Cordwood Workshops: The way to DIY

Cordwood workshops are the best way to learn the cordwood construction technique.   When you take one from Richard & Becky Flatau of Cordwood Construction Resources LLC, they emphasis the “Best Practices” approach to building.  The Flatau’s have honed a set of 14 best practice building techniques that will not only make your home, cottage or cabin beautiful, but they will ensure that it will be safe, comfortable and code compliant.  Here are some sample pictures from our hands-on workshops that gives the reader a taste of what goes on.  The 2016 cordwood workshop schedule. http://cordwoodconstruction.org/img/Cordwood_Workshop_Schedule_2016_final.pdf

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Hard workers are determined to finish the sauna…and they did!

bonners ferry 4The mountains give off their misty glow near Bonners Ferry, Idaho. .  Germask Workshop Tammy Trupp 1 with Banjo BobBanjo Bob sings Country Roads as we teach a private workshop in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

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Singing and stomping Cob for the Entrance Center. workshop kinstone june 2014 first row

A doula and a university professor have fun building a wall. They are married. Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014  framework of the saunaThe sauna post and beam framework with grade beam and keyways at Kinstone. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACordwood workshop at Love’s Organic Farm near Mars Hill, North Carolina.

Kinstone happy mortarers

Planning their work, working their plan with smiles.

What is the R-value of a cordwood wall (under construction)

Two teachers build a wall at the Cordwood Education Center in Merrill, Wisconsin.

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Spreading insulation, cleaning log ends and tuck pointing are all parts of learning the “technique.”

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Sawdust and lime insulation is added and packed in the center cavity.

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Learning to “screen” sawdust becomes a lesson in wind direction:0)

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Hands on mortaring of a cordwood wall in a “learn it by doing” style is the best way to “cement” the tricks of the trade.

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If I see it and do it, I remember.

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Classroom time is devoted to “Best Practices” lessons with cordwood that have been hard won during 37 years of cordwood living, building and sharing.

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The Kinstone Chapel mortaring crew poses for an end-of-the day photo.

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Bottle ends made from vases from the Thrift Store.

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Becky and Kirsten are proud of their river motif wall.

MREA 11 year old cordwood cobber the next generation 2012

Using “Cob Mortar” at a demo at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin.

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The six sided chapel walls are being completed at a natural building pace.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood Construction with Tom Huber

Tom Huber is most assuredly a master cordwood builder.  His most recent cordwood project is his Cedar Eden cabin (and chicken coop) in the Adirondacks near Potsdam, New York.  He uses CEM or cellulose enhanced mortar to build his walls and has written extensively about the benefits of cellulose fiber.

Tom Huber cedar eden with logoThe picture below is from Tom’s first home in Watervliet, Michigan.  The stone work is gorgeous, the cordwood beautifully done and the wavy pine siding sets the whole building apart from any other.  Tom has written about his cordwood building techniques in the Cordwood Conference Papers 2005/2011/2015. (Available at the Online Cordwood Bookstore.)

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Tom’s practice building was a shed.  Here he perfected his stone foundation.

Huber Shed MI with logo

The stones have insulation attached to the back and then a cordwood “face” on the inside.  The full wall, above the stones,  is 16″ cordwood.

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Tom Huber cordwood siding with stone with logo

This stone has cordwood siding sitting on top.  Those are one inch slices of cedar attached with a  brad nailer.

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Back at Cedar Eden Tom has his bongo drum and Jotul stove ready for winter.  Tom sure has a nice touch with the stone and cordwood infill.  I think there is quite an artist in that young fellow.

Tom Huber cabin Log End Dog

Tom’s dog is lucky he wasn’t put in the wall as a dog-end when he came over to check out the project.

CEM mix Tom Huber2 with logo

Tom’s CEM or Cellulose Enhanced Mortar is made from natural ingredients and provides a nice white mortar color.

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Tom sold his Michigan homestead in 2005 and moved away to become a professor at Paul Smiths College in New York.  He received his asking price when the home sold and the buyers said it was the cordwood that “sealed the deal.”

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood in Sweden with Olle

Olle Hagman, a retired professor from Gothenburg University in Sweden,  built this beautiful cordwood writer’s cabin in a faraway forest. He carries on a long tradition of cordwood building in his home country and has written extensively about Swedish Kubbhus (cordwood).

