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#19848 Lhoti to move to Facebook?

Posted by Greg Steckler on 14 April 2016 - 01:49 AM

Susan, et al.,

The amount of viewers on Lhoti.com has fallen way off since the good old days....but so has interest in Log Homes.  I would probably get more if I advertised with Google but even the magazines have gotten smaller in coverage and subscribers.  I spend an inordinate amount of time on FB and thought:  Well maybe Lhoti should be there since it is free.  I does cost some money to keep this website up (granted it needs a thorough house cleaning).  So I need to find a major advertiser.


On a good note....got two potential drafting jobs today (stick frame).  That's always good.

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#19831 Update from Otter's Run, VT

Posted by GordonMcAlister on 19 January 2016 - 07:46 PM

Hi Jim, Thanks for the kind words. As far as order of finishing the house, there really was a method to our madness. We acted as the General Contractor up to the dry-in stage, and we are now finishing off the home completely out of pocket (no loans, no mortgages) and with 100% sweat equity, doing all the work (electric, home automation, A/V/data/ telcom networks, HVAC, plumbing, woodwork, stone work, tiling, landscaping, etc, everything soup to nuts) in our spare time. As such, the main reasons we didn't finish off the master suite 1st was mainly due to the amount of dust created sanding the interior Log walls, T&G Ceiling, Railings, Paneled walls, (we took them all down from 60 grit to 220 grit before staining the wood work with Sansin clear coat and had mountains of dust), and cutting up the Floating plywood sub floor & Australian Cypress Flooring for the loft and all the trim wood (the stone work and cement boards for the Fireplace also created tons of dust). We also needed a large area for a work shop later on in the project. Right after the house was dried-in we set up a 10' x 10' nylon camping tent in the Master Bed room with an Aero bed. That way we could zipper shut the windows and doors on the tent when sanding and cutting wood, to keep the sanding and saw dust from contaminating the bed clothes. Even before we had heat and running water in the house. We had an portable outdoor camping propane shower tent & camping toilet as a bathroom on the deck, and a BBQ grill for cooking. Believe you me, it was pretty brutal washing up outside in those 14 degree winter days up on that mountain, when we 1st started finishing off the house. Roughing it, was an understatement. We finished off the basement level (home theater, 3/4 bath and kitchenette) 1st so we had a clean place to relax at night, wash up, cook and eat. We next started in the upper Loft/Guest Bath & Bed Rooms and worked our way down to the main floor. Once that was done we took down the tent, and moved upstairs to a Guest Bed room. We are now using the Master Bed room as our work shop (and have lined all the walls with plastic sheeting to create a "Clean Room" or perhaps I should call it a "Dust Room") to cut tiles, woodwork, and build all the cabinetry for the home (I'm currently building custom kitchen cabinets from scratch). The Master Bed room is 20' x 17' and even at that size it is sometimes too small to cut long lengths of paneling and trim work, but is somewhat manageable to cut up 4' x 8' plywood panels for the cabinets with the 12" Compound Miter saw, 10" Table saw, and Router Table all set up to work with efficiently. The Log house is located in VT and our main home and business is in NJ, so for much of the past 14 plus years I was a lonesome weekend warrior, traveling (the 4 hours each way) back and forth every weekend and on holidays to do all the work by myself (while staying in the house during construction to save money). Once gas prices skyrocketed, I rescheduled my time to work one or two weeks a month in VT to work on the house and network to my business over the internet. Now that I have 3 grown kids and 3 grandkids, holidays have become non-working days, as they all want to come up to the house to vacation and ski. As such, there was a need to get the "guest" facilities done sooner then our Master suite. Madness perhaps, but as Spock once said; "Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one". LOL

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#19829 Update from Otter's Run, VT

