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Recently I had a crazy plan. And I need some advice about how to go about doing it.

I wanted to build a small garden shed, more kinda like a cabin actually. So I started drawing it out, and listing the timber I would need. But then I started thinking... What if I would build it by just buying a bunch of logs, and do it the old fashioned way?

Note that I live in Belgium, all wood needs to be bought from a nearby mill.

Several reason why I want to attempt this, but that doesn't really matter.

First thing first, the design! Cabin Design Beam structure Info about the design: it is 6 meters in length en 3 meters across. Top beam also at 3meters height.

The first thing I want to try is hewing the beams myself.
Few questions: - I read somewhere it is best to use fairly fresh cut threes for this, to make the hewing easier. But how long do I need to dry them afterwards before using? If I just seal and use them directly will I risk the whole thing cracking and becoming askew? - which woods would be suitable for this? I need to buy the logs, and thought about asking some pine, because it will be cheaper then buying maple logs. But are all pine threes suitable for this? Or do I need to specifically ask for lariks or Douglas? Or is poplar, or something else worth the extra price?

I think that I will first try my hand at the hewing, and then see if I (we) am up to milling the rest by hand also.

Note that I want to only use hand tools, and no power tools. Hewing will be done by axe. Other milling would be done by saw and axe also. This might seem crazy (it probably is), but there are several reasons to work this way.

Any more advance on making this project work would be welcome! I have some woodworking experience, and a number of tools (mostly hand tools).

Thanks for all advice!

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    Have you thought about transport and moving the logs around on site? Green wood is full of water and consequently much much heavier than dried wood, which can be quite heavy in large sections as it is! Don't underestimate the effort here, some logs of only medium size might be too heavy for you to lift by yourself even if you're young and fit. Manhandling a 100kg log is doable for someone in good shape but just 50kg more and they become almost impossible to lift above about waist height without lifting aids or someone to help, and the potential for injury shouldn't be overlooked. – Graphus Jun 22 '17 at 15:52
  • Also, if you're thinking of hewing from round logs to square beams be aware this isn't usually done using common woodworking tools. In addition to an adze you'll probably want a hewing axe or broad axe which is a specialist tool and possibly difficult or impossible for you to buy locally. – Graphus Jun 22 '17 at 15:57
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    Wow, this is an ambitious project. My first suggestion is that you start with a really big breakfast! :). I am curious if there is a functional reason for the exposed ridge beam being set out of level? – Ashlar Jun 22 '17 at 16:36
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    as we say in america, you'll shoot your eye out, kid. Seriously, though, be careful. you may think theyre only hand tools, but be careful and wear protection. You dont want to accidentally slip and bury that axe in your leg. – aaron Jun 22 '17 at 18:00
  • you might need a long jointing plane (maybe wooden if you are worried about weight) w/ a fairly aggressive camber to help you make sure those long posts are "straightish". – jbord39 Jun 25 '17 at 16:51
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What you're talking about is timber-frame construction, and you're on the right track.

I read somewhere it is best to use fairly fresh cut trees for this, to make the hewing easier.

Yup. Green wood is much easier to cut, especially with hand tools.

But how long do I need to dry them afterwards before using? If I just seal and use them directly will I risk the whole thing cracking and becoming askew?

You don't dry them separately. You assemble while still green, and let them dry naturally. With siding, flooring and roofing in place, these will keep the frame from distorting. Of course, the joints are going to loosen up as the wood shrinks, and the beams will check like crazy, but that is not usually a problem. Consider that, if you were to dry the pieces separately, you'd need to stack and sticker them so that the weight of the pile will keep them from warping as they dry, and even then you could count on some distortion.

which woods would be suitable for this? I need to buy the logs, and thought about asking some pine, because it will be cheaper then buying maple logs.

Particularly for a small building like this, pine is the way to go. You don't need the high strength of hardwoods like oak, and the lighter wood will make assembly easier. And maple is an especially poor choice. Even while green it's harder to form, and in the event of leaks in the roofing, any water buildup will quickly lead to rot.

But are all pine threes suitable for this? Or do I need to specifically ask for lariks or Douglas? Or is poplar, or something else worth the extra price?

For a small project like this, larch is probably best, since you're looking for locally-grown timber, and as far as i know, larch is the most common softwood in Europe. If you can get pine, that would work just as well. I'm pretty sure that Douglas Fir is a non-starter, being extremely hard to find as green logs in your country. Your building is small enough that almost anything will do from a strength standpoint.

  • Thanks so much for the reply! This was exactly what I was looking for. Will be visiting some lumber yards the coming weeks, see what prices they can give. – Freek_H Jul 11 '17 at 7:14

protected by Community Jul 11 '17 at 13:43

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