Category Archives: Cordwood Construction

Cordwood Construction Workshop in Idaho

Matt & Sara of Stomping Moose Farm near Bonners Ferry, Idaho had planned for months to host a cordwood workshop.  They had everything prepped and ready when we arrived in August and along came 15 interested, excited people to learn how to build using cordwood.

Bonners Ferry workshop Val and SteveA wonderful camaraderie developed and most folks were reluctant to leave.

Here are some photos of this wonderful workshop in the Selkirk Mountains.

bonners ferry 3


Three days of instruction and hands on mortaring sessions produced a significant amount of completed wall (approximately 140 sq. ft.).

bonners ferry 4


The weather was perfect and folks were helpful and kind to one another. bonners ferry 2


We learned the cordwood construction secret handshake (a fistful of wet mortar) notice we all are holding a mortar snowball:0)

bonners ferry 1

Focus, cooperation, and log placement skills are essential to a good looking cordwood wall.

Tuckpointing is a learned art form that helps to reveal the magic in the wall.


Don brought a moisture meter and we learned how to use it to determine if the wood was dry enough to use.  [It was!]



If you enjoyed this post please make sure you click on Follow to receive these blog posts as they are created.  This is the 78th cordwood construction post in the last 2 years.  Lots of information is available, if you take the time to scroll through the blog.

If you have a question, please email me at or check out my website at 

If you want to read more, check out the latest book on cordwood: Cordwood Construction Best Practices, available as an ebook, print or CD.

Cordwood Construction Best Practices  available in print & ebook at online bookstore.

Cordwood Construction: Summer Picture Bonanza!

The summer of 2014 has been filled with new and unique cordwood structures and adventures.  The following photos come from many different parts of the globe.  All are new to me, for which I am forever grateful.

Isaac Haumesser's cordwood building finished

Above is Isaac Haumesser’s practice cordwood building in Missouri.  Isaac built this as a practice run for his cordwood home.  The stone work is amazing, the roof is called Dragon Scale, the cordwood random pattern is outstanding and door is in a league of its own.  Nice work Isaac.

Germask Workshop Tammy Trupp 1 with Banjo Bob

This is the lovely cordwood “build” of Tammy and Sharon in Germfask, Michigan (think Upper Peninsula).

Germfask Workshop Tammy Trupp 7

Sharon has developed a gorgeous indoor garden!

Germfask Workshop Tammy Trupp 5

Having fun after a long days work!   Follow their adventure at

Amman 2

A gorgeous  bottle end wall at Honey and Mike’s in Holmen, Wisconsin.

The cordstead by Sandy Clidaras

Sandy Clidaras’s Cordstead in Quebec.

Cordwood sauna via Meander Ette no other details

A cordwood cabin deep in the mountains.

Viking sauna in Finland http

A cordwood sauna in Finland with Viking motifs.

Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels 320 x 414

This blogpost full of “cordwood eye candy” is brought to you by Richard and Becky Flatau at Cordwood Construction Resources.

Cordwood Construction Best Practices is the latest and the best book to guide you through your cordwood journey.   Order it from the Online Bookstore at 


Imagine Cordwood

Imagine Cordwood   From time to time, I am asked to write articles for various newspapers, magazines and books.   Last year Die Zeitung requested an article for their eastern European readership.  The result was a fantastic collaboration with the reporter (Nina). Last month an international magazine asked for an article that would show the whimsical and ethereal side of cordwood.  Immediately three gals who had built gorgeous places with cordwood popped into my mind.  I contacted each one and “to a woman” they were overjoyed to help write a positively emotive article, showing more than construction details.

Faerie Mag page 1 high resolution

Click on the picture to enlarge the print. 

Faerie Mag page 2 high resolution

The article appears in the Summer edition of Faerie Magazine on pages 30-32.  It is a visual feast of cordwood eye candy, plus a 250 word beautiful flight of verbal fancy from each delightful author.

Faerie Mag page 3 high resolution


This article is used with permission of the editor.   If you wish to order this charming magazine go to and click on the 2014 summer issue #27.  To receive a 15% discount on anything, use the word Cordwood in the promo/discount box.

Cordwood Construction Best Practices  available in print & ebook at online bookstore.

For information on how to build using Cordwood Construction with Best Practices go to and order the newest book on the cordwood bookshelf.  Cordwood Construction Best Practices.

