All logs are clean peeled by hand, using a razor sharp draw knife. We remove all the outer
bark from the logs, plus the additional step to remove the specks of cambial bark from all
the seams and depressions in the log. There are no red stripes on our logs, which not only
is locally unacceptable, but also makes the logs prone to rot. Logs are then sprayed with
an FDA approved preservative to control sap stain and mold growth. If requested, we will
also complete a borate salt treatment to the logs prior to finishing.
We have a strong commitment to providing
clean logs to the job site. The logs you see on the building at our prefabrication site
are what you will see at your home site.
- Building Systems
Logs are excellent insulators in
themselves, so the most critical area of heat loss in a log house is air infiltration in
the corner saddles and lateral groove. We recognize this fact and offer the following
systems of sealing the logs. Our experience, including training in energy efficient
construction methods, says that log home builders must not only address the issue of
keeping out air drafts but, as importantly, address the issue of sealing joints from wind
driven rains. This applies to both wooded and open building sites for all well fitted log
Our log construction performs as an integral
part of a super insulated building system. Our building experience is in the severe
northern Minnesota climate, where temperatures of minus 30 degrees and minus 40 degrees
occur every winter. Our sealing systems perform very well in this climate. We will be glad
to talk over the following log sealing and fitting options, and make recommendations for
you and your particular project.
- Chinked Lateral
Chinking is the first of our building systems and the least expensive method of
log construction using hand peeled logs. All the corners are saddle notched, such that the
faces of the upper log and lower log just touch along their length. The saddle corner is
sealed with glass wool packing, plus several foam gaskets. After assembly on your
foundation, the log lateral is sealed both inside and outside using a synthetic chink that
looks and feels like mortar. Because of the elastic properties of the chink, it is a
permanent seal that stays air tight throughout the life of the house. You can chink the
logs yourself, or we can arrange to have the work completed for you. Second floor joists
of log or timber, along with open beam trussed roof systems are available with this
- Scandinavian Scribed Lateral
This is the most traditional method using hand peeled logs. The log lateral is
fit to the log below using a log scribe. In this way the lumps and bumps of the lower log
are transferred to the log above, and the wood is carefully removed to create a perfect
fit. A saw kerf is made to the top of the log to aid with drying and checking control. In
addition, we drive wedges into the saw kerf, encouraging the checking in the kerf. For
this method to work well, a shallow cope is required in the lateral groove cut. Deeper V
cut or channel cut laterals do not maintain joint tightness for year round log residences.
A shallow cope cut lateral can be fabricated with either hand tools like a scoop adz or
scorp, or by using chainsaw techniques we have developed over the years. Logs are sealed
with fiberglass and caulk, or with a saturated open cell foam gasket plus fiberglass.
- Double Scribed Lateral
This method of fitting the lateral is a refinement of the Scandinavian Scribed
Lateral, and is the preferred method we use for all log fitting. It is patented as a hand
scribed tongue and groove cutting system, of which we have the rights to use the method.
The outward appearance of the lateral is the same as the traditional Scandinavian scribed
method. The difference is that the lateral groove is scribed and cut in a way to form a
double tongue and groove. This method gives the best control available for checking and
log fit. The cutting style does an excellent job of addressing the internal timber bind
and natural forces in a log, forces that are released from fitting logs together. In
addition, it addresses the added forces created by exposing the logs to both an interior
heated environment and at the same time, a frozen exterior environment. Logs are sealed
with fiberglass and caulk, or with a saturated open cell foam gasket plus fiberglass.
- Piece 'en Piece
A French Canadian building system
historically used during the fur trading period, and has use and examples locally. It is a
modification of the post and beam construction systems, using logs or hewed timbers as the
in fill between the posts and beams. We have used piece 'en piece under special conditions
where settling is undesirable. It can be used in conjunction with a walkout basement or as
part of a log gable system where settling is undesirable. A whole house can also be built
using this system. In fill logs can be fitted using scribed or chinked laterals. Corners
can be either vertical corner posts or saddle corners.
