Log Cabin Chinking Repair Made Easy

Maryan McCamey shares her story of learning a fool-proof log cabin chinking repair recipe that helped her and her husband fix their depression-era log cabin in Southern Oregon.

| November/December 1975

In June of 1973 my husband, Butch, and I moved to our very own log home on 40 acres in the southern Oregon woods. The old homestead had been neglected for over 40 years (the house itself was built entirely by hand during the Great Depression) and we had come to bring it back to life.

The cabin was really dilapidated and in need of a new roof, foundation repair, plumbing, wiring, and a general face-lift. So we set out — with a lot of help from our neighbors — to give our new home some good old-fashioned TLC (tender, loving care). During that first summer, the place began to smile again.

By fall the dwelling's roof was on and our stock of firewood was dry. Which left just one major project to be completed before we could settle down to a cozy winter inside our spruced-up house: The whole cabin needed to be rechinked. Although bits and pieces of the original filler were still solid, we had no choice but to remove what remained and start from scratch.

Our problems began when we set out to research methods of log cabin chinking repair and sources of appropriate materials. Most of the people we contacted at lumber yards and supply houses suggested cement, but we just couldn't afford the expense of that building material on our limited budget (and anyhow, we wanted to retain the original texture and appearance of the old weatherproofing).

We rummaged everywhere for more log cabin chinking information — in the library and bookstores, at the nearby ranger station, in catalogs and old farm magazines, even in a 1926 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica — and found a lot of good advice on log cabin building and living . . . but not much on how to plug those all-important spaces between the logs.

The most helpful source was Bradford Angier's book How to Build Your Home in the Woods (hard cover edition, 1972, from Sheridan House, New York, $7.50 . . . paperback, Hart Publishing Company, Inc., New York, $3.95, both available from MOTHER'S Bookshelf) . . . only Mr. Angier dwelt mainly on what materials to use and very little on how to use them.

7/17/2017 12:01:32 PM

THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS ARTICLE!!!! You have answered ALL MY questions in detail and then with explanations! I'm building a 1800's cabin. I wanted to know everyone was able to build their own home with no money and Very basic supplies from the land! The "Way of The Buffalo " is not happening with us!! We are trying to preserve that way of life.

7/19/2016 8:09:40 PM

This is a great article! I will be trying it soon. Thank you for sharing it.

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