A Home From The Woods
Adventures and Methods
 Restoring and Building Authentic Log Cabins

Click on the links or scroll down the page for a look at samples of what  you'll find in the book. For a look at the entire table of contents click here.

Introduction
Part I: Restoring An Authentic Log Cabin
Part II: The Hand-hewn Log Cabin
Part III: Building A Cabin With Round Logs
Part IV: Removing and Rebuilding An Original Log Cabin

Introduction
    Growing up in New York City, log cabins didnít mean a thing to me.
    But in early 1977 , my  father in law and his wife bought a 10-acre hill "farm" in Tennessee with an old dilapidated house on it. He had been told it was a log cabin, but wasnít sure. He wrote to see if  Liz and I, just married, wanted to try to fix the old place up, as they were planning to build a home on another part of the property.
We left New York for Tennessee in late June, and thatís really how we got started on log cabins.
    Over the past 25 years Liz and I have worked together on four different log cabin projects while raising our six in the beautiful Tennessee hills.
    A Home From The Woods is about what we learned and experienced on these projects. Each of its four  parts covers a different type of log cabin project. The first half of each is a straightforward narrative telling our story, and experiences. In the second half I explain the methods we used, and you can adopt or adapt for a similar project.  There's some photos and diagrams to help, resources and other suggestions to make your project easier.
    Think you really want to want to build a log cabin?
    Get the book!
    Youíll find the inspiration and know-how, or a reality check ówhichever you needó somewhere in A Home from the Woods.
 

Part I: Restoring An Authentic Log Cabin

Chapter 1 A Log Cabin Home of Our Own

We didnít own a car yet, and the real estate agent recommended a "hippie" who might haul off the junk which filled the yard for a few bucks. A few days later "Tom", a drop-out from New Jersey, showed up in a car filled with kids. He gave lip service to talk about helping with any work, and was more interested in touring the old house.
 "Got yourself a log cabin," he smiled, standing by the fireplace in the living room.
"How can you tell?" we wanted to know. He explained that people in these parts used to be ashamed of their log cabins, so they would cover them up at first chance they could. "Even paint the rock fireplace a shiny silver, for that modern look," he laughed, pointing at the edges of the stones which showed behind the mantle.
"But thereís a couple of ways to know if itís a cabin," he continued.

Chapter 2 Methods for Uncovering and Restoring An Old
Log Cabin

Uncovering the Cabin
 Before you begin uncovering a cabin you need to determine how the work may affect the physical integrity of the house and any surrounding and supporting structures.
 In particular, you want to determine if any boards or posts you plan to remove will weaken the support of the walls, ceiling or roof which have been added to the original structure. You may need to brace these before embarking on your work.
New posts may need to be added further out from the walls covering the cabin, or you may need to brace a wall so it will continue to stand when itís no longer attached to the cabin.
 

Part II: The Hand-hewn Log Cabin

Chapter 1 A Hand-Hewn Addition, The Old Fashioned Way
It would take tools to transform those trees into logs for a home, and I needed to locate the traditional hand tools: broadaxe, broad hatchet, adze, assorted saws, chisels, and something called a "cant" hook, or timberjack, for moving logs. I also planned on using some tools which the pioneers may not have had, such as a level and chalk line, block and tackle, and a chain saw.
I did locate sources for modern reproductions of the traditional tools, but at costs well beyond my budget. Iíd seen some of these tools in flea markets and antique stores down through the years, but now that I needed them I couldnít find them anywhere. I asked around and finally bought two adzes, three broadaxes, and a broad hatchet from Mike

Chapter 2 Methods for Building A Hand Hewn Cabin

Selecting the Site
 What matters to you?
 A panoramic view....or the seclusion of a retreat hidden in the woods?
 Cool summers..... or warmth and light in winter?
 Your cabin will be a great source of pride, and the home you select for it will shape how much you enjoy the time you spend there. Before you consider any potential site, you need to know what you want in sources of water and energy.
 Some may want hookups with the local water, gas and power companies; others might be willing to haul water to the cabin equipped with only a wood stove for heating and cooking. Deciding these priorities will help narrow your selection to the sites which satisfy your needs today and tomorrow. A reliable water source, year round, should one of the guiding considerations when comparing sites.
 If the land will also be the source of the logs youíll want to make sure there is an ample supply of usable trees in the immediate area, or they can be easily transported to the site.

