America's Finest Log Home Estate
Log Homes & Log Cabins FOR SALE

Stiletto Television Log Home Series on Nat Geo TV

I received a telephone call this afternoon from a delightful young lady named Rebecca, who is the Casting Assistant for STILETTO Television.  They are looking for people who have land and are getting ready to build a log home. She sent me the following info and I promised to pass it along. Enjoy!

Calling anyone who’s got cabin fever!

The producers of TREEHOUSE MASTERS are actively on the hunt for folks who are looking to build log structures (in every shape and size imaginable) in 2014.

This brand-new series on the National Geographic Channel will follow clients from start to finish as they work with a nationally renowned log cabin expert to create a new home, an addition to a residence, a total overhaul or renovation, a weekend retreat, a quirky log shack, hunting lodge, or even a sweet getaway for a pampered pooch. No project is too big or too small! If you’re looking for a house made of logs, whether handcrafted, timber frame, Norwegian, a hybrid or anything in between, then you are exactly what we are looking for!

If YOU have a log cabin fantasy that you want to see come to life, we want to hear about it ASAP. APPLY NOW and watch your dream become a reality.

Click here for casting application.

Log Home Series on National Geographic TV

PS: If you follow up with this and are chosen to be part of their series, be sure to let us know so that we can follow you on your path to TV stardom 🙂

Your Log Home Floor Plan

What’s your (floor) plan?

People who build log homes tend to fall into one of two camps. There are those who have designed their own floor plans or hired an architect to design their home based on drawings, photos and the interpretation of the dreams of their customer. Once the plans are perfected, the search for a log home builder begins.

In the other camp are those who choose a builder first. This is often done in person while attending a log home show and seeing all that is available from the many vendors. Once this decision is made, the logical next step is to choose a floor plan. All major log home builders and manufacturers have dozens, if not hundreds of floor plans from which to choose. In most cases, the plans can be modified to suit individual needs and desires. There may or may not be a fee to modify these plans; that will be determined by the manufacturer/builder and can often be negotiated.

DIY Floor Plans

If you are an adventurous soul and are comfortable using a computer, one of the most exciting things you can do is to create your dream home’s floor plan yourself. There is software available that can make you feel like you are a professional architect. You can start designing your home right out of the box with an intuitive interface that leads you through the process. In fact, most of these programs include a drag & drop library that will let you position cabinets, edit room shapes and sizes, design a deck, roof lines and virtually control every aspect of your home.

All of these programs offer templates that can be modified, which is a great way to jump start your project. As you add rooms or enlarge spaces, the program maintains all the critical calculations such as ceiling heights and other design components. As with all software there is a learning curve, but typically this is a minor issue with help just a click away for every question you might have. Many programs also have help in the form of videos, which make things even easier to learn.

Planning your log home project

If you talk to any industry experts they’ll tell you that the planning phase for log homes can range anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of decades. Many people take years to finalize on everything from a location to the finished design. This is where designing your home yourself can be a lot of fun. As you browse magazines and online resources for ideas you will see things that you would like to incorporate into your design. Making modifications becomes a snap when you are using software to create your vision.

Creating Your Log Home Floor Plan Using Software

Floor Plan Software

One of the major players in this home design software category is Punch Software. They offer numerous programs for home design, interior design and even landscaping. This permits you to get creative and save money by planning changes to your interior and outdoor living spaces before you invest. Once you have created your log home floor plan you can give it to your builder or manufacturer and get an accurate quote for your custom home.

To learn more about this floor plan software, click the image below!

Punch! Professional Home Design

Create your own log home floor plan and design it to fit your needs; have fun customizing your dream home!

Log Splitters for Firewood

How do you split your firewood?

Readers of this blog might recall that we heat our log home with a wood stove. Over the years we’ve published numerous posts talking about all things related to using firewood to heat a home. A couple examples include:

Heat from a woodstove is unlike any other; it feels different, smells great and just having a visible fire to look at all day warms the soul and the body. Suffice it to say that our family loves our woodstove heat. The only possible downside to this form of heat is the firewood. Where do you get it? Do you cut it yourself? Do you have it delivered?