- Corner Joining Systems
We employ only locking, self draining
saddles, in that this is the only way to insure tight corners for the lifetime of your
house. All of these joints can be combined with any of the log building systems described
- Scarfed Saddle Notch
Many of our log houses employ scarfed saddles. We utilize this notch in many of
our homes built with dry logs or cedar. In combination with an underscribed/overscribed
cutting system, we have found this notch to work well with green log construction.
- Shrink Fit Notch
We offer the shrink fit saddle notch, which has a wedge formed across the
scarfed surface. The wedge is used on the quarter of the notch exposed to the interior
heated environment. Because of the generally lower humidity of the interior house
environment when compared to the outside air, variations in log shrinkage occur. The
shrink fit notch wedged surface allows the scribed over log to shrink and move up on the
wedge, thus compensating for the unique log shrinkage of corner notches.
- Full Round Saddle Notch
This is the most traditional system
of joining log corners. Many of the old log cabins of the area have been built this way.
The method has deficiencies, in that the methods of coursing logs on top of each other
creates a recurve situation in the corner of the notch, which leaves a void to the fit.
Shrinkage of the logs also tends to open the notches. Within the international log
building industry, this is largely an outdated notching system.
- Overscribed/underscribed log fitting
Because of the way logs shrink, we
have employed a method of fitting logs that uses several scribe settings to fit the same
log. This is commonly referred to as an overscribed cutting system. The process uses one
scribe setting for the lateral groove of the log, a slightly smaller scribe setting for
the saddle notch, and a slightly wider scribe setting for the log flyways or saddle
extensions. It creates an initial loose fit to the lateral groove, and transfers a
majority of the wall weight to the saddles. Over time, the saddles loosen up and shrink in
a manner different from the laterals, closing the gaps in the lateral groove. Cutting
systems that do not follow this process tend to have openings in the saddles after drying
- Load Bearing Joints
All load bearing joists, roof
purlins, rafters, and truss tie beams employ one of several special load bearing notches.
These include the square double scribed notch, dovetail joints, several mortise and tenon
joints, and others. The notching of loft joists and roof members require concern for the
shear and bending strength of the members, along with resistance to outward thrust of the
wall logs caused by the roof loading. A full understanding of the outward thrust caused by
the numerous roof framing systems used on log houses is essential to a structurally sound
log house. Our experience general contracting our log homes and completing the roof
carpentry gives us the experience to produce a roof system that works.
- Ceiling Joists & Roof Systems
We believe a handcrafted log house
should be built with a statement to its uniqueness. In addition to the scribed log walls,
the materials chosen for beamed ceilings and the rendering of the log aspect of the roof
system become a statement of the tastes of the owner and the skills of the craftsmen who
built it. Well built trusses are the crowning jewel of your home. They become the
signature of the craftsmen who built your home, and they forever associate your name with
the log home you built.
have built both simple and complicated roof systems. Our experience includes factory
scissors trusses, and decorative logs under the structural lumber trusses. We have also
built many log structural roof systems. These include many styles of log trusses, with
structural log purlins over the trusses. We employ trusses and purlins both inside the
home and outside the home, including exterior or in the gable glassed trusses. We also
know where these roof systems tend to leak air, and have methods of construction to insure
a tight seal throughout the roof. We have also built log framed hip roofs and prowed gable
trusses. We have experience timber framing in log, and know all about hip rafters, backing
angles, and jack rafters. Examples of this work are available to view in our local area.
- Simple Roof Systems
Roof systems need to support the snow and
roofing. This is the primary function. The cost of the roof system is controlled by both
the log builder and the carpenter. For a simple system that has maximum efficiency for
both the log builder and the carpenter, a structural scissors truss system with structural
log purlins is very effective. This can be employed for both a single floor and lofted
plan. We have many samples of this type of roof locally. Log structural purlins can also
be utilized, employing bearing ends located within the gable framing.
- Trusses and Purlins
Many lofted plans, and a lot of single floor
plans employ a structural roof system of log purlins and log trusses. We like to show off
our talents when building this style of roof. Walking under a log framed roof system is a
thing of awe and beauty. I am sure you will never fail to feel the strength and beauty,
when you walk under a well framed log truss that is designed to hold up ten tons of roof
and snow, and free span a thirty foot room. We have built many of these trusses, and will
be glad to discuss and show you the options.
