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Log Cabin Construction

Updated on January 24, 2013

Log cabin construction has been occurring for centuries. From rough dwellings the Pioneers occupied to massive log lodges, log home building has had many changes over the years. Through on site testing, engineers, designers, and builders have all helped to improve the quality of log homes. The world leader in log home design is actually, believe it or not, Finland!

Log Homes

If anyone has built a log home or helped with a log home, then you have an idea of the headache caused by running electric wires. Solid logs have to be drilled up through for the wire holes. Also the site for the electric box has to be drilled and chiseled, and drilled and chiseled out, until a suitable size hole can be carved. Sometimes floor outlets are used instead of installing them in the solid log wall. This can be a viable option, but can increase danger if water is spilled directly on to the outlet. Also it leaves a bump on the floor where the outlet cover is located.

Many times the electric wires in log cabins are pulled up through the door frames. It is a shorter distance to drill over to the location for the switch box, then coming up from the floor. On one home we built we used a 32" door instead of a 36" door so that we had an additional 4" of room to pull wires. Then we used wider one inch wide trim to cover the area. The effect was nice, but still a lot of work.

The handcrafted log homes do come with predrilled electric wire holes and precut box holes. This makes electric installation much easier.

Electric boxes predrilled

Log Cabin Design- butt joints

Another area of log cabin design that has changed over the years involved the butt joints. The butt joints of a log are where one log ends and the next begins. I have seen some homes where the logs are simply butted up against each other and then cut with a chain saw to gain the needed length. Over time you will actually see daylight between the two log ends. Caulking and putty can be pushed into the crack, but it is not very weather tight.

Other times a butt joint can be drilled and a 2x4 wood spleen pushed down into the joint. This is a better seal. One caution if building a home with any type of spleen system is to be very careful not to forget to install one of the spleens before the next row of logs is stacked. You can't go back and add it later.

Butt joints were further improved through the introduction of a vinyl spleen. This type stays weather tight with a butt joint. Typically a cut is made in the log for the spleen just before the log is set. Then the spleen is slid down into the pre cut channel.

The best butt joint seal is either a dove tail or a finger joint. Both are effective. I personally prefer the finger joint because it has more 'fingers' that overlap. This really makes the butt joints as tight as possible.


Log Shell Erected

Log Home Building- gable flashing

Whenever using a natural product such as a log, weather deterioration is always a concern. A classic place for moisture to affect a log home is at the top of the wall in the gable. The gable end of a home is where the roof begins to angle as it climbs to the peak.(Click here for information on gables and gable construction. On a log home, some times solid logs are used to the top of the wall and then 2x4 or 2x6 framing is used above it. Then either board and baton, true match log siding, 1x6 pine tongue and groove, or cedar shakes are used to finish the gable.

In the area between where the logs end and the gable begins is the area for concern. Water can become trapped or lay on the logs, causing damage. To help circumvent this damage, a special kind of flashing was developed. Gable flashing is used by Cowboy Log Homes at the top of the log walls.

If you look closely at the photo, you can see a faint line of beige along the bottom of the gable. This is the gable flashing. Notice how it repels the water and how it directs it away from the logs.

Gable flashing

Log Home Construction Details

When great attention to detail is paid, it shows in the final home. Log cabins are capable of very high energy efficiency if constructed with precision cuts, quality log assembly, and other enhancing features.

As log home builders in USA, Cowboy Log Homes is a full service log home company. We offer not only custom designing a home plan for you, but on job site evaluations, private home planning sessions, builder recommendations if the buidling site is out of our area, and also financing recommendations. We offer as much or as little customer service as is desired by the home owners.

For over 15 years we have been building Log Dreams and also living in them personally. Log homes become a way of life instead of just a house you live in. If you ever build one for yourself I'll sure you'll agree.

Log homes are a passion with us and our desire is to see your dreams turned to reality.

As always, thanks for reading and look for more home ideas in the future.


handcrafted shell

Handcrafted Log Shell
Handcrafted Log Shell


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      AAH! Love this blog! Looking for my pictures now! Suggestion for an ohewrtise perfect blog...maybe get people to submit updated photos of them now...happy and well adjusted and fabulous? Kind of It Gets Bettery? Just a thought. Will come back regardless. Great job!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I much prefer inrtimaofve articles like this to that high brow literature.

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 

      9 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Bookmarked it! Great Hub! Thanks

    • chafiq555 profile image


      9 years ago from Gatlinburg

      Very good information. I have been to many cabins and own one but have never known all the detail of how they were built.


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