In my case, living here in northwest Montana, firewood from standing dead trees is plentiful. If one does not have access to wooded property, a permit from the Forest Service can be obtained where you can cut wood cut for only $20 per cord. So, the source of free or low-cost wood is endless if you want to do the work yourself.

Dropping a tree and buzzing it up into lengths that will accommodate your stove or fireplace is relatively easy work. The hardest part of this annual ritual is splitting the wood. For the past ten years, I split all my wood by hand using a maul and a wedge when needed. I bragged (to anyone who might ask) that it was great exercise. However, I must admit that every year it was more challenging to begin this routine after a winter of inactivity. Last spring I decided to buy a log splitter.

Which log splitter is best for you?

I began my search online reading about various models and manufacturers, but I believed that I would buy a gas-powered log splitter. It just seemed that it made the most sense until I reasoned it through. I realized that I most likely would not be towing my log splitter into the woods. I usually cut my wood into rounds and bring them home to dump them on the side of the house where I stack my wood. I split my rounds there and then stack them nearby. I decided that an electric log splitter would be the best choice.

Electric Log Splitters

The only advantage to a gas log splitter was that it could function where there was no electricity, but that meant the log splitter would cost 2-3 times what a comparable electric splitter costs. The choice for me was easy, I chose an electric log splitter and I have been thrilled with my decision.

I used this electric log splitter to split about 6 cords of firewood this past summer. I did not encounter one issue with my splitter; it easily split rounds that were 12” in diameter. It made short work of what typically was a project that stretched over a few months. In less than a week, I split everything I needed for an entire winter working evenings and weekends.

If a mechanical log splitter is in your future, I highly recommend that you check out the WoodEze Electric Log Splitters. Trust me, I did the research and based on what I discovered, this provided the greatest value. After using it to split my yearly requirement of firewood, I am now a true believer.

Electric Log Splitter for Homeowners

To learn more about electric log splitters for home, ranch or farm, go to http://homelogsplitters.com

 

Rustic Architecture - the Digital Magazine

Rustic ArchitectureDid you hear about the new digital magazine for log home and timber frame lovers?

PrecisionCraft just released a digital publication titled, “Rustic Architecture“.

It combines informative articles and incredible photos with mountain lifestyle topics, videos, floor plans, and more. You can purchase a single issue or subscribe to every quarterly issue and get it on your iOS or Android tablet, smartphone or your Amazon Kindle.

I think I may have been one of their first subscribers. After I received the email announcement, I signed on immediately. I was so excited about what PrecisionCraft had done that I sent them an email asking some questions I thought my readers might want to know. Here’s a recap of our Q&A exchange.

Specifically, what is the goal of the magazine?

For the average person, the act of building a custom log or timber home can take years, from the first idea, through research, dreaming and finally building it.  During this time we want to continually provide new and interesting content for people who are interested in PrecisionCraft homes.  We already have a comprehensive website that is always being updated, email newsletters and award-winning printed literature. With the launch of Rustic Architecture, we now we have a digital publication for tablet users.  We see this as the next logical step in the evolution of delivering informative content about our log and timber homes.

PrecisionCraft Log Homes & Timber Frame

Who can benefit from subscribing?

While there is lots of great information available on our website, the magazine format is perfect for delivering relevant articles and stories about our homes, in an easy to read bundle.  It is easy for people to download and read at their leisure.  We wanted the magazine to be really fun too, so we worked hard to create interactive content that went beyond static text and images.  Those who subscribe will get to TAP, SWIPE and DRAG all kinds of elements as they read.

Rustic Architecture - the Digital Magazine for Log Home & Timber Frame Lovers

A little about what we will see in future issues?

Future issues will follow the same framework as this first issue.  We will focus on architectural elements, interior design methods, building trends and energy efficiency.  We will also continue to choose a region that is a good fit for mountain style homes and highlight why.  Of course we will also feature three of our homes in each issue –which is a main draw.

Rustic Architecture - a Digital Magazine

Besides the convenience factor, what sets this apart from other similar publications?

When we decided that this was the format that made sense for delivering our content on a tablet, we really looked at how much we could do, from an interactive perspective.  As each new issue comes out we will try to add some new element that can enhance the reader’s understanding and enjoyment of the topic.  Tablets are an exciting new platform to develop content for and we are having a good time figuring out what we will do next.

