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Milled vs. Handcrafted logs - what's the difference?

Handcrafted Log Homes

Handcrafted logs are either hand-peeled with a drawknife or water-peeled. Logs used in handcrafted construction most commonly are Douglas Fir, Pine, or Spruce. Several other species are occasionally used such as Oak, Cyprus, Juniper, and True Firs, such as Alpine Fir. Logs can be used Green, basically within days/weeks of cutting and hauling; Air Dry, which is a designation that is subject to vast debate as to when does a Green log become an Air Dry log, and in a very few cases kiln dried. (Kiln drying full size logs for handcrafting is an expensive process and used by only 1 or two companies in North America). * Frontier uses bettle-killed standing dry timber, so additional drying by air or kiln is unnecessary.

The logs are then fit together in one of several ways. Scribe-fit is a style popular in this region. In this style, one log is scribed to precisely fit over the log below it. The scribe-fit style needs no chinking and is usually joined at the corner using a shrink-to-fit saddle notch system. Another way logs are fit together leaves a space between each round of logs that will be filled with a backer rod material and chinking. This style is called chinked. Other styles are piece-en-piece and hand-hewn dovetail. *Frontier uses full round logs that are hand peeled using drawknives. Round notches are scribed and cut by hand using a hammer, chisel and chainsaw, making our homes fully hand crafted. Frontier Log Homes also offers:

  • Hand-hewn logs
  • Dovetail notches
  • Log roof systems integrated into conventional constructed walls
  • Log componentry of all kinds using full, round, hand peeled logs.

Handcrafted log homes are generally most expensive than milled log homes because there is so much more labor involved and often larger material is used.

Milled log homes

People are sometimes confused by the distinction between milled and handcrafted logs. A milled log is one that has been put through a saw mill, lathe, or planer and has been cut into a specific shape or profile. When you look at a milled log home all the logs will be uniform size.

Logs may have a flat top and bottom surface, may be coped, or may be tongue-and-grooved. The sides of the log can be sanded smooth, left with a rougher or more rustic look, or hand peeled with a draw knife. Milled logs are usually air and or kiln-dried to a specific moisture content before they are used to build your home.

How milled logs stack up

There is a large variety of logs species, shapes, sizes and styles available and it can be very confusing for the potential home owner.

Which species of wood is best suited for your building site?

Traditionally, Pine, Spruce, Fir, Cedar are the most popular species used in milled log construction. Pricing approximately follows the same list with Pine/Spruce being the least expensive and Cedar the most expensive. All species appear to do equally well in drier climates. In wetter climates, care must be taken in the design and exterior maintenance of the log home.

Do you prefer the look of a home built with 6" diameter logs or with much larger logs?

Do you like a flat interior wall or do you prefer the logs to be round on both the interior and exterior of your home?

There are additional questions about how your home will be put together. The most common methods used in milled log construction are:

Double Tongue & Groove Round Notch
Butt & Pass Method
Interlocking Corner Method
Post & Beam Method

Milled Log Homes are generally cheaper to construct but lack the charm and character of a handcrated log house or cabin.

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