- Complicated Roof Systems
We have the skills and experience to build any
style of log framed roof system available. We offer log post and beam and log roof framing
systems, and locally will general contract the complete structure utilizing log post and
beam as part of conventionally framed residential or commercial construction. Examples of
this work, including a complicated log hip roof, are available for viewing locally.
Building with green
There is a lot of debate about building with
green logs, partially seasoned logs, or dry logs. Each has its advantages and
disadvantages. We have built many homes with green logs and partially seasoned logs,
especially native Norway or Red Pine. This construction is one of the most challenging
types of construction, and requires a company and crew who have a lot of experience and
understanding of the fabrication methods and wood characteristics. Over the years, we have
always worked with this challenge, perfecting our construction methods. As of now, we are
consistently getting the quality of fit we experience with dry log construction, using
green logs. Proof of that is in our seasoned buildings.
Lasting joint tightness is the greatest
challenge to green log construction. It is also potentially the greatest drawback to green
log construction. The joints are easy to fabricate tight, initially. What is difficult is
to fabricate joints that will be tight after the logs are dry.
We are one of the few log builders who are
able to accomplish this. Our double scribed lateral, our overscribed/underscribed cutting
system, our saddle notching methods, and our use of through bolts, are all part of the
success of our green log construction.
Although we have recommended timing the
construction, if at all possible, to allow your house to be under construction heat for
the first winter, this is no longer a critical issue. We have numerous green log houses,
heated the first winter, that are now settled and dry, with excellent fits.
Our challenge for the consumer is to inspect
buildings that are heated year round, and have been through at least two winter heating
seasons. Inspect the interior of the log building. Look at the lateral fits, where the log
above has been scribed to the log below. After that, look at the saddle corners. Look for
loose fits. Do this inspection on the inside of a building that is always heated, and
compare our work to that of any other builder. I am sure you will be impressed with the
results you see from our work.
An added advantage unique only to our
methods of green log construction is the lack of checking in the logs. On inspection of
one of our seasoned red pine buildings, you will notice a lack of checking on the interior
and exterior faces of the wall logs. Upward facing checks on the exterior log wall face
can catch rain water and cause conditions that promote deterioration of the logs. Any type
of construction using dry logs cannot offer this advantage. Proper execution of our
cutting methods is what prevents the checks from forming on the log faces.
Of course, the settling for all
horizontal log construction, whether green or dry, requires accommodations for settling
while framing interior walls, or installing windows and doors. We use these methods for
all our log buildings, as should all log builders, and provide skilled carpenters or
technical assistance to accomplish this work correctly. Settling is a fact of all
horizontal log construction, handcrafted or milled, and needs to be addressed. When
comparing the shrinkage of green and dry logs, the issue is not whether there is
shrinkage, but it is just a matter of how much settling to accommodate.
Gables of Full Length
We periodically receive requests for log
gables. To properly build a log gabled house, the settling of the logs has to be taken
into consideration when designing and rendering the roof system. The reason for this is
that as logs in the gables shrink, a properly built roof system will have to drop in pitch
during the gable log shrinkage. We have constructed log gables, and when we constructed
the roof, we created slippage in the roof connections at the wall logs and purlins, which
allow the roof to drop or slip with the gable log shrinkage. It works well if done
correctly. It limits the design to a lower pitched simple roof, using the style of the
traditional old log cabin designs.
The method we employ on steep pitch roofs
with log gables utilizes vertical posts under the purlins, and log in fill between the
vertical posts. This method has the look of log gables, but not the shrinkage issues which
limit the roof designs. Shrinkage of the log in fill requires springed connectors, to
maintain constant pressure. A frieze board and sealing system is utilized to accommodate
the log settling at the roof line.
Other options for gable ends
include log trusses within the gable, with glass infill or framing. Gables can be framed
with lumber as a contrasting material to the logs, with excellent effect. Trusses outboard
from the gables add a nice touch. In addition, a framed gable can utilize not only many of
the rough sawed siding lumber options, but also vertical log siding, or even a sunburst
design, similar to our logo.