OlleHagman1 low resolution for FB pageOlle’s well-researched paper about the five phases of cordwood’s history from 1850 to the present day, appeared in the Cordwood Conference Papers 2011, entitled, “A Social History of Cordwood Houses in Sweden.”   Olle’s website is www.kubbhus.seOlle Hagman writer's cabin Sweden with logoHe also documents the resurgence of cordwood in his current article in the Cordwood Conference Papers 2015, “Wood Masonry in Sweden:  Historical Variation and Re-Introduction.”  Both sets of Papers are available in print and ebook format at the Cordwood Online Bookstore http://www.daycreek.com/dc/html/paypal_flatau.htmOlle Hagman's cordwood cabin in Sweden kubbhouseOlle has written a book about his research and the current state of Kubbhus.Ollle Hagman book cover 1Ollle Hagman book cover 2Olle is leading cordwood workshops in Sweden and documenting newly constructed cordwood buildings in his homeland.Olle Hagman  Writers cottage4

Olle attended the Cordwood Conferences in Winnipeg, Manitoba (2011) where he was part of a group of intrepid cordwood builders we lovingly named “The Fab Five.”  He presented his paper at that conference and was also a main speaker at the Cordwood Conference in 2015 at Earthwood Building School.

CCC15aaaOlle and friends: the self-proclaimed “no hairs.”  Olle is on the right showing off his log end heart T-shirt.  Tom Huber. cordwood builder of renown is in the middle and Jim Smart is on the left (sporting his Cordwood Conference 2005 T-shirt).

CCC11 U of Manitoba Cordwood Kiosk workshopa.jpgHere is the crew from the Cordwood Conference in 2011.  Olle is on the far right.  This is the cordwood entrance kiosk for the Alternative Village run by the engineering department. Dr. Kris Dick, PEng, is in the middle with the burgundy shirt & beard.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

 

Cordwood Sheds of Excellence

There are some very creative folks doing wonderful work. Here are a few cordwood outbuildings that are both functional, beautiful and built with best practices.Kinstone 28Above is the Kinstone sauna crew that finished the project.  There were three other workshops for framing and cordwood construction. All participates were appreciated for their attention to task and detailed approach to learning cordwood   Peter Debenham 1Peter Debenham and Ann Lundquist built this lovely cordwood wood shed in Colorado. Peter Debenham 2     An interior view of the woodshed with shelves and bottle ends.
Eric & Beth 2Eric and Beth Carlberg built the Rendezvous Cabin in Wisconsin for historical reenactments. Kinstone sauna 2015The Kinstone cordwood sauna ready for floor, stove and benches.Becky tuckpointing at Kinstone SaunaTuck pointing before covering the walls at the end of the day. Kinstone sauna 4Note the grade beam, antlers and flower in the center of the picture made with red cedar. Ted Ammans sugar shack northern Wisconsin 7 Sept3 with logoTed Amman likes to put colored bottles on the interior and exterior of the cordwood walls of his Maple Sugar Shack.  He enjoys the double color they bring to the building. Ted Ammans sugar shack northern Wisconsin 7 Sept2 with logoThere are some very creative folks doing wonderful work out there. Here are a few cordwood outbuildings that are both functional and beautiful.Brian Bronaugh http instagram.com slash sambronaughBrian Bronaugh’s beautiful cordwood shed using the wabi-sabi approach (reveling in imperfections:0)Cordwood Chicken coop by Tasha Hall                          Chicken coop with curious chicken courtesy of Tasha Hall

Cordwood Shed with 9 foot walls

These pictures are from the book Cordwood Shed Plans available at the Cordwood Online Bookstore at www.cordwoodconstruction.org  These sheds with ladder pads for cordwood have 9 foot high walls for a larger garage door opening.  This is so larger equipment can be stored.  Cordwood Shed with 9 foot walls2

Treehaven shed frome and corwood

The top picture is a garden shed we built for Treehaven Campus near Tomahawk, Wisconsin (using red pine infill).  It holds tools and materials for the 6,000 sq. ft. organic garden on campus. The picture gives an excellent example of the post frame structure that becomes both foundation and framework (the posts are placed below the frost line).  Below is the finished product.

