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Author Topic: cordwood hut ?  (Read 4053 times)

Offline surfivor

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cordwood hut ?
« on: November 14, 2010, 08:14:31 PM »
 I have this book on rustic shelters. It has cabins, tree houses, wikups, and all sort of things, I realized there was a garden hut made of cordwood in the book ..
I was thinking about that because it occurred to me that building a log cabin involved moving lots of large logs around and lifting them onto the cabin wall seemed like a challenge as well. Getting a saw mill to mill trees into boards on your lot involves hiring someone to do that. The cordwood hut idea seems to not have any of those problems and seems to be possibly an easier do it yourself approach. I'm not sure how strong it is and such or what drawbacks it might have. Basically say you had a 20 foot log, you'd saw it up into 40 pieces each 6 inches long and using mortar you'd cement them together and create a wall .. The wood pieces actually appear to be varying sizes also ..

 Any insights into such an approach ? I think a cabin/shed between 100 - 200 square feet would be what I'd like to do .. I have hardwoods on the lot cedar, maple, a few oaks etc ..

check out these pics I found where I googled for 'cordwood hut'

 From the book I have, I imagined there to be more wood and less mortar than what these pics show ..

 The article says it is time consuming to build this way, but then if I am building a small cabin maybe it wouldn't take that long ..









http://www.apnmag.com/spring_2009/okeefe_earthwood_2009.php

Cordwood masonry is a style of building that has quite a few advantages which attract customers.  It is cheap, easy to build, energy effecient, and self-fullfilling.  However, it is incredibly time-consuming, and there is quite a bit of physical labor invovled as well.  People are attracted to cordwood for all different reasons. 

"Some people are looking for an alternative way of building but they don't know which way to go," says Rob.  "Roughly 40% actually make use of the material presented in the workshops." People looking for alternatives to traditional building have a lot of options, and the Earthwood Building school provides them with just another alternative.  There are a wealth of advantages with cordwood, but there are also other options that may better suit a certian personality or area.

"It is easy to build, but it takes a lot of time, but it is also cheap," says Bruce Kilgore, who has a house in progress that is being build from cordwood masonry.  "The best material to build with is the one you have."  He explained that the abundance of scrap cedarwood in the area provides a cheap source of building material.  "Cordwood around here is very cheap and available," says Kilgore.  "Our whole house is built out of what cedar is leftover from construction. "
« Last Edit: November 14, 2010, 08:23:55 PM by surfivor »

Offline Nate

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Re: cordwood hut ?
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2010, 08:23:26 PM »
Wow!  That looks cool but also looks like a lot of work.  If you have the time and supplies and the patience I would say go for it!  Of course, we would love to see pics of your progress!!   ;)
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Offline NWBowhunter

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Re: cordwood hut ?
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2010, 08:57:40 PM »
Looks like mostly post and beam construction with the cord wood filling the walls. Pretty nice.
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Offline surfivor

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Re: cordwood hut ?
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2010, 09:12:49 PM »
 I don't know that I would start such a project until next year .. for one, Maine gets alot of snow and cold .. so construction this time of year seems not possible or worth it ..

But .. Assuming I want to plan for this type of thing, should I consider dropping some cedar trees in the meantime so the wood can season  ??

 Note sure how much time I will have next year or what other projects are going on, just trying to develop a plan ..

 I just spent a bunch of money having a yurt built. The yurt may go up next week. It occurred to me that I need a backup in case a tree falls on the yurt since I could not recreate the yurt myself and hired some one to construct it ..

 A small cabin like 10x12, 10x15 whatever made of cordwood walls might be a good project to provide additional storage and alternate/emergency living space seems like a good project. I'm not sure on the roof and floor, but the cordwood walls definitely seems like an idea and a small cabin would be less work than something big and would look like a storage shed on the property ..

 Maybe a metal roof would be good, not sure how easy or cheap that is ..

 My other projects are a small root cellar as well as permaculture related plantings so I am not sure what the priority would be or when I would have time, though this stuff seems to be good exercise for an office worker like myself and I like doing projects where I can go at my own pace too ..

 Are the walls going to be extra heavy that the floor construction needs to be considered different than a typical log cabin ?
« Last Edit: November 14, 2010, 09:27:31 PM by surfivor »

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: cordwood hut ?
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2010, 09:17:23 PM »
I like this idea for a small barn - goats and chickens
maybe three walls made from this and the fourth wall a greenhouse.  It would help keep the heat in.

lots of possibilities here
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Offline Foxfire

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Re: cordwood hut ?
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2010, 09:34:04 PM »
I love the look of that house!

Offline surfivor

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Re: cordwood hut ?
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2010, 10:12:15 PM »
Here are some cool articles on this, I google searched for cordwood masonry, also called stackwall construction

http://www.countrysidemag.com/issues/85/85-3/Rob_Roy.html

http://www.suite101.com/content/cordwood-masonry-a179091

http://www.daycreek.com/dc/html/dc_cordwood_masonry.htm

http://www.daycreek.com/dc/HTML/faqs.htm

http://www.cordwoodmasonry.com/Cordwood.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordwood_construction#Wood

http://home.earthlink.net/~anitaastrologer/cordhous.htm

I guess these guys run a school on cordwood methods in north east NY state and have books and such. They mention a 320 sq foot cordwood house can be built for $5000, not sure if that includes wood or if you have your own wood maybe it could be less:

 you got to make sure you use the right kind of wood and take the bark off, hardwoods may expand when wet, I guess cedar is a good wood to use ..