The entire article is also on my website under Articles “Imagine Cordwood”

Cordwood with Cob Mortar is “Cobwood”

We had the distinct good fortune to participate in a Cordwood with Cob Mortar Workshop at Kinstone Permaculture Academy.  Building a Cobwood Entrance Center for the school was the order of the day.   A kidney-shaped grade beam had been put in place and the cobwood rises off a “gneiss” stone stem wall.

The soil is first tested for clay content and the workability and firmness of the clay is determined by rolling a piece of clay for stiffness.  Note the sign which gives the cob mix proportions (2 sand, 1 clay, 1 sawdust, straw).

Cobwood workshop 14


Next the ingredients are mixed and stomped.  This can be a tedious process or a fun dance time:0)

Cobwood workshop 13


Cobwood workshop 12

A loaf of the cob mixture is laid down like a regular cordwood mortar bead.  However the cob mortar beads are thicker.  Here we are using 5 inches of cob on the inside and outside, with a 6″ insulation cavity.

Cobwood workshop 1

The walls rise similar to cordwood, except the cob will slump sooner, so the wall must be built one or two rows at a time.


Smiles are an integral part of natural building.

Cobwood workshop 3

This cobwood entrance center is an experimental build for the northern Midwest, as there are only a few examples of cobwood homes in this large geographical area.  Since cob is not a good insulator,we are combining it with an insulation cavity to see if it can be adaptable to our very cold winters (-30 degrees below zero).

Cobwood workshop 7

We will keep you apprised of our progress and how the building functions, winter and summer.

Cobwood workshop 5

The children make great cob mixers.

Cobwood workshop 6

Our plan is to keep track of the cob kiosk and see what we can offer/add to the increasing interest in cobwood construction.

Cobwood workshop 15


The stem wall is being built with gneiss stone.

Below, we laid down a lime bead to highlight the insulation cavity.  The sawdust insulation is mixed with lime to prevent insect infestation.

Cobwood workshop 8

Having the Kinstone Cordwood Chapel in the background is a valuable source of inspiration.

Cobwood workshop 9

If you have questions or comments, please email them to me at  Follow this blog for further updates.

For more information on cordwood construction using many different types of mortar go to


Cordwood Article in LaCrosse Tribune

The LaCrosse Tribune’s Allison Geyer wrote an outstanding article about Cordwood Construction in the Saturday, July 12, 2014 edition of the LaCrosse Tribune. The article not only gives a concise and accurate history of why and how we built our cordwood home in 1979, but it also details the reasons for building with cordwood in the 21st Century.

LaCrosse Tribune Cordwood Article

LaCrosse Tribrune artilce 1Kristine, Jarad and Mike decide on log placement for the cordwood sauna.

LaCrosse Tribrune artilce 2

The stunningly beautiful cordwood chapel with thatched roof,  is ready for to provide a sanctuary for reflection.

LaCrosse Tribrune artilce 3

The interior is filled with motifs from nature.  This is the sunrise wall with plants, flowers and trees.  The center of the door has wood carvings to honor the Native American  presence in Buffalo County.

LaCrosse Tribrune artilce 4

The sideways slabs are the stems and the bottles are the flowers.  Imagination knows no bounds when building with cordwood.

To learn more about Kinstone Permaculture Academy 

To learn more about Cordwood Construction

Email with questions  (copy and paste this email address)

Cordwood Workshop July 19-20, 2014 Wisconsin

One of the final Cordwood Workshops of the season will be held at Kinstone Permaculture Academy (SW Wisconsin) on July 19-20, 2014. This workshop will be a Best Practices workshop where participants will be taught by hands-on methods, how to build their own cabin, cottage or shed. The agenda will cover all the important choices that need to be made when building with cordwood.

Cordwood eNewsletter Summer 2014

The registration form is Online

You can call me (Richard Flatau) 715-212-2870 or send me an email at if you have questions or you want me to reserve your spot.

Don’t miss out on a chance to learn cordwood construction the right way.Here are some pictures of the work site and some of the workshop participants.

Kinstone Workshop June 2014

Kinstone with stone circle low rez

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 Jarad and Richard explain how its done

workshop kinstone june 2014 planning their work working their plan or mugging for the camera

Kinstone workshops brochure 1

Looking forward to seeing you there.  Questions?  Ask me.