Treehaven shed complete

 

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This is the Novitch Maple Sugar Shack (with aspen infill)  made with the very useful  Cordwood Shed Plans.  Notice the Maple Syrup stove evaporator under the lean-to. 

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood Cabin on a basement uses Best Practices

A beautiful cordwood cabin done the “right way” using Best Practices. The owner’s were meticulous and made sure every part of the cabin was done properly.  This cabin is built upon a walk-out, full basement.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The cabin rests in the middle of 320 acres of hardwood and conifer forest.   It provides bountiful recreation, hunting and relaxation.

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This 28′ x 36′ cordwood cabin was built on a full basement.  The engineer made certain the foundation was able to handle the significant weight of a 16″ cordwood wall.  An 8′ high cordwood wall weighs 500 to 700 pounds per lineal foot.  So every four feet you have a ton of weight sitting on your foundation.  Sierra Exif JPEG

. NOTE: People have been asking about the plans for Cordwood on a Basement. This cabin’s basement specs are featured in an article in Cordwood Conference Papers 2005 available at http://www.daycreek.com/dc/html/paypal_flatau.htm OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The cordwood posts are red pine & cedar and the cordwood infill is pine, cedar  and aspen.  The basement was “capped” with a floor and the framework was added to the wooden sub-floor. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Boo Boo the bear cub walks across the central rafter log. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The heavy timber framing makes for a very attractive cabin.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The sliding glass doors are attached to a large deck which overlooks a small spring fed pond. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A view from the loft. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The cabin boasts four bedrooms and a loft sleeping quarters. It also has an indoor sauna and grid inter-tie.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood classroom houses Cloud Forest Conservation in Guatemala

Tara & Rob Cahill have been working in the rain forests near Coban, Guatemala for 14 years.  They have built a beautiful infrastructure that includes a cordwood school for middle and high school students.  Here is a brief walk through video by the architect Charles Olfert.  It is quite impressive.   https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL17CB46FDCA1730B5
CCFC 1AAA high resolution building and students with logoThe Small Quetzal is 75 foot long and 40 foot tall on the big end.  It houses 50+ student for classes, but it also is used for cooking jams, jellies, salsas and local products for distribution on the international market. CCFC 1A with logoShould you wish to consider to contribute a scholarship for a young lady to attend this life changing school  http://www.cloudforestconservation.org/interact/Build_and_Beyond_matching_fund_campaign.phpIMG_9804Education is the number one goal at the Community Cloud Forest Conservation (CCFC) School.CCFC 26 curved wall quetzalBuilding the Cloud Forest Conservation School with cordwood construction.

IMG_7717Cleaning log ends and sharing stories for the next days wall building.CCFC Pineapple pie classTo find out how to help empower these young girls  http://www.cloudforestconservation.org/interact/scholarships.php

CCFC Conservation, Agroecology, Sustainable Living Learning Center Tara Jean Cahill 8

CCFC 1YClasses are held in the 40 foot tall open porch.CCFC 1F with logoStones from the riverbed are being grouted into the porch. These washed river stones were also used in the showers.
CCFC cleaning the cordwood before mortaring 1 with logoCleaning the log ends. Framework non-native Eucalyptus trees with logoThe framing timbers were all non-native Eucalyptus.  20 trees were planted for each tree felled.  The cordwood infill is mostly local pine. CCC15oo

Rob & Tara Cahill and Richard Flatau meet for the first time at the Cordwood Conference at Earthwood in upstate New York on July 12, 2015.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood at Sage Mountain Center in Montana

Christopher Borton founder of the Sage Mountain Center in Whitehall. Montana has built a beautiful Cordwood Education Center.  His vision is to promote sustainable and holistic well being through education and demonstration.   Classes, tours, seminars and workshops are offered in solar, thermal and wind power, strawbale and cordwood construction, physical health and inner growth through meditation and yoga. sage mountain center 3The central meeting, dining room is peaceful, beautiful and serene.sage mountain center 4The cordwood entrance is organic and attractive. sage mountain center 5The guest rooms are neat, clean and offer breathtaking views.   Accommodations are now offered through Airbnb at  https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3415627?s=UEVTsage mountain center 1The entire facility brings a feeling of well being to visitors.

