The Cedar Log Cabin
The Story of Living In & Restoring a Settler's Log Cabin
Making Lumber From Logs
I decided to make a lot of the lumber for the inside of the cabin for a few reasons. One, was that I had the chainsaw mill left over from making the loft. Another, was the price of wood from the lumber yard. Also, storms were always bringing down trees, so it was a free local resource.
This log was one of two used for the steps to the loft. First, I screwed down a straight board to the log. Second, set the chain saw mill to cut down the centre. Then, ran the mill along the log. The stand you see, I welded out of scrap metal. Some is left over 2X2” square steel tube from when I made the back of my truck. The cross pieces are from a bed frame found the yard.
The red pine log sliced in half. Making lumber was one of my favourite tasks.
Other than the chain saw, this is everything I had to make lumber for the cabin. Left in picture, is the jig I used to square logs. Centre, is the log holder which I used to make firewood as well. Right in picture, is the engine hoist I had used previously when restoring my truck. It was employed to lift heavy logs onto the metal log holder, so I could mill the log into boards. This operation, though not efficient, worked well. I did every bit of the operation by myself. I felled the tree, moved it, milled it and used it for projects.
Once the lumber was milled into boards, I stickered them to dry. When dry, I ran them through a table saw with a ripping blade to clean up the sides. To keep the first side straight, I screwed a perfectly straight board on top of the one to be cut, overlapping it, then ran it through the table saw with the straight board running along the fence. Then, removed the straight guide board, reset the fence, and did a second run to clean the other edge. Result was straight lumber, ready to plane. Although the process from cutting down the tree, dragging it over, slicing it, stacking it, ripping the sides, and planning was a lot of work, it was very satisfying work that I enjoyed doing. There is something about going from the tree to the finished product that is hard to describe. Although we live in an efficient society by each being specialized in our jobs, we've lost something as well. The two outside board sets are red pine, and the inside set is white cedar.
This is 1” thick white cedar planed to 3/4", made from a large tree that fell in a storm. This was a tough one. The tree was on the side of a very steep hill, and there was no way I could move the log. I took the chain saw mill to the log on the hill, and made the boards where it fell. It is shown here in the main room of the cabin stickered to dry, for making into cupboard doors. Although an inconvenience to live around, it provided needed humidity in the winter, and dried very fast as it was in direct sight of the wood stove. Within a month, this wood was dry and ready to be made into the cupboard doors.
I made a very simple jig to make the cupboard doors out of wood and 1/2” threaded steel rod. I used biscuit joints, and you can see them on the wood ready for gluing. It was a slow process, and since I was inside right in front of the TV, I would spend time working away at this project while enjoying shows. My cats would sit on the couch and watch me work. I have no formal training in woodworking, so I'm sure there are better methods, but I just did things that seemed to make sense at the time and learned along the way. I found out about biscuit joining watching “This Old House” on PBS. I've been watching that show since it first aired the same year I got my driver's licence – many decades ago.
As it was the dead of winter, all work had to be done indoors. In this picture, I have glued and clamped the white cedar boards.
The blanks for the cupboard doors, ready to be sanded and cut to size.
Making of the front and rear screen doors. This is white cedar, cut into full 2X6 and 2X8 boards, then planed. The dowels are white cedar as well, and provide great strength.
Each of the dowels that was used, were hand carved to size with a utility knife. This was genuinely fun work and very satisfying. I love working with white cedar, no other wood is this much fun. The other thing about white cedar, is the amazing smell that comes from the fresh wood.
The door installed.
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