Stacking the Logs – Finally!
Log Home Diary Entry #20
Suddenly, it seems that things have shifted into a higher gear. The sill plates have been attached to the foundation, immediately followed by the installation of the floor joists for the first level.
The subflooring, laid in 4-by-8-foot sheets, quickly gave an appearance of much progress, as now there was a new level of the house to walk on. This elevation is high enough to make us realize what a beautiful southeast view toward Smith Mountain we will have from the great room. The view will be spectacular in the late fall, winter and early spring, but the mountains (not the lake) will be obscured when there is full foliage.
The time has finally arrived for the first course of logs to be laid. This is one of the first tasks that makes a log home unique from conventional building. It is imperative that the first course be perfectly level and square. We knew we were starting with a proper foundation, as laser technology was used to see that the foundation walls were plumb, square and level. The first course was meticulously laid. The diagonal m
easurements from the corners of the house were taken to determine how square the first course was; it was as close to perfect as possible, and it was level.
As you can imagine, if this first course is not perfect, even a small error multiplies as each successive course of logs gets stacked. With about 50 courses of 6-by-8-inch logs (actually log siding above the heated living area), the house would lose its structural integrity with even a small mistake at the bottom.
As the second, third and fourth courses had been put in place, it became evident that a 4-foot carpenter’s square was the critical tool in the process. With the laying of each log, the square was used to check and recheck the log as level and plumb. Then, the logs are fastened in place. Each log-home company seems to have a slightly different technique for fastening logs, and they each take pride in their unique technology. Our supplier, Southland Log Homes, uses 10-inch screws — Southland calls them LogHogs™ — two at each log end on either side of a milled groove down the center length of the log and then a LogHog™ alternating on either side of the groove every 2 feet. Where the ends of the logs meet (butt joint), a ¾-inch hole is drilled from the top to the bottom, and a wooden dowel pin is pounded in to close any gap between log ends. Before the next course of log is laid, an insulated strip of foam gasket is placed in the milled groove down the center length of the log. Everything is rechecked again with the level. We don’t think this tool ever more than an arm’s length from the workers.
We were finally at a stage where there were occasional feelings of an Amish barn raising taking place, as craftsmen (and craftswoman) took pride in the well-honed skills they were using.
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