Category Archives: Cordwood Construction

Make doors for your cordwood cabin

People often ask me, “Why do builders spend all their time building a beautiful cordwood home and then slap a crummy door on it?”  I usually answer by saying they are probably tired after their labors and just want to get it enclosed, but, I also encourage owner/builders,  “If you have time,  consider making your own doors.”  I will show you a few outstanding examples of home-made doors and then give you a brief explanation of how to build a couple.

Gormely doors

Hand made doors by Bob Gormley for his Starwood Store in Backus, Minnesota.

FB page of Green Renaissance Door at St Edward's Parish Church in the Cotswolds, flanked by beautiful 18th century yew trees.

This one might take centuries:0)  St Edward’s Parish Church in the Cotswolds, United Kingdom, flanked by beautiful 18th century yew trees

FB page of Sigi via FB page of Jimmy's Farm Sigi says If you are considering building yourself a natural home, I recommend start  small so you can get a sense of the materials and the time take a hands-on workshop

Double door with strap hinges from Jimmy’s Farm in England.

Don Noe's Cordwood shed in Oregon 2

Don Noe’s door creations in Oregon.  Don built the one above (using mostly all recycled material for the building).  The one below is for a worm farm at Portland Community College.  Notice that the handles he made are worm like.

Don Noe's Cordwood shed in Oregon 1 The shed with the cord wood wall was built with 90 percent construction scrap  timber framed with timbers from large machine crates. The logs  fromarborist

Here is a handmade door by Dan & Kristen of Merrill, Wisconsin.  Dan used a 2″ x 4″ framework, insulation in the center cavity, a 3/8″ sheet of BC Plywood on one side for rigidity and five, 6″ tongue and groove boards on the other.

Door b novitch cabin

Door d novitch cabin

The handles are a tree branch and a deer antler.

Door a novitch cabin

(Below)Dan and I are laying out the frame for a shed door for the Treehaven Organic Garden near Tomahawk, Wisconsin.  We are just beginning the layout and are scaring away the evil forces by revving up our cordless drills.  Vrrooom, vrrroooooooom.


Here is the finished door:  A 2 x 4″ pressure treated framework, super heavy hinges and Norway Pine slabs for the front.  A broken canoe paddle has been resurfaced and wood burned for the unique handle.

Door at Treehaven with canoe paddle

Here is the young lady who cleaned up the canoe paddle door handle and helped mount it on the door.


If you are interested in learning how to build using cordwood, go to and look at the photos, read the articles, enjoy the eNewsletter and sign up for a workshop.   And if you are looking for a book, here, in my opinion is the best one on the market.

Cordwood 320 x 414Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices

Hybrid Cordwood Cottage in North Carolina

Clarke Snell co-author of the excellent book, Building Green, spoke to our Cordwood Workshop at Love’s Organic Farm in September of 2007 near Marshall, North Carolina. We then followed him to his Building Green Cottage site where he gave the class a tour and explanation of the various wall types (cordwood, cob, strawbale, earthen plaster, and a living roof) and delineated their pros and cons. It was a very interesting visit.

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Clarke giving an explanation of the cob and cordwood wall

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The synergy of the cob and cordwood wall. Sweet!

 Clarke Snell's hybrid cordwood cottage in NC with living roof

The cordwood wall with large overhang

 Random pattern cordwood with bottles, shells and marbles.

Flowers & cordwood with Tulip Poplar

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Star pupils building a wall with smiles.


Checking the log end faces to see which one goes next.

Clarke giving tips on building a living roof like making a fine cabinet.  Pay attention to detail and seal every joint.
Hope you enjoyed the pictures. We have more workshops coming up in Wisconsin, Idaho and Michigan.  Here is a link to the Workshop Brochure
All the best,

Richard Flatau

To read Cordwood Construction Best Practices as an ebook or print edition please go to the online bookstore at:

Cordwood 320 x 414Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices

Or email me at

Australian Owner Builder Magazine publishes Cordwood Article

The Australian magazine The Owner Builder recently published an article about cordwood construction in issue 182.  The Owner Builder Magazine also runs a website, a blog site, a print and digital magazine and workshops of all kinds.  Lynda (the editor) gave me permission to reprint parts of the article.  You can see the magazine’s table of contents as well. This article in larger print is available on my website at:


The Owner Builder Magazine has a very enthusiastic, eclectic vibe (just like the Aussies).  Besides the excellent cordwood article, reviews and profiles, this issue also features Australia’s first Earth Ship,  Pole Frame and Mud Brick home,  an Earth Covered Stone Haven, Thea Alvin’s stone chapel, Earth Render (the art of clay plaster, render and paints) and much more.  There are also guides to workshops and builders and stories about the Wedge-Tailed Eagle House made of recycled poles and natural materials by four families.


