Log Cabin Building Process From The Beginning To The End

Do you plan on living in a log cabin? The good news is that you can undertake the process by yourself, as long as you are open to new approaches and DIY tactics, and be successful at it. Do away with the thoughts that you need lots of experience and instead embrace hard work, planning, natural resources, and excellent tools. Here are the steps you need to follow:

Log Cabin Building


Skipping this step is paramount to watching your whole project fall apart so be sure not to take any short cuts in this process. The truth is that the most critical work revolves around planning your cabin as the design and tactics you have in mind will lay the foundation for your construction, and we all know how important it is to have a strong base underneath us.

Typically, construction of a log cabin will take up to 280 days, which translates to roughly nine to ten months of hard work. Without a solid plan, you could as well spend two years on such a project. The thing with planning is that it does not only refer to sketches but goes further into creating a schedule as to when everything will take place, including your expected time of completion. It helps you get back on track when you fall behind.

The plan should consider the building period you have in mind, your needs in the house, what other people have to say about building log cabins, the land in question, the amount of money you are willing to spend, the labor you wish to employ and the floor plan and designs. At the end of all these considerations, you should have what people refer to as the finalized costs. On speaking to log cabin builders, you will realize that more often than not, you end up spending a certain percentage less or more what you have stated and it thus helps to have backup finances just in case.

Planning log cabin

Coming up with the design can be hard at first, but once you let your creativity rule the process, you should enjoy the phase. However, where you face problems in creation, you can always consult an architect who can work with your ideas to bring your dream to life. You can also work with pre-existing plans if you wish to have a simple design.

Once the plans are as per your liking, you should visit your local planning department to know whether your design is in line with the current building codes. As you do this, you should have a registered inspector come in to look at the structural properties of your intended cabin as this will affect the approval or lack thereof of occupancy upon completion. It is essential that you understand the zoning laws in your region and where you are unsure of what applies to you, it helps to engage an expert in law.

The site you choose to locate the cabin should be in line with current and future zoning laws, have access to utilities and services and have adequate natural shelter. Additionally, you should analyze the ground conditions to see if they are a fit for your intended construction. A tip that comes in handy is to select a site with trees as you can use them to source for logs, thus incurring fewer costs in the process.

Most of the costs you incur will revolve around site preparation, foundations, utilities, services, lumber, insulation, roofing, fixings, and the tools in use. Using your natural materials and undertaking the construction by hand is an easy way to reduce the expenses. A square foot should set you back at least twenty-five dollars, devoid of the cost of land and interior finishing. Note though that this will also depend on the price of labor and materials in use. You can also save money by choosing a simple design.

At this point, you should know how much it will cost you, who will undertake the construction, where you will locate the cabin, the regulations in place and the expected outcome from the design. If you are unsure of any of the above scenarios, you should do more research before moving on to the next stage.

Preparation of Logs (Foraging)

This process involves finding desirable logs, felling and hauling them before debarking and drying them. The better the quality of the logs chosen, the less maintenance you have to undertake in the future, the longer your cabin will last, and the better the insulation properties your home will have. The lumber that’s best for your cabin should be at least thirty feet long, ten inches wide and limited warping such that you work with a maximum ratio of four inches of tapering per every thirty feet.

You also need to know how much timber you need. It helps to perform all the processes in a day as it prevents the loss of moisture and saves you a lot of effort regarding cracking and checking that occurs after a while of waiting.

Laying the Foundation

The foundation must be such that it can hold the weight of the cabin. It should prevent subsidence, transmit the cabin load and prevent the structure from sinking into the ground. The choice of the foundation will depend on the soil type, the size of the cabin, the land contours and the local resources available. It is advisable to use a pad foundation as this will reduce the work spent in preventing splash offs common in the rainy seasons.

Placing the Logs

This process is quite easy once you decide on a notching system that works for your structure and your level of expertise. The choices are butt and pass, traditional, corner post and half-dovetail. Once you lay the first course, have someone from the planning office inspect the construction before moving forward. Lack of approval at this stage could have you dismantling the structure upon completion. Floors are easy to assemble, thanks to the use of suspended lumber floors and from here, you can move on to the making of the walls, ensuring that you rotate the direction of the logs per layer. Doors and windows should follow, and you should ensure that you use lintel logs above the openings to maintain structural integrity. Finish up with any of these wall options: thatch, shingles, felt or metal sheeting.