As log builders, we have been called on to
construct log accents for conventionally build homes. Accents include the log roof, log
stair, and log railing details of a log home, which are combined with conventional
construction materials. The construction creates a unique style that is seen in all types
of construction. We have furnished log accents for steel and concrete commercial work,
plus wood or dry wall residential construction.
styles of roof detailing and accenting are typically seen. The first utilizes log columns
supporting a log roof system. The construction has a timber framed flavor, but is
constructed of log. Roof logs can be either log trusses supporting log purlins, log posts
supporting log purlins, or even a log hip roof with hip rafters, jack rafters, and
A second style of roof detail uses log
purlins alone, sitting on framed walls. Sometimes log posts are used to provide an
attractive intermediate support for the purlins. This is a simpler construction, and
creates an inexpensive accent to give a rustic appearance to a framed home or cabin.
To become familiar with what is
available, we encourage the home owner, designer, or builder to contact Senty Log Homes to
discuss the options.
What kind of finishes
are used on a log house?
Most of our customers prefer
the natural exterior finish which allows the wood grain to show through. We have used and
researched many of the natural finish products, and have settled on three different
products that we recommend. We can help you with these choices and decisions.
The Planning and
Building is a step by step process with
thousands of steps to it, each of which has generally one order or location. Often times
it is tempting to change the order of these steps to accomplish a certain short term goal
in the building process, but usually skipping the interim steps ultimately lengthens out
the complete building process. Not fabricating the electrical device box openings and
wireways into the logs during the log prefabrication process will save time during log
construction, but it will ultimately make the simple task of wiring the logs into a very
difficult project after the logs are set on the foundation.
the same manner, the initial steps of the planning process start with developing a budget
and a plan, all of which must meet the conflicting functional, aesthetic, and financial
requirements of the log home owner. The accurate way to get a firm cost on a building
requires a good set of blueprints. All the construction team members require accurate
prints to develop an accurate budget. At the same time, blueprints cost the owner money.
You want to have a good idea the plan will come into budget before you hire someone to
draw the blueprints.
To facilitate this process, we initially
provide you with comparable costs from similar construction we have general contracted
locally. In this manner, you will have an idea of the total cost of your home. If
everything is in budget, it is time to develop the blueprints. With an accurate set of
blueprints, we can then provide you with an accurate construction cost.
To make a log building project move along
efficiently and in budget, like any construction, it takes an experienced professional
general contractor. The building process is long, expensive, and complicated. Choosing a
good log builder is important, as is choosing a good carpenter and a good general
contractor. We are a licensed Minnesota contractor, and have general contracted many of
our log homes locally. Although we would like to general contract all our log homes, we
cannot provide the quality and service of a good general contractor outside the Lake
Superior north shore area, so we limit our general contracting to within about 80 air
miles of Grand Marais. This area includes all of Cook and Lake Counties. We will deliver
and assemble a log shell anywhere in North America.
For the home owner who wants to
do his own general contracting, we will be glad to answer your questions and provide
experienced advice. For the home owner who has never built or general contracted a home
before, you must understand that any construction project has pitfalls, and you should be
prepared to have patience and an open mind. You will find it both challenging and
How much does it
Log is more expensive than conventional
drywall construction. If it were less costly, everyone would built in log. It is however,
competitive with similar custom wood construction.
- Prices vary a lot depending on size,
difficulty of the project, and features of your home. We can design to meet any realistic
- As a general construction rule, the more
floor space you put under one roof, the lower your square foot costs.
- A simple one floor building with eight foot
tall log walls and no log joists or log roof members will be the least costly.
- A simple rectangular plan will cost less per
square foot than an L or T shaped home.
- Long skinny plans raise your square foot
- Roof dormers and multiple roof pitches add to
the cost, but create more usable space.
- Depending on your design and what you have us
provide, a log shell runs between $20 and $60 per square foot.