Posted by GordonMcAlister on 17 January 2016 - 07:18 PM

Happy New Year to all on LHotI, I hope all of you are doing well. I recently, and reluctantly, joined Facebook, as my family and friends had been telling me I was always out of touch with them for some time now. Many had been asking for updates on the Vermont Log home we've been building since 2002. Since I've spent most of my spare time these many years working on the house, (usually by myself, as all of my helpers and construction crew have disappeared for one reason or another. My oldest Daughter and Son-in-law became busy raising our 3 grandkids, with Grammy's help back in NJ, my youngest son Joined the Marines and is now back home finishing college, and my middle son just joined our local NJ Police force), that I've neglected updating our home's Web site. So in order to bring everyone up to date, this past November, we made an 11 minute photo/video tour of the Log Home as it is today and posted it in our cloud (some of you might remember the video tour we have on the Ottersrun.com web site showing the pre-finish/dry-in state of our home. The old video link is on the Interior page's "Finish Work" section). So I thought I'd share the new video tour of our progress to date, with our friends at LHotI. We're still under construction, but we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (I'm just hoping it's not a MAC truck heading our way in the wrong lane). We still have to install the Austrian Cypress flooring on the main floor, and then install the basement ceiling (the main floor has to go in first before we close up the basement ceiling in case we pierce the radiant floor tubing under the sub floor). Then we'll start on finishing the Master Bed room and Bath room suite, and will finish up sanding some Log walls and ceilings, before installing the final remaining trim moldings around the house. Finally we'll finish off the Garage and Utility room. Right now my current project is designing and building the English Country, Custom Radiata Pine, Raised Panel Kitchen Cabinets for the 1st floor main Kitchen (have router will travel). I have about 2/3rds of the cabinets done (5 new cabinets made since this video tour, and 5 more to go) and part of the tile counter top installed on the peninsula (someday we'll upgrade the counter tops to Granite, but that will have to wait until the next big Powerball drawing...LOL). Anyway, here's the link to the video tour in the Cloud (I hope it works from here, it did on Facebook). Once again, my many thanks to everyone on LHotI for all your help and advice over the years, as always,

Best Regards to everyone.

Papa G




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#19819 Wow, LHOTI is still gonig...

Posted by Greg Steckler on 01 November 2015 - 12:33 PM

The only time I go to Wal-Mart is when I need to buy plastic from China.  That's about it.  Wife goes there once in a while, but I figure the Walton family has enough money and its sad to see all those old folks as greeters and pushing shopping carts from the parking lot.  (I actually entertained the idea of applying for a job there during the GR....<sigh>).   I gladly pay whatever the local produce stand asks when I do stop in.  I wish I stopped in more often.


So did an experiment to the trick-or-treaters last night......    Offered them candy (first) or a dollar coin (you know the brassy President coins that are about the size of a quarter.  What's that all about?).  About 70% opted for the dollar.  Parents out on the street whooped it up when the kid made the right decision.  I always reply, "Merry Christmas...your parents thank you, your dentist thanks you....now go put that in your college fund (while I'm thinking, So you can get a better job and pay into my SS...heh, heh").

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#19671 Subfloor Repair or how to NOT spend a weekend....

Posted by Greg Steckler on 23 June 2014 - 06:39 PM

This is a story you should really try to visualize.  Early in the 1980's we were working in Washington state on a lodgepole pine log home for some very nice folks.  It was a large home ~4,000+ sq. ft. as I recall.  It was a "T-shaped" floorplan and at the top of the "T" on the second floor we built a series of 12/12 "A's" spaced about10-12' apart.  These were really simple trusses with the cross piece joists bolted to the 12/12 rafters.  They created a 3rd floor which we realized could be accessed from a 'secret' doorway.


Now, the lady of the house had a brother (who very soon became a great friend and we had many adventures later on) who wanted to learn log building.  he was the newbie in the group of seven or eight experienced log dogs.  We'll call him R.D.


R.D. was good at heights, great with a chainsaw and a hard worker.  In later years he built many fine log homes and has been a true friend ever since our first meeting.  So back to the story....  Says I, "R.D....jump up there and cut off the outside ends of the horizontal log joists so they will be flush with the 12/12 roof decking we will place next week".


So, R.D. grabs his saw, a rope and scrambles up to the joists which are the support of the 3rd floor and prepares to cut off the excess log ends beyond the bolt connections.  All good so far..perfectly safe.  He ties the rope to the end which will get cut off and secures it to the joist...we'll call it Joist #1 (yes there are many) and proceeds to whack off 25 lbs. of wood.  Which falls, rips the rope loose from the log end, and punches a two foot hole right through his sister's subfloor.  "Oops", says I, chuckling along with one other worker.  R.D. is red-faced and swears a few lines, retrieves his rope and moves to Joist #2.


