By Dan Beard
Showing How the Logs are Notched.
Boys you have now passed through the grammar school
of shack making, you are older than you were when you began, you have acquired
more skill and more muscle, and it is time to begin to handle the woodsman's
axe, to handle it skillfully and to use it as a tool with which to fashion
anything from a table to a two-story house.
None of you is too young to learn to
use the axe. General Grant, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Billy Sunday--all
of them could wield an axe by the time they were eight or nine years old and do
it without chopping off their toes or splitting any one else's head open.
Remember that every time you hurt yourself with an axe I have a yellow ribbon
for you to wear as a "chump mark"; but, joking aside, we must now get
down to serious work of preparing the logs in order to build us a little cabin
of our own, a log club-house for our gang, or a log camp for our troop of
To make the logs hold together at the corners of our
cabins it is necessary to lock them in some manner, and the usual way is to
notch them. You may cut flat notches like those shown in Fig. 162 and this will
hold the logs together, as shown by 162 E or you may only flatten the ends,
making the General Putnam joint shown in Fig. 163.
This is called after General Putnam because the log cabins at his old camp near my farm at Redding, Conn., are made in this manner. Or you may use the Pike notch which has a wedge-shaped cut on the lower log, as shown by Fig. 164 J, made to fit into a triangular notch shown by 164 H. When fitted together these logs look like the sketch marked 164 F which was drawn from a cabin built in this manner.
But the simplest notch is the rounded one shown by A, B, and C (Fig. 165). When these are locked together they will fit like those shown at Fig.
Away up North the people dovetail the ends of the logs (Fig. 166) so that their ends fit snugly together and are also securely locked by their dovetail shape. To build a log house, place the two sill logs on the ground or on the foundation made for them, then two other logs across them, as shown in Fig. 168.
Handling the Logs
That the logs may be more easily handled they should be piled up on a skidway which is made by resting the top ends of a number of poles upon a big log or some other sort of elevation and their lower ends upon the ground. With this arrangement the logs may be rolled off without much trouble as they are used.
A log cabin built with hardwood logs or with pitch-pine
logs can seldom be made as tight as one built with the straight spruce logs of the virgin forests. The latter will
lie as close as the ones shown in Fig. 162 E, while the
former, on account of their unevenness, will have large
cracks between them like those shown in Fig. 165 D.
These cracks may be stopped up by quartering small pieces of timber ( Y and W, Fig.
168 1/2) and
fitting these quartered pieces into the cracks between the logs where they are
held by spikes. This is called "chinking the cabin."
To keep the cold
and wind out, the cracks may be "mudded" up on the inside with clay or
ordinary lime mortar.
Study these diagrams carefully, then sit down on
the ground with a pile of little sticks alongside of you and a sharp jack-knife
in your hand and proceed to experiment by building miniature log cabins. Really,
this is the best way to plan a large cabin if you intend to erect one.
model you can see at a glance just how to divide your cabin up into rooms, where
you want to place the fireplace, windows, and doors; and I would advise you
always to make a small model before building. Make the model about one foot
three inches long by ten inches wide, using sticks for logs a little less than
one inch in diameter--that is, one inch through or one inch thick.
I have taken
these dimensions or measurements from a little model that I have before me here
in my studio, but, of course, you can vary them according to the plans of your
Traditional Camping Shelters
Shacks, and Shanties