Chris Borton and Linda Welsh are co-founders of Sage Mountain Center.

Their explanation of the purpose of the SMC  is as follows: “As a demonstration and education facility, SMC is leading the way toward an integrated approach to life. Through our collection of Consultation Services, Workshops, Seminars, and Tours, we provide the knowledge and experience needed to bring important ideas into reality.”

To find out more visit.     www.sagemountaincenter.org

www.facebook.com/Sage-Mountain-Center

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Kinstone Cordwood Chapel: Cordwood, Stone & Thatch

Kinstone Chapel: Cordwood, Stone and Thatch by Kristine Beck

  The Kinstone Chapel is the heart of Kinstone, our permaculture school near Fountain City, Wisconsin. The chapel building is a 12’ x 12’ hexagonal cordwood structure with a thatched roof … and walls full of story and magic!Kinstone in the Fall 2014 half size 2

It is a place for personal solitude and quiet time and can be rented for celebrations. The two handmade wooden doors weigh 260 pounds apiece. There are over 1,000 bundles of reeds in the thatched roof; mostly harvested just 10 miles down the road in the Mississippi River backwaters. Over 450 bottle-ends create a design in the walls entirely based on the beauty of the earth. Some highlights include the sun, moon, flowers, birds, a tree, a dragonfly, fireflies, a river, mighty winds, clouds, fire, starry night skies, the Eternal Flame and a rogue doorknob into the unknown. A special wood carving graces the doorway showing Native American motifs from tribes that wandered this land before the first of the four generations of my family settled here. The elegant stained glass windows allow in plenty of sunlight without distracting the eye.

http://www.kinstonecircle.com/wp-content/uploads/Kinstone_Chapel_Signs_and_Symbols_8_Master_pdf.pdf

Inspiration

Columcille Megalith Park in Pennsylvania is the life work of William Cohea Jr., now 87 years young. I have fallen in love with the place and the man. A beautiful hexagonal stone slate-roofed stone chapel was hand-built by dedicated friends working together over a season and is the inspiration for the Kinstone chapel as well as the approach to building it. The idea of cordwood and thatch originated with my good friend, Wayne Weiseman. Using natural materials is an important practice that I have been learning more about since 2010 when we started Kinstone using Permaculture principles. The selection of cordwood, stone and thatch has conspired to create a structure of wonder. Over 110 people helped build this chapel, and each one’s spirit permeates it still.

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Drone’s eye view of the Kinstone Stone Circle

Planning

The use of natural materials was paramount. We chose cordwood because of its suitability in our Wisconsin climate and because we love how it looks! We decided to build a 2’ stem wall out of a dark blue “hornblende gneiss” from Krukowski Stone in Mosinee, Wisconsin. Further, we decided to use local thatch for the roof. This roofing material is proven in many areas of the world; we thought we would give it a try here and document our results. With plenty of Phragmites australis water reeds found locally in the nearby backwaters of the Mississippi River, we thought this would be doable. It was quite an undertaking, as harvesting enough thatch took two winters to complete! The Department of Natural Resources is willing to allow harvesting of this reed, as they consider it to be invasive.

Kinstone framework

The framework on an insulated floating slab.

To make bottle ends, we started saving glass bottles, jars, vases and even bowls of all shapes and colors. As for the cordwood itself, we did not have wood onsite that we could cut, prepare and dry in time for our planned project start, so we took Richard Flatau’s advice and called on Rapid River Rustic in Michigan for help. We placed an order for several cords of very dry northern white cedar cordwood, twelve cedar posts (each 12’x 8” x 8”), thirteen red pine pole logs (each 24’ long and 8” to 12” in diameter) for the rafters, and several unique, center-rot cedar logs that we would use to inspire creativity in the cordwood walls. Once we had decided upon materials, we worked on plans for the frame. An architect rendered the initial drawings. We would use post and beam framing for 16” thick walls and set it up with a steeply pitched roof to support the use of thatch in our snowy region. Due to a last-minute design change, the walls are only 13” thick in some areas and 16” in others. This made for careful cutting to ensure we had the correct length cordwood available for each worker. In hindsight, simpler is always better, so plan carefully, right from the get-go!

Kinstone 20 Tension ring and circular metal roof bracket makes for a strong system

Collar tie and tension ring.

