Build a Log Cabin Without Spending a Fortune

Dick Sellers dreamed of building his own log cabin, and he didn't let setbacks keep him from making that dream come true.

| April/May 1993

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    Originally, building a log cabin was a decision made out of necessity. Eventually, it evolved into a dream.
    PHOTO: BILL CLARK
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    The first step to making window in the cabin is sawing out openings in the log walls where you want the windows to be.
    BILL CLARK
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    A chainsaw can also be used to make angles and birdmouth notches.
    CATHY SELLERS
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     Boards and beams are cut with a chain saw.
    CATHY SELLERS
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    "The Thing," invented by Dick himself, is capable of lifting 2,000 pounds.
    CATHY SELLERS
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    Dick welded pieces of sheet metal together to form a chimney.
    BILL CLARK
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    A Birds Eye View of Dick's Log Cabin. For insulation, roll fiberglass out and staple it to the beams on the roof (top left). A water hose helps level the tops of the batter boards so they'll all be the same height (bottom). 
    SCOTT MACNEILL
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    He later suspended this chimney form the rafters, 24" above the fireplace.
    BILL CLARK
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    Dick with wife Cathy and four daughters.
    BILL CLARK
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    It's hard work, but well worth it!
    BILL CLARK
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    Dick builds his stone fireplace in what is soon to be their living room.
    BILL CLARK

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This is the story of a long-time dream that is about to become reality. Like most people, I dreamed of owning my own home, in a place where my children could experience the peace of mind that comes from living in the country. I wanted my four daughters to enjoy the freedom and the comfort of knowing that our family could provide for ourselves. Part of this desire came from my own father, who shared with me his crystal clear memories of surviving the Great Depression. He taught me the importance of being self-reliant, no matter how bad the economy became.

My dream to build a log cabin by myself began almost 15 years ago. At that time the decision was made out of necessity, due to our financial status and the state of the economy in our area. As time went by, our finances improved and the necessity evolved into a dream — a dream that is finally starting to come together.

First Steps

All those years that I was dreaming, I of junk and equipment that I thought would be helpful in building a sawmill and forklift, or some other type of loader to handle logs and lumber. I read everything I could get my hands on about building log homes and sawmills, and assessed the resources available in our area. I also assessed my own skills and took the time to look carefully at many older buildings. All this research played a giant part in the actual building.

Over the years, I also noticed that many of those older wooden buildings that had survived the test of time had a lot of traits in common. Most of them had open-pier foundations that supported the structure at least 24" above the ground. I suppose this was to allow for good ventilation under the house, preventing problems caused by moisture, termites, and the like.



Most of the old buildings also had steep tin roofs with at least 36" of overhang — called eaves — all the way around. This tin provided a long-lasting, low maintenance, leak-proof roof that was easy to install. Long eaves also helped protect the buildings' sides from rain and long periods of direct sunlight. So I decided to incorporate an open-pier foundation at least 24" above the ground and a tin roof with at least 36" eaves in my own house. It was important that my home last far beyond my lifetime, so I could leave it behind for my daughters and perhaps for their children too.

As I was accumulating junk and equipment, I kept in mind a vision of those basic construction features, as well as a list of materials and equipment that I would need. Here's what my list consisted of:

john pitt
10/1/2012 9:51:11 AM

good on you i feel the same it started out a case of necessity. and then became just a desire to do it my self. I have built three homes a full range of farm machinery. a couple of boats a caravan and various things from sadles to swages. i only completed grade 8 and worked as a laboutrer i learnt from observing what i saw







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