Friday, October 31, 2008

Building With Logs

Whether the log cabin or home is being built with cedar, larch, pine or oak logs, the structural strength of the proposed log specie may be in question. Of course, certain portions of a tree can be used as structural members in building a cabin. Good rules of thumb have been used in the past by experienced log home builders.

At present, a new building code is being used to provide answers to the question of structural strength. That new code is the International Building Code, 2006. (IBC). This code may or may not apply to certain counties or states as the IBC must be adopted by the local building authority.

The IBC requires inspection by a certain grading agency or a structural engineer of record to estimate the structural strength of the log and the suitability of logs for structural application. This is covered in the IBC, section 2303.1.10.

The grading agency establishes the criteria to guide the strength reducing log characteristics such as holes, splits, checks, and knots allowed for the proposed log specie. The grading agency determines the stress grades and, in turn, derives the strength values.
Of course, the grading strength values are important. Other issues are to be considered; such as connections of round or non-standard shapes because they are custom made and are used without experimental testing information.

The International Building Code (IBC) is not available to all log home builders, as the locale that the builder builds in may not have adopted the IBC.

The best approach to using logs in constructing a log cabin or home is to use the expertise of any experienced log home builder. An alternative would be to obtain the expertise of a licensed Structural Engineer.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Memories of a Great Woodsman

Once in a life time you meet a great woodsman and story teller. My father met one. They were contemporaries that probably met in their younger days. The times were in the late 1920's or early 1930's, hard times for many. My grandfather owned an old log cabin and a large acreage of wooded land.

My father (on the right in the photo) was one of the lucky employed and his friend (left) was unemployed. We call my dad's friend 'Buck'. 'Buck'was an excellent trapper at the time. My father asked 'Buck' if he would like to go up to the old cabin to continue trapping and to use it as long as he wanted. 'Buck' knew that trapping would be good, so he took up my father's proposal. The old log cabin was primative as it had no well water and only an outhouse. The heating was an old oil drum stove and needed a constant wood source. That kind of cabin living appealed to 'Buck', so he felt at home.

At that time, the timberwolf population was large and growing. The state had a bounty on the wolves so as to control the wolf population.

'Buck' took up trapping timberwolves and other fur bearing animals such as mink, beaver and ermine. Trapping was 'Buck's' main source of income. He trapped out of my grandfather's cabin for a number of years, probably up to World War II.

I met 'Buck' when my father and I visited the old log cabin 'Buck' and his friend now lived in a rented farm house not far from the old log cabin. The farm house had well water and better toilet facilities. My father and 'Buck' would sit for hours telling trapping, hunting, fishing and outdoor stories. I sat back and only listened, being only 10 years old. The stories were more interesting than anything I ever read.

My father and 'Buck' planned many fishing and hunting trips during these visits, and I was included on these trips. We had a 12' fishing boat and an outboard 2- 1/2 horsepower motor with the usual fishing gear.

One fishing trip I remember was a two week trip to a remote great fishing lake in Canada. Many walleyes were taken and again the stories told around the canp fire were wonderous. My father caught a 32 pound lake trout, the largest of the trip.

'Buck' was a true outdoors man. Others say he was one of the best trappers in the state of Minnesota. 'Buck' was also a great story teller as he experienced and lived these great stories of the outdoors. If he had written a book, it would be a great best seller.
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