Get your copy today!

Rustic Architecture - the Digital Magazine for Log Home & Timber Frame Lovers

A single issue is only $2.99, or subscribe for the entire year for only $12.99; make your selection here.

Over the years, one of the many things I have always appreciated about PrecisionCraft was the creative way they treat the decor in their magnificent homes.  This stunning bathroom pedestal sink is just one example of their imaginative creations.

After you download your first issue and have browsed through the magazine, let us know what you think about it. I can’t wait to read what you have to say.

Get your copy of Rustic Architecture here!

Log Cabin Living in the San Juan Islands

Learning the Value of a Quiet Vacation

Our friend David Bryce, wrote another article for the Log Home Directory earlier this year. In this article he shares some experiences from his log cabin vacation in the San Juan Islands.

I’m not quite unoriginal enough to suggest that there are only two kinds of vacationers- those seeking after excitement and stimulation, and those looking to get away from excitement. There are certainly contingents of both crank-it-up and turn-it-down vacationers but many (maybe most) of us are looking for a little of both, often during the same trip. While I tend toward the more adventure-based excursion, I was not so long ago taught a fantastic lesson on the essence-recharging benefits of a tranquil vacation.

This lesson was imparted to me by the San Juan Islands. For the unfamiliar, the San Juans are a chain of postcard-beautiful islands in the Northwest corner of Washington State near the Canadian border. My wife, daughter and I began our serene adventure in a beautiful beachfront cabin we rented on Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juans and the second most heavily populated (still less than 5000 people). The cabin was pet-friendly, as many of those places seem to be, which was a bonus for our pet Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Squirrel.

Our days were generally filled by touring Orcas Island, we did a little bit of island-hopping as well, and visiting a number of the apparently countless charming little art galleries that featured both work from artists around the country and great arts/crafts stuff produced by locals. We checked out a few of the admirably (and frankly, surprisingly) tasty restaurants.

Great as the local cuisine was, about half the time we made our own dinner- chiefly dinner taken from the ocean that washed in about fifty feet from our cabin’s front door. The market closest to us didn’t have much in the way of beef, pork or chicken and were modestly stocked in a number of other amenities, but their seafood… The fourth or fifth day in we found tuna steaks that were unlike any steak or fillet I’d ever seen before. The flesh was a beautiful mottled swirl of pink, red, purple and near-blue. It was the prettiest cut I’ve ever seen and it tasted like it looked- fresher and more delicious than the chicken of the sea had any right to be.

The gallery visits dropped off considerably after my daughter and I discovered clam and geoduck (pronounced “gooey-duck”) hunting. It’s a blast- you look for the telltale bubbling hole in the sand and dig quick as you can to capture your prey. Clams may not be pretty, but they can move in sand. As soon as go for them, they zip down into the wet sand with uncanny speed. An amused local later enlightened us regarding rent-able clam guns- tools that look like posthole diggers and made for what my daughter and I were tackling with shovels. The two of us had become purists, however, and politely declined.

While we clammed or walked the beach, Squirrel kept himself busy tearing up and down the sand, occasionally barking at waterfowl and once at a surfacing whale- which was incredible (the whale surfacing that is, not Squirrel barking- there’s nothing incredible about that). Squirrel was as happy as he’s ever been as the wet sand allowed him to indulge in his favorite pastime throwing up on expensive rugs being a close second)- getting filthier than any fancy dog should capable of.

My wife is both far tougher than and a scientist so was tasked with the clam and geoduck cleaning and preparation. All three of us would then collaborate in cooking up the freshest clam chowder you’d ever taste. After dinner we’d sit around a fire we built, my wife and I sipping on wine or a beer, roasting up ‘smores and talking or telling stories while we waited for fog to roll in or the sun to go down. One night, not long after we went to bed in the loft of our cabin, rain began to fall on the roof. I stayed awake for an hour listening to it- perfectly content. That’s one of my clearest and fondest memories of that vacation.

Although I’m sure this has been made clear- our time in the San Juans proved one of the best family vacations we’ve had, hands down. It was exactly as it should have been: fun but not activity-crowded, low-key but not boring, exciting but not manic. We are already plotting out the foundational sketch of another trip. If you have a vacation coming but aren’t sure where to go- just head north and west until you hit the San Juan Islands.

