Grime Poor Flooring Joists for an Off Grid Log Cabin


by Todd Walker

Dirt Poor Floor Joists for an Off Grid Log Cabin -

I believe I now perceive why so many pioneer log cabins had packed dust flooring.

Ease of building could have been the #1 motive. Missing dimensional lumber, time, and labor, a mud ground was a simple answer. You weren’t essentially poor, however the time period, “dust poor”, caught. Consider it or not, there’s a rising variety of rich folks returning to earthen flooring.

With my self-reliance on trial, I wished a wood ground for my little log cabin within the woods… full with a entrance porch overlooking the creek. As promised in our final article, right here’s what I got here up with for my price range ground help system.

Spherical Log Flooring Joists

A giant field ironmongery shop is a 10 minute drive from the cabin web site. They promote dimensional lumber of all sizes to hurry up the construct. Nonetheless, this entire “self-reliance on trial” factor had me going one other route.

Dirt Poor Floor Joists for an Off Grid Log Cabin -

The residing space with 5 log joists set in place.

Once I first began this venture in February, the cabin dimensions had been going to be a comfy 8’x10′. The primary tree I felled was bucked into 10 foot sections for the Eight foot partitions. Since increasing the cabin dimension to 10’x12′, the 10 footers wouldn’t work for wall logs. Bingo! These would develop into my ground joists.

Hew One Facet Flat

Ax-cut logs must be sawn flat on each ends to start out the hewing course of. Safe the log to cribbing with log canines. Final yr I made two from half-inch rebar which work nice. Hammer one level into the log and the opposite into the cribbing log. Repeat on the opposite finish of the log.

I select the aspect with the fewest knots to hew. Pine knots are a curse from the satan for hewers. The chosen aspect is turned and secured to the cribbing perpendicular to the bottom. Canine the log earlier than marking plumb strains.

Measure the middle of the log finish horizontally and place a mark on the midway level. Place a stage on the mark vertically and draw a plumb line. Do the identical operation to attract a stage horizontal line via the middle mark. It’s best to now have two strains intersecting to type a cross hair on the tip of the log. Repeat this step on the opposite log finish.

Another plumb line to attract earlier than we’re finished. Decide how a lot wooden you wish to take away from the aspect of the log. Place the extent at that time and draw a vertical plumb line. I took off about an inch of wooden which created ample flat floor on the joists.

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Plumb and stage strains drawn

The place this second plumb line meets the highest of the spherical log, use a knife or ax to attain a slit via the road. Drive a nail shallow within the cross hair. Hook the string of a chalk line field to the nail. Slip the string into the slit on the high of the log and run the chalk line to the opposite finish of the log. Safe it within the different slit you made. Whereas holding the road within the slit, attain down the road together with your different hand and pull the chalk line up vertically, not horizontally. Launch and the sting to “snap” or “pop” the chalk line.

Dirt Poor Floor Joists for an Off Grid Log Cabin -

The chalkline secured within the ax slit on the high of the road to be hewed.

By the way in which, all my logs have been debarked. If hewing with bark on the log, strip off a piece of bark the place the chalk line can be snapped. Learn extra about hewing with the bark on on this article.


Scoring is the method of constructing reduction cuts down the aspect of the log to take away the majority of wooden earlier than hewing to the road.  With so little wooden to take away from the ground joist, I believed slash cuts can be finest. Slashing is a sequence of overlapping 45 diploma cuts about Four inches aside down the size of the log. Nonetheless, the logs had seasoned sufficient to make it tough to take away wooden after slashing.

Dirt Poor Floor Joists for an Off Grid Log Cabin -

Slash scoring with the log turned 30 levels added an excessive amount of further work.

I ended up slicing “V” notches a couple of Eight inches aside down the log aspect. The raised wooden between the notches are referred to as jogs or joggles. The joggles had been eliminated near the chalkline with my ax. The log ground joists had been all within the 6-Eight inch diameter vary. Not giant sufficient to face on to chop notches with my long-handled felling ax. I stood on the alternative aspect of the log and lower notches utilizing a 26 inch boy’s ax. Be sure that the notches go all the way in which to the road and are plumb via to the underside of the log.