Table of Contents

This magazine does not take a purist stance, but rather a utilitarian view with an eye for alternative and repurposed materials.  I think you will like the far ranging and unique expression this magazine offers.

Owner Builder Sidebars

Owner Builder Sidebars

Review of Cordwood Construction by Rob Roy

Review of Cordwood Construction by Rob Roy

I would encourage you to look at the Cordwood Article and the surrounding reviews and Owner/Builder expert sidebars.  It is truly a sumptuous feast.   It comes in print form and as an eMagazine.   Ordering instructions are included.








Back Cover Thea Alvin's Chapel Gardens

Back Cover Thea Alvin’s Chapel Gardens

In addition to our Cordwood Workshops, Thea Alvin of will also be doing stone workshops at Kinstone Academy of Applied Permaculture in the summer of 2014

To find out more about cordwood, to order ebooks and print books, to sign up for a workshop, read cordwood articles and the most recent cordwood newsletter go to my favorite cordwood website

Cordwood Vacation Rental in Houghton, Michigan

If you are interested in experiencing what it would be like to live in a cordwood home, why not take the plunge and spend a vacation “checking it out.”

Nicole Barna Cordwood Dorm Room 1The Barna’s of Houghton, Michigan rent out their cordwood cabin, which their daughter built and wrote an article about in the Cordwood Conference Papers 2005 called “My Cordwood Dorm Room.”

Here is a picture of the Cordwood Dorm Room under construction.

Nicole Barna building cordwood dorm room

Nicole Barna Cordwood Dorm Room 6

The attached link (below) shows many more pictures and gives good detail and excellent reviews of this beautiful 750 sq. ft. cabin

Nicole Barna Cordwood Dorm Room 3

Description of the Houghton vacation cabin rental
1 bedroom, 1 three-quarter bathroom, loft, sleeps 4
The Keweenaw Cordwood Cabin was constructed in 2005-06. It overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway which is about one-half mile wide at this point. The cabin has one bedroom downstairs and a loft above and sleeps a maximum of four persons. A covered deck at the front of the cabin provides a spectacular view of the waterway and the hills along the opposite shore.

nicole barna

A Great Lakes Freighter passes in front of the cabin!

Nicole Barna Cordwood Dorm Room 4

Fall colors are especially dramatic across the water. The private, sandy beach is great for swimming and wading and is only a stone’s throw from the cabin. A dock slip with shore power is available. The town of Houghton has a full range of amenities and is only 5 miles by car or boat.

Nicole Barna Cordwood Dorm Room 5

Michigan Technological University is located in Houghton and enriches the cultural opportunities. Tourist attractions abound nearby. Fishing is excellent in the waterway and deep water fishing is available on Lake Superior. A trout pond is available for use of children. A full range of water sports are available locally.

nicole barna2


Nicole Barna building cordwood dorm room2


The floor plan of the Cordwood Dorm Room.

If you are interested in experiencing cordwood living the Upper Peninsula of Michigan go to:

The Barna’s have done a marvelous job of creating a beautiful home site and rental property.  They are familiar with the area and will be helpful in so many ways.

If you are interested in researching how to build with cordwood construction go to  and take a look at the menu titled: Articles, What’s New?  Workshops and the Online Bookstore.

Mermaid Cottage in Colorado

Near Del Norte, Colorado there lies a beautiful cottage made of cordwood, recycled glass bottles and mermaids.  Built by KimAnna Cellura-Shields it is a testament to the possibilities of building with log ends, glass and mortar. Mermaid Cottage 1   The kitchen provides a lovely place to start the day!Mermaid Cottage kitchen Colorado   The bedroom is filled with a strong post and beam framework.  The bottle ends provide for a rainbow of light each sunny morning. Mermaid Cottage 1   Here is KimAnna tuck pointing the cordwood, while getting ready to plaster the strawbale.  Hybrid cottages are becoming the rage, taking the best of the natural building worlds. Mermaid Cottage 1d KimAnna runs the Peace of Art Cafe (which is also cordwood and bottle ends) and the Cafe’s website and trading company Peace of Art Cafe in Del Norte, CO 2 According to her website these businesses are for sale.  If you are interested please visit the website to learn more. Mermaid Cottage 1e KimAnna And finally the bathroom is ablaze with colors and mermaids and fish.  An appropriate place to get the day started! If you are interested in learning the cordwood construction technique you might be interested in reading a book, taking a workshop or building a small starter building.  You can get started by going to and looking at the eNewsletter, the Workshop Schedule and the Online Bookstore.  The latest book on cordwood is Cordwood Construction Best Practices available in ebook, print or CD/DVD at

Cordwood 320 x 414Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices

Going Bananas for Cordwood in Quebec

Sebastien Demers built a beautiful two story cordwood home near Ste. Onesime, Quebec in 2009.   Here are some pictures and an explanation of “the build” from Sebastien himself.   The half round/half rectangle floor plan also has two interior gardens and a banana tree flourishes there and produced 30 pounds of bananas last year.