About our guest:

David Bryce is a blogger lucky enough to write about his passions- golf, travel, vacationing, fishing, his cabins in Branson, MO and what he refers to as “log cabin living” in general. He has a lovely and patient wife, an amazing daughter and a very spoiled Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Squirrel.

Summertime Log Home Projects

Do you like to create things for your log home?

Log RailingI would bet that the vast majority of log homes have log railings on the porch and stairs.  It is hard to beat the look and functionality of these accents. Additionally, many of us DIY types like to create furniture and other decorative items for use around the house.  This photo shows a log gate I built to keep our pooch on the deck and out of trouble. (see original project article)

To build such things you must have the right tools.  A mortise is easy enough to create just by having the right size drill bit. However, when cutting tenons and especially shoulder tenons, having the right tool can save hours of work and the finished product looks so much better.

You can cut a tenon using numerous techniques. From using a drawknife to shape the tenon by eye or rotating your post over a table saw blade removing wood slowly.  Such methods work, but neither will produce the look and finish of a tenon cutter attached to an electric drill.

I happen to own a few tenon cutters of various cutting diameters and from different manufacturers.  The prices for these tools increase substantially as the cutting diameter increases.  If your project requires a lot of cutting as in the case of building a railing, I recommend the Lumber Jack Tools Industrial Series of tenon cutters.  As the name implies, these are industrial-rated and will stand up to cutting scores of posts before requiring maintenance to re-sharpen or adjust the cutting blade.

Tenon Cutters for DIY Projects

More about tenon cuttersFor smaller jobs, I highly recommend the Veritas tenon cutters. These are excellent tools and available in most any cutting diameter you will need.  Of the two manufacturers, I prefer the Lumber Jack Tenon cutters as that just do the job right and will last for decades.

Solar Powered Pumping System

Are you in the process of building a log home?

Most of us choose a rural location for our log homes and that means electrical power can sometimes not be as reliable as it is in the more populated areas. As a result, you may be looking for an alternative solution or a back-up system. If this describes your situation, I just received a press release today about a product that you may want to check out.

Solar Powered Pumping System

Franklin Electric has a new product, the SubDrive SolarPAK, a complete, one-box, system solution that provides the pump components needed to build a solar powered water well system. Designed specifically for pumping clean water using a renewable energy supply, SubDrive SolarPAK includes a solar-powered controller, a submersible pump and motor, and a flow switch, in ratings from 5 to 90 gpm. Using a solar PV array as the input power source, SubDrive SolarPAK is ideal for use in applications where traditional grid power is unavailable, unreliable, or undesirable.

Solar Powered Pumping System - SubDrive SolarPAK

System-specific support software available on its solar-dedicated website, www.franklin-electric.com/solar. The Solar Selector allows users to input simple location information and water requirements to determine which SubDrive SolarPAK fits the application. The Solar Selector also provides recommendations for panel array configuration based on user-entered panel characteristics.

I have not investigated this product, nor am I being compensated in any way, my purpose in sharing this with you is in hopes of offering a solution to a common issue related to log homes or rural cabins. Let me know if you decide to use this or have another solution to share with our readers.  Thanks.

More info, visit: http://solar.franklin-electric.com/

Masonry Heaters, Cookstoves, Wood Fired Ovens and Outdoor Kitchens

The great outdoors & comfy indoors!

We spend a lot of time talking about log homes, wood, corner styles, building challenges and virtually everything associated with the process of building a log home or log cabin. I will admit that we don’t talk enough about other things that can make our home unique or more enjoyable. With that in mind, I asked my friend Evan Moore to tell us about his company and what they do.  His company, Superior Stoneworks, is a designer and builder of Masonry Heaters, Wood Fired Ovens, Masonry Cookstoves and Outdoor Kitchens.

Superior Stoneworks‘ mission is to create structures that will stand the test of time, respect the environment by using a natural renewable fuel, and to regain quality of life by taking the time to do things properly and to share them with others.

