Update new photo below 4/11/14
Don Richmond wrote me the other day about his cabin project and I wanted to share it with you. Here is Don’s story.
I was stunned by the similarity of the House of Fallen Timbers story to my own. I live in rural Southeast Lower Michigan, and my 2.25 acres has been ravaged by the ash borer problem. So last winter I had quite a few dead ash trees to cut down and clean up. Like David, I had plenty of burning wood, and I was afraid they would start falling down and causing (safety) problems, and I was also tired of how bad they looked, as well as having to clean up all the shed during windy conditions. But I got to looking at them, and at how many “straight” sections of log they had in them, and I thought “Hmmm…crazy idea, but I wonder if I could build a small log cabin from the straight pieces.” I also had seen Dick Proenneke’s PBS special, and was impressed that a single person could do that.
So on January 2nd of 2010, I started cutting down trees. A friend helped me, a guy who burns wood for heat, and I told him that if he helped me cut them down and cut them up, he could have all the crooked stuff to burn. It took a while, but we got them all cut down and stacked the straight ones in drying piles, and he got quite a few loads of excellent firewood out of the deal, which I helped him cut to burning size pieces and load onto his trailer. He was happy, and so was I.
Making a long story short, it’s 11 months later now, and I have ended up with an ash log cabin. The only thing I have left is to install the stove pipe so I can burn wood for heat in my Grandfather’s 1887 wood stove that I have in there.
The costs for building were minimal, as I attempted to (and took great pride in) using resources and materials I had already laying around or could recycle from other sources I could find. I did buy some things, like the USB sheets for the roof and floor, 3 insulation rolls to stuff between logs, hinges/handle for the door, but that’s about it. It was a great project, and I learned a lot, and gained great appreciation for the pioneers who did this type of thing for their families to provide them with shelter. I also pretty much did it solo. Besides the friend helping me cut down the trees and stack the logs, one other friend came one Saturday and did some odds and ends – peeling some logs, doing some notching, etc… – more because he was excited about what I was doing and wanted to learn how to do some of those things than out of necessity. Other than that, I did the rest myself, including the nut-busting-back-breaking moving around of VERY heavy hardwood logs. Luckily, I got through it without any big accidents, though not without some scary moments, particularly getting the real big logs up to higher and higher levels.
So I just wanted to share some thoughts and ideas on our projects. Congratulations on your own completions. I share and understand your efforts, and give you credit for all your work.
drichmond (at) altair.com
New photo of patio below.
In an initial armchair approach to preparing for some longer and tougher hiking trails (I’m starting to train for Mount Whitney), I’ve been reading some great books on people tackling the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail. The popular book “Wild” was fun, but I am really enjoying “Awol on the Appalachian Trail” by David Miller.
David’s 2003 hike is documented in this beautifully written story that really brings the trail to life. He also goes into details about his “homes” along the trail since he rarely used a tent: the AT shelters that dot the 2,172 mile long passage across the mountain range. There are around 250 backcountry shelters along the trail where both section and thru-hikers can stay for free. Most of them are basic and open to the elements, but some are actually beautifully constructed and take advantage of views, light and airflow. Most of the shelters are near a creek or a stream and some have a privy or basic toilet nearby. They are kept clean and in shape by hikers and trail volunteers.
Most of the shelters have basic sleeping platforms, but no cots or beds. Food is either kept away from bears and other critters in boxes or hung from strings on the ceilings. Some shelters have picnic tables and food prep areas and most of them do not allow open campfires.
Top photo: William Penn Shelter. Photo by White Blaze.net.
Today’s Tiny House in a Landscape is from Fred Beal in Helena, Montana. My wife and I spent our first two years of our marriage in Helena and it is one of my favorite places.
Fred is an expert with the Log Dovetail technique in building log cabins. He has built this little 11 foot by 15 foot log cabin and is currently living in it full time.
Fred has designed a jig that makes it easier to cut the dovetails in the logs, thus making it more accurate and an easier process. You can learn more about the technique by going here. http://logdovetailjig.com/
Following are some photos of his cabin and a short video of the building process. Enjoy!
For anyone who has dreamed of having a real log cabin in the woods, but still wants to keep it small, Washington based Mr. Cabin, Inc. builds substantial and very affordable log cabins that stay under 200 square feet. Rhett Conner and Robert Burrington of Mr. Cabin also claim that you don’t need level land to have one of these cabins. Many of them have been built on hillsides that still have beautiful views.
Rhett and Robert are childhood friends with over 45 years of exterior and interior construction experience and build tiny cabins and other structures like garages and sheds out of real four-inch milled logs. To them, real logs add more value to your home as well as beauty and warmth. The logs are protected with metal or cedar roofing with an eight-inch to one-foot overhang and some even include dormer windows. After construction and when the logs have had time to dry, each of the cabins are chinked to close up small gaps and add insulation quality.
The largest cabin is the Grizzly (show below). It’s 10×20 feet with a loft, a nine-foot sidewall and measures 14 feet at the peak. The Grizzly sells for around $11,600 if built on site and $9,600 for the milled kit which you put together yourself. This price does not include the dormers. The smaller MaMa Bear cabin (shown above) also has a sleeping loft and runs about $6,600 for a built cabin to $4,800 for the milled kit. The kit is not available for purchase in Washington and Oregon. Final costs of the cabins will also depend on the types of windows, doors and roofing. Please contact Mr. Cabin for questions on cost, building services and kit delivery.
Photos by Mr. Cabin, Inc.