This time he really ties the rope good around the log end and proceeds to cut it off while about half the crew is watching.  The log end happily makes its plunge to earth taking with it the rope which was not securely tied onto the joist.  Boom...Hole #2.  Crew laughs hysterically.  R.D. cusses a blue streak.


We toss the rope back up and R.D. and he moves to joist #3 realizing the entire crew has stopped to watch whatever is going to happen.  (If you don't' think Nature or God or the Universe has a sense of humor, then you haven't been around a bunch of log dogs before 'cause what happened next stopped the entire work day...and we headed to the bar.)


Cursing under his breath R.D. securely ties the rope to the joist and then the log end and cuts it off.  The 30 lbs. piece falls, all the rope attachments hold, everything is just as R.D. planned it...except the rope is too long....Hole #3.  Crew falls on floor laughing so hard.  R.D. speechless and blowing blood vessels.  I believe we did quit for the day after that.  R. D. spent the weekend patching the subfloor for his sister.



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#19669 "The House that Fell Down"

Posted by Greg Steckler on 20 June 2014 - 04:46 PM

So I'll start it off from this repeat from long ago....


Posted 05 August 2008 - 07:35 PM

It was NOT a Skip Ellsworth student.... but this is a true story.

But let's begin in the Beginning......
(Yes there was a beginning even for me...)

We were on our 3rd handscribed (scratch scribe no less!) log home in the summer of 1979. It was a large home out of Sisters Oregon in a subdivision called Indian Ford Ranch. One day a group of 4 guys came up to see what my partners and I were doing. They marveled at our work, the lifting of logs (we had a Bobcat with a small stinger and log tongs in those days), and I believe it was the first time we did use thru-bolts. I won't name anyone (I haven't seen these fellows in 10 years or more) but the leader of the group had initials D.K.

Now D.K. was an excitable, high strung sort of guy, zooming around and talking fast and full of a huge amount of energy. After about 15 minutes of inspection and observation, he declared, "We are going to build a log home on spec and do it just like you guys!"

Well, in those days, how you got a tight fit was something of a secret...unless you were spreading the gospel, so to speak...which we were. 
We had bought and read Mackie's books "Building with Logs" and "Notches of all Kinds" and had a couple of scratch scribes made up by the local blacksmith. It was on this house we got our first "no-roller". That is a perfect fit on the first try.

About 3 weeks later D.K. came back and said they had gotten their logs and put in their foundation and were about ready to start stacking logs. D. K. said, "We are going to do it exactly like you guys but were not going to scribe the logs we are just going to flatten them and notch them." "Well, good luck, we'll come down and check it out sometime." We did and they were huge old growth standing dead lodgepole....some close to 30" diameter. Gorgeous logs! We found out they were horse logged off of Walker Rim by Buck Blakeley earlier in the summer. There was D.K. and his boys peeling like crazy. We wished them well and left for the day.

Another week went by and they came up and asked more questions, then D.K. announced, "we are going to do it exactly like you guys except we are not going to scribe at all, just rough notch, flatten where we have to and chink between." This scene was repeated at least twice more using the same language "except we are not going to notch at all we are going to do something called 'Butt and Pass' and drive lots of re-bar in the logs. We did a visit in late Sept. or early Oct. and they had decided to stack logs on the mudsill without a floor in place and were up about 4 or 5 courses, peeling as they went which was slow going. They had rigged a pole in a 55 gal. oil drum as a kind of gin pole/dragging assembly. We did not hear or see them again until much, much later.

Several weeks went by and one day my partners and I said, "Let's go down and see old D.K. and take a look at his progress." D.K. and his boys were gone and the log walls had risen to 7 or 8 feet like a giant crib or corral. You could see what had happened...they had built the walls so high they could not get over them and had decided to cut the first door out. CRASH! One cut, and the whole thing fell over......logs and tangled re-bar everywhere. Hence the story of the house that fell over.

D.K. suffered from several psychological conditions and was under medical supervision in later years. In all fairness, Skip Ellsworth and his school were never a part of this story or the people involved. The reasons the house failed are obvious. The logs were recovered in later years, re-bar removed and made into a beautiful handscribed home by excellent craftsmen and appreciated many-fold. And there you have it.  :D:D:D

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#15946 The most incredible log home..

