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Lakefront Log Home Project: Log Home Diary Entry #21, Stacking the Logs Pt. 2

Our bloggers are fascinated by the window and door jamb systems utilized in log-home construction.
by George and Marlyn Curnow

Stacking the Logs — Part 2

Log Home Diary Entry #21

Credit: George and Marlyn Curnow image | Open Space

The careful log stacking continues. Each log was cut at the mill to fit a precise location in the stacking process. Some effort needed to be made in finding the correct pallet with the right log and keeping them staged so the process keeps moving.

We found it interesting to see the installation of door and window bucks (or jambs) as the log stacking process continued. It’s with uncertainty that we think this buck installation is a bit different from conventional construction. During this stacking process, we carefully followed the progress with the clearly detailed construction manual and DVD from Southland Log Homes explaining the process. This information was helpful for both an experienced construction person and the newcomer to the process (meaning us).

The bucks are quickly put in place to help guide the installation of each log course. Once the bucks are plumb, they are strapped in place with braces. The bucks are constructed with vertical slots. This is the part we think is different from conventional construction. As each log course is laid, nails are driven through the slots into the log ends, but the nails are not countersunk.

The logs, when cut to specification for us, also had been kiln-dried to a percentage level of moisture that will minimize log shrinkage and settling. Nevertheless, some shrinkage and settling will occur by nature. This is an area where log-home companies have considerable variances in their process. Some, like Southland, use a kiln-drying process that gives considerable control. Others air-dry or harvest trees that have been dead. Some log producers don’t do anything, we’re led to believe; but this is another area of uncertainty for us. Even kiln-dried logs will vary in moisture. As our logs sat on pallets, it’s likely that the logs at the top of the pallet were drier than those further down. So while they all may have started out at the same moisture percentage, sitting around until construction starts can change the moisture content.

Now, there is a point in explaining all this. Because the logs dry at different rates, there will be some settling and the nails securing the bucks to the logs through vertical slots can float up or down as needed without disturbing the positioning of the doors and windows. This seemed like a very clever solution to ward off a possible problem that would likely occur well after construction.

As the gable ends of the house grew taller, it was necessary to build a support system out of 2-by-4 lumber. The gables offer considerable surface area for any wind, and until the roof structure goes up, there is only the strength of the gable walls themselves and nothing to give permanent support. As luck would have it, very strong winds came over the following weekend. Nothing could be done, except hope and a little prayer. When Monday rolled around, everything was still standing tall. The support system worked just great — yet another reason to use experienced log-home craftsmen.

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