Sebastien Demers 13 large pixels

This is the front of the half round, the rectangle is in the back.

Sebastien Demers 11

A whole bunch of bananas!  30 pounds!

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The masonry heater, tile floor and indoor garden areas.

Sebastien Demers 10

The post and beam framework cross-braced with roof applied and ready for cordwood infill.

Sebastien Demers 12 build a model

Sebastien suggests building a 3D scale model first.  Note the two indoor garden plots.  Genius!

Sebastien Demers 8

Sebastien built his own doors.   What a beautiful looking entrance.  Note the shelves on the outside for keeping keys or packages up off the snow.  This is Quebec remember:0)

Sebastien Demers 4

The masonry heater supplies warmth for 24 hours at a time.

Sebastien offers advice on what to do before building your cordwood home:

1.  Read everything on the subject.

2.  Take a workshop.

3.  Build a practice building.

4.  Make a 3D scale model of your building.

Here are a few facts and figures from Sebastien:

Sebastien Demers Ste Onesime, Quebec.

“My best suggestions would be to take the time to do it, by : – reading; – visiting houses: – Workshops; – Experimenting, idealy with a test building; – Alot of planning and asking questions – Making a model of the house. It takes alot of time, but this time is so much worth it when it comes to the real construction!

  • And some details :
  • I used 16″ logs, cedar.
  • Insulation is sawdust with a bit of lime.
  • Next to the kitchen, there is à root celar whitch is 3´ underground and it communicantes from the inside. It is 12′x12′.
  • The house is a half circle (40′ in diameter) annexed to à 15′x40′ rectangle. All of it is on a flaoting slab, Heater by water.
  • The structure is made from beams that come from an old barn I recycled.
  • There is also à living roof.
  • Let me know if you need anymore details.
  • Almost forgot… There are 2 inside gardens in the circular part of the house. They are simply holes (about 10′x20′ x 3′deep) in whitch i did not pour concrete.
  • I have a banana tree that gave me 30 pounds of bananas, 2 years ago”

As you can see a very beautiful and very functional cordwood home was built with patience, research and planning.

For additional information on Cordwood Construction and to read articles and visit the Online Bookstore go to 

Double Wall Cordwood

In the mid-70′s Cliff Shockey of Vanscoy, Saskatchewan, Canada decided to build and energy efficient home of cordwood, but since he lived where the temps would go down to -50, he decided to build “double wall.”

Photo credit Cliff Shockey  Vancouver Island Western Cedar with copyright

This double wall cordwood home is on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

He built a post and beam framework and laid up 8″ of cordwood on the outside. Then he put 12″ of stiff fiberglass insulation (there are many insulation choices) and then another 8″ of interior cordwood. He had 20″ of wall with an R-value approaching R-50.  Cliff won the Harrowsmith award for Energy Efficiency in 1997.  His design continues to inspire folks to this very day.

Cliff Shockey harrowsmith award

The back cover of Cliff’s Double Wall Technique book.

A number of folks thought this was a good idea and decided to build double wall and try and improve on Cliff’s design.

Clint and Cindy Cannon's beautiful double wall cordwood and strawbale home in Canada.

Clint and Cindy Cannon’s beautiful double wall cordwood and strawbale home in Canada.

Clint & Cindy Cannon of Austin, Manitoba built a beautiful double wall and strawbale (balewall). They speak glowingly of 10 winters of lower heating bills with their home overlooking Antelope Valley.

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Kilgore 4

Bruce & Nancy Kilgore’s beautiful double wall cordwood home in upstate New York.

Bruce & Nancy Kilgore built a trapazoidal structure in upstate New York with double wall. Where Cliff went all the way with his mortar, Bruce and Nancy used 3″ of mortar, 2″ of sawdust insulation and 3″ of mortar on each side of their double wall creation.

Greg and Clare are building a wonderfully unique double wall home near Houghton, Michigan. They are using Lime Putty Mortar and blown in foam for a higher R-value.

Greg and Clare nerdwood.com4 with copyright

Greg & Clare’s double wall home near Houghton, Michigan.

