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What you may require when you set out to construct a log building:

The below list will be expanded periodically. If you are going out to the bush for building a log cabin or house, the following are suggested:

200 feet of hemp rope 1″ diameter – for setting up parbuckling on your building. – or other basic lifting systems.
An old pickup truck, or better yet, a cheap 1-2 ton flatbed, maybe a trailer or two.
Several lengths of heavy 3/8″ chain and maybe a choker cable (or chain) or two.
Rakes and scoop shovels for cleaning up sawdust and debris.
#2 shovels and picks for digging.
Wheelbarrows for hauling debris and for mixing cement or concrete.
Scrap logs for placing your building logs on to keep them off the ground.
Scrap lumber for scaffolding etc.Tarps for covering tools and stuff – or a temporary or permanent toolshed.
Lot of nails and torx screws and a battery-operated driver. Crowbars & various hammers etc.
A camper or quickie plywood cabin for staying in while you build with logs.
Water source for drinking and cleaning.
Gasoline and diesel cans.
Ladders – homemade or purchased.

DSC_0127Megan carefully cuts a kingpost with her Stihl 261 preparatory to installing ridgelog, July, 2011.

Please call 218.365.2126 or email courses@schooloflogbuilding.com if you have questions or problems – or if you have any difficulty contacting vendors. 

  Tamarack Log Building Tools 763.783.9773,  no website but can get print catalog by phoning & regular mail.
   Schroeder Log Home Supply 800.359.6614, www.loghelp.com
   Log Home Store 800.827.1688, www.loghomestore.com
   Timber Tools/Buffalo Forge 800.350.8176, the best drawknife and some fine chisels and slicks – and a shovel gouge for carving lateral grooves. www.timbertools.com.

Kingsbridge Supply. http://www.kingsbridgesupply.com. General log building and logging tools. The sole source for handlebar gouges.

Magard Tools, Prince George, BC  250.962.9057. Full line of log and timber frame tools, including Chambers scribers and old Mackie scribers.www.logbuildingtools.ca/


Log Building Tools – most important are in red.  

  1. Wood chisel. Two Cherries brand 20 mm with #3 curve. 
  2. Mortise or framing chisel. 1, 1 1/4,  or 2 inch.
  3.   *Make your own mallet on the course from white birch.
  4. Drawknife. The best available is the 9″ drawknife from Timber Tools/Buffalo Forge at $197. 1.800.350.8176 or www.timbertools.com, or at Kingsbridge Supply. Please do not bring “Dixie” or “Peavey” drawknives to the course, but there are many other kinds that could serve you well. And although Dixie and Peavey make useless drawknives, their loghooks, peaveys and canthooks are very high quality.  We also have some extra drawknives to use if you don’t purchase one.
  5. Log cleats, 2 sets or pairs – one pair consists of two cleats on a 30″ rope. 
  6. Peavey or Canthook (either will do). “Peavey” brand is superior. 4 or 5 foot handles are good. You will eventually have both for your own projects.
  7. Log scriber.   9-inch Ely scriber from Kingsbridge or Tamarack is one of the best available, in our opinion.  Other brands, including the Robert Chambers scriber and the Veritas, are also excellent.
  8. Indelible pencils. 1 dozen, and lumber crayons
  9. Axe. Scandinavian Forest axe by Gransfors-Bruks.  if you want the World’s best axe . Other small axes may do, but hatchets, in my opinion, are just plain dangerous since they are held in one hand, potentially risking the other, which might be holding something to be cut.
  10. Measuring tape.  25-50 foot. Also small pocket tape (e.g., 10′, 12′) with both metric & English (if possible) 
  11. Flat Mill Bastard File and flat sharpening stone. 
  12. Chalkline with black chalk, and a hank (roll) of mason’s line with line level. 
  13. Any empty spray bottle (under your sink) for enhancing scribe pencil lines. 
  14. Small torpedo level. H   A regular 24″ level is also good. An Empire 24″ level (#450-24 Speed Level) with graduations in English and metric and one flat (blade) edge is the best ever for truss building and other uses. Not made anymore but occasionally available on Amazon & EBay for around $20.
  15. 4-5 inch angle-grinder with separate rubber/plastic sanding backer and #24 or #36 grit discs. Be certain that the rubber or plastic backer fits your machine. The backer never comes in the box with the machine; it is always bought separately. Try putting it on at the store. Some students come with an incorrect backer, in which case the sander is not useful. The best and safest angle-grinder I’ve found is a Paddle-Switch Makita, Model 955-7PB
  16. Heavy 100 foot extension cord – 12 gauge is best (14 is ok).  
  1. Chainsaw and accompanying tools:  scrench (screwdriver-wrench combo), files, 2 old toothbrushes for cleaning. Saw should have 16 or 18″ bar with.325 pitch. For log building the chain should be chipper or semi-chisel with rounded profile and should be an official green-linked safety chain, which Stihl terms “guard-link semi-chisel green chain.” Saw should have at least the mechanical chainbrake. 
  2. Stihl, Jonsereds, and Husqvarna brands are recommended. Arborist saws are not useful for log construction.  Possibly the best saw for this course and your future log building – in terms of reliability, safety, noise, vibration reduction, parts/service availability, general usefulness and long life – is the Stihl MS261 C-M, which is a medium sized professional-level saw.  Purchase your saw from a bona fide chainsaw dealer in your home area (or locally at Joe’s Marine in Ely 218.365.6264).  For safety, noise, and reliability reasons, McCulloch, Homelite, Remington, Craftsman, Echo, and Poulan brands are not recommended.. The chain specs for the Stihl ms261 are: Stihl 23RM3 if you have .050 bar slot gauge – Rapid-Micro Safety chain for .325 pitch. If you have .063 bar slot width, you need 26RM3 Rapid-Micro Safety chain. 

