Just wanted to give you a quick follow up on my satisfaction with your course. You run a very organized, and obviously well thought out curriculum. Although I felt I had some of the core skills to build a log home, I learned a lot of things that will make my building experience much more productive, enjoyable, and rewarding. Seeing the scribing, corner notching, and lateral work is priceless, not near as intimidating when reading the methods in a book. I feel confident I can handle truss building as well. You also moved me into the 21st century on chain saw safety.
I did a “log inventory” on my property shortly after getting home. Knowing now that I can use “less than perfect” logs opened up a lot of options for me, especially being able to use timber from my property. My timber growth is very mature, and really needed some thinning. Opening up the canopy some will help the younger trees grow. During my documentation of trees, I was surprised to observe how many smaller pine trees had died from the over-growth. I was also surprised how many usable White Pine I had.
I started harvesting logs this afternoon, taking down the 4 largest. I have a real issue with a very large hill to skid the trees up, and want to get as many out before the skid road gets slippery with snow. I will be harvesting for the next week, or until weather shuts my skid road down. Just for grins, I attached my Excel of my tree inventory. I numbered them as I inspected and measured them, and then sorted them by butt size. I will be only taking down enough to build the log home, but an extensive list allows me to pick the best logs. On the butt of each log, once harvested, I am installing aluminum tags with the Excel Spread sheet number for reference later (like your son did).
Thanks again for such a wonderful life experience at your complex. I look forward to sharing with you my project as it progresses. Feel free to use me as a reference for any future prospective attendees. I would be happy to share my positive thoughts about your school.
–-Tom Sullivan, Michigan
My sole training in log building was the 10 days I spent at the Great Lakes School. It is most definitely a hands-on course. The operator, Ron Brodigan’s style, is to do a short lecture on the topic at hand, followed by a brief demonstration, and then you are working on the skill under his supervision. I suppose 75% of your time is spent on actual building work and hands-on skills needed to support the building work, such as chainsaw sharpening and maintenance, etc. I finished each day totally bushed from the efforts during the day.
I left the 10-day course feeling confident that I had all of the basic skills necessary to do my own cabin. And that proved to be true, as the log work on my cabin is totally done. 4,000 sq. ft. building, 8,000 lineal feet of log, and all done by myself. Naturally, I still had a lot to learn on the subject, and continued to do supplemental reading and thinking. But the basic skills and knowledge were transferred, and Ron’s style and approach incorporates all of the newest ideas and techniques designed to deal with settlement so the building is built tight and stays tight. I recommend the course and the operator highly. If you are like most folks, you will find the course enjoyable and very worthwhile.
—Dave Drown, Minnesota
The time went way too fast. I learned a ton and really enjoyed staying in Snowshoe Cabin. I could easily live like this and hope to use my newly acquired skills to make a place like this myself…I really appreciate your patience with us when we made mistakes on the practice cabin.
–Sandy Lotto, Wisconsin
If only I had had teachers in school like Ron! What a joy. I could have spent another ten days picking your brain. I will be back in 1-2 years for the stonemasonry course.
—Joe Murray, Ohio
Learned a wealth of information in a short time – enough to do it! This is more than a log building course, it is an experience in appreciated for the past brought to life in the present. The people on the course are from all areas of expertise unrelated to construction…my advice is that you soak it in because it is an experience that you are sure to take with you.
—John DeFrancisco, Minnesota
Had a great time. Loved the moose feeding in the lake below our cabin in the morning…a learning experience.
—Steve Bennett, Ontario
Thanks for all you did for us. You are the most amazing and greatest teacher I have ever had. You do it so well, you are a living legend, and I am proud to be one of your students. I hope to return with my father for another class.
—Jon Cromell, Michigan
It was the most challenging and satisfying experience I’ve ever had. I especially appreciated your low-key manner and the feeling of teamwork that prevailed during the course. Something that was truly a surprise to me was that none of the men on the course were patronizing or gave the slightest indication that they felt women shouldn’t or couldn’t do this work…this mood of total non-bias was extremely important to my current self-confidence.
—Katie Cialone, North Dakota
My husband Joe and I came up here not knowing what to expect. What an interesting, beautiful and full of knowledge place this is! Ron, you are such a great person, full of life – – a true inspiration – more energy than all of us in the class! We will be calling or emailing you with many questions…
—Elizabeth & Joe Walsh, New Hampshire
The rock course has been great fun. Ron’s stories are amazing….It’s been a good blend of people here – everyone contributing and working and coming up with ideas – deciding where the big rocks should go in the barbecue. I think we’re going to do the arch and place the chimney flue today. I hope people enjoy using it as much as we did building it.
—Jill Hughes, Minnesota
I’ll miss the sauna, the other students, and the place. I appreciated how Ron went out of his way to help me get started and get my gear together. Thoroughly enjoyed the stay.
–Naomi Goomes, New Zealand
It’s my last morning here at the French-Canadian Cabin. This was a grand experience. We worked and we learned a lot! Ron, you have a gift for teaching; alternately precise and funny so that laughing while you work becomes second nature. My sadness at leaving is lessened knowing I’ll be back soon to build trusses on a roof seminar. Best wishes to all who follow.
—Chip Mercurio, Massachusetts.
I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the stonemasonry class and getting to know you. Your style of teaching with such a complete lack of criticism and negativity was such a perfect example of how a teacher should teach it amazed me. Even when I and others screwed things up you handled the situation with calm and professionalism. I also truly enjoyed your history and philosophy lessons…
—Phil Strauch, Illinois
Great Lakes School of Log Building
1350 Snowshoe Trail, Isabella, MN 55607