Richard Flatau                        715-212-2870


Cordwood Construction Sauna Workshop June 12-15, 2014

We had the distinct pleasure of teaching a Post & Beam Framing Workshop and a Cordwood Workshop at Kinstone Permaculture Academy on June 12-15, 2014.  The students were wonderful, energetic and full of ideas.   We used the first two days to frame the Cordwood Sauna.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014  framework of the sauna

This is a 12′ x 16′ sauna that is next to the camping facilities and solar showers at Kinstone.

Here the students are learning to frame a building and keep it level and plumb.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 leveling the post

Damp proof rolled roofing is in place (to stop water migration) and the first post is being leveled and anchored.   Holes are drilled in the foundation and 3/8″ angle iron, anchor sleeves and lag screws are added to keep the building from going anywhere.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 sleeve anchors angle iron brackets and lag screws to secure the post

It is important to have “many hands on deck” to keep these large 8″ x 8″ girders in a secure place.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 final girder in place

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 learning to use a chop saw

Students had an opportunity to learn how to use power tools safely with instruction and supervision. Many students shared their expertise.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 putting on hurricane ties

Hurricane straps are important to secure the top rafters from wind shear.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 Jarad and Richard explain how its doneDiscussing and learning to “problem solve” on a job site is one of the many advantages of taking a workshop.

The framing is now ready for cordwood infill.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 mixing a batch with bandanas

The first step in cordwooding, is learning how to prepare and use a proper mortar.  The bandana’s are fashionable dust masks.

workshop kinstone june 2014 planning their work working their plan or mugging for the camera

Many hands make light work:0)

workshop kinstone june 2014 first row

The first row is the most important!

Folks are happy when they learn the proper techniques.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 Roger and Deb

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 busy hands and focused intentions

Tuck pointing is a learned art.  Rubber gloves are important to keep the hands safe.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014  bottle end

Learning to install a recycled bottle for a “stained glass” effect.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 group photo

It was supposed to rain on the last day, but the rain held-off and we were able to get quite a bit of work completed.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014  ready to cover with tarps

The building is now ready for the next workshop.   We will be teaching a Cobwood Workshop (cob and cordwood) on June 27-29, 2014 at Kinstone and we will do another Cordwood  Workshop on the Sauna on July 19-20, 2014. 

If you are interested please go to and click on the Workshop links on the right side of the page.

For information, photos, articles and books on Cordwood Construction, go to  if you are interested in books, ebooks, CD’s or videos check out the Online bookstore 

Cordwood 320 x 414Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices


If you have any questions please leave a comment or email me at 

Cordwood Home For Sale in Oklahoma

                For Sale:   Cordwood Home in SE Oklahoma

Alan & Rebecca's 16 sided cordwood home made of 12" eastern red cedar.

Alan & Rebecca’s 16 sided cordwood home made of 12″ eastern red cedar.

    At the edge of Ouchita Forest ten miles south of Wilburton, Ok, is a small community of homes in a serene and quiet treed area called the United Spanish War Veterans Colony.  About 100 veterans and their families live here.

A Hearthstone free standing stove takes care of all their heating requirements.  Easter red cedar has beautiful patterning.

A Hearthstone free standing stove takes care of all their heating requirements. Easter red cedar has beautiful patterning.

We acquired a three quarter acre lot here, and built a 16 sided cordwood home.  It has an earth floor which has 8 coats of resin for hardening, and a living roof planted with sedum.  The house is approximately 900 sq. ft., one bedroom 1 ½ bath. The ceiling is douglas fir and the structure is all locally milled pine.  We used local cedar for our 12’ thick cordwood walls.  The windows are low e and double hung.  We added a sunroom on the south side for solar gain in the winter.  It could be used as a second bedroom. We added a mud room on the north side where the main door is, for shoes and coats.

The red cedar is a weed tree in the southern middle portion of the country and it is naturally resistant to insects.

The red cedar is a weed tree in the southern middle portion of the country and it is naturally resistant to insects.