Synchronicity

Once we had a plan, we needed to determine its exact placement on the land. There have been many interesting coincidences as Kinstone has been built. The chapel itself was sited based on the idea that triple threes continue to spontaneously appear at Kinstone. We placed the chapel 333 feet from the Labyrinth and almost the same distance from the Stone Circle, creating a nearly equilateral triangle. My friend and neighbor excavated the chapel spot creating a nice flat circle of level gravel from which to start. A local concrete company poured the floating slab with a 16” thickened edge to support the 16” cordwood walls. ) The floor is 4” thick. The contractor’s term for this type of slab is a turned-edge, frost protected, shallow foundation or FPSF.

Materials

The cordwood, posts and rafters were delivered in one big load. At the same time, we also received our local sawdust and sand. We covered the pallets of cordwood and other materials with tarps to protect against the weather. We purchased Portland cement and Hydrated Lime on a “just-in-time” basis to ensure it was fresh. We hired a local contractor to erect the post and beam frame and raise the twelve red pine pole rafters to form the steep roof. The top called for a collar tie (also called a ring tie) to hold all the rafters together. This had to be custom made. In addition to the collar tie, the architectural plans called for a tension ring to be installed where the rafters meet the top plate of the building frame. This was also custom-fashioned by the same craftsman and made for a beautiful floating ring, centered between the peak of the roof and the floor, with spokes going out to the six corner rafters. The final touch to the roof structure was fastening the cedar purlins to support the attachment of the thatch.

 Cordwood Construction

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Insulating the gneiss stone walls

In 104°F heat (July, 2012), Richard and Becky Flatau laid the first mortar beads and log ends in the Chapel as they taught the first Natural Building Workshop at Kinstone. This was the first of four cordwood workshops we held specifically to work on the chapel. We also held many volunteer work days and weekends that brought folks from all over to assist. We declared the cordwood finished in October, 2013. Workers instilled a piece of themselves into the wall by using their individual creativity to place logs and bottles into the grand design. Even now folks will come back and point out what portion they worked on and what they tried to convey in their own way.

The cordwood walls themselves have their own story; I have written more details about that in “Kinstone Chapel: Signs and Symbols,” found at www.cordwoodconstruction.org and www.kinstonecircle.com.

workshop 8

Mortar–Insulation–Log Ends (Repeat til you get to the top)

As I thought about this structure being a chapel, I felt it needed a theme, design or focus. During the first workshop, we had a massive session where we all learned how to make bottle ends for use in the walls.  Bottle-ends are just like log-ends when they are laid in the wall, except

they allow light to pass through. The resulting “stained glass effect” is stunning. One student, Kaitlyn O’Connor, took the liberty of laying out bottle ends on the Kinstone porch in ways that evoked certain natural phenomenon – like rivers, trees or the sun. This struck a chord with me and reminded me of Saint Francis of Assisi and his 12th century poem of praise to God for the things of the earth:  The Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon. This was the beginning of a process of designing the main elements of this poem into the walls of the chapel.

Flatau's Chateau Kinstone

A river runs through it

On day one of learning cordwood (and perhaps every day thereafter!), we challenged our teachers. The first course of mortar and log ends was progressing nicely until one group decided to place some large river rocks into the walls instead of cordwood. “It is the beginning of the river,” they argued. Richard and Becky scratched their heads and thought about it a bit and then gave the go-ahead to do it, with a caveat that they had not tried this before. The stones were stacked a few high, inside and outside, to represent the edge of a river. Blue and green bottle ends were laid out in a meandering line from this rocky beginning to represent water. This line of bottles goes across two walls of the chapel and now represents “Sister Water” in the poem, but is also placed to mimic the Mississippi River just a mile away.

Being our first cordwooding experience, we immediately found that just placing random cordwood log ends would be much faster than placing cordwood, bottle ends and stones to evoke a particular design. At this point, we realized that this effort would take much longer than originally expected, but oh, would it be worth it!

 Sketching the Bottle-End Design

I made a sketch on graph paper of each section of wall, trying to lay out the bottle-end designs in a way that would help us with placement of logs and bottles. This process was constantly in flux. I would walk around with this design in hand, critically reviewing each new layer of cordwood, ensuring that all groups working on the various walls were aware of what was coming next. When someone got close to a section requiring a “flower,” then I handed out appropriate bottle-ends for that feature. When the “river” was coming to a break due to the window, I directed where to start on the other side. When we reached the “skies,” I was there to direct where the “wind” would blow and where the “stars” would glow.

