The history of log houses and their building methods

Posted Sep 14, 2020, Category: Cabin production

Log houses, much like their predecessors the log cabins, have a long and rich history throughout Europe, Asia and North America. Starting off with the traditional construction method, log houses now have a wide variety of designs, sizes and purposes. However, not all log houses are built the same or using same methods. In this blog post, we would like to shed some light onto the history of log houses and the methods that are used to this day to build them.

Just like log cabins, log houses got their start early in humanity’s history, in territories that are today known as Scandinavia and the Nordics. They were also a popular dwelling in Eastern Europe and Russia, where they were built using only an axe and a knife. In these regions, the logs would be notched to interlock on the corners, just like the log cabin. However, over time, this technique changed and started differentiating between regions.

Due to more advanced methods of building log houses and the advent of using flat planks in the middle ages, log houses became a popular construct throughout the European continent and when the New World beaconed, the traditions of building log homes faired over the ocean to the new lands. There, especially on the eastern coast, the abundant forests and their quality were enough to build up strong communities in small towns using log houses. The traditions spread and new methods of construction started to be utilised. These methods are used to this day, although with the help of improved production technologies, rather than axes and knifes and before:

  • Full-Scribe – a Scandinavian construction method, where logs are used in their natural shape, peeled smoothly, then scribed and custom-fitted to each other. Log are notched where they overlap at each corner.
  • Flat-on-flat method – here logs are flattened on top and bottom, then stacked on top of each other, forming large butt-and-pass corners.
  • Milled log – these houses are built by a tongue-and-groove method. It helps with aligning one log to another, all the while creating a system to seal out the elements.
  • Tight-pinned butt and pass – using this method, the logs are neither notched nor milled in any way. They are placed in a single course and do not overlap. Instead, vertical pairs of logs are fastened tightly with load-bearing steel pins.

With technology advancing, so did the methodology. Eurodita’s houses built with glulam are merely the latest iteration of methods, used to built shelter for people. Glue lamination became increasingly popular since early 1900s, although it was first patent for “engineered” timber was registered in Weimar Germany in 1872. Before that, glue lamination as a method was used on several famous British churches and cathedrals. Yet, only in early 20th century did it really take off.

Glue lamination of “engineering” of the timber allows for more flexible design options. Each piece of timber that leaves the engineering floor can be as long or as short as necessary, according to the glulam house plans and construction project necessities. In a lot of ways, it’s a liberating use of timber that has often been compared to using steel. Because of the strength that the timber acquired while drying after lamination, it can be used in large quantities, for tall structures that require a lot of support.

The contemporary log home designs have a long and rich history. Just like the log cabin, they travelled the world, improved, changed with the times and advancing tech. As log home wholesalers and manufacturers, we are proud of the method we chose and take great care to honour the history it has been passed down with.