolts along the top of the wall to support the floor girder.
  3. Now it is time to construct the flooring of the cabin. Firstly cut the bottom of a sill log and then bore holes in it so the anchor bolts, sill sealer, or termite shield can be applied. Notch the logs to create the corner joints of the foundation. Cut the flat top of the girder and install it over the supporting piers then connect it to the sill using the mortise and tenon joint method. Then hammer nails through the top of the tenon and into the mortise to make the joint complete.
  4. Cut the top of the joists and set it up between the girder and sill logs so they are flush with the top of the girder. Make the subflooring perpendicular to the direction of the joists.
  5. Roll out a log into position and use a pencil and a compass divider to scribe the shape of the lower log into the uncut log. Rough cut the notch with a chain saw and finish it with a shallow sweep long-handled gouge.
  6. Reposition the log, so that the notch is seated. Cut the full length of the underside of the log running the blank of the dividers along the top of the lower log. Scribe both sides of the log to yield the two lines which define the V groove.
  7. Cut the groove with a chainsaw to a depth of ½ to ¾ inch. And roll it back into position and prescribe the corner notch as well as the log end extending past the notch. Cut the notch to the new scribe line and cut the tail end of the log using a gutter adze.
  8. Relocate the log by using a method called thumping where you pick up the log on one end and drop it into place. Adjustments can now be made, then insulate the groove with fiberglass and put it back in place.
  9. When the notching has come to a completion, use the drill to make a 2-inch diameter hole about 8 inches from each corner and insert an alignment peg that is loosely fitted. It should extend about halfway into the log so that it can be seen 1½ inches below the top of the hole. The pegs should be placed within 1 ft of each window and door opening and 8 ft in length of a log.
  10. While building up the log cabin walls interchange each successive log so that their smaller, tapered ends are not at the end of the wall. Cut the door opening as soon as the logs for the wall reach waist height and brace the logs on both sides of the door opening.
  11. When the wall structure reaches where the window is going to be, brace the wall and cut out the openings. Cut a groove in the log ends on both sides for a stiffening spline. Cut and insert the spline and then add at least two more logs over the opening. The top wall log is called the plate log and it should be pegged at least every 4 ft.
  12. Make the roofing of the log cabin by using the hammer to nail in the rafters and the purlins. Cut the gable ends and set the purlins into notches. The rafters should be notched into the plate and ridge log. After the rafters and purlin is set, install the roofing boards for the sheathing.
  13. Apply 15 lb of roofing felt and shingles to the roof ( cedar or asphalt) and put in all the window and door jambs, filling the loose spaces around the jambs with oakum (hemp and pine tar).
  14. Use bleach and detergent to wash the log to remove dirt and stains. Then use water to rinse the logs so they can dry for about a week. Coat the outside logs with linseed oil and then turpentine. Repeat this treatment every five years.

Tips and Warning

  • When lifting the materials for building your log cabin it is recommended to use two or more persons, as the contents can be heavy and the construction can be strenuous. Trying to lift too heavy an object can cause injuries on a work site. ill fit properly.
  • After the first log cabin room is built, other rooms can be added on as an extension.
  • Logs made from spruce, tamarack, fir, or pine are recommended for making a log cabin because it is very durable and lightweight at the same time. Harder woods are more susceptible to fungus.
  • Make sure the trees used to make the logs are tall and are cut well in advance so time has been given for them to dry out.
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