The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

Miley Cyrus and Log Homes: 10 Surprising Things They Have in Common – NOT!

Posted on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 @ 02:27 PM

custom log cabin homeWhen a social network guru suggested the topic of this blog (without the “NOT”) I was pretty much at a loss.  Since I don’t have any children,  don’t watch a lot of TV (especially any of the “Reality” shows) and really don’t like any of today’s music (however, Classic Rock - ROCKS), I was lacking a good understanding of some of the personality/character traits of this person called Miley Cyrus.

Living in a log home, and selling them for the past 22 years, I have a GREAT understanding and appreciation of the traits of a log home AND the folks who purchase them.   After some quick research on Ms. Cyrus, it was quite obvious that the social network guru was not quite in touch with us “loggies”,  however I believe he suggested the topic as it has a highly visible celebrity name included in the title.  A good way to have a search engine pick up your blog.

With all of the search engine optimization, google searches and numerous matrixes’ and other ways that web masters try to get folks to look and stay on your web page, I figured why not give it a shot.  Then after fully researching the celebrity – I decided to add the “NOT” to the title.

So what follows are the 10 Surprising Things (maybe not so surprising if you’ve read about her) that Log Homes Have that are NOT common with Miley Cyrus:

  1. Class – look at any log home and you’ll see a well refined structure that has stature.  Not fussy or stuffy by any means, but well behaved and liked by most everyone.  Whether in the country, suburbs or downtown – a log home fits in most anywhere.
  2. Warmth – not only energy efficient, but ask most folks what they feel when entering a log home and usually one of the top 5 things mentioned is warmth.  It’s not only the natural surroundings a log cabin home offers that contributes to this characteristic, but the people living in log homes are usually just as warm and welcoming as well.
  3. Family Friendly – We supply a lot of log homes to families with lots of children.  These rough, tough, knock about log homes withstand the childhood years and it’s usually where all of the neighborhood kids wind up.  When it’s time to play Pioneer Fort – guess where they go.  Not a PG-13 or R-Rated type of home – something you’ll feel safe in when kids are around.
  4. Sturdy Character – never wavering, always there and a place to escape the storm.  Not flashy and never obnoxious.
  5. Long Lasting – here today and here tomorrow, log homes are built to last.  No one-hit wonders or flash-in-the-pans here.
  6. Transparent – with all the large windows to let the outdoors in, it’s hard to hide in a log home.  Log homes love to welcome in all the beautiful views of nature as well as family, friends and neighbors.  What you see is what you get – no pretentions here
  7. Welcoming to ALL ages – young families, recent empty nesters or retirees – folks of all ages LOVE log homes. 
  8. Steady in a Storm – when the going gets tough – log homes will withstand the worst mother nature has in store.  Bring on the paparazzi (hurricanes), the press (tornados with LOTS of hot air), the fans (floods) and the critics (fire) – you won’t find a log home apologizing for anything and you’ll see who and what is still standing when it’s all over.
  9. Age beautifully – no one is young forever – it’s how you age, not what is your age.  Log homes will age gracefully.  Through the good and bad times and when you just want to sit and rock on the porch and grow old together – your log home will be right there with you.  Log homes won’t trade you in on a younger owner, richer owner or an owner that will get it more publicity.
  10. CAN’T (and would NEVER) TWERK! – enough said.

Hope you enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek look at comparing log homes and an over exposed Hollywood celebrity.

When you are ready to get serious about taking the next step in building a log home give one of our Log Home Building Consultants a call to set an appointment.  We’d love to hear more about your dream log home and have the pleasure to assist you along the way to making it a reality!