- Lock up (roof, foundation, windows, doors and
sub floor) runs between $60 and $120 per square foot.
- Turn key (ready to move in) runs from $90 to
$200 per square foot.
- Use this information to help you decide how
much area you can get for your budget. All square foot numbers are based on the area of
the main floor only. The lower numbers reflect single floor design costs, the higher
numbers reflect the added cost of a second floor loft design. If you have a sketch in
mind, send it to us for a preliminary estimate. With a set of blueprints, we can provide
you with a construction bid and a firm price.
Although there are no building
codes in the U.S. that specifically address log construction, we follow the
internationally recognized building standards of the American Log Builders Association and
Canadian Log Builders Association International. These building standards are currently
being incorporated into the Canadian building codes. Copies are available on request. We
believe they are good building standards, and that all log builders and designers should
adhere to them. Any good log construction contract will note the construction to meet or
exceed the Building Recommendations of the American Log Home Builders Association/Canadian
Log Home Builders Association International. Building codes that refer to stair sizing,
head clearances, railing spindle spacing, and related issues can be properly addressed.
These and any special requirements of building codes can be incorporated into the
construction design. We can also provide graded logs if required. All our cedar logs are
automatically graded to ANSI pole standards.
- Free consultation with you to develop
sketches, specifications, and preliminary costs for the log home of your dreams.
- We will spend time with you to show you
pictures and ideas, and show you our work.
- Provide you with local references who you can
meet with and talk to one on one.
- Meet with you and our designer to develop
- If you want to have us general contract your
home, we will work with you to develop specifications and costs for the total construction
of your home.
- With a workable plan and blueprints, we will
provide you with a firm bid or cost plus construction contract.
- We have drafting and architectural services
available, or can work with your designer.
- With the completion of the above steps, you
will be ready to meet with your lending institution for their review and approval of your
Typical Log Shell
- Consultation with the owner, designer,
general contractor, and subcontractors.
- Detailed set of drawings.
- Written contract with specifications, price
guarantees, payment schedule, and delivery date.
- All logs, hand peeled using a draw knife.
- Treatment of the logs with an approved FDA
- Fitting of all joints and laterals at our log
building lot in Grand Marais, Minnesota.
- Pre-drilling for all through-bolts and
- Pre-drilling all in log wireways and
fabricating mortises in logs to fit electrical device boxes.
- Rough cutting of all windows and doors.
- Log floor joists as chosen and specified. *
- Log roof support system of purlins and
trusses. Logs are load rated for local conditions. *
- Loading, shipping, and assembly of the
building onto your foundation.
- Installing pull wires in the in log
electrical raceways during assembly.
- All pins, dowels, through-bolts, tensioning
springs, glass wool packing, saddle gaskets, and assembly materials required to set the
- Sanding all chainsaw cuts, rough edges, and
- Cleaning logs of abrasions and marks created
during transportation and assembly of the building.
- Final squaring and leveling of the gables and
roof system after assembly.
joists and purlin roof systems can be deleted for a basic wall package.
- Final cleaning of the logs after assembly
using a pressure washer or filament power brush.
- Red pine, white pine, dry lodgepole pine, dry
Engleman spruce, northern white cedar, or western red cedar logs.
- Log walls using the overscribe/underscribe
cutting system, double scribed lateral, and scarfed or shrink to fit saddle notch.
- Jig cutting all door and window openings,
plus a splined keyway, and bevel cuts and sanding of all log openings.
- Complete installation of the doors and
windows into the log walls.
- Fitting the first stud of the interior
partition walls to a skip joint, cutting a slot in the log wall to accept the partition
materials, and fitting the first board or panel into the slot.
- Various stair and railing systems including
- Various roof systems in log or squared heavy
timber using numerous types of trusses and support systems.
- Squared heavy timber trusses or floor joists
of rough sawed, planed, or hewed members instead of log.
- Arched doorways.
- Gables of full length log, log trusses, or
short log piece 'en piece.
- Finishing options including custom doors,
stained or etched glass, custom cabinets, wood carving, mantels, stone masonry, and
- Other carpentry and finish work as requested,
including general contracting.