Category Archives: Cordwood Construction

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

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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

 

Cordwood Sauna in British Columbia

Ernie Slatter attended our Cordwood Construction workshop at Kinstone Permaculture Academy in Wisconsin and then went back home and built this beautiful sauna in British Columbia.  The sauna is called “Sea Bluff Sauna.”Ernie Slater BC Sauna small pix with logo 2Ernie built it for a friend and made sure he had all the tools and training to do it properly.   He planted 200 daffodils on the roof!  I look forward to the pictures he will send next Spring!Ernie Slater BC Sauna small pix with logo 3You will notice how he used a few large rounds and then many smaller pieces.  This makes for a random rubble look.  He also “exploded” pieces.  Which means he split the wood first and then mortared it together so it looks like a whole piece. Ernie Slater BC Sauna small pix with logoThe setting in British Columbia with their 10 month growing season, is wet and warm.
Ernic Slatter BC sauna 2

When building a round building, the roof goes on last, leaving the building out in the elements.  If you finish a small build quickly, there is usually no problem, but if your cordwood infill takes longer, the cordwood can suffer degradation.   We advise putting a framework and a roof on first.

Ernic Slatter BC sauna 3Should 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 Most Beautiful @Ravenwood (New York) Part 2

Note:  This is part 2 of a 2 part post about Bruce & Nancy’s cordwood masterpiece(s). The first part is available at Most Beautiful Cordwood part 1  Before Bruce & Nancy built their cordwood masterpiece near Saranac, New York they built a storage shed and then a guest cottage.  They lived in the 315 sq. ft. round guest cottage for 9 months, while they built their home.  The following pictures from their most excellent home tour during the Cordwood Conference in July 2015. BN new 11 with logo Bruce explains the construction of the guest cottage. BN new wraparounds with logoEven though the guest cottage looks round, it carries a full, hidden post framework of 6″ x 6″ timbers with 12″ cordwood infill.   Bruce “hid” the posts on the inside of the wall by using his latest invention “Wraparound Log Ends.” The posts are only visible from the inside. Notice the cordwood is notched and screwed to the post.  Bruce wrote an article about his wraparounds for the Cordwood Conference Papers 2005.Bruce and Nancy Kilgore for blog post 2015The living roof is all most finished. BN6The interior has beautiful bottle end motifs.  This was their practice building before they built their lovely Ravenwood home. BN4Bottle end beautiful!  Can you see the smiling frog?BN5Tom stops for a moment of reflection and a smile. BN new 3 with logoNancy works on the new house using double wall (the guest cottage is single wall).  This exterior wall is 8″ thick with two 3 inch mortar beads and 2″ of sawdust insulation.   There will be 6″ of blown-in water based foam and then another 8″ of cordwood on the interior:  producing a super-insulated wall. CCC15aa logoBruce cranks up his cordwood chop saw.  He has expertly modified the original Mother Earth News plans for this bad boy and made it much better.  Tom Huber watches in awe.BN2The other side of the guest cottage. Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels

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.

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 publication available from their online cordwood bookstore. (www.cordwoodconstruction.org)”

 

Cordwood Construction at Aspen Valley Ranch in Colorado

Ryan Ross of Woodland Park, Colorado (Pike’s Peak) was kind enough to share these photos. Ryan wrote, “We have our own portable sawmill and cut all the timber-frame material right here on the ranch… The walls are 8″ thick because we use this as an art studio/educational space. We got a little carried away with ideas and tried to incorporate as many interesting things in the walls as we could.”Ryan Ross Aspen Valley Ranch 1Aspen Valley Ranch runs an educational program for conservation of the environment which includes natural building.  They have erected a couple of cordwood cabins on the property  for use by the students. Ryan Ross Aspen Valley Ranch 2This is the link for accessing their website.  http://www.ppcf.org/our-projects/aspen-valley-ranch/Ryan Ross Aspen Valley Ranch 3The tree branch in the tree with glass is simply wonderful.Ryan Ross Aspen Valley Ranch 4

Ryan Ross Aspen Valley Ranch 5Note how the roof gable is filled with branches. Ryan Ross Aspen Valley Ranch 6The view is spectacular.Ryan Ross Aspen Valley Ranch 7Students need tables and chair and an inspirational view.Ryan Ross Aspen Valley Ranch 8Beautiful bottle end/bottle brick work complete with recycled door!Ryan Ross Aspen Valley Ranch 9The round bubble window provides a porthole-like-view of the mountains.Ryan Ross Woodland Park, COTeaching the students how to build using cordwood construction was a meaningful and rewarding experience. Ryan Ross Woodland Park, CO3Should you wish to learn more about Cordwood Construction and all the different building choices available,  visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org or click on the book cover. Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions please add a comment or email me at richardflatau@gmail.com

 Some folks have asked for a brief biography of what Cordwood Construction is all about. 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 hundreds of cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices (2015), Cordwood Conference Papers 2015, Cordwood Shed Plans (2012) and Cordwood House Plans (2014) are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.”    www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood Tool Shed uses Wabi-Sabi

