Build Your Own Tiny Log Cabin - Tiny House Blog

Build Your Own Tiny Log Cabin (Part 3)

log walls

log walls

In this post we will discuss some tips for success and ways to finish your tiny log cabin. Steps to success:

  • Draw your plans
  • Build a scale model
  • Make a materials list
  • Do a cost analysis based on the materials list
  • Redraw the plans to fit your budget
  • Cut your logs when they are hardest to peel
  • Floor rim joists are lag screwed to the sill log
  • Might want to make the pier blocks wide enough to support the rim joists
  • Lag screws every 2 feet on rim joists. Use 6″ by 1/2″ lag screws
  • Metal joist hangers on 16″ centers
  • Nail 1x4s across the joist hangers on the bottom to hold the insulation sheets
  • Use polystyrene insulation sheets to R-19 or morePut 7 mil visqueen on top of the insulation sheets IN the cavaties stapled to the sides of the floor joists
  • Use construction adhesive under the floor boards. This prevents squeeks.
  • Use 2×6 tongue and groove car decking for the floor
  • Second story floor joists are 4x10sGet joist hangers fabricated for 4x10sUse hot dipped headless nails to blind nail the car decking in place for the floorRPSL – Ridge pole support log is thru bolted to every other wall log with 1/2″ all threadRPSL sits on the floor for small building but for a larger one, make the center pier blocks big enough to sit the RPSL on them.

To get the RPSL straight and level, use a tripod 50′ away with a white string and plumb bob. If windy, put the plumb bob in a pail of waterCorner lifting poles. Dig 4 foot deep hole at the corners on the inside and tamp the dirt really tight. These have to be removed later rather than just being cut off. Remove by jacking them out.

  • Attach guy lines from the top of the lifting poles to the bottom of an adjacent lifting pole for stability.
  • Nail 2/4s to the side of the top of the lifting poles to prevent the chain from slipping down.
  • Check with Pacific Iron and Metal in Seattle to get block and tackleGet 3 pulley 6 or 8″ blocks
  • When lifting the logs, use nylon straps since they will be easier to get off the log when it is in place

When you submit your plans to the building permit people, ‘by mistake’, attach a copy of your LHBA membership card and a note from ‘someone’ saying that these plans have been used and approved in every county in the state.

  • Use 4x10s for roof rafters. They are thru bolted at the top and spiked into the top wall log at the bottom.
  • Put in 4x10s pieces between rafters at the top of the walls for ‘bird blocks’. Spike these into the wall with 2 rebar spikes
  • Use ‘C’ clamp to hold two rafters together as you bolt them together.
  • Raise all the roof joists at the same place and then side them down after they are bolted together.
  • Might want to place a 2×10 from the ground to the top of the wall to create a ramp for the roof joists top ride up as you pull them into place.

When pulling rafters, use a couple of pieces of rebar in 3/4″ holes on the top wall logs to guide them up. Can easily remove to slide the rafters over after bolted.

  • Put 2×6 T&G car decking on the roof joists. Tongue up, groove down.
  • Don’t use any construction adhesive. If someone is walking on your roof, you want to hear it 🙂
  • Nail 2x4s on 2 foot centers to the car decking to create something you can nail the 2x8s to that will create the insulation pockets.
  • Use 2x8s on edge nailed to the 2x4s to create a 8″ pocket. These are on 2′ centersMetal roof attaches to the 2x8s. There is not a sheathing before the metal roof. Talk to the metal roof people to get exact instructions on what they really want. It might be different from the above. They might want the 2x8s horizontal rather than vertical Window frames. Build around the window so you get a perfect fit. Then put them on the wall and mark the hole you want to cut with the chainsaw. Remember, 1/2″ on each side and use shims. Windows should be at least 2′ from a wall corner.

For chinking, get 6″ by 1″ sill seal fiberglass bat. Cut into 1″ wide strips. Lightly push into both sides of the crack. Leave an air pocket between the two pieces of fiberglass.Nail hot dipped galv. finishing nails on angle into the crack on the lower log. Bend them up towards the top log. When the logs shrink, the chinking will pull away from the top log. That makes it really easy to touch up the chinking later.