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Tags: log home, log cabin home, log structure

The History of Log Homes

Posted on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 @ 11:38 AM

old log home wallThe origin of the log structure is uncertain. It is probable that it began in northern Europe sometime in the Bronze Age (c. 3,500 B.C.). By the time Europeans began to settle in America, there was a long tradition of using logs for houses, barns, and other outbuildings in the Scandinavian countries, Germany, and Northern Russia. These regions had vast stands of softwood timber that could easily be worked with simple hand tools. According to C. A. Weslager, whose book on log cabins is considered a classic, the Finns, as well as the Swedes, had a "close attunement" with the forests, and both groups had well-developed forest industries. Weslager goes on to say:

"The Finns were accomplished in building several forms of log housing, having different methods of corner timbering, and they utilized both round and hewn logs. Their log building had undergone an evolutionary process from the crude "pirtii"...a small gabled-roof cabin of round logs with an opening in the roof to vent smoke, to more sophisticated squared logs with interlocking double-notch joints, the timber extending beyond the corners. Log saunas or bathhouses of this type are still found in rural Finland."

When the Finns and the Swedes began to arrive in New Sweden (along both banks of the Delaware River into modern Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland), they brought their knowledge of such wood construction with them. So did later immigrants from Germany. The Scots, Irish, and Scots-Irish had no tradition of building with logs, but they quickly adopted the technique. The log cabin suited early settlers and later pioneers. It would have been nearly impossible to carry building materials across the ocean in the small sailing ships of the time. It would have been equally difficult to transport building materials on horseback or even in the wagons or river barges pioneers used to cross mountains and valleys in their search for their own land. So, wherever there were forested areas, the log cabin became the preferred type of initial dwelling. Log cabins did not even need nails or spikes to hold them together. Until the 19th century nails were made by hand by blacksmiths, which meant they were quite expensive, and like lumber, they were also heavy.

Log cabins were relatively easy to build. Weslager reports that a record was set by three men who cut down trees, trimmed them, dragged the logs to the building site, notched the logs, and built a one-room cabin with chimney and fireplace in two days. For most people it took a bit longer, but it was possible for a man working alone to build a cabin in one to two weeks. However, a man alone faced some problems. Because it is physically difficult to lift a heavy log above one's head, most men could build cabins only six to eight logs high. With help, it was possible to build several logs higher--even two-story log houses were possible. First, skids of two logs were placed against the wall at an angle to serve as an inclined plane. Then forked sticks or ropes were used to position the logs.

Most log cabins had a single room, or "pen," some 12 to 16 feet square. There was one door, and usually no windows. If windows were cut into the walls, animal skins or boards fixed to slide across the openings were used. Some builders used paper greased with animal fat, which made it both translucent and waterproof. Most log cabin builders placed the fireplace at one end of the cabin and built the chimney of wattle. Stone or clay was used for the hearth and the interior of the fireplace. As these were not very safe constructions, later builders used brick or stone if they could be obtained. Fireplaces provided warmth, light, and fuel for cooking. Back bars and cranes made of forged iron were used to hold cooking pots. Not until the 1840s were cast-iron ranges available that would burn wood or coal, so cooking over a fireplace did not seem a hardship.

Inside walls were often chinked with clay or cloth. Most floors were simply beaten earth, although some cabins had floors of puncheons--logs split lengthwise and laid close together with the flat sides up. A family often built a sleeping loft if the roof were high enough. The loft could be reached by pegs pounded into the walls or by a ladder built from tree limbs. The loft also was used to store foodstuffs.

Log cabins were never meant to be permanent, but many log houses were. The difference between the two was primarily one of size and attention to detail. Most pioneers preferred "flat" walls to rounded log walls, and so most used hewn logs for building. These not only made the houses look (from a distance) more "real," but also withstood the elements much better, since the bark and the decay-prone outside wood were removed from the logs. When milled lumber became available either from a local sawmill or by railroad transport, most people chose it for their homes.

It seemed that as the frontier disappeared, so would the log cabin. However, at about the same time the Finnish homesteaders were, of necessity, building their first homes of logs, Easterners were rediscovering the log structure. William A. Durant, land developer and president of the Adirondack Railroad, pushed the idea of Great Camps in the Adirondacks. These camps were enclaves where the very wealthy could escape the summer heat of the cities and retreat to the "simple life" of log-cabin living in the country. Such "cabins" were hardly simple. Designed by architects, they were huge structures with many rooms and fireplaces and porches. But their log exteriors recalled the "good old days". National park structures also fueled the revival of log cabin living. Many park lodges were made of logs so they would fit their surroundings. The Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park is a prime example. Built in 1904, the inn has an eight-story lobby some 185 feet high. There are 140 guest rooms and three sets of balconies.

