Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Swing Swang Swung

Well, the construction of the cabin is more or less finished. I still have some detail work to do but I probably won't be posting updates every week after today. I will still try to make monthly updates on the goings on at the House of Fallen Timbers. If you haven't noticed the slide show in the sidebar I encourage you to check it out. It was created using a service called animoto. Anyone can get a basic account at no charge and make their own 30 second slide shows or you can pay an annual fee for a pro-level account and make slide shows of any length. If you work or volunteer for a not-for-profit agency of any kind you can apply for a free pro-level account for your organization. Here's my latest slide show, enjoy!

Create your own video slide show at

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


“A yerde in which was a shadde where in were five grete dogges.” - William Caxton, 1481

This was the first printed use of the word “shed” in English. There is perhaps no finer example of botanical artistry than a proper English garden. After all there was a time when the sun never set on the British Empire and the result of that early globalization was that many of the finest horticultural treasures in the world can still be found in the gardens of the United Kingdom. The soul of the garden is of course the shed. Not only is a proper garden shed the wellspring of ingenuity its a place where friends can roll up their sleeves and share a pint on a hot summer day. Over the centuries a subculture of devoted garden "Sheddies" has spread throughout the world and thrives to this day!

No where is this tradition more alive than in England. Don't believe me? Take a look at The Shed Blog

I found this blog a while back and I still can't get over the incredible variety of ingenious designs by Sheddies. Every year there is a competition between Sheddies to see who has the "Shed of the Year". The competition for 2011 has begun. The winner will be announced sometime in July. I was delighted to learn that the competition includes an "International Shed of the Year" for Sheddies living outside the UK. So of course I've entered The House of Fallen Timbers in the Cabin/Summerhouse category. Please take a minute to visit the Shed Blog and leave a comment so the judges know which shed you think deserves to win. I know you'll enjoy your visit.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stuffing it

I used up the last of my workable cement mix yesterday and only covered a little more than half of one short wall. By my estimates in order to daub the entire cabin this way would require an additional 800 lbs of dry cement mix. Not very encouraging.
On the interior I have been experimenting with canned spray foam insulation. I bought three cans and sealed up part of two walls with it. I know this is terribly unauthentic material but something tells me if Daniel Boone could have gotten his hands on this stuff he would have been on it like flies on honey. The color is not great and the bead can be very uneven.
I put some of this on Thursday evening and trimmed it up Yesterday morning. Once it has been trimmed and or sanded it will take stain. 

I did a quick test with some stain to see what it would look like and I have to say for reasons of time and economy this will probably be the way I go to finish sealing the cabin. At least temporarily for the winter. I may still panel the interior with barn wood eventually and I may still mud the exterior someday but for now I'm going to concentrate on sealing up the interior with this stuff.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ridge cap, daubing and paneling

First project this weekend was to put a ridge cap on the seam of the roof. $20.00 investment but should prevent water from damaging the ridgepole.
Next up was a test of the cement mix and unfortunately moisture has contaminated it over the years. It was more like gravel than cement mix. I pulverized it with a hammer and mixed it up just the same but it doesn't have the right consistency anymore and doesn't appear to be drying well. Also, a quarter of the mix only filled the gaps between six courses of logs on one short side of the cabin. Another solution may be necessary to seal up the cabin.
Knowing that the hardest part of daubing would be the gables I returned to the rafters of the garage and found some old floor boards that had been squirreled away years ago. I trimmed them up and used them to panel the interior gables. This will at least reduce the amount of daubing needed to seal up the gables.
Despite the disappointment of the cement mix the cabin is in practical terms, very close to finished! Most of what I have left to do is cosmetic. I may decide to panel the interior walls if I can find enough old barn wood or other satisfactory paneling to do it.

Monday, September 6, 2010


I spent the better part of Saturday and Sunday wedging sticks into the gaps between courses of logs. For the really large gaps I split small Sassafras logs into quarters. Sassafras is very soft wood, splits nicely and smells like root beer!
As you can see I also got the door and shutters for the window hung. Nice bug and rot resistant Ceder left in the rafters of the garage. I used some old cupboard hinges to hang them. After getting the wood chinking, door and shutters finished I decided it was finally time to check out the bags of cement that have been living under the workbench for the last eight years. I had been putting it off because I didn't really want to know if it was unusable.
Turns out the cement wasn't the only thing living under the workbench! A nice healthy Black Rat Snake had taken up residence in one of the open bags of cement. Looks like some mice had been living in it before him. I chased him off with a broom stick and low and behold the cement is still workable. There are three part bags and one unopened bag, all together probably 200 lbs of dry cement mix. Next weekend I'll start sealing up the chinking.
Today I raised my colors to celebrate the beautiful weather and the fact that the snake didn't bite me. Happy  Labor Day!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Please Be Careful

Last night we had our first good soaking rain since the roof went up. First thing this morning I walked my dog down to the cabin to see how the roof fared. To my amazement the walls both inside and out were dry along with the interior floor. I found that to be a great piece of luck considering the walls are not chinked yet, the roof has no ridge cap and I had no idea how far to extend the sheet metal to keep the exterior walls dry. 

As I stood inside the cabin drying off and listening to the rain fall on the tin roof I was thinking this bit of luck was just the latest in a long string that started the day I dropped the first dead tree. Almost every phase of this project could be categorized as Extremely Dangerous.

It is no small miracle that I didn't die, or permanently injure myself, considering how little I understood about what I was planning to do. I took no safety instruction courses and my only experience with the chainsaw and axe was limited to cutting firewood. As I've fumbled along over the past few months I have learned that there are literally hundreds of courses on these skills and schools dedicated to log cabin building.

With all this in mind I thought it was time to clarify what exactly it is I'm doing with this blog. It is a "Brag Book". I started it with the intention of sharing my experience with friends and family who are unable to visit, sit around the cook fire and listen to me spin yarns about how I did it. As with every aspect of the project I have turned the journal into more than I thought it would be. 

In less than three months I have had over 1680 visitors who have made over 2600 visits from 49 different countries! At one point in July over 500 people a week were visiting. 
So ... I'm concerned that someone could get hurt. Of course I hope every visitor learns something and is inspired to get outdoors and learn more but I don't want anyone to consider this a "how to". Especially if your thinking of doing this alone like I did. It is dangerous and no one can help you if you make a mistake.

I am by any definition a novice and my cabin can only be considered amateur. Even my design's structural integrity is untested. There are many things I would have done differently if I could start over. Proper training and tools foremost. I do hope I have inspired and entertained but I don't want anyone to consider this a tutorial or instructions. 

Thank you all for joining me on this journey and I hope your enjoying it half as much as I am. Be safe!