You should now weatherproof your cabin in readiness for the coming seasons. Start by cleaning your logs before staining them and chinking your cabin.

That’s the entire log cabin building process from the beginning to the end. Good luck!


Over time, you are likely to see small cracks developing on your logs, and this is quite normal. They go by the name checks, and many people think of them as a welcome addition to a log cabin’s (more information here) aesthetic appeal. However, for other people, the occurrence of these checks causes them to worry. The truth is that most cracks that occur in your cabin are quite harmless. However, before we get into whether you should call in an expert or not, let’s see where the difference between checks and cracks comes in.

Cracks vs. Checks

A check is a crack that occurs on the surface of a log. It does not go through the diameter, and it is pretty small in size. Owing to these properties, it does not affect the structural integrity of your cabin. A crack, on the other hand, is much more pronounced. It is likely to pass through the diameter of the log and can occur for many reasons. It could be that the cabin is under a lot of pressure, that the drying methods used were not suitable or force on the log.

Checks are not all that noticeable and can either be on the interior or the exterior of the log. In most cases, they do not present a problem. However, you should monitor them over time to see whether they are increasing in size. They can allow water to the log’s interior, and this can lead to water damage as well as insect infestation. Checks are only an issue if they are creating an entry to the interior for water and pests. Otherwise, they are okay.

Cracks are a problem, and the sooner you deal with them, the less it costs and the easier it becomes to uphold the structural integrity of your log cabin. You can replace the entire affected log, or you can add support to the house. The method chosen will depend on how severe the crack is, and it is best to call in an expert to weigh in on the situation if you have not handled such a case before.

As for checks, you do not have to get professional help, and you could quickly fix the problem. Here’s how:

Wood Putty/ Filler Sticks

Start by getting a filler compound that has a similar color to the log in question. Purchase filler sticks and putty in crayon shape, as they will make your work easy. You can get these in a home improvement store. If not, you can always get a variety of the same online. As is the case with the filler compound, be sure to get those that match the color of the wood. If this is not possible, you can get many colors and mix them to come up with a different shade. You can also opt to color the wood once you finish and in this case, your best bet would be to get a product that can stain with ease.

Next, place the filler material into the crack using your finger. Suppose you are using a filler stick, you can achieve this by rubbing it over the hole then spreading it as needed using your finger. For putty, you can overlay it over the crack using a knife or whatever material helps you to get it in there. Continue adding filler to the hole, ensuring that you fill it in thoroughly. Once the hole fills, add some more material to create an overfill. The essence to this comes in when you smooth the filler material as it helps in blending the crack.

The material dries pretty fast, so it is essential to start flattening it out immediately. You can use a putty knife for this and where you cannot get your hands on one, use your finger or a rag. Ensure that the cloth you use is clean to prevent the introduction of debris to the crack which can lead to other problems.

Once you flatten it out, you can leave the filler material to dry. The time needed for this step will vary depending on the filler material you use. As such, you should check the label on the product to figure out what period is suitable. Leaving the filler to dry for about eight hours should be good enough. It is safer though to do this overnight for the best results.

You can now start sanding down the overfill using a fine grit or plane sandpaper. The sandpaper grit should be somewhere between 120 and 220 for the best results. Work on the excess filler and wear it out until it lies flat against the wood. Once you achieve this, the crack shouldn’t be noticeable, if you used a filler material with a similar hue. You can then decide on coloring and treating the wood as you deem necessary.

Glue and Sawdust

This option works great and is pretty easy on the pocket. To start with, get sawdust that matches the color as well as the type of your wood. You will use it to cover up the glue as well as to blend the crack, and its color will determine how excellent the results are. You can get some sawdust by sanding or sawing the kind of wood in question. If you do not have any wood that you can work on, a trip to a home improvement store will do. While you are here, be sure to grab a bottle of wood glue.

Start by pressing the wood glue bottle to release the contents into the crack until you fill the hole. You can also use a syringe when dealing with a small hole to get deeper into the pit. Next, cover the glue with sawdust completely and rub a finger over the hole to ensure that the adhesive sticks to the sawdust. The sawdust should prevent anyone from seeing the glue underneath once you finish.

Allow the glue to dry overnight, and once it is dry, it should not be possible to see the crack. If you can still notice it, add the glue and sawdust combo and give it another day to dry. Using grit sandpaper that is between 120 and 220, sand down the area until the filler lies flat.

With these simple steps, you should be able to rid your log cabin of all checks that may threaten its structural integrity.