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Handcrafted Log Homes

Updated on January 24, 2013

In the world of log homes, there are two main types. For those who like very uniform homes, a milled log, or manufactured log home, may be the choice for you. Typically a milled log is anywhere from six inches to eight inches in diameter. The thicker, the log, the more thermal mass and insulation value the log will have. The second type general type is handcrafted log homes. Handcrafted logs are usually hand peeled, very in width, and have each piece ‘hand crafted’ as the name implies. For this hub, let’s take a look at the various features of a handcrafted log home package.

Western Red Cedar Handcrafted Log Home

Species for Handcrafted Log Homes


The handcrafted log homes that I have worked with are made from Douglas Fir, Engelmann Spruce, or Western Red Cedar. These species are the choice because they come in large enough diameters and they are a straighter type log. Of the Cedar species available, the Western Red Cedar is far superior to their cousins for log home design.


In any of the three species, the logs are first hand peeled. The draw knife marks are visible in the homes, adding even more character to the log. Just as a rock is cut to show the beauty inside, so these logs are peeled to reveal the inner log qualities.


Hand Peeling for Handcrafted Log Homes

The Stack of Hand Crafted Log Homes

The next stage is how the logs stack. Some log home companies simply make a straight cut across the bottom and top of the log and then stack them up. This method allows for gaps and cracks. Even when filled with caulking, the break between the logs allows for weather and bug penetration. A much better alternative is to hand scribe the logs so that they have a slight Swedish Cope cut. Then when they are stacked, the logs overlap some, log to log, making the wall much more weather tight.

Diamond Pattern For Corners

Diamond Pattern for Corners
Diamond Pattern for Corners

Hand Scribing

Corners- Making them work

Corners are another consideration. When running a log across a corner, that log of course is not perfectly round, as the milled logs are. Some companies simply use a butt and pass system to make the corners. But a true level of master craftsmanship is found when laterals and notches are cut for the corners. The photo I have included on the side shows a unique diamond shaped notching pattern with the lateral and notch cuts. This gives a tight and snug fit between the logs and it weaves the house corners together.


Butt joints, were one log ends and the next begins, is another area of concern with a handcrafted log home. Some companies simply cut the log and but it up against the next log. This allows for gapping between log ends. Other methods include a spleen system. The homes with the most craftsmanship are companies that weave a corner joint into the home instead of leaving any but joints. Here is an example of this. Here an interior wall of this home is made from solid log and the break in the log on the exterior wall is cut and a corner formed.


Log Trusses

Log Trusses
Log Trusses

Handcrafted Log Truss

The Handcrafted Log Home Master Piece

The final areas of consideration are the timber roof system and the recessing needed for exterior doors, windows, and other finish material. Some handcrafted log homes have to have all of that work done on site by a chainsaw. This is a real challenge, to say the least. In this picture you can see the slot and ledge cuts that are used by Cowboy Log Homes to accommodate the doors and windows.

The timber roof system is made from the same hand peeled logs as the home. The logs for the roof system though must be of superior strength. A TPI grading system is used to rate the strength and the appropriate use of the logs through out the home.

A timber roof system can be of log scissor trusses, ridge beam and purloins, or log truss with rafters. Different looks are achieved with different styles. Each log is lifted into place on the log roof once the log sides are stacked. The logs are hand scribed, fitted, and cut to match the desired roof pitch.

Once the log shell is totally cut, many companies simply dissemble the logs and then ship them. In an effort to provide the best logs possible, Cowboy Log Homes goes a step further and hand grinds and sands all the rough edges of the home.

Handcrafted log homes are engineered to accommodate about six inches of settling. A through bolt system is used to keep the logs straight and aligned during the settling process.

Handcrafted log homes are truly the hallmark master craftsmanship in log home builders. This type of construction is more expensive, but it is the way to insure that there is not other home out there exactly like yours.

Dreams to Reality


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