Brian Bronaugh built this most beautiful cordwood tool shed near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Brian said, “I’ve enjoyed the process immensely and have embraced the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi – which is finding beauty in imperfections. It has a beautiful artistry and function that is unique and eye pleasing.  My inspiration was the David Stiles book  Sheds – The Do-it-Yourself Guide for Backyard Builders.”Brian Bronaugh http instagram.com slash sambronaugh1 with logoThe pictures are pretty much self explanatory and you can see the use of recycled windows, doors, wood and metal everywhere. BB3with correct logo

BB6i with correct logo A testament to hard work and ingenuity, the building is framed and roofed before the cordwood infill was applied.  Very smart!
The sliding door adds a nice touch.  Note how it slides on a track “out” from the building.BB8 with correct logoHaving a framework makes the cordwood infill “flow.” BB9 with correct logoA porch gives access to the exterior.
BB7 with correct logoThe star motif is subtle and effective.
BB5 with correct logoThe interior is very attractive and will be filled with working antique tools. BB10 with logo     BB2 with just cc logoA snowy winters day near Pittsburgh.
BB4 with correct logoThe floor was in place before the framework was erected.
BB11 with correct logoNice work Brian.  You achieved your goals and then some.

Should anyone wish to learn more about Cordwood Construction and all the different choices available for building with this old fashioned technique: visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org or click on the book cover.

Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels

If you have questions please add a comment or email me at richardflatau@gmail.com

Cordwood Chicken Coop in British Columbia

Tasha & Nathan in the Kootenay/Okanagan Mountains of British Columbia have created  a modern day homestead.  They have a menagerie of well loved and well cared for animals.  Their “just-about-finished” cedar chicken coop is a sturdy post and beam structure with unique & interesting cordwood log ends.  Tasha Hall chicken coopThe many shelves that will act as roosts.
Tasha Hall chicken coop9The chickens certainly look happy in their almost finished “digs.” The Western Red Cedar framework is braced and counter-braced and ready for the cordwood infill. Tasha Hall chicken coop7Nathan did the milling and provided the muscle/carpentry for the framing. The cedar corner posts on this shed are simply jaw dropping, gorgeous pieces of wood.   Note how the tree nestles right up to the structure. Tasha Hall chicken coop3Tasha Hall chicken coop6Cedar often has center rot and this is a cool way to make it an egress for their fowl-feathered friends. Tasha Hall chicken coop11Tasha/Nathan and their crew put in many delightful accoutrements. Tasha Hall chicken coop12Bottle ends with little rubber chicks inside… Tasha Hall chicken coop10Hearts, shelves and roosts are all part of the master plan. Tasha Hall chicken coop5A well designed and well built structure: the living roof, doors and windows will be added as time permits and as the flock grows.

Tasha runs a Photography business called T ‘n’ T Photography.  She does excellent work, as you will see if you click the link.    T-n-T-Photography

Should you wish to learn more about Cordwood Construction and all the different choices available,  visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org or click on the book cover. Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels

If you have questions please add a comment or email me at richardflatau@gmail.com

Most Beautiful Cordwood @ Ravenwood (New York) Part 1

One of thee most beautiful cordwood homes I have ever had the pleasure of seeing is the lovely home of Bruce Kilgore and Nancy Dow in the Adirondacks near Saranac, New York.  This home is energy-efficient to the max and uses only 2 full cords of firewood to heat this two story,  earth-bermed, double wall, living roof cordwood beauty.  This is 9000 heating degree days country, which means it is plenty cold!Bruce & Nancy exterior Fall 2015The living roof helps to keep heat in and provides a year long bucolic display. Colorful bottle ends light up the interior of the guest cottage which served as living quarters and a practice building.BN new 7 with logoNancy smiles happily while she finishes up working on her new porch at the entrance to Ravenwood.BN 12 new porch comboThe new bottle end entrance work is spectacular!  BN new 8 with logoThe porch is almost finished for the upcoming winter. BN new 10 with logoThe owl has found a new home and it seems to be eyeing the light switch.BN12There are lots of ravens in the various motifs at Bruce & Nancy’s. BN13The massive timber frame plays well with the Northern White Cedar cordwood.   BN new 3 with logoNancy is one of the few wood masons I k now who can mortar in shorts and sandals and not get full of lime. BN new 1This is a double wall home and here in the interior (second) wall. The soy-based open cell foam insulation is 8″ thick.  The total R-value approaches R-40.  Nancy’s cordwood wall artistry is like no other. BN19Nancy’s mortaring and Bruce’s mixing are a match made in heaven.  Precise lime putty mortar with an artists penchant for design and flow.  Simply gorgeous. BN new 4 wth logoHere is their incredibly efficient masonry heater.   It uses 2 cords of wood to heat this most energy efficient, double wall cordwood beauty. BN14Beautiful, massive beams with hand made metal framing. BN25The framing is 8 x 8″ and some of the ceiling framing is 16″ x 12″ and 4″ x  12″.  Bruce made all the metal brackets by hand.  What a metal artist. BN24Bruce and Nancy in their kitchen.  What delightful host/hostess they were. CCC15aa logoBruce shows off his custom made, counter-weighted, cordwood cut-off saw, while Tom Huber looks on in amazement.   His saw cuts straight and true.

Should you wish to learn more about Cordwood Construction and all the different choices available,  visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org or click on the book cover. Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels

If you have questions please add a comment or email me at richardflatau@gmail.com

PS  There will be a Part 2 blog post in the future about the beautiful, hidden post Guest House that Bruce and Nancy built first.BN new 2 with logo