Chinking nails are every 3 inches

Mortar mixture1/2 part lime1 part portland cement3 parts masonary sandAdd water to the consistency of peanut butterCover the top of the mortar board with plastic stapled to the topPush mortar into the cracks from the mortar board with a cake spatula or putty knife

  • If you want to use any stain, use the oil based type. However, Skip feels that any sort of preservative is not needed. Only for looks.
  • Gabel ends are framed. You can do it with logs however that is harder.
  • Gabel ends are constructed as follows (looking from the outside in.Board and batten30 lb felt
  • Polystyrene insulation sheets to proper R valuevapor barrier (7 mil plastic)
  • Dead air space
  • Board and batten

A study at the University of Fairbanks calculated that the R value on a 12″ log is R-48. Wow!If you use logs for the gable ends, nail 2x4s on each side to guide your cut.

This should give you an idea what is involved. Are you up to the task? If so get your plan started and happy building.

Got to Part 1 and Part 2

completed cabin


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Tim - August 7, 2007 Reply

I took the the class early in 2007. It still pisses me off with that walk up the hill. Another thing that i did not care for was there political view of our goverment and different products out there we should not use because they didnt like them. Stick to the log building,that is what people payed for.

John - June 29, 2008 Reply

At one time I contemplated taking Skip’s class, but the more I have read about it the more I am disinclined to do so. I don’t think its fruitful to get too involved in the holy war that seems to be going on with advocates of Butt & Pass vs. Full Scribe other than to say that its a bit disingenuous to enunciate the drawbacks of one method without mentioning the drawbacks of another. I am not too crazy about the apparent suggestion that one attempt to skirt local laws as well. Lastly, it would be helpful if the assertion that a 12″ diameter log has R-48 could be referenced. The University of Alaska Fairbanks Coop Extension Service in documents EEM-00852 and EEM-04756 suggests R-values no where near that high.

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Hutten - September 1, 2009 Reply

I really like your blog, keep writing

sandrar - September 10, 2009 Reply

Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

Michael - October 27, 2009 Reply

HI to all I took the class in 2006 and I for one really enjoyed it. As mentioned in one of the post above the walk up the hill is very vertical, but I was warned about the climb so no biggie, the current classes are not held at Skip’s log house, he passed away but classes are still held just check out the log home builders associaton website. I did not get any anti govt stuff from the class, just what if I decided to do this, again you get out of it what you want, and also a money back if not satisified soo?? As far as this supposed holy war on butt and pass verses full scribe, I suppose some may consider it as that, but most of us who go thru the class like the simplicity of stack the logs, pin the logs cutt out windows and door holes and chink the logs, verses fully and correctly scribing a log much more tedious. And as a side note Skip did build a fully scribed log house, more then one, but peffered b&p for speed and simpilcity.

Kent Griswold - October 27, 2009 Reply

Hi Michael – Thanks for your input, I would sure enjoy taking that class and enjoy hearing from those who have. Have you built a cabin or a house?

    Michael Rushing - November 25, 2009 Reply

    Hi Kent, no I have not built my cabin yet currently I have 5.8 acers that I plan to build on. Right now I am gradualy clearing the land and trying to envision how I want everything to be. Also tyring to get rid of what little debt I have so I can do this without a mortgage! I have helped on one of out association members cabins in Ala and Ky and it is very hard but rewarding work. I will keep you posted as things slowly progress. Oh, I love the different small house Ideas on this blog, lots of kool stuff!! Oh, since you have my email feel free to contact me.

the-free-energy-com - November 21, 2009 Reply

Wow, I might consider subscribe to your blog with my rss reader right now!

du hoc - October 15, 2012 Reply

And as a side note Skip did build a fully scribed log house, more then one, but peffered b&p for speed and simpilcity.

David - November 13, 2012 Reply

Great tips!

DDearborn - March 8, 2013 Reply


I realize this is an old thread. But I was fascinated to see all the tools and equipment required to build a 16″-18′ log cabin. This of course begs the question; how did all those pioneers manage with only a couple of axes saws and wedges?

Jeff Carbine - February 17, 2022 Reply

I like what you said they’re spiked into the top wall log at the bottom and through-bolted at the top. This is a good article, my uncle is looking for info and this should help him. I wanted to thank you for your explanation about a log home.

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