Specializing in construction of masonry heat acclimating masses; we design and build Finnish contraflow masonry heaters, wood fired pizza ovens, masonry cookstoves, and direct and indirect passive solar heating masses. We also enjoy building outdoor masonry fireplaces, kitchens, patio’s and barbeques, along with many types of decorative masonry, tile, and landscaping.

Masonry Heaters

Masonry Heaters are efficient, clean burning heat-storing fireplaces. They produce a gentle long-term radiant heat, from a minimal amount of daily fuel. A heater can be fired once, twice, or even three times daily as necessary. A fire cycle will contain around 20 to 45 pounds of wood depending on burn frequency, and when fired properly will combust at a rate of 80 to 90% efficient.

Masonry heaters can be made with built-in masonry bakeovens, great for entertaining guests with homemade specialties like pizza, casseroles and breads. They can be built with a raised hearth where fire exhaust gases are routed, creating a heating sitting bench great for warming up after a long day of winter fun. They can also be built in conjunction with masonry cookstoves, which along with cooking can act as a heating source on mild days, and likewise a source for heating domestic hot water.

Wood Fired Ovens

Superior Stoneworks constructs Wood Fired Ovens using 100% organic materials from the foothills of the Rhone Valley in France. Wood Fired Ovens or Brick Ovens are exceptional in their ability to render heat by radiation. Brick ovens are typically shaped in a dome form, which creates a uniform reflective surface perfect for baking. Precise sizing of the oven door opening and dome height are crucial to proper respiration during the firing process.

Our ovens are very efficient in that they rapidly store heat, and evenly release it over a long period of time. A brick oven fired in the evening can be ready for baking within 45 minutes, and could hold enough heat to bake bagels the following morning. You can bake breads, crispy pizza crusts, and roasted meats right on the hearth tiles.

Around one hour following firing your brick oven, you can bake cakes and risen dough products like croissants. Aside from the outstanding cuisine wood fired ovens are very fulfilling in that they attract your attention. From their appealing design, color, and wood fired aroma, to watching your pizza’s cook and taking them out at just the right moment, a wood fired oven can be a very satisfying addition to your home or business.

To learn more about Superior Stoneworks and view past project photos please visit us on the web at: http://www.superiorstoneworksia.com, call 515-313-1700 or email at primitiveheat@live.com.

Greatest Places for the Cabin Lifestyle in the US

If you’ve considered renting or buying a log cabin, you’ve probably given considerable thought into where you want to spend your time.  Not only that, you’re also considering how you want to spend your time.  And if you’re heading away from urban or suburban life for a few days or an entire season, or even longer, how you’re going to spend your time is likely also on your mind.

So, where are the greatest places for living the log cabin lifestyle?  Well, it depends solely on your tastes, preferences, budget, and goals.   People tend to know what they want, or at least have a list of their idealized cabin.  While the U.S. is packed with a diversity of amazing and unique places to visit or settle down in (a diversity that is arguably shrinking), what defines “great” can depend on what you’re looking for.

View

If a view is what you’re after, and it’s always high on many people’s lists.  Some want to look out and see the ocean.  Others want the picturesque mountains.  A few prefer the sparse desert.  And, of course, everything in between.  Tastes vary so dramatically, but luckily there’s a place for everybody.  It’s just a matter of finding it.  Want a coastal view?  Try the central Oregon Coast.  It’s close to civilization, yet features an air of seclusion, especially the region between Lincoln City and Florence.

Seclusion

Many people choose the cabin lifestyle not for the views or the novelty of escaping for a few days, but because they want to live in seclusion.  They want to be more self-reliant and in control of their own individual lives with limited or no influence or intrusion from others (others, which can be defined by a great many things).  One great place to live at a distance?  Central Idaho, near Stanley in the Salmon River Mountains may be a great destination.  Luckily, the whole Rocky Mountain region is dotted with vey secluded locals, so if that’s your goal, it’s usually one that’s very achievable.

Climate

There are number of choices when it comes to climate.  Are you looking for heat, cold, rain, snow, or a sweet 75°F?  There’s a place for you somewhere, literally anywhere between Alaska, to New Mexico, to Florida.  People desperate for that dry heat head to the Southwest, usually New Mexico or Arizona, and find a place in the desert between the metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson or Albuquerque and Sante Fe.