Workshop 1

Brother Fire in action

One of our students, Mike Fanslau, asked for permission to design a planned “fire” design and put it in the wall. Permission granted! He took the bottle-ends that I had planned (blue, red, amber, orange and clear) and arranged them around a fabulous Depression Era red glass fruit bowl that belonged to my grandmother. We had a difficult time making the bowl into a bottle end, but we finally made it happen using aluminum flashing, reflective tape and a lot of finesse. The opposite end of this bottle-end is a modern, clear, cut glass fruit bowl stolen from my kitchen cupboard. Mike added unique touches of his own. Using liquid nail glue, he took tumbled glass beads and fixed them to clear bottle ends making an ember-like effect. Further, he hollowed out a quarter inch of the ends of some thin, flame-like logs, filled them with the “embers” to create another texture to the overall fire. He spent hours working at this. We had to tear him away to come for meals, but he finally finished it before the course ended. This (and he) are now dubbed “Brother Fire.”

Kinstone cordwood chapel interior

Ram’s Horns and Hollow Logs

Another center rot log turned out to be a near perfect heart. I found a beautiful celestite geode and a chunk of amethyst that felt just right for the center. Using denim insulation to stuff the middle of the log and then mortaring the two ends, we placed these two crystals in the wet mortar, one on the inside and one on the outside. It was intentionally placed in the “Night Wall” amongst the 160 blue and white bottles and “Sister Moon” (a crescent moon stained glass window) that represent the night sky. Just as the Kinstone Chapel is the heart of Kinstone, so this piece became the “heart of the night”.We were lucky to have several center-rot logs granted to us by Rapid River Rustic. These were cut into 16-inch lengths, debarked and the center rot was cleaned out by hand, chisel or chainsaw. Some we were able to keep whole, while others had splits or curls that resulted in half-sections of a hollow log – becoming what are known as “ram’s horns,” creating special places in the walls. One entirely hollow log end was used to make an “eddy” in the river. We placed two smaller pieces of cordwood, forming a wave pattern, in the middle of the hollow log, stabilizing them with recycled denim insulation. Once set the way we wanted, we mortared the ends and set a stone in the middle. This truly unique piece helps the “river” just roll along.

workshop 34b

Thin slabs of cedar became grass, bottles are flowers, a dragonfly flutters and a tree bears fruit.

Entrance of Distinction

The final wall we worked on was the doorway, the most ornate of them all. A whole row of our curly “ram’s horns” lines the top of the doorway wall. The arched doors and doorjambs were custom-made for this chapel. We had to leave a post between the two doors to support the frame and the cordwood. You can see this post on the outside; on the inside, the space between the two doors is filled with a carving of Native American symbols in a rich, deep, black walnut. A bow of rectangular cordwood pieces (each one shaped specifically for this) goes up over the doors, mimicking their arch. Above that is a bright arch of clear bottles with beautiful shapes and facets. Throughout the area above the doors, we have used the tiniest of log ends, which I call “cordwood confetti.” Richard Flatau lamented that at this stage, the final wall is one where the owner/builder just wants to “get it done” and puts in the largest log ends to fill space. But no, not me! I was adamant that each piece was slivered down to just a teensy-weensy fleck. I was certain that this cordwood confetti would leave us with a sense of celebration and an uplifting feeling as we enter or exit. Indeed it has.

The moon and stars wall low rez

Odds and Ends From Around the World

We placed many, many small stones in the walls. Every large mortar joint was a target. I have picked up stones from all over the world – including Columcille and Machu Picchu – and nearly all of those stones have found a home in the walls of the Kinstone Chapel, so it really has an international flavor. Besides stones, we have: beach glass from Fort Bragg; northern California redwood; dust from Chimayo, New Mexico; special chestnut log ends from a tree my father loved that died shortly after he did; a door knob from my childhood home; a tangerine quartz crystal; a bottle end full of marbles from my mother’s collection; a copper butterfly; 28 clear quartz crystals; a conch shell … and more! Visitors are fascinated by the variety of odds and ends that are hidden in plain sight.