Posted by RockEngineer on 06 August 2008 - 01:57 AM

You seem have a misconception on the the concepts of meeting code and having to have engineering. The only time a structure does not have to have engineering based on 2006 IBC and IRC is when it meets the "prescriptive" requirements of building code. For 2006 IBC and IRC the only "prescriptive" building is framed construction. The ICC did issue their ICC400-2007 Standard for Design and Construction of Log Structures. To be able to use it, it must be adopted by your state, county or city. Code adoption and revision is usually done on a 3 year cycle so it may be a while. ICC-400 has a prescriptive section which allows you to build without engineering IF you meet all the exceptions listed under Chapter 4 section 403. There are a 1-1/2 pages of exceptions. The killers for most areas are 70 psf ground snow load, less than 90 mph wind speed, No greater than wind exposure B, No greater than seismic zone C. That leaves out most of Washington, Oregon, California, Utah and Nevada on the West cost due to seismic. The East and gulf coast and Tornado alley for 90 mph winds. Anything with a view for below exposure B. And the Mountains and NE for snow load. Plus if your house is big or odd shaped it is out. Most log homes will still need engineering unless the local building departments don't care about single family dwellings and don't require permits. I still recommend engineering even if the local building departments don't require it. There are too many things you can do wrong if you are just going by rules of thumb.

Alan, As far as using the pipe. I don't recommend it. It will work but you will have a whole new set of problems. If you want to learn all the problems by trial and error be my guest.

Well I guess you really wanted to be a structural engineer so school is now open. (Sorry for the sarcasm. I'll try to control myself)
Lesson One - Calculating Lateral Load resistance in log Structures. First read the articles from Structures Magazine March 2006 on engineering log homes. Here is a link to the most pertinant one. I posted these when they first came out but the link I gave expired. There are several excellent articles pertinant to log homes in that issue. http://www.structure...us-March-06.pdf Note that there is a dual mode of failure in the standard log design. The wall racks until the friction between the logs is overcome then the logs slide relative to each other. When the logs have slid until the wood contacts the thru rod (true of dowel pins, lag bolts, etc) in the oversized hole the logs stop sliding and the wall continues racking until failure of the wood in bearing against the rod. The LHBA method is the same except take out the sliding of the logs. Before you ask, no the rebar isn't going to bend like a noodle. Try to take a 1/2" rebar 2" long with both ends held vertical and move those ends horizontal relative to each other. You would have to yield the steel and you would destroy the wood to steel interface first. Now you want numbers. Go to National Design Specification for Wood Construction (NDS) Section 11 Reference Lateral Design Values Yield Limit Equations. Use Single shear and there are 6 equations there to calculate to determine your allowable shear on any "Dowel Type Fastener". Work through all of them to determine what your allowable load is per dowel. Feel free to read the whole chapter so you know all the limitations and factors. Those of you who want to take a shortcut go to NDS Table 11J on lag screws in single shear and pick your wood species. Go down to 3-1/2" thick members and 1/2" diameter perpendicular to grain/side member and you will get almost the exact same answer without all the math. This is a similar method for all types of log homes.

The easy part is now over. The hard part is determiniting what the seismic loads are. When they made the ICC 400-2007 I had hoped the code people would take their combined wisdom and settle the debate over what to use for the seismic resistance value R. This has more affect on what the seismic loads are than any other factor including location. Alas to my dismay, the committee couldn't agree so they left that totally up to the judgement of the engineer to justify. I have to admire Tom Beaudette for coming out in the structures magazine article and stating his feeling on what should be used for the seismic resistance factor R for log homes. http://www.structure...rd-March-06.pdf I am sure he has had many arrows shot at him for giving a value to this important factor when the ICC committee could not. Not everyone is consistant though so some engineers will design for 1/3 the load others do on the same structure in the same location. That is dangerous.
Well time to go. My wife is calling me to dinner and after that I need to continue working till about 11:00 pm to get some log homes engineered. I have spent too much time here. 4:30 am comes early and that's when I get I get up to go to my other structural engineering job. I really do love engineering. I hope I was able to satisfy some questions. If not, we'll have school another day.:)
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#14007 Pre Fab Log Cabins?

