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.
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!
Create your own log home floor plan and design it to fit your needs; have fun customizing your dream home!
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.
To learn more about electric log splitters for home, ranch or farm, go to http://homelogsplitters.com
Did 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Do you like to create things for your log home?
I 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
For 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.