 Kinstone mortaring crew

An Invitation

The Kinstone Chapel is so much more than just a cordwood building with a cool thatched roof. It holds within it all the heart and spirit of those that have come together to create it. It embodies what Kinstone is all about. Visitors feel it and become part of it, bringing their own energy to add to the mix. Come feel it for yourself!
by Richard & Becky Flatau  Kinstone Kinship

The process of building the Kinstone Chapel and the feeling of becoming kin was a significant moment in our lives. The atmosphere, the camaraderie, the feeling of soul-affirming work on a project of significance was overwhelmingly satisfying. Kinstone is a special place with wonderful people. “Big Rich” (overseer) and Clare (chef) told us when we first arrived, “Don’t worry, you will get pulled into the vortex” and a positive vortex it became; while walking the labyrinth, passing through the stone circle, sitting by the reflecting pool, eating Mona’s cob-oven pizza, and making merry around a campfire. All the while, the project was teaching us, in Wayne Weiseman permaculture-style, to observe and take note of all the natural phenomena. It is hard to define when an epiphany happens, and this one was gradual, but we feel that our work and play at Kinstone has been a defining era in our lives. Our gratitude could not be greater. One of the special challenges during the construction of the Kinstone Chapel was to simultaneously teach our students the proper cordwood techniques while arranging the symbols into the chapel walls; all the while endeavoring to keep the project moving forward. It became a balancing act to adjust and adapt as the walls took shape. We have fond memories of the people and how they took ownership of “their” wall section(s).

Kinstone smiles and friendship

Contact Information for the Flatau’s & Kinstone

Names: Richard and Becky Flatau

Email: richardflatau@gmail.com

Website:  wwww.cordwoodconstruction.org

Kristine Beck:  kristine@kinstonecircle.com

Kinstone:  www.kinstonecircle.com

For more information:  Kinstone Signs and Symbols (an additional article with pictures and explanations of the numerous symbols in the chapel and on the grounds of Kinstone.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cordwood Flooring Update

Sunny Pettis Lutz sent new photos of her much-envied cordwood floor in Arizona. Sunny’s pictures have traveled to all corners of the globe in blogs, website and social media.  She and her husband Tony have delighted in the well deserved fanfare and compliments.  Here are the new photos. Thank you Sunny!

Sunny Pettis Lutz new floor pix 1Sunny mentioned, “In the original pics, the kitchen walls were yellow and the cabinets were hickory.  Well, the hickory stripes really clashed with the juniper disk floor, so we painted the cabinets yellow and the walls red.  I like it MUCH better!”  Sunny Pettis Lutz new floor pix 2

Sunny Pettis Lutz new floor pix 3

Sunny Pettis Lutz new floor pix 4

The posts really look attractive with the cordwood flooring.  Sunny Pettis Lutz new floor pix 5

Sunny Pettis Lutz new floor pix 6

Sunny Pettis Lutz new floor pix 7

The original photos of the construction of the floor show Sunny and Tony putting the hickory slices in place like you would a jig saw puzzle.

Below is the original article so you can see what started the whole cordwood flooring inspiration. 

Sunny Pettis Lutz  send some photos of her gorgeous, hand-made cordwood floor. The following is a detailed list of how they made their floor with legal pickings from the state forest.   “Go out to the forest and harvest dead trees. In our area that means Juniper and Pine.  We are using Shaggy Bark Juniper and Alligator Bark Juniper.”

Sunny Pettiz Lutz Cordwood floor 7Sunny is laying out the hardwood discs.Cordwood flooring by Sunny Pettis Lutz in Cornville, AZ 2 step by step instrucitonsRun each piece through the chop saw set at 1″.  Tony is gluing the slices in place. Sunny Pettiz Lutz Cordwood floor 8

Prepare surface by sweeping and mopping clean. We are gluing directly onto our concreet slab.  Sand both sides using a belt sander.Begin to layout disks on the floor. Try to get them as close as possible. Work in 2′ sections.