In descending importance…

  1. Tool box or pail with toolbucket attachment. 
  2. Claw hammer 
  3. Framing square 
  4. Handlebar gouge  – a big favorite & only one current source, Kingsbridge, 952.913.3762. $125. plus MN sales tax. Comes with a nice sheath.
  5. Picaroon (hookaroon)
  6. Curved adze – the only useful ones seem to be from Tamarack or Kingsbridge Supply.

Safety Apparel 

  1. Hardhat preferably with eye and ear protection.  Warm liner for winter.
  2. Leather gloves for all tool use and sharpening. Four pairs. The best I’ve found are at Menards Inc. (Eau Claire, WI & regionally, sold only in fall and winter, SKU# 660-1322 – about $6 a pair. Year-around gloves! Also get a pair of heavy rubber-coated canvas work gloves for wet weather and for applying coatings to logs. Unfortunately, the Menards gloves are only sold in person at their stores, not by mail.
  3. First aid kit to keep handy while you are working on your log structure.
  4. Safety glasses or the face screen above. H. Disposable dust masks. 
  5. Chainsaw-protective chaps or safety pants.  
  6. Chainsaw-protective steel-toed Kevlar-lined boots. Steel-toes barely protect 1/6 of the foot from an axe or chainsaw, so the boots should be chainsaw-resistant and Kevlar-lined as well as having a steel-toe. Husqvarna or Labonville are recommended, either rubber or leather. Labonville (www.Labonville.com) has extremely comfortable US made logging boots known as BOOTLAB9 KEVLAR SAFETY BOX TOE. Ser. no. is 24127 or 24128 (high or low heel). Husqvarna rubber or leather Kevlar-lined boots from a dealer are also acceptable. Ben Meadows Co. 800.241.6401 has the rubber type for around $100. The Log Home Store also has good rubber protective boots for $90+
  7. Chainsaw-protective shirt. Special item developed in the 1990s by Ron in collaboration with Swedish Gransfors-Bruks Co. to provide arm, shoulder, and frontal trunk protection specifically for Great Lakes School courses. Washable blue denim. Available only at  Tamarack, Log Home Store, or Kingsbridge. Caution: do not buy Stihl’s orange shirt. It is not protective of anything except shoulders. After making sure it fits, wash your Gransfors-Bruks denim chainsaw shirt two or three times for extra comfort.
  8. Kneepads. Any kind. Easy on the knees for kneeling on scaffold or ground.

Suggested Textbooks   – nine works that should eventually be found in a serious log-builder’s library.

Robert Chambers, Log Construction Manual (“revised” 2016 edition only)
Vic Janzen, Your Log House, 4th edition,
Allan Mackie, The Owner-Built Log House,
Dan Milne, Handbook of Canadian Log Building,
Allan Mackie, Notches of All Kinds, Log Span Tables, Log House Plans
Tom Walker’s, Building the Alaska Log Home. (Note: Mackie’s “Notches” is out of print and hard to locate, but there seem to be many in existence.)

And one more to purchase: the International Log Builders Association’s
Effective Practices and Methods for Handcrafted Log Building
, (amply illustrated in color, 71 pages).  The ILBA website: www.logassociation.org will show you how to purchase it through Amazon for less than $30. We referenced this document repeatedly during the courses. Ron was on the committee of handcrafted builders around the continent who debated the issues and wrote this revision in 2010.

Appendix – some of the tools on the lists above pictured according to their numbers

Required list:

1.  Two Cherries curved chisel     twocherrieschisel

2.  Mortise/framing chisel     framingchisel

3.  Drawknives: Gransfors-Bruks & Barr (or Timber Tools)   gransfors&barrdrawknife

4.  Log cleats          logcleats     log dogs     logdogs

5.  Canthook     canthook      Peavey

6.  Ely Scriber   elyscriber

8.  Gransfors-Bruks Scandinavian forest axe     gransforsforesteraxe

9.  Logger tape & carpenter’s tape     loggers'tape&tapemeasure

10. Curved stone/flat mill bastard file/flat stone curvedstonefileflatstone

11. Chalkline & chalk bottle   chalkline&chalk    Hank (roll) of dry line hankofdryline

13.  Empire 2′ level & small torpedo level       empire&torpedolevels

14.  4-5 inch sander-grinder     smallelectricsandergrinder

Optional tool list:

1. Tool pail       toolbucket

2. Timber carrier/lifting tongs   liftingtongs

4.  Framing square     framingsquare

5.  Handlebar gouge     handlebargouge

8.  Pickaroon/hookaroon        pickaroonhookeroon

Great Lakes School of Log Building 
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