Posted by Alberta Loggie on 24 July 2007 - 11:55 PM

The handcrafted shell and erection on the site was only about 25% of the cost if I remember correctly.
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#13745 Building with random length logs

Posted by MoonShadow127 on 16 May 2007 - 12:41 PM

I believe some of the TN chinker companies (Stone Mill, Hearthstone, Appalachian Log Homes) will give you Hemlock logs up to 40'.

Of course, you'd have to want that style of home though...
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#13741 Building with random length logs

Posted by dr. on 15 May 2007 - 02:02 AM

I've built mostly with random length.

To qualify what Greg has noted, on another thread :D. The longitudinal shrinkage numbers are from green to equilibrium... annuder reason to buy as dry as possible. Don't buy reaction wood, its at the upper end of the range in lengthwise shrinkage.

Generally longitudinal shrinkage is nil. SYP has the most reaction wood in general use and the highest longitudinal shrinkage. It is a potential spot for entry, no doubt. As to the strength issue that I hear played up pretty often, not a huge deal if the joints are minimal and well distributed. If windows and doors are well distributed and the logs are sent of reasonable length there are not too many joints. That said I've seen stacks of 8' material sent too :rolleyes: .
We have one company here that will kd and send up to 40' lengths of white pine. There is a premium for length, as would be expected.

Another thing to consider, we have not had a joint like that cause a call. I've seen some I would have called about though, and in cedar also. We have had calls twice on cedar knots leaking. The tree is large enough that the cants are often free of heart. Since branches eminate from the heart, in a pine log the branches rarely extend through the timber(boxed heart timbers are typical in pine). In cedar a branch often extends through the FOHC timber. Add to that the longevity of cedar trees, many knots are black and "loose", dead limbs being surrounded vs live limbs intergrown, or even doty. Another thing to look for at the mill if you go that route.

We built one for a company that sent as short as 3' logs to insert in a long wall, that is something to avoid, there is a point of reason between the extremes. That company was proudly extolling their grading, they were simply chopping out defects to make grade and giving the customer the 2 or more pieces, sans grading defect. I'd have rather had the option of chopping the length myself, or higher quality logs. The customer had shopped price and got what they paid for. I try to remember, that part comes down from the goobermint and they're here to help :rolleyes: .
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#13675 Green Boxes?

Posted by Greg Steckler on 07 May 2007 - 09:48 PM

It's complicated (what software isn't?) but it has to do with a reputation system that has until now been invisiable. It has to do with your contributions/infractions on Lhoti, length of time here, number of posts, behavior, my judgement, and most of all how you feel about other members activities here on the board. Check out the scales and redslips above the green dots.
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#13658 Concrete Salmon

Posted by Patrick Jenkins on 07 May 2007 - 03:16 PM

I have been playing around with concrete for a project I am doing for a log home. I am ending up with salmon I won't be using for the wall art. I am playing with the colors and moisture etc...
We are putting in a landscape island around the deck so I started using the salmon as a border. I am making a full spawn salmon mold later this week.

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#13540 How I love timber frame homes

Posted by Tim Bullock on 27 April 2007 - 07:18 PM

dr. So much wood to buy and so little time....
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#19621 Your Queen is under Attack, Grandpa!

Posted by Greg Steckler on 28 March 2014 - 07:04 PM

Out of the mouths of Babes Dept:
(While playing chess a couple of days ago)
"Your Queen is under attack, Grandpa!, said my 6 year old redheaded Grandson. "If you don't move her....she's chopped liver!"
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#17003 Something Quite Special

Posted by Lee Marie Steckler on 19 May 2009 - 09:10 PM

To see the floorplan of this house, as well as a really cool flyaround, Check out the Sierra on moreplans.com

Design by Greg Steckler and Joyce Davis
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#16300 1/3 Point

Posted by RockEngineer on 29 October 2008 - 02:19 PM

DR is correct. The reason they load at 1/3 points in testing is so they can eliminate the shear effect in the center 1/3 of the beam. On a uniformly loaded beam with a simple single span the maximum moment is at the center. If you have a center RPSL the maximum moment is usually directly under the center RPSL unless you have very long gable end overhangs with respect to the interior spans.
Things are never as simple as people think they are. That is why most areas are now requiring engineering on log homes.
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#15850 The most incredible log home..