Cordwood flooring by Sunny Pettis Lutz in Cornville, AZ 2 step by step instrucitons work on 2 foot section at a timeGlue the pieces down and firmly tamp them.  We’re using Loctite PL Premium Construction Adhesive.Cordwood flooring by Sunny Pettis Lutz in Cornville, AZ

Sunny Pettiz Lutz Cordwood floor 6Apply a light coat of polyurethane to the surface of the disks (this is to prevent the grout from adhering to the tops).

Grout the spaces between the slices with a mix of 80% tile grout, 20% sawdust.  Your local flooring store will have many options.

Apply 2-3 coats of polyurethane to finish.

Sunny Pettiz Lutz Cordwood floor 5

Here is a detailed list of how Sunny and her husband Tony made this beautiful cordwood floor!

Cordwood Flooring Instructions by Sunny & Tony.

  1. If you don’t have wood you can access on  your property, then go to your local Forest Service office or ranger station and buy a wood harvesting permit.
  2. Pack your pick-up tuck with gloves, chainsaw(s), ax, come along an other tools as necessary.
  3. Go out to the forest and harvest dead trees. In our area (Arizona) that means Juniper and Pine. Pine and Juniper can be taken while standing. We are using Shaggy Bark Juniper and Alligator Bark Juniper.
  4. Look for wood close to the road on the uphill side. No one wants to be dragging these logs from the down-slope side.
  5. Cut down the dead wood using tools from step 2.
  6. Attach Forest permit to wood and take it home.
  7. Sort what will be lumber and what is just good for firewood.
  8. Cut logs into manageable size.
  9. Run each piece through the chop saw set at 1″.
  10. Sort ‘disks’ for usable ones vs bad ones.
  11. Remove any loose bark either by hand using a chisel or scraper.
  12. Prepare floor surface by sweeping and mopping. We are gluing the slices directly onto our concrete slab.
  13.  Sand both sides using a belt sander.
  14. Begin to layout disks on the floor. Try to get them as close as possible. Work in 2′ sections.
  15. Glue the layout you have chosen. We’re using Loctite PL Premium Construction Adhesive.
  16. Repeat.
  17. Sand using a belt sander until everything is smooth and level.
  18. Use shop vac to cleanup all dust and debris.
  19. Apply a light coat of polyurethane to the surface of the disks. (this is to prevent the grout from adhering to the faces).
  20. Grout the spaces with a mix of 80% tile grout, 20% sawdust.
  21.  Apply 2-3 coats of polyurethane to finish.

More pictures of Sunny & Tony’s floor.

Sunny Pettiz Lutz Cordwood floor 10 with logoClick to see the  other article on Cordwood Flooring .

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood floor, cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.

Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

 

 

 

Cordwood Chicken Coops

So many folks have asked about building Cordwood Chicken Coops that I feel obliged to write a post about the subject.   Herein are some fine examples of  cordwood “coupe-de-villes” for our little feathered, egg laying friends.   These new roost boxes are courtesy of Tasha Hall. Tasha_Hall_chicken_coop15Chicken folks often have a good sense of humor, so here is a very little bit of it.Chicken joke from YES

Chicken poetry reading 500 pixels

Tasha Hall of BC has added very colorful roost boxes for her egg laying friends.Tasha_Hall_chicken_coop13Here is Tasha Hall’s cedar chicken masterpiece.  The birds look happy!Tasha Hall chicken coop9There are shelves and window boxes for them to roost upon.Cordwood Chicken coop by Tasha Hall

The framework is sturdy and fortress-like.  If the chickens move out, this would be a fine guest cabin.

Tasha Hall chicken coop3

Tasha Hall chicken coop11On the inside are roost sticks at various levels. Tasha Hall chicken coop6Tasha can check in on the residents through a hollowed out cedar log.Tony and Denise Sauna Minnesota1This is a sauna that could easily become a bird hotel.Tom Huber Chicken CoopOn top is Tom Huber’s cordwood sided chicken coop in Watervliet, Michigan.Tom Huber Super Chicken CoopHere is Tom’s super coop in Potsdam, NY.  Tom wrote about this design in the Cordwood Conference Papers 2011. Seattle city chicken coop tour via Green TilthThis round bird house was built by “Cementitious-Man” near Seattle, Washington.  I don’t think that is a new species of homo sapiens. Dog House with cc,org logo for TMEN

This actually started out as a dog house, but you can see endless possibilities.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood chicken coop, cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.

Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels

If you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org