Your Log House
The On-Site Manual For The Do-It-Yourselfer
What's the book about?

Illustrated Glossary of Terms

  1. Introduction
  2. Why a Log House?
  3. House Design
  4. Traditional Principles & Contemporary Design
  5. Log Acquisition
  6. Getting Started on the Building
  7. Organizing the Site and Equipment
  8. Foundations
  9. Timber Layout
  10. First Logs & Floor Joists
  11. The Chainsaw
  12. Setting Wall Logs
  13. Openings
  14. Framing Walls
  15. Building the Roof
  16. Round Log Piece-en-piece
  17. Stair Planning
  18. Thermal Resistivity of Wood

• Includes 15 House Plans!

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The Book: Your Log House

11. The Chainsaw

On today’s log house building site, the chainsaw does the vast majority of the work. It will do 80% of the building with speed and efficiency, with no loss to the building strength or aesthetics. Certainly, axes, slicks, adzes, chisels, and broadaxes have their place on the job. However, to approach tools from a romantic rather than a practical point of view is, in my opinion, pointless. A building is no less credible, honest, noble, or beautiful if it has been built with a modern piece of equipment. The dishonesty comes when the natural logs are converted to round lumber and then made to look like milled logs. With practice, the chainsaw becomes a precision tool in the hands of the builder.

Certainly, the saw should not be used for finished visible surfaces. These are the domain of the adze, axe, slick, chisel, and so forth. The chainsaw can be used for felling timber, limbing, bucking, cutting all kinds of notches and lateral grooves, flattening for nailing surfaces, and cutting openings and projections. The chainsaw can also be used for a certain amount of shaping and artistic work.

Since the chainsaw is the most important single device used in the process of building the log house, it should be a good one — the best money can buy. How to choose a saw? How to dare recommend a saw? What does the prospective buyer look for? Unfortunately, owing to the highly competitive business of chainsaw sales and manufacturing, a certain mythology is created around each saw. The unwary buyer, walking into the local chainsaw shop will be told things like, “All the loggers around here use this kind!” Even if that statement is true, it is not enough of a recommendation.

The demands of the logger are not precisely the same as the demands of a builder. He cuts trees down. He does not use his saw as a carpentry tool. He may be using a particular saw because the local sales and servicing in the area have been good and he has to count on a steady supply of parts and repair expertise. Loyalties to chainsaws are usually based, from the consumers’ points of view, on the same kind of emotion surrounding loyalties to particular makes of vehicles. Emotional loyalties are not to be trusted. The owner of every variety of saw can make impressive claims as to performance, long life, and reliability of his particular saw. Do not be tempted to buy a lightweight, backyard saw. Log house building makes heavy and constant demands on a saw. If the saw is not up to the hard work, the human body will have to take up the slack.

I suggest a quiet-running saw outfitted with a safety brake and antivibration features. It is possible to do serious damage to the circulation in the hands if a saw is not outfitted with antivibration. Otherwise, select your saw on the basis of power and chain speed. A good workhorse is a saw with an engine displacement of around 80 cu. cm. and a speed at maximum power of 8,000 rpm to 10,000 rpm.

Other tools will be mentioned as their need arises throughout the book. A standard list of tools is provided here:

  1. Starret #92–9-in. scriber, Veritas log scriber, or similar scriber of equal value.
  2. #3 gouge chisel 1 in.
  3. 25-ft. bell tape measure.
  4. 75-ft. logger’s tape.
  5. Indelible pencils.
  6. Wooden mallet for chisels and gouges.
  7. One or two peaveys.
  8. Raker files and chainsaw files.
  9. Chalk line.
  10. Carpenter’s spirit level.
  11. Peeling spud.
  12. Drawknife.
  13. 7-in. grinder with rubber backing pad.
  14. 100-ft. extension cord.
  15. 3/4-in. drill with assorted wood augers.

The list can go on forever. The professional builder will eventually accumulate several thousand dollars worth of tools and equipment. While necessary for steady production work, all the possible tools on the market are not necessary for the once-in-a-lifetime builder.

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