« Last Edit: November 14, 2010, 10:41:49 PM by surfivor »

Offline Perfesser

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Re: cordwood hut ?
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2010, 01:14:02 AM »
Advantages
1. Looks really nice

Disadvantages.
1. Labour intensive = slow.
2.You're cutting each to 16" yet only the 6" center section (filled with sawdust as in the last pic) is any good as insulation.
3. Cement against wood? Sounds like rot in a wet climate
4. It's always the ends of cut wood that rots first yet that is all that is exposed to the weather.
5. Splits in the wood introduce air leaks, invite bugs.



While not actually doing the calculations I'm pretty sure simple log cabin would use fewer logs(half I'm guessing)  and a lot less cutting.  If the logs were more than 6" dia. I think the insulation value would be about equal  though you wouldn't have the internal thermal mass that concrete would give you.

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Offline chezrad

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Re: cordwood hut ?
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2010, 05:03:42 AM »
Mother Earth News had stories on this construction methof back in the day. The idea was for the area between the logs to be stuffed with insulation (fiberglass). The resulting wall was fireproof (ends don't burn well at all), bug proof (bugs eat into the sides, not ends), and last a long time. THey reported that the construction method is very old and that there are homes in New England that were "found" to be cordwood when the clapboard siding was removed. All in all a good do it yourself method...but labor intensive.

Offline P_Coltrane

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Re: cordwood hut ?
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2010, 06:09:44 AM »
Personally, I would take Morning Sunshine's approach and start with a small outbuilding. That will afford you the opportunity to evaluate the pros and cons with minimal investment in time in labor.  Plus you can always use extra storage and shelter while building your cabin.

Offline surfivor

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Re: cordwood hut ?
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2010, 07:38:46 AM »
Advantages
1. Looks really nice

Disadvantages.
1. Labour intensive = slow.
2.You're cutting each to 16" yet only the 6" center section (filled with sawdust as in the last pic) is any good as insulation.
3. Cement against wood? Sounds like rot in a wet climate
4. It's always the ends of cut wood that rots first yet that is all that is exposed to the weather.
5. Splits in the wood introduce air leaks, invite bugs.



While not actually doing the calculations I'm pretty sure simple log cabin would use fewer logs(half I'm guessing)  and a lot less cutting.  If the logs were more than 6" dia. I think the insulation value would be about equal  though you wouldn't have the internal thermal mass that concrete would give you.



 what about cedar, that type of wood doesn't rot too easily ?
 I want to make a small shed/cabin under 200 square feet .. I'm not looking to build a house at least not in the foreseeable future ..

 other main advantage: working with cordwood seems easier than moving big logs ..



Offline Perfesser

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Re: cordwood hut ?
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2010, 10:30:57 AM »
Cedar is a great material, bug and rot resistant, very light and easy to work. Smells nice too.
I'm pretty sure the reason pioneers built traditional log cabins first is that they were the fastest way to get a roof over your head before winter.
Large diameter logs were probably a lot easier to find back then then though.

One of the best/easiest cabins I saw was a hexagonal or 6 sided cabin. It used fairly short, 10 or 12 ft logs, so you're using the thickest parts of the log and they're easy to handle even when alone. Goes up fast too.
Surprisingly roomy inside.  A central stove gave good heat everywhere.
If I were doing it today I would look into this method.



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Offline surfivor

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Re: cordwood hut ?
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2010, 09:26:05 AM »
Cedar is a great material, bug and rot resistant, very light and easy to work. Smells nice too.
I'm pretty sure the reason pioneers built traditional log cabins first is that they were the fastest way to get a roof over your head before winter.
Large diameter logs were probably a lot easier to find back then then though.

One of the best/easiest cabins I saw was a hexagonal or 6 sided cabin. It used fairly short, 10 or 12 ft logs, so you're using the thickest parts of the log and they're easy to handle even when alone. Goes up fast too.
Surprisingly roomy inside.  A central stove gave good heat everywhere.
If I were doing it today I would look into this method.





 Thanks,

 The same book has a section on a stack log hogan which is based on that design and looks interesting. I will started a new thread for that:
http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=22422.0

It appears 10' foot logs creates a space almost 200 square feet, not bad .. the roof ends up being earthen. Will that have problems ?
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 09:44:01 AM by surfivor »

Offline LdMorgan

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Re: cordwood hut ?
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2010, 12:49:02 AM »
Look into straw-bale construction.

It's faster & easier. The insulation is superb. They are impervious to bugs & water, and they are very sturdy.

Weigh the cost of the chainsaws, blades & fuel, and the cost of the insulation you would have to buy against the cost of straw and rebar.

You might be pleasantly surprised.
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