 Joggling or Juggling

Now could be the time to take away the joggles. On these small logs, I used the grub little bit of my double bit felling ax principally. The 36 inch deal with allowed me to swing virtually upright, saving my again. Eradicating this extra wooden could be probably the most harmful a part of the entire hewing course of. A forceful swing is required to knock off the protruding joggles. Pay attention to the place your legs and toes are earlier than swinging.

Dirt Poor Floor Joists for an Off Grid Log Cabin -

I hewed a number of logs with my double bit solely.

My most comfy stance was to straddle the log with my proper foot effectively to the suitable of the log. A slight bend on the waist and knees provides insurance coverage that the ax will strike the bottom and never my boot. The grub bit will strike the bottom because it passes via the wooden on occasion. Wooden chips create a barrier between the bit and floor as the method continues.

A safer option to take away joggles is to rotate the go browsing the cribbing about 30 levels (captured two images above). A lateral swing (out of the frontal zone) is used with the log between you and the shifting ax. You’ll must re-plumb the log earlier than hewing to the road.


With a skinny layer of wooden (half inch or much less) pleased with the chalkline, hewing begins. I used my broad ax on some, and the double bit felling ax on others. I’ve develop into keen on utilizing the longer double bit even for hewing. It handled lighter’d knot higher. I discovered that when the joists had been rough-hewn with the double bit, I may set them within the sill log notches and comfy hew excessive spots by swing horizontally with my broad ax. And it could possibly be finished whereas I sat on the adjoining joist.

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Hewing to the road with the double bit ax. This log was virtually too brief to make use of. Discover the ax-cut finish virtually makes a pleasant tenon.

The angle wherein the double bit struck the wooden needed to be adjusted. It’s not a vertical swing just like the broad ax. As soon as the angle is dialed in, the wooden begins to slice off. I truly obtained smoother finishes utilizing the double bit over the broad ax. I acquired nearer to the chalkline as effectively. Bear in mind, that is rough-hewn lumber.

Mortise and Tenon

Earlier than joists could possibly be set, a stage line was wanted on the within of the sill logs. Utilizing a water stage, I penciled in marks on all 4 corners. A chalkline was snapped to present me a stage line on the 2 sill logs the place the highest of the joists would relaxation.

I marked the sill logs at 2 foot intervals for joist positions alongside the 12 foot partitions. Mortise joints (pockets) had been lower into the sill log with a 2 inch chisel and dogwood maul. The mortise pockets measured about 2″x4″. Every joist measurement, from pocket to pocket, was completely different. Working with spherical logs of differing diameter is completely completely different from constructing with dimensional lumber.

Dirt Poor Floor Joists for an Off Grid Log Cabin -

The faint blue chalkline continues to be seen. This joist wanted to be lowered. I switched to crimson chalk because it appeared to last more.

Tenons had been lower on the ends of every joist to match the mortise pockets. Joists had been set and raised or lowered to fulfill the extent line on the sill logs. A easy wedge of wooden beneath or trim of the tenon did the trick.

Dirt Poor Floor Joists for an Off Grid Log Cabin -

Mortises chiseled to 2″x4″ dimensions.

Leveling Joists

Dirt Poor Floor Joists for an Off Grid Log Cabin -

The four-foot stage on high of the aluminum bar prolonged my attain to 4 joists without delay.

Although every joist tenon met the extent line on the sill logs, rough-hewn logs could have excessive spots… a minimum of from a hewer like me. I used an extended piece of rectangular aluminum as a straightedge coupled with a 4′ stage to experience atop 4 of the 5 joists. I moved the extent from sill to sill checking for top spots and dips within the joists.

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Shut sufficient!

Taking a cushty sitting place on an adjoining joist, I planed the excessive spots down with the broad ax. This was an awesome change of tempo on how I usually swing this heavy hewing ax. Recheck stage, aircraft, recheck, aircraft… till my OCD subsided. It’s shut sufficient for an off-grid log cabin within the woods!

After shimming and shaving to stage joists, I carved and drove wood wedges into the mortise pockets to remove any wiggle that could be current within the joints. I’m following the identical course of for the entrance porch log joists. I’m working three lengthy joists perpendicular to the residing space joists with a girder beneath on the midway level. The 6’x12′ entrance porch will present hours of stress-free ambiance as creek water tumbles over rocks.

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Another porch joist so as to add…

Preserve Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

~ Todd

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