Activities

Activities are also a major defining point of what makes a place great.  Fishing, hiking, wildlife observation, stargazing, napping, writing, or whatever else is on your mind, there’s a place for you.  Cody, Wyoming and the surrounding area makes for a great “activity” location.  It’s close to basically everything in the second sentence.  It’s situated next to Yellowstone National Park, plus the town of Cody always has something interesting going on.

David Bryce is an online publisher for Thousand Hill’s Cabins in Branson, MO. He blogs on the topics of golf, travel, and vacations.

How to stay Entertained in the Cabin

Isolated in the Wilderness?

Today I have a guest article from a fellow whose family is faced with the same challenges many of us face when we head out into the wilderness for a family outing. Heaven forbid if there is no electricity or cell service, but isn’t that the purpose? Daniel Swinton is an interior decorator and freelance writer. He specializes in cabin decor. When he’s not decorating for his clients, Swinton finds time to perform in local improv troupes and to hike on his favorite trails. Here’s some great suggestions from Dan.

We’re addicted to the social media craze and the era of technology. Our Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Google+, and whatever other social network you’re include in consumes our lives and leaves many of us detached from the actual world. This is no more evident than when you remove a person from their comfort zone and retreat to a secluded cabin without electricity or cable television. We took our kids to visit one of these cabins at the base of the Rocky Mountains last year. My wife and I worried about keeping the kids occupied and happy during these times, as we assumed we wouldn’t have phone signal or 3G connectivity. We brainstormed for a couple weeks thinking of all the activities we could do without electronics or internet, so here were a few of the our ideas when staying in a cabin.

Last week, I watched my son play Foosball – on his PlayStation 3. Have we since lost our desire to play games that are not digital? Nowadays you can play Monopoly on your smartphone, Poker with a friend in Tokyo, or crossword puzzles with friends all without lifting a pencil. My wife and I assumed none of this was available, so naturally we thought of cabin activities that would not require any electronics. We qualified these activities into a few categories. The first are games:

  • Board games
  • Cards
  • Jigsaw puzzle
  • Crosswords

Games are a knee-jerk idea for having fun in a cabin. We bought three board games: Clue, Monopoly, and Chutes and Ladders. This way, we capture all different age groups. Monopoly can often be too competitive for certain situations, so we changed it up a bit by providing a more childish game (Chutes and Ladders) and a game for intermediate age groups (Clue). Cards are another easy-to-pack option. There are many games to play with cards depending on the mood and how many players want to play.

  • Music
  • Truth or dare
  • Crafts (make bracelets)
  • Chat, tell stories

Games aren’t the only activities to partake in while staying in a cabin. Listening to some music can really set the mood of a good night. If you are lucky enough to have electricity flowing to your cabin, plug in the jukebox or stereo and play some music. Not too loud, you don’t want to turn it into some European dance party, but just something light so set the mood right. Country music works for us well, it is fun to listen to and makes us feel like real country-folk, even though we are nothing close to it. Crank up the tunes and do some crafts together. Our family likes to make beaded bracelets (I’ve got three girls), but really anything is possible. We’ve also really been into making cabin décor to spice up our second home.

  • Build snow fort, snowman, snow slide, snow tunnels.
  • Read
  • Get active (run, walk, play catch)
  • Discover/Study wildlife

With certain activities, they require the right weather. If staying somewhere over Christmas where it snows, build a snowman or construct a snow fort. The kids can all get into it and after finished building the family can engage in a snow fight or something. If the weather is warm you can go for a run, take a walk with family or friends, or go out and explore some wildlife. Make it a game; whoever can spot the first deer gets 4 points, the first to spot a rabbit gets 3, and the first to spot an eagle gets 8. Going for a run can be quite pleasuring as well. Morning runs just as the sun comes up can be absolutely beautiful, while burning off extra calories as well.

The great thing about cabin life is that it takes creativity. Keeping oneself occupied for the entirety of the trip can be troubling due to our overwhelming dependence on social media and technology. But with a few great ideas, a cabin trip can be one of the most memorable experiences of the year.

What do you plan for such situations?

Share you ideas for a fun family get-away without electricity. Do you have any special family secrets? Add your comments below, thanks.