The kitchen and bathroom cabinets are knotty alder built custom for us by Quality Cabinets in Quinton, OK.  The interior is all open with partial walls 7 feet high for the bath and bedroom.  We have a soapstone wood stove that keeps us more than toasty in the winter. There is plenty of wood on the property to cut and split for years to come.  We cool it with a heat pump.  Our biggest electric bill in the summer has been $65.00.  The county maintains the streets here and we pay no property taxes.  We built a 10 by 12 deck on the east side of the house.  Our water heater is propane on demand.  You’ll never run out of hot water in the shower. There is a community hall here where a pot luck supper is held once a month for residents.  Breakfast is served every Saturday morning at 9 AM.  Holidays are celebrated at the hall also, with the colony providing the meat and each family bringing a dish to share.

Alan Barreca house for sale 6 low rez Each lot is a lifetime lease for each war veteran, and he or she only owns the improvements made on the property.  Residents must be war veterans to buy a property in this community. Included in the sale is a 20 by 26 car port, two storage buildings, one cordwood, and one Rubbermaid.  We have a half share in a fema approved storm shelter.

We are asking $80,000 for this unique and beautiful home.  Our contact is  You can call us at

(home) 918 465 1112 or

(cell) 925 519 1096

Alan Barreca house for sale 1 low rez


Cordwood and Strawbale Combination

In Wiarton, Ontario there lives a wonderful hybrid/combination home consisting of double wall cordwood and strawbale/balewall.  Rising three stories, 16 sided post and beam framed, living roof, masonry heater, rainscreen to wick moisture away, earth-bermed on the back of the first storey, large overhangs (44″), this house is quite a marvel.   Peter used double wall cordwood and then topped that with strawbale with lime and clay plaster. Here are a few details. Peter A Ontario


Exterior of home. Note the white areas on upper storey–they are plastered straw bales

Exterior view of bale-wood wall with a finished lime-plaster. Window does not have exterior trim yet. Note the drip edge flashing that goes from post to post above the window horizontally under the header beam. Also note the flashing with the drip edge at its top beside the deck boards.

CCC Peter A. Ontario #2


Balewood peter a

CCC Peter A Ontario

Balewood side view of a wall section



Side View of a wall beside a sliding door. Note raw bale on one side of vertical wiring chase and earth-plastered bale and cordwood on the other.

Double wall Cordwood with Straw Bale on top and a Rain-Screen to deal with moisture and prevent mold.

In Peter’s words: “If you choose the double-walled approach, you may want to incorporate a rain screen.  In the magazine Fine Homebuilding, issue #162, renowned building science writer Joseph Listurbek reveals in one word—literally—the reasons behind constructing a cavity behind any exterior masonry wall. That word is “mold.” If you want to be sure to avoid its occurrence and growth, you should incorporate a rain-screen function. Given that the exterior layer of a double cordwood wall is very similar to a brick façade on any other building, I surmised that constructing such a layer would please any code official. One can debate the necessity of such a feature, but it’s a proven technique in quality conventional construction. (below) see Fine Homebuilding issues #142 & #137.

 Aesthetics: Cordwood, with its heavy texture, paired with smoothly plastered bales looks balanced and beautiful. It’s reminiscent of traditional houses in the Alps.

Heating Response Time: With huge mass in our house in the form of a masonry chimney and our downstairs cordwood walls, I began to hugely, massively worry about how long it would take to heat up our house should we be away from it for more than a weekend. The house already takes a long time to heat up; if our upstairs walls were cordwood instead of bales, the temperature would take even longer to respond to heating input. The thermal mass of cordwood is indeed a good thing, but we should use almost any material in moderation. Bale enthusiasts stress the high degree of thermal mass in a plastered bale wall, but it still has less mass in it than cordwood as I will try to show below.

 Harvesting vs. Lumbering: The production of bales uses relatively little energy considering that they are a byproduct of a separate harvesting process. As such, the only energy used to procure them comes from hauling them from farmer’s field to building site. In comparison, the actual cordwood in a cordwood wall may be comparable in terms of energy input only in an ideal scenario. All of our cordwood was already felled and came from auctions, old fences, or log home cut-offs. But when you start to factor in the cutting down of living trees to provide your wood supply, not to mention all of the human-related energy expended in stripping bark, cutting wood to length and splitting it, the scales begin to tip towards bales. As far as I can see, the only fly in the soup occurs if your bale material was grown with a lot of pesticides and your cordwood hasn’t been treated, nor will it ever be.