Posted by RockEngineer on 18 July 2008 - 05:44 AM

Well at the beginning of this thread I thought there was going to be a shootout but it looks like things have calmed down considerably. I would like to give a log home prospective from the engineers point of view. I have been engineering all types of log homes for the past 20 year and have taught and attended numerous seminars on log home engineering and building log homes. I attended the 2 day LHBA seminar so I would fully understand how their method worked before I analyzed it for gravity and lateral loads. Every method of log home building I have seen has it's good points and bad points. Where people get into trouble is when they start mixing proven methods without thinking through why things were done the way they were and what problems changing that will make.

In my opinion the rebar used to connect the logs is as structurally sound as any method I have ever seen used. Yes the rebar is a structural element and carries both vertical gravity loads and horizontal wind and earthquake loads.

In the two day class they teach some things that are very common sense and would have helped many log home builders in the past if they had followed them. Have long eves (3 ft minimum). Keep the logs well away from the ground (18" minimum above ground). If there is a way for water to get in make sure there is a way for the water to get out so it doesn't set on the logs and cause rot. Logs + standing water or high moisture = rot. If you want the most area for your money build a square box. On the first house you build keep the roof as simple as possible. If you want to save money you can and they give some good ideas that you can take home and work on. If you want things done in a hurry, prepare to pay $$$. Make a plan and work out all the details before you start. Use long straight logs with as little taper as possible. If you can't get the perfect logs, then use what you can get but be prepared to do a little more work and sweat. Don't skimp on the engineering and get a knowledgable engineer (I especially like that one).

The LHBA butt and pass method is very strong but it is also labor intensive in my opinion. That is not necessarily bad if you have more time than money. When you pound in about 1500 pieces of 1/2" rebar 18" long with a 6 lb sledge hammer to make a 30x30 2 story house you understand why it is called "sweat equity". Yes, replacing a log in the wall held in by rebar will be a real bear but it can be done. I haven't known anyone who followed the methods taught in the class who has had to do it yet. I can't say the same about other designs and methods. I get calls all the time about replacing rotting logs because the eves are too short or the walls were built close to the ground and got rain and snow splasked on them all the time.

As far as passing code, I have helped engineers get LHBA homes approved in almost every state in the US including California next to an earthquake fault. I have several homes I have engineered in the Washington Cascade mountains where the snow loads are over 300 lb/square foot. They have held up beautifully. The wall design is strong enough to allow for a lot of windows even in high wind and seismic areas if you want but many people choose not to have large walls of mostly windows. It's harder to be energy efficient and can be much more expensive.

People have to be able to dream and the class helps many people fulfill their dreams. It's not for everyone. Not everyone who takes the class and starts will finish. That's the same way with everything. That shouldn't stop other people from realizing their dreams. If you want something, work for it.
Don't let someone else steal your dream. Your dream is not the same as someone else's.

Flintlock, long after you and I are gone, your Butt & Pass log home will still be there because you used good sound principles. You had a good engineer too. :)
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#15402 Garage - attached or free-standing?

Posted by CharJohn on 09 April 2008 - 03:37 AM

Thanks for the input! We're building on the side of a hill so the garage underneath is definitely an idea. (Except I really like that "bonus room" idea . . . unfortunately $$$ will have be a consideration . . .)

We get a fair amount of snow . . . rain and wind are pretty common . . . and I am old enough and selfish enough to want an attached garage . . . Workshop could be in the basement . . . too many ideas . . . my head hurts . . .

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#14197 Can you combine building styles?

Posted by BradBradstreet on 12 September 2007 - 03:16 AM

If you check out the pictures to our home it is quite similar. The left section is our garage (full round logs on the first floor). Above is a guest room and the logs there are half-logs over 2x6 framed walls. this reduced the cost quite a bit for us.
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#13787 How I love timber frame homes

Posted by dr. on 23 May 2007 - 02:48 AM

Well, that leaves... further off topic :rolleyes: :)
Hardwoods deal with a lean by producing tension wood above the centerline.
Softwoods approach the problem from the other side. They form reaction wood underneath the lean, trying to buttress the tree up, compressionwood. It's hard, stiff, full of lignin, the concrete of tree construction.
Juvenile, tension and compression wood are all forms of reaction wood. Their properties and characteristics are different than "normal" wood.
I'll try to plane some locust and get a pic. Locust flooring goes by the name "Appalachian Gold" from one major producer.
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