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Oma Tupa, Oma Lupa

One’s Own Cabin, One’s Own Freedom (Finnish Proverb)

Oma Tupa, Oma Lupa
One’s Own Cabin, One’s Own Freedom (Finnish Proverb)


Great Lakes School of Log Building opened in 1975 and closed in 2018 after 43 interesting years. Ron is still happy to answer helpful questions from former students as they build their own structures. Also, he would appreciate photos of the results, as well as extra pictures of some of the early courses and students at both the Hinckley and Sand Lake camps. Particularly interesting would be images of hauling logs on the old steel wagon behind the ’47 John Deere B, or of driving the freshly-cut spruce & poplar logs with pike poles across the waters of the marsh next to Sand Lake in the springs of 1978 and 1979.

See notes below and understand that this website is being left up for informational purposes even though the building courses will no longer be offered. There are good data on safety procedures, lists of gear you will need to do your own building and other resources. For further questions, feel free to phone Ron Brodigan at 218.365.2126 anytime. See note #1 below.

Ron’s newly-launched consulting enterprise, Great Lakes Log Building Consulting, is a business member of the International Log Builders’ Association (ILBA) headquartered at Montebello, Quebec, and advice given is mainly in accordance with the Association’s Effective Practices & Methods for Handcrafted Log Building.
Ron was president of the ILBA and a member of Robert Chambers’ committee that revised this document for the ILBA in 2010.

Note #1:  Ron continues to consult with private individuals on log construction, assisting with site planning, preparation, procurement of logs and general recommendations as one gets ready to build for themselves. In this connection, he may be available to travel a reasonable distance to your area on a per diem, mileage and motel lodging basis. As part of this effort, he is currently updating a handy list of tools and other resources you will probably need when you set out to construct your own building from logs. See “What to Bring.”*

Lectures and slide presentations may also be available. In addition, Ron has owned, operated, and maintained a number of loader trucks, bulldozers, cranes, backhoes, sawmills and other apparatus over the decades. He may be a useful source of advice for anyone contemplating a purchase of such equipment. Inquiries can be directed to him at 218.365.2126, 9219 Co. Rd. 2, Isabella, MN 55607 or courses@schooloflogbuilding.com.


*Portions of this list were originally required items for attending Ron’s 10-day courses over the years. A full set of safety gear meant nobody ever was cut with a chainsaw in four decades. It might also be useful to read the part of the old school website dealing with safety rules – “Worksite Safety.”


A nice load of Norway (red) pine being unloaded in the peeling yard – just in time for the beginning of a course. We use a variety of wood species for log building.

Left to right above are members of a recent workshop: Adam, Eagle River, WI; Eric, Mounds View, MN; Richard, Grapevine, TX; Mike, Lino Lakes, MN; Kevin, Tomahawk, WI; Nathan, Eagle River, WI.


On the July workshop (above and below), Jill and Danny from Indiana, Colleen from Netherlands, and Richard from Texas, calculate the kingpost cut, then later pose after completing the roof system.


Above: Future log builders: Mark, Minnesota, Todd, Ohio, and Chris, Alaska, finish a log truss for a project on a November workshop.


Above: Megan and Sheila work on flattening a cap plate during a July course – making use of a helper handle.



Outside Magazine, October 2010, listed our log building course as number 15 on their LifeList of experiences you should have during your lifetime: \\”Build a cabin in the mountains. Building one yourself requires at least six months,…tools, and serious skills. Hesitating? Increase your chances of success by taking a course at the Great Lakes School of Log Building (schooloflogbuilding.com).\\”


Brent and Megan of North Carolina and Sheila and Terry from the Toronto area comprised a July basic and roof workshop.


On the June course were Todd, Minnesota, and Chuck and Tammie, Mississippi.


The May, 2011 course included Mark, Wisconsin, Shaun, New York, Megan, California.


Finishing up a timber-truss on the July, 2009 course are (clockwise) Brett, Ohio; Chris & Debra , Wisconsin; Paul, Minnesota; Robert & his daughter, Alina, from eastern Ontario.


The participants in a three-day roof workshop are shown below after the ridgelog was fitted and placed. l to r: Mark, PA; Jon, MN; Scott & Bruce, MN.


Bruce trims a kingpost to accommodate the ridgelog.



Jeff of Indiana cuts a window on an April course. One of the most successful and enjoyable courses ever held (at least from the instructor’s perspective), the group also included Colin of Manitoba, Marlon of Tennessee and Pat from Ohio.


Former students Jim and Nancy Sauer of St. Louis, MO, holding their model in front of their almost completed home, done during 2007-07 of yellow pine with help from their son and a friend. See more pictures below.


During May 2007 Stonework Course, Jennifer, Illinois, sifts clean mortar sand while Tony, Wisconsin, mixes.


Jim and Nancy Sauer from Missouri brought to the June, 2006 class their model of the house they would build. After some modification, the house now well underway, the revised mockup of the house is shown below with their son, Mike, and Bruce Gibbar, who were participants on the June 2007 course.


Great Lakes School of Log Building 
1350 Snowshoe Trail,  Isabella, MN 55607

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