Plaster vs. Mortar: Cordwood mortar joints come not only after a lot of human energy has been expended, but also after a lot of non-renewable fuel has been depleted to manufacture the cement and lime in the mortar. I could’ve used energy-friendly cob or papercrete mortar around our cordwood, but the long-term viability of those techniques hadn’t been proven when we built and in this case, I wasn’t willing to be a pioneer.

The volume of mortar in a cordwood wall versus plaster on a bale wall is the main, but not only, factor in this comparison. Let’s assume the worst eco-combo: a cement-based plaster and a cement-based cordwood mortar. By my back-of-the-napkin calculations, a 2” thick (max.) bale wall plaster has 1/4 – 1/3 less volume than a cordwood wall 4” thick. And that’s only by volume, not weight. We actually used a natural plaster on our bales which is less dense (therefore has less mass and less fuel input) than a cement plaster or a masonry mortar. Our natural plaster was comprised of lime and easily-gathered, locally occurring clay, sand, and straw. The amount of lime we used was small because we only used it on our thin finishing coat of plaster on the exterior. It was less lime than we used to critter-proof sawdust insulation in a classic single cordwood wall in one of our sheds.

Putting The Ingredients Together

Our own bale and cordwood assembly was complex.  We built our double wall with a rain-screen feature as mentioned. Then we topped the wall at the desired level with a two-by-four “top plate” on the inside and 2” thick stone lintels on the outside. I used ½” plywood to span these. To keep the bottom of the bales dry and to provide a zone of thermal separation between the plywood and the bales, we put 1-½” thick rigid foam on top of the plywood. At regular intervals amongst the foam, you could screw down scraps of 2 X 4” lumber into which you would insert dowels 4-8” long. You skewer the bales on top of these to keep them within the plane of the wall. (We omitted this step, but our bale walls are only 54” tall and are pinned in other ways–see below). On top of this foam layer, we sprinkled powdered borax to discourage critters and any cows who have a taste for dry, plastered bales. Next, we placed a row of bales placed on their vertical ends. Stretching across the bales from one side of the wall to the other is 1” x 2” strapping which is screwed to the framing. This compresses the bales downwards and keeps them anchored to the plywood platform beneath. We aligned the bales vertically only because this allowed the best fit within our wall space. We drove sticks, scrap strapping, and dowels through each of these bales to pin them horizontally to their neighbours. On top of this row, we wedged a horizontally aligned row of bales under the top girder (plate) of our walls. Then we plastered from the bottom plywood plate up to the girder on interior and exterior wall faces.Desserts often taste nice when they’re moist; bales do also when cows eat them. However, to avoid having ruminants nibbling at your walls and to ensure longevity, you must keep bales in a wall quite dry. For this reason, we created large 44” roof overhangs and a 36” high cordwood wall base underneath our bales which naturally absorbs the bulk of rain-driven moisture. The big issue is in determining how best to lay up the bales on top of the cordwood. For those with simpler tastes who are utilizing a classic single cordwood wall, it would not be very complicated. Lay boards across the top of your fresh cordwood mortar, one board flat on the exterior face, one on the interior. Top them with a piece of plywood laid flat and stretching across the cordwood wall from interior to exterior. Top this with your bales and detail this junction carefully. Build the bales up to the top plate or beam of your wall, and then plaster over them.

This wall may sound somewhat simple to some people, but the devil lurks in the details. After finally figuring out the framing, it took one big work party, several smaller ones and several weeks passing before our cordwood cake was frosted with pleasingly plastered bales.”

These words of wisdom are excerpts from Peter’s article in the Cordwood Conference Papers 2005,  available in print, CD or ebook version by visiting and going to the online Bookstore.


Cordwood Workshops at Kinstone, Wisconsin 2014

Here is the exciting slate of Cordwood Workshops that are available in Wisconsin this summer (2014).   The site is the beautiful and mesmerizing Kinstone Permaculture Academy near Fountain City, WI, which features a gorgeous cordwood chapel and other natural buildings.

Kinstone cordwood chapel on a sunny spring day the stones are known as the monks

The Directors at Kinstone have made available this new brochure to give interested folks a feel for the comprehensiveness of the site.  If you are interested please click on the following link

Kinstone workshops brochure 1


Kinstone workshops brochure 2


Kinstone cordwood chapel interiorThe interior of the chapel.

Please call or email Kristine (608-687-3332 or Richard (715-212-2870 ) if you have any questions

Kinstone Academy phone number 608-687-3332

Kinstone Academy email