How to Make a Log Cabin Retreat




Introduction: How to Make a Log Cabin Retreat

Hi everybody. This is my first instructable and I hope I do this fine establishment proud. I have acreage of mixed forest with a large quantity of cedar at the south side. I had to take quite a few trees down as they were becoming a problem on the trail. I couldn't bear to waste them as they were straight and solid so I decided to build a little hunters/trappers get away.

Step 1: Location and Floor

I chose a spot near the creek in a field where many deer come. I used pressure treat 4x4s cemented 4 feet deep in the ground as a foundation. I then used 2x10s to build the joists to be covered by the floor. The dimensions are 10 feet by 12 feet. Once covered with 3/4 inch flooring.

Step 2: Saddle Jointing the Logs

This rough sketch explains how to saddle notch the logs. It is best to roll the log on top and sketch the diameter of the bottom log onto the one you will cut. I used a combination of chainsaw, fox tail saw and axe to groove out the saddle. Be patient and you will be rewarded with a tight fitting notch. You continue to build your walls up in this manner. I used 4 inch wood screws every so often to hold the logs in place. My cabin is "backwards engineered" as I had been given some windows and had some which were replacements from my old house. Basically, I made the cabin fit around the windows. The door and frame I build as well as all window frames from 2x6 spruce.

Step 3: Frames and Roof Trusses

I custom made the roof trusses and made sure they were exact replicas to each other. Once I got to a height of approximately 7 1/2 feet I started putting up the trusses. Once secured, and all the window and door frames were in place, it was time to roof.

Step 4: Roof Sheeting

Here is a look at the cabin with the roof sheeted and braces now pulled away.

Step 5: Steel Roof and Chinking Begins..

I went with a no maintenance steel roof. Nice and tidy. Now the real tedious work begins, the chinking. Chinking is the filler used to fill between the logs. I used floor tile cement for my chinking. It comes in a 50 pound bag, looks like cement but when mixed with water this stuff sticks to everything including my aluminum ladder. I used a large hock to hold the cement on and "pushed" it between the logs with a thin trowel. Remember, both exterior and interior sides must be done. It takes a fair bit of time but my cabin is now 4 years old and not a crack has occurred in the chinking.

Step 6: Chinking Done, Windows in and Board and Batten Done...

Here's what it looked like once the chinking was all done and I closed the top in with board and batten.

Step 7: A Door and a Coat or Two of Stain....

Well here it is. Other than a bit of inside work it is all done. The inside now houses a (to code) woodstove, kitchenette and a fold down couch that becomes a bed. I would like to give a special thanks to my father in-law Fred who helped build this. He passed away this January but the memories are still alive. Thank you for your time viewing my instructable.



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    22 Discussions

    This is incredible.


    1 year ago

    That is extremely inspiring; a fantastic and beautiful job!

    Thank you for responding to both my questions in your previous response-critters and moisture. After four years or so how is the critter count? I love your cabin!

    1 reply

    Yes I wouldn't fill it to the top with cement so insulation could be placed before laying the plywood flooring down. Thanks for your response! It was helpful! ?

    This was beautifully executed and a big inspiration. Going to forward to my 27 year old son who has just this week discovered the Laurentians, and it was love at first site. Your log cabin retreat would certainly fit into that idyllic landscape. Thanks so much!

    You coud´ve probably used moss for chinking, then push some mud into it for better insulation. It's what's used traditionally in some parts of the world for similar purposes.

    Why wouldn't you fill the bottom floor with cement before putting the plywood down to make the floor? Wouldn't that make the structure more sound, warm, and keep critters from crawling inside?

    1 reply

    More solid possibly - but more solid beyond solid enough is just waste, from an engineer´s point of view. More warm definitely not - air is quite a good thermal insulator, whereas concrete is not.

    He could have filled the voids with dry pine/fir tree needles, if there are pine/fir trees in the neighborhood. Those needles are filled with resin, critters don't eat them and they rot away extremely slowly.

    I am considering some solar panels so thanks for the info. As for the floor, puring a floating pad in cement like that of a garage would be an expense as well as the labor required to put in proper footings. Given that it is in one of my fields, just getting the cement there would be an adventure itself. I havent had any problem with critters as of yet except for one rogue garter snake that came for a visit when I had the door open.

    I'm wondering if filling the floor joists with cement would make the structure more solid, warm, and keep critters from getting inside?

    If I remember correctly I used 5 across the front and back and 4 along the sides. I used an old antique post hole auger (by hand). Luckily it isn't very rocky where I put it. 4x4s should be good enough but I would probably space them every 2 feet or so. Thanks for looking. Good luck.

    Nice work. I would like to see what this looks like inside!

    wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I love the idea of using roof trusses. They truly make the cabin feel for me. I'm sure they also help keep the roof more stabilized The roof sheeting looks really nice too. I would like to see a picture of the final product if you can share it!

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    add 2 small solar panels going to a charge controller to 2 sla(s) batteries an a small inverter. to have basic lights.

    1 reply

    The solar panel idea is a good one. I was going to do that for my cabin, but it was too far into the woods to economically transfer the power from the panels to the cabin. I would have had to use 00 size cable to prevent a voltage drop. One other option is, if you didn't want to use an inverter for lights, they make a 12 volt AC/DC LED Edison 26 standard screw in bulb that puts out light equivalent to a 50 watt incandescent, but the LED bulb only uses 7 watts. Just buy off the shelf 120 VAC light fixtures and wire them up to your 12VDC system and screw in the 12 LED bulbs.

    The solar panel idea is great! I will definitely look into that. Thanks

    Hi everyone. Sorry for not getting back sooner. I will post some interior picks soon. A rough estimate of cost is about $1000. I spent $408 on the steel roof, $130 for floor (sheeting, wood, cement), $180 on chinking, $70 on wood screws (4 inch) and $100 on incidentals like paint. Of course I probably missed a few items. Thank you so much for the thoughtful comments.

    every time you go there you'll remember him, that's good memories my friend!

    Can you give a rough estimate on total cost of the build?