Category Archives: Natural Building

Does Cordwood belong in the Kitchen?

As my Swedish (Minnesotan) friends would say “Ya sure you betcha!” Many folks have wondered how to hang kitchen cabinets and design their kitchen around cordwood walls.  It is actually very easy because cabinets can be hung on any level and plumb wall.   Here are some examples of “Cordwood in the Kitchen”. to get your creative juices flowing.Cordwood Kitchen in Copper Harbor Michigan from A beautiful cordwood wall lends dignity and class to a well-built kitchen.  The cabinets are easy to hang (you don’t have to find a stud, just a log end).Copper Harbor cordwood interior small pixelsA Kitchen Island works well in so many ways.  Folks can sit around for an informal meal or it can be a staging area for a sit-down feast.Flatau White Earth Reservation Corwdood Home 8 Naytahwaush, Minnesota USA note bearpaw and featherAn open kitchen concept where guests are welcome to sit and share.
Mermaid Cottage 1f best for CCBP small pixelsSimple and elegant is the order of the day when space is limited. Gormley kitchen countertops

A blue-jean denim concrete coutertop is the perfect accent to this cordwood kitchen.

John Meilahn leaves countertopFall leaves, at the peak of their color, are epoxied  into the countertop.

So let your imagination be your guide and don’t be afraid of trying something new .

To learn how to build a cottage, cabin, or shed with best practices using Cordwood Construction, have a look at the latest book on the subject. Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels

Click on the book cover or visit and go to the Online Bookstore.  Many of the books and plans are offered as ebooks.

Email if you have questions.

Cordwood Conference Papers 2015

The 2015 Cordwood Conference was held near Plattsburg, New York on July 11-12, 2015.  It was hosted by Rob and Jaki Roy of Earthwood Building School.  35 wonderful souls attended and had an outstanding time learning, sharing and networking.  A set of papers was developed over the of winter of 2015.   Richard Flatau and Rob Roy edited the papers, collated them and sent them to the printer.  CCC 15 Papers cover

Written by 19 different authors. there are 136 pages and 242  inspirational, color photos. Examples of articles are: “Cordwood in the round, the Rendezvous Cabin, Ravenwood, Kinstone Chapel, Adirondack Cabin, Cordwood in Sweden, Korean Soil Houses, Special Design Features at Driftwood, Cordwood Flooring,  Cordwood Classroooms in Guatemala” and so many more. This is a significant addition to the ever expanding cordwood library. You can have your very own copy in print or ebook format…visit           to find out more. Here are some pictures from the Conference.

CCC15eeee.jpg colleenAbove:  Jaki & Rob Roy, Becky & Richard Flatau.CCC15uuAngelika, Nancy, Jaki & Becky striking a beautiful pose.CCC15xxAngelika, Clare and Lulu at Stoneview. CCC15tThe Cordwood Conference attendees pose in front of Rapatooee Louie. CCC15zzzzA beautiful corwdood wall in progress at the home of Chris and Cat Ryan.  A cordwood workshop was held there after the Conference. CCC15fffConference attendees having fun at the Saturday social at Earthwood.
BN24Bruce Kilgore and Nancy Dow were gracious host/hostess in offering their incredibly gorgeous Ravenwood cordwood home for tour.  More on the Kilgore’s homestead in another post.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels 640 x 480Should you be interested in books about cordwood, click on the picture of Cordwood Construction Best Practices and then click on it again when you are at my website to be taken to the Online Cordwood Bookstore. 

Cordwood Construction shows off her Outhouses

One of the all-time-best cordwood construction practice projects is building the cordwood outhouse.  Not only do you get to hone your cordwood mortaring skills, but you get a functional addition to your homestead.Cordwood Outhouse high with logoThis outhouse (above) was the first cordwood building constructed before the owners cordwood cabin. This delightful structure is located in Wisconsin.  Yurt cobwood Marcus Grossman NJ with logoMarcus Grossman built this yurt style cordwood outhouse in New Jersey before moving to Central America.  He used a cob mortar and topped it off with a living roof.


Julie decided that she was going to make her outhouse look like cordwood, so she took here paintbrush and her artistic talent.  This is what she created.  Nice work Julie.

Don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild when you build with cordwood.  It lends itself to unique and one of a kind features.