Part III: Building A Cabin With Round Logs

Chapter 1 A "Quick and Easy" Cabin
Money was tight, and with the expense of another child looming, I started to explore the possibility of raising another log cabin. It seemed the most affordable approach to building and there remained enough tall straight poplar trees scattered around our place to give me enough logs.
 My concerns soon shifted from "if" to "how" I should approach the project. I knew one thing: I did not want to put myself through the chore of hewing out the logs. I wanted something I could put up over time relatively quickly, working as I could, without the intensive labor involved in hewing the logs.
I finally decided the quickest and easiest solution would be to build this cabin from poplar logs as round as the day they were cut, but stripped of their bark. To hold the corners together, I planned to use rounded saddle notches, cut with a chainsaw.
 

Chapter 2 Methods for A Rounded Log Cabin

Prepping the Site
 Since I did not want to try and build the floor into the log walls, I began each of my cabins as self-standing deck, the full inside dimensions of the room. I then raised my cabin around the floor, attaching it to the lowest or sill log with long lag bolts.
 There are several steps involved:
 Build a series of piers or pilings from rock, block or poured concrete foundation to support the sills every eight feet. These supports should be at least 16 inches off the ground to minimize the potential for infestation by termites.
  For my 16x16 foot cabin I built one pier in each corner, and another midway between them along the outside wall.

Part IV: Removing and Rebuilding An Original Log Cabin

Chapter 1 Trials and Tribulations With An Unexpected Find
So my curiousity piqued when, as I drove down the road, I spied the old white farm house and saw the first signs that it was about to be dismantled. Two people could be seen breaking down its tall chimney, and a few of the white clapboard boards had been pulled loose around the front of the houseÖ.

"Taking down the old place?" I asked. They nodded something to that effect, somewhat uneasy at this strangerís arrival.
 "So what are you gonna do with the logs?" I asked, being nosy.
 They didnít answer right away, then one, the shorter and thinner of the two, set his crowbar down. He spoke for both.
 "Well..... whatíll you give for them?"
 His response was totally unexpected and caught me off guard. My thoughts raced: did I need this?.... what would I do with this?.... what can I really afford?
 "I donít know," I paused. "A couple of hundred dollars."
 He turned to look at the other man, who nodded. "Buddy, itís yours," he said.
 "Two hundred dollars," I repeated, quite shocked.
 "Two hundred dollars, down and stacked...in your yard, if you want."
Quickly I extended my hand to shake with both of them, repeating "Two hundred dollars." Thatís all it takes to close the deal around here.

Chapter 2 Methods for Taking Down and Rebuilding A Log Cabin

Putting it All Back Together
 If youíve been careful about dissembling a cabin, youíll find putting it back together a breeze.
 In fact, the toughest part of re-assembly may be building the floor to the right dimensions so the walls will fit into place around it.
 You have several choices: use your old sills and floor rafters to re-frame the floor; set new sill and end logs in place and notch or nail your floor rafters; or build the floor as a free-standing deck and rebuild the cabin around or above it(See Chapter 2, Part II).
Once youíre past this challenge, rebuilding the cabin is a matter of dropping the pieces in place. All your logs and framing timbers are numbered so you know where everything fits. You have detailed notes and photographs for reference when any questions arise.
You should take the time now, before the cabin walls start to rise, to plan and prepare for the running of modern amenities like electricity, plumbing and heat ducts, if required

A Home From the Woods, 2002  is available from iUniverse , Amazon.com,Barnes & Noble.com  and will be available soon from other fine bookstores.

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All material copyright 2002 by Michael Antoniak.

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