How to Build a Log Cabin With Dovetail Notches

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Intro: How to Build a Log Cabin With Dovetail Notches

Of course the first thing you need is logs. A good source may be someone who has a portable sawmill in your area. Contact woodmizer sawmills to get a list of owners near you.

If you have your own trees, have someone saw them for you.

Step 1: Dovetail Jig


The easiest and fastest way to notch the logs is with a jig

My site has plans to build your own if you want : http://logdovetailjig.com . By building your own, you can have a custom set of jigs that will work for your particular log dimensions and end up with the gap between the logs that you want.

Our example cabin for this instructable is 11'-8" x 16' using logs that are 7" thick x 9" high. The gap will be 2.5 inches. Yours could be other sizes. The plans are custom designed for whatever dimensions are specified.

After you decide on the cabin dimensions, add 4 inches to each and use those numbers to cut the logs to length.

So the logs for this example would be cut 12' and 16'-4".

The jigs shown are for half dovetail notches and take about 2-3 hours to make.

Step 2: Attach the First Jig

Lay the log on a side and mark a line down the center using a chalkline. The jig also has a centerline marked on it with holes cut out that make it easy to align the jig with the log.

The jig attaches to the INSIDE face of the log. (The face of the log that will be on the inside of the cabin. This is facing upward in the photo)

Leave about 2 inches between the end of the log and the jig end piece. Attach it to the log with 3 sheetrock screws. 

You will measure from the perpendicular edge of the jig as shown in the photo.

Step 3:

We said the log we were cutting was for the wall that is 11'-"8 inches log.

Calculate the interior dimensions of the cabin:

This is the outside dimension minus 2 times the log thickness.

So for our cabin, the short wall interior measurement is 11'-8" minus 6 inches minus 6 inches.

That equals 10'-8".

Align the other jig to the centline of the log and so that the perpendicular edge is at 10'-8":

Attach it with screws

Step 4: Chainsaw Blocks

The jig plans have instructions for making and attaching the saw spacers to the chainsaw bar.

They are needed to allow the saw to run along the jig without cutting into it.

Step 5: Saw the Notches

Roll the log over and saw the notches using the jig to guide the saw. After making the two cuts for one notch, remove the scrap piece of wood and make a second pass. This will make the saw cut very smooth for a good fit.

It takes about 4 minutes to complete notching on one log.

See a video on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UX_b1YXn7c

Step 6: Stacking the Logs

Stack the logs!

Step 7: Chinking the Logs

I used permachink which is a synthetic log chinking product. "Log jam" is similar.

Install foam backer rod in the joints. Apply the chinking. Moisten with a spray bottle and smooth with a small trowel or modified putty knife.

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    98 Discussions

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    luvit

    8 years ago on Introduction

    this is bad for trees and nature. please see the instructable to build a house out of trash. tanks.

    17 replies
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    luvittom.holmes.92123

    Reply 3 years ago

    for every 2 mcdonalds bags i find its like 1 pair of free socks. ketchup packets are like free dinner.

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    pacific_virginluvit

    Reply 2 years ago

    There is nothing better than proper forest management. If you had it your way the entire country would burn up in forest fires. You can build your house out from garbage and live in a garbage house that will probably burn down.

    Just like Hunting. Proper hunting rules and regs are proper animal control and stop destruction. proper forest management will stop destruction and forest fires. I am building a House from WOOD..

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    UstaskiVojnik88luvit

    Reply 2 years ago

    Listen you hypocritical garbage eater it seems you use the computer so much to tell others that they are killing the environment that your electric output leaves more of a disturbance to nature than any of us do

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    Cant Hardlyluvit

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Live in trash if you like, but I am not Oscar the Grouch, and this is not Sesame Street.

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    luvitCant Hardly

    Reply 3 years ago

    i live in a cardboard box & have cable internet, just off maple ave.. i'm grouchy sometimes.

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    DuaneD1luvit

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Doesnt cardboard come from trees? Dont your internet use electricity which comes from coal plants which hurts the ozone? Doesnt the computer, phone, tablet you use have heavy metals and use electricity? Isnt the plastic made from petro ingredients? If you drive, then really? Yes, do not throw stones when one does the same thing, actually worse then what they complain about.

    If what you say is true about living in a cardboard box and using internet, then he is doing less harm to the environment then you. He is helping the woods by thinning and allowing other trees to flourish and the under brush to grow giving home to animals and more oxygen.

    Whats your do? Pollute or add to it.

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    luvitDuaneD1

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    you're awesome. i love log cabins, too. -- you remind me of a time when a co-worker, who was on a low-carb diet, said, "Don't eat the pizza crust, it's nothing but carbs. Instead, eat another piece of pizza without the crust." -- i'm pretty sure he was the real son of Mother Earth.

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    rc jediluvit

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    i wonder, if these last longer than conventional construction, then they may be better for trees. maybe we should give it a chance.

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    beakmanrc jedi

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Properly maintained, log buildings can last a VERY long time. There are still many log structures in my area that are over 200 years old. That can't be said about too many traditionally built buildings -- and I would bet they've incurred far more maintenance costs over the years if they ARE that old.

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    glorybebeakman

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    They are climate dependent. Tropics eat wooden homes quickly. Cold keeps wood safe as bugs do not prosper in cold weather.

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    beakmanglorybe

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Most definitely the climate plays a part. My area gets good and cold during winter, killing off quite a number of the insects. But we also get 90 -100 degree, high humidity summers, and these buildings still hold up very well.

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    mountain_manluvit

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    The trees I used were all dead when they were cut. Killed by beatles. So rather than rotting or burning (either releases an equal amount of carbon), they will become part of a building. A building with no sheet rock walls. Almost no insulation. No fumes given off.

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    luvitmountain_man

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    i love log cabins. besides, if i built a house out of recycled glass bottles, i can no longer throw stones at others.

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    kevin13952

    Question 2 months ago on Step 2

    Why are the jigs so much larger than the timber? It seems to me that it could be just slightly (1/4 to 1/2 inch) larger than the timber and fit much more accurately. Am I missing something? I realize some timbers may be warped, skewed, etc...but wouldn't you be culling those beforehand?

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    RickyH44

    8 months ago

    How many tubes of chink did you use and how much did it all cost to chink the whole house minus the foam tube?