Keith’s Tiny Log Cabin

Keith from Indiana sent me his story about his little log cabin that he built himself with no prior knowledge. Here is Keith’s story:

I built the cabin in 1990 with the help of a friend, both of us having zero prior knowledge or construction skills.

After reading three main books (Building a Log Cabin From Scratch by Ramsey, The Wilderness Cabin by Rutstrum and How to Build Your Home in the Woods by Angier) I decided the quickest and easiest would be a “trappers tilt” style, where the fat ends of the logs all put one way toward the front form the pitch for the roof as they go up higher.


These were considered temporary in their day and were built directly on the ground, but I used concrete piers and mine has an insulated floor.

I had purchased the wooded land a year before (50 acres) for a bargain price in southern Indiana and spent the year ’90 working every single weekend and any vacation time felling trees, clearing the space and taking bark of of cedars and jack pines.

It was under roof by October 1st and I’ve been using spare time since to finish out the inside when the mood strikes. The first four courses of logs are cedar with the remainder in jack pine. We used spray foam between the logs and then put PermaChink on top of that.

The roof is very low, anyone over 5 foot 9 has problems with the middle log rafter! Since I’m only 5 foot 6, I don’t worry about it. I had a shed roof on it but it started to deteriorate and about 9 years ago I put a galvanized steel roof over that. It’s never leaked and the only problem I have is mice once in a while.

The stove was the smallest I could find but it sweats you out pretty quick if a window is not left open. However, one occasion it was 30 below and it took nearly 4 hours for the place to get up to only 50 degrees, even the oil lamp fuel was frozen!

The floor is parquet oak over standard subfloor plywood. It’s a pretty cozy place as long as it’s just me or one additional person. Any more than that and it’s crowded! Storage is at a minimum, so we pack light.

We only used cedars (which are plentiful and grow like weeds) or man-planted jack pines and used every bit of them that we could. I also later built an outhouse by my self. No pictures of it, but it’s not much to look at, regular stick-style and has a 5 foot deep shaft. It was built before they changed the laws against them and is now grandfathered in. It’s located as to not interfere with any water source and we use hydrated lime when we visit. It has a steel roof as well. It never smells very bad, even in the summer.

My only regret is not putting a few more courses of logs or not simply making a 12/12 pitch roof with a sleeping/storage loft. But I was a lot younger and wasn’t thinking as long term as I should have. Now, at 50, I can see more clearly what should have been done. However, we were lucky to get it as finished as we did because it’s three hours away from where I live and very remote with no power or running water. Ask me how much I like tent camping – I still am not fond of it after doing it every weekend for nearly a year. And this is coming from a guy who used to love camping more than anything!

Here is an entertaining video Keith put together that shows the interior. Thanks Keith for sharing your story with us.



by Kent Griswold (Tiny House Blog)

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8 thoughts on “Keith’s Tiny Log Cabin”

  1. First, this is a really cool little cabin. Looks like you did a really good job with it. Second, nobody can ever say you don’t have a great sense of humor. When the video clip ended with “you’ve got a purty mouth” I howled laughing! Did I hear Banjo’s there? LOL Merry and Happy!

  2. heres a hint to get rid of the outhouse smell. quite simple really, though it sounds terrible.

    on a warm spring day leave some scraps of meat or fish outside. in about 1-3 hours flys will have layed huge numbers of eggs on the meat. take this egg laden meat and drop down into the outhouse. the eggs will turn into maggots, flys will hatch and this cycle of eggs maggots and flys will consume any poop in the hole. this whole cycle will continue without the need for anymore meat. it works very efficiently . if the outhouse is used regular there is no more need to”inoculate” with meat – you only need do this once each spring. sounds terrible but in reality works wonderfully.


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