Bathroom cordwood DregnesThis is not an outhouse, but a cordwood bathroom inside of Julie’s lovely cordwood home. Huber Shed MI with logoWhile this is not technically an outhouse, it could have been easily modified to serve as one.  It currently functions as a beautiful shed in southern Michigan. Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels 640 x 480Should you be interested in learning more about Cordwood Construction, please click on the photo of my book (above) or visit 

Cordwood flooring moves outdoors in Slovakia

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Cordwood in Sweden @ Pelle Henriksson’s cordwood sauna

Pelle Henriksson sent these wonderful pictures of his backyard sauna in Sweden.  He calls his Facebook building site Kubbhusbastu which translates to Cordwood Sauna which Pelle says is “Just for fun.”   The foundation (ring beam), framing (post & beam) and cordwood infill are very well done using “best practices” throughout.  Kubbhusta 5 Pelle HenrikssonPelle’s  pictures tell the story very well.Kubbusbsta 10 Pelle Henriksson FB page KubbhusbastaThe logs for the framework are 100 years old and were found in Pelle’s uncle’s barn.  The photo shows the grade beam and part of the drain tile (orange colored pipe).Kubbusbsta 14 Pelle Henriksson FB page KubbhusbastaThe foundation is a ring beam on a rubble trench with a drain tile sloped to a lower grade.  Each post has a roofing shingle placed on the bottom to stop moisture from “wicking up” the post. Kubbusbsta 1 Pelle HenrikssonMany of the older cordwood (kubbhus) buildings in Sweden use a clay based mortar.  Olle Hagman has been very instrumental in documenting the migration of cordwood throughout Sweden and has located 150 buildings.  His excellent article is told in the Cordwood Conference Papers 2015. 6 Pelle HenrikssonNote how the windows are placed within a post and beam framework.  This is my favorite style of window framing. Kubbusbsta 8 Pelle Henriksson FB page KubbhusbastaPelle used keyways (vertical strips of wood on the posts) to hold his wall sections in place. The sauna will have a changing room and a sauna chamber.  Putting the roof on first allows Pelle to work and store his materials out of the elements.

A beautiful flower motif chain saw cut into a log end shows off the Swedish love of all things wooden. Kubbhusta 4 Pelle HenrikssonTo fit a glass into a cleaned out hollow center log.   Cut out a sheet of glass after tracing and cutting the paper template.Kubbusbsta 11 Pelle Henriksson FB page KubbhusbastaKubbusbsta 12 Pelle Henriksson FB page KubbhusbastaMany of these pictures and more are also on Pelle’s Facebook page  You may want to bookmark Pelle’s page and check back every now and again to marvel at his progress.  Thank you Pelle for the explanation and the photos!

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For more information on Cordwood Construciton, click on the picture or visit

Cordwood Classroom in Guatemala Fund Raiser

The Community Cloud Forest Conservation near Coban, Guatemala is seeking donations for its second cordwood classroom building.  The first classroom for the impoverished children of the region is built and functioning. It was constructed in the shape of the Quetzal bird and is a stunning example of the possibilities using cordwood construction. The second Quetzal classroom will be even larger.CCFC 1AAA high resolution building and students with logoThe students, mostly middle school age girls, take their instruction in the classrooms and on the porch.

CCFC 1A with logoThe girls helped with construction every step of the way.

CCFC 25 cleaning log endsApprentices from the local villages learned the old fashioned skill of cordwood construction masonry. CCFC 27 with logo

Want to help with the Community Cloud Forest Conservation in Guatemala?  Here is your chance.

Dear Cordwood Friends,                                                      August  2015

Rob Cahill (Co-Director with his wife Tara) emailed and sent information on the CCFC’s latest funding campaign to improve the lives of the people in the rain forests near Coban, Guatemala.  “CCFC alleviates poverty and protects cloud forests through education, reforestation, academic scholarships, agricultural development, food security, income generation and holistic community / human development.” 

The current donation stream has a DEADLINE.   Any funds donated between now and September 30, 2015 will be matched dollar for dollar.  So if you send $100 it becomes $200.CCFC 39 Elvira

“One of the children in the rain forest, learning to identify and use local plants.”

Please consider this appeal and, if you deem it appropriate, send it on to your friends, family and social media links.

Here are Rob’s words and this is the link to donating via credit card, PayPal or via snail mail.


Contact Rob and Tara at

CCFC 38 Elvira

“Learning about the natural resources class being led by a former student who had dropped out of school and now, because of CCFC,  has become a successful teacher.”

CCFC’s Build and Beyond Capital Campaign seeks to raise $75,000 before June of 2016. Meeting this goal will provide the funds needed to equip the first major structure and finish phase 2 of the second structure. The second structure with the completion of phase 2 will provide urgently needed dormitory space and increase class room space for 96 resident students. It will also provide the funds needed to establish a processing center for cloud forest products. CCFC’s processing center will help make WALC and other CCFC programs more financially self-sufficient.

To help CCFC kick off this campaign the good people at Lutheran Partners in Minneapolis, Minnesota will match dollar for dollar the first $10,000 of contributions. Generous, yes, but there is a catch. In order for your contributions to be matched, CCFC needs to receive them before September 30, 2015. If CCFC receives 10,000 in contributions before September 31, 2015, CCFC’s building fund will receive another $10,000, thanks to the Lutheran Partners 1:1 match. This means that by September 30, we will be nearly one third of our way toward our over all goal.

Checks payable to:


3059 Hampshire Blvd SE

Grand Rapids, MI   49506

You can help CCFC take full advantage of this generous offer. Send your contribution by check to CCFC and help us turn your doubled contribution into education for the least served of the Q’eqchi’ Maya central highland outback villages.