Grant & Kiera Nicholson have a gorgeous double wall cordwood home in Owen Sound, Ontario. They experimented with a slip form technique for speeding up the cordwood process and now use the main room of the house as a music and recording studio.

Grant Nicholson new photos janc2012  BEST ONE with copyright

Grant & Keira Nicholson’s gorgeous double wall home in Owen Sound, Ontario.

Alan Stankevitz’s double wall beauty near LaCrescent, Minnesota is an excellent example of double wall with renewable energy.  Alan is almost at a break even point when it comes to energy used and energy produced. You can learn more about Alan at by going to the Journal.

Alan Stankevitz panorama

Alan’s double wall creation in SE Minnesota.

All of these stories are written about in the Cordwood Conference Papers 2005 and/or 2011. The attention to detail and the sweat equity of each project is significant and profound and needs to be seen to be believed.

The only Double Wall book on the market has been written by Cliff Shockey and is available in ebook, print and CD format at the Online Cordwood Bookstore at 

Cliff Shockey Cover 2007 small pixelsIf you have any questions or wish to learn more please “follow” this blog and/or email me at

Happy Trails,

Richard Flatau

Merrill, Wisconsin, USA

Cordwood eNewsletter 2014 & Workshop Schedule

Here is our Cordwood Workshop Schedule for 2014 and our very informative Cordwood eNewsletter 2014 (the eNewsletter is six full pages of pictures and information).  We will be teaching four workshops at Kinstone Permaculture Academy and one more on Labor Day Weekend near Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho at Stomping Moose Farm.  All the information is available when you click on the links.  These images are simply “snapshots” of the brochures, if you are interested, click on the link below the picture.  The hyperlinks are (which take you to more cordwood eye candy, are active once you click on the link.

Cordwood Newsletter and Cordwood Workshops 2014

Workshops for 2014

If you would like to be placed on the Cordwood eNewsletter List or would like additional information, please contact me (Richard Flatau) at, or or call 715-212-2870.

Or complete the following form and asked to be placed on the eNewsletter list (comes out 2 or 3 times a year).  Otherwise “stay tuned” to this blog for current updates on cordwood news.

White Earth Reservation Cordwood Home

This is the cedar cordwood home we were honored to be involved with at the White Earth Reservation in Naytahwaush, Minnesota.  Below if the first page of the article about this project in the January/February 2013 issue of Backhome Magazine.   It is reprinted herein, with permission.

White Earth article Backhome Magazine copyrighted

The project director was Bill Paulson of White Earth and he was responsible for getting the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) masons together,  cutting, staining, prepping and transporting  the cedar.   Helping to train the masons in the proper techniques, he was also the creator of the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) motifs in the wall.   Here are photos of some of his beautiful work.

White Earth Bear Paw 2010 Bill Paulson Ojibway tribe creatorThe cedar bear paw is Bill’s design and creation.  He laid it out on the floor and then mortared it into the wall.

Ojibwa Medicine Wheel FlatauThe Ojibwe medicine wheel is also Bill’s creation and honors the four directions: north, south, east and west.

Feather by Bill Paulson

Bill subtly tucked a feather into the entrance wall.

Stairway to the room in the attic trusses

The stairway wall gives people the impression of a stained glass effect.

Bill Paulson making sure the foam fills every space

Here is Bill making sure that all the insulation gets into every nook and cranny.

Here is the link to the entire article

For more information on cordwood [books, articles, news, photos, links]  go to

Cordwood in Oregon by Don Noe

Don Noe’s beautiful cordwood shed in Oregon. This shed with the cord wood wall was built with 90 percent construction scrap. It was  timber framed with timbers from large machine crates. The logs  came from an arborist who was going to use them for firewood.  Don Noe's Cordwood shed in Oregon 2

Look at these magnificent door hinges and the red cedar doors.  The bottle ends and cordwood work is also very artistic.

Don Noe's Cordwood shed in Oregon 1 The shed with the cord wood wall was built with 90 percent construction scrap  timber framed with timbers from large machine crates. The logs  fromarborist

Don states, “The doors (above) with the limb hinges are for a worm bin located on Portland Community College.”
Don Noe's Cordwood shed in Oregon 3

Below if another set of massive hinges, an beautifully decorated timber and excellent use of a deer skull and antler.   The different dimensions of rock stem wall are pleasing.

Don Noe's Cordwood shed in Oregon 4

All I can say is nice work Don!

Don Noe's Cordwood shed in Oregon 5 slash read-more slash 19-james-noe-s-3500-cordwood-shed-is-breathtaking

To find out more about cordwood building, go to and click on Articles, News, What’s New, 2014 eNewsletter and Online bookstore.