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log cabins: types of wood to use?12/27
I have built 2 hand-hewn log cabins in South Alabama using short-leaf pine logs. I am preparing to build a 3rd cabin now, but am considering using either red oak or hickory logs. Unfortunately, I know a lot about building log cabins, but not so much about the properties of wood. Can anybody tell me where to find information on the good and bad points of using unfinished hickory or red oak logs for log cabins?
Thanks in advance for any guidance you can give me.
White Pine,I've built several from pre milled units, Called D-Logs,most were white pine from the Carolina's. These are a lot lighter than yellow pine of course.
I don't mean to be rude but your kind of compareing apples to oranges here, Softwood pine verses Hardwood. The first difference will be weight, then drying time. You also need to consider the wear and tear on tooling hardwood vice pine. You might wanna try and do your hardest mortise or what ever in a hickory or oak log first.I assume all your cabins are all treated for bugs and weather. I have a friend whose house started as a cabin made from 12x12 chestnut logs and it really looks nice. Don't know if this helped...
I'm not a log cabin builder but I would warn you that hickory does not take the weather well at all.
Blue ,I think the best way to make your decision would be, do a search on the web on several Log home dealers sites an see what the majority are using for there homes! I would think NEITHER oak nor hickory would be a good choice ,Too Grainy (Oak).
It has been my thought that the denser the wood the less the R value and with a hard wood you will always be fighting bugs in the wood. My choice would be a soft wood.
Hello, I think it would be wise for you to consider your choices wisely. Some of the hardwoods you are looking at particularly Red Oak and Hickory do not have good weathering properties. On the interior they would work very well, structurally. Pines are another game. I would offer that you look at the website of True North Log Homes in Ontario Canada for a good description of the Softwood issue discussed. Joshuastrees.net
Blue, I can't imagine trying to hand hew red oak. You can't even drive a nail through it without drilling first. You are better off with softwoods.
I would like to bring up a point for the debate
I live in central Indiana in an Amish community (I myself am mennonite) around our area are several very old log buildings built of native timbers. They date from the 1840's and 50's and still stand. There is absolutely no pine around here. Many of the old building are made of walnut, cherry, and other hardwoods native and abundant in our area. Many of the old barns are similarly built. I bring this up to point out people once hand tooled very hard woods to make their houses and barns, and these structures have some of them lasted over 150 years (others are probably still around, but were "modernized" in the early 1900's so they wouldn't look like cabins any more.)
I would also like to post a followup question
Of the native midwestern hardwoods, which would be the most suitable for log cabins?
I ask this because I have had a few inquiries about making cabins already and am looking into doing one or two some time.
Now to Blue, I would NOT recommend either hickory or red oak for exterior use. Red oak has it famous open pores that hold water and gunk and make a good habitat for wood-rotting organisms. In my experience, dead, dry hickory soon becomes a happy home for many wood-loving critters. In other words the bugs will eat it for dinner.
Now white Oak if you have it would probably work well.
If you have to use hardwoods, I would consider White Oak as opposed to Red Oak. The grain on white oak is tighter and water RESISTANT. That is why shipbuilders use white oak. But the downfall is the weight vs pine. Not an expert, but makes sense.
If you are doing the full round, scribed-joint style cabins it makes no sense to use anything but nice straight pine or fir or similar wood. If you are using hardwood, don't make that kind of cabin. Make the kind that uses squared off logs joined with v-notches or dovetails. If your doing that kind, I would recommend NOT using pine. Remember these styles were developed because of the wood used. Pine works best when stripped of its sapwood but left round and saddle notched. Hardwood though works best when squared (at least on 2 faces) and joined more mechanically. Hardwoods don't work as well for the full round because they don't grow like that in the abundance that pine does. It seems to me that a region with lots of pine tends to use full round (Scandinavia, Canada, for example) And a region with nice hardwoods uses the other style, like here in Indiana and everywhere east and south of here. I can count a handful of such cabins dating to the 1840's within 15 or 20 miles of my house.
Many of the log houses around here, Middle Tennessee, are made from either poplar or oak. Several are at, or near, 200 years old as well. Poplar would seem to be the better choice as it is lighter and easier to work with.
well if u r looking for log home builders, check out these log home builders. They create some incredible homes.
Why has no one said anything about cedar? When I first thought about building a log cabin the ONLY wood that I thought would be suitable was cedar. An opinions?
Douglas Fir is an excellent option. Douglas Firs has the highest structural qualities of all of the softwoods. Strength and durability can be counted on this wood. Hardwoods are more expensive than softwoods where douglas fir is a part of. It's appearance, color and stability are the major reasons why I consider this as one of the best options for log cabins. It also takes stains and wood finishes well so you can be sure that your log cabin will look great. Hope this helps.
I inherited 150 acres of mostly old growth white & red oak and had it cut. I kept everything in the 12" and smaller range to build a cabin with since there was an old 16'X30' foundation on the property & I was told it used to be a log church. I am handicapped so I used an ancient $600 utility company truck and an el cheapo harbor freight sawmill to cut & set the logs. The rest was done using a chainsaw, basic power tools & a mostly recycled materials. It's not big or fancy but I do get a lot of complements on how nice it looks and most importantly It's Payed For!
My first and biggest screw up was I did not let the logs season long enough and had to redo the chinking twice after the logs dried further. I also later had to ad some trim around the back of my countertops and reset my shower surround due to shrinkage.
Other than needing an 18volt drill to hang a darn picture I have experienced no other problems. I use a local extermination service to inspect and spray annually and have not had any pest or bug problems other than wasps in the eves. I do use the pressure washer every year to coat it with an environmentally friendly weather seal.
There are several white and red oak structures in the southern middle Tennessee area approaching 200yrs old that are still in great shape.
I am by no means an expert. Just a guy with to much time on his hands and not enough sense to know when to quit.
I hope this helps.
I would not use red oak or hickory. The wood is to hard and to heavy to work with. White Oak is water proof. There is a local mill where I live that was built in the late 1700's that still has the original White Oak beams in it. They won't rot. That is why they make whiskey barrels out of White Oak. Water proof. Types of woods that are naturally resistant to insects and water are best. Cedar, Hemlock, etc. They are softer and last a long time. There is a lot to consider. Log homes that were built in the 1600's in Europe are still standing. The trees were left to "cure" standing, which made for harder wood. Eve overhands should be at least 2 feet. Cabin should be built no less than 2 feet off the ground to avoid ground moisture.