Another factor that kept the tradition of log building alive was the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) worked with the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service to build thousands of log structures throughout the national forests and parks. Had it not been for these the log cabin might have disappeared, but because people saw the log structures and liked what they saw, many began to build modern log cabins and log houses. These homes seemed to represent all that a family could want: a sturdy shelter from the elements and a simple, self-sufficient lifestyle. The log cabin remains a popular building style.

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Special thanks to the National Parks Service the provider of this article and C. A. Weslager, The Log Cabin in America: From Pioneer Days to the Present (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1969); Virginia and Lee McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984); visitor's guides to several western national parks; and other sources on the history of the western frontier. 

Tags: log home, log structure, log cabin homes, log cabin

We're MORE Than a Producer of Log Homes!

Posted on Fri, Nov 22, 2013 @ 02:52 PM

custom log homeMost people think of Appalachian Log Structures as a producer of log cabin homes, but we're SO much more than that.

In the past few years there has been a resurgence of remodel, repair and restoration of existing homes and log homes.  In addition, there has been an increasing interest in hybrid homes which are those structures built using different building techniques like log walls with timber frame roof components or a conventional frame home with timber frame accents.

As a mill that produces wood items, we've been busy making these types of products (not necessarily log walls) for just such projects for years.

Recently we had a client interested in using some of our timber frame materials for his conventional framed house.  They liked the look of the heavy timbers for the 2nd floor framing as well as the exposed heavy timber rafters and tongue and groove in the roof and dormers of the home even though they were not building a log home.  In addition, they also like the heavy timber look for the exterior porches.  Our porch railings were used on the wrap around porches to finish off the project and tie all of the wood features, both inside and out, together.  It's a wonderful combination of both conventional framing and timber framing.  Visit our facebook page to view a photo album of this "hybrid home".

Along with some considerations of placing timber framing on a conventional frame structure, the builder also had to be in on the design to make sure that a good understanding on how certain construction techniques would be accomplished when marrying these two construction types together.  Good communication and understanding is key when building not only a hybrid home, but any type of construction project.

We've also milled custom log siding profiles for some clients who had a certain look they were going for.  In addition there are folks who have had log siding on their home for years and are now putting an addition on to their existing home.  They don't know where the original siding came from so they brought a piece to us and we custom cut their siding for them.

How about a custom log profile?  In 2012 some high winds in Virginia did some damage to a cedar log cabin home.  Not only was it a profile/shape that was unusual, but they needed it in Western Red Cedar species to match the rest of the house.  With the dimensions and a sketch of the existing log profile, we purchased the Western Red Cedar raw materials and custom milled the logs for their repair job.

So although not everyone may be looking for a log home, if you are looking for wood components in your new (or existing) home consider Appalachian Log Structures as a resource for your project.  We offer structural as well as decorative beams/rafters/timbers, exterior and interior log siding as well as log siding corners.  If you are looking for a smaller log to use for a storage shed, camping cabin, man room, hobby room or a back yard get-a-way we also produce a 3"x7" Sportsman log. Need some hardware to put your timber framing together? Give us a call - we may have what you need in stock.

If you need a finish for your exterior wood items we offer a line of water or oil based products in addition to additives that help repel carpenter bees and other insects as well as a mildewcide additive.

Trim lumber, board & batten and various other wood products are also offered and all it takes is a quick phone call to your Local Log Home Building Consultant or a visit to our website www.applog.com to find out more.  To help you get started, click here to view our Component Price list that will show you just a few of the items we do everyday!

Enter for a chance to win a $50 gift card by liking us on Facebook.  Drawing is in December - so do it today!

Tags: log home, log cabin home, log home building consultant, log structure