Contributing toward the processing center is truly the gift that keeps on giving. The processing center will make CCFC’s education programs more financially self sufficient in the long term. CCFC students add value to cloud forest products and retail sales support their own education and scholarships.



Korean Cordwood (Cobwood) Soil Houses

While surfing the web I came across a picture of a uniquely beautiful cordwood home in South Korea that was labeled “Korean Soil House.”  Having the good fortune to have a friend teaching in Seoul, South Korea at that time, I asked if he could try and track down the only available book on the subject.  Adam was successful in his search and kind enough to cajole a bi-lingual friend to translate small portions of the book.  I spent many hours attempting to make contact with the book’s author, but time and language constraints brought my search to no avail.  Therefore, this should be considered a book and internet review of a very interesting development in traditional Korean architecture. Korean Soil Houses abcd with logo

Korean soil houses cobwood with logo

These soil houses, often  called “cobwood” in the West, are traditional peasant homes that dot the Korean countryside.  The homes are made completely of soil, but now builders are using cordwood rounds in the walls for structural stability. How to build heuljip best ecological building houses with my own handsFortunately, there is a Korean book written about these homes.  It is called Learning How to Build Mokcheon Earth Homes by Young-gil Cho.  “Mokcheon” is a small village where these types of homes originated and earth homes in Korea are called heuljip or heukjip. Korean soil house15.jpg small pixels with logo Here is a summary of that translation.

The Soil/Cordwood Method (Heuljip)

Soil and Wood

  • The home starts with using the “beloved soil” of Korea. Choices are red clay, red earth clay and black soil. The author recommends using whatever earth you have under your feet as long as it is not black, organic loam, or contaminated soil.
  • Pine from a hillside is best for log ends. Useable woods are: nut pine, fir, Japanese pine, pitch pine, hemlock, white spruce, Douglas fir and Korean spruce.
  • As for drying the wood, he suggests letting it age in the wind, sun, rain and snow.   Cordwood in Korea log and soil houses with logo


  • A circle between 16 and 20 feet in diameter is marked with lime (like chalking a baseball field).
  • The soil is disturbed to 24″ and then all rock and loam are removed.
  • The soil is replaced and tamped. Then, two 16″ wide concentric circles are drawn to determine the perimeter.
  • Rocks are gathered and placed 12″ high on the tamped ground.
  • The rocks are laid 16″ wide to accommodate the logs and the soil mortar.
  • At ground level, an exterior fireplace entrance flue is included to utilize the traditional Korean method of funneling a warming and cooking fire into the home.
  • A mix of 5 parts soil to one part cement is used to stabilize the foundation.

 Mortar Mix

  • The mortar is 100% soil mixed with water.
  • The soil is mixed with water by hand (similar to stomping cob).
  • The soil and water mix are left covered for 2 to 3 days before mortaring.

Wall Building

  • The soil is placed all the way through the wall. There is NO insulation cavity.
  • The logs are placed a minimum of 4″ apart, although some builders place them much farther apart.
  • A hammer is used to smack the log ends into the
  • The soil mortar is moistened at day’s end and before beginning the next day. With larger logs a stick is placed underneath the bottom edge to reduce mortar slump.
  • Tuck Pointing
  • Tuck pointing is done with gloved hands, a paint brush, and a putty knife.
  • Sometimes log ends are lightly burned with a propane torch to produce a star pattern. Korean Soil Houses abcdejpg with logo

 Special Considerations

  • The walls have significant mortar cracking and checking as the soil dries.
  • If red clay can be found nearby, it is used to plaster over the dried soil.
  • Often it takes 2 or 3 applications of clay to produce a smooth, crack free surface.
  • The interior can be warm and inviting once soil cracks have been taken care of and ample lighting is provided.  Korean Soil Houses abcde with logo

There is a growing number of soil/cordwood houses and cottages being built in South Korea.  So much so, that a market has developed to buy and sell these homes.  A popular website is which has many colorful photos and some earth/cordwood homes for sale. Some of the websites appear to show an earth cottage resort/spa destination. Korean Soil Houses abcdefwith logo
  The development of the South Korean soil and cordwood houses reminds me of the “back to the land” movement in North America in the late 1960’s, as well as the current natural and tiny home craze.   There is an energetic desire to go to the countryside and erect one’s own dwelling with one’s own hands.

Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels 640 x 480Should you be interested in more information on how to build your mortgage-free, cordwood home with your own hands, please visit. and/or email with your questions.


Cordwood Construction (Cobwood) in England @ Earthmovesdesign

Earthmovesdesign (with permission)

Based in Suffolk and established since 1996, earthmovesdesign is Neil and Emi-Lou Lankford. Neil designs and makes gardens, Water features, and  natural Cobwood Garden Rooms and kids play dens and has worked with both the private and commercial side of landscaping.Earthmovedesignuk 9 Cobwood roundhouseUK

Earthmovedesignuk 5What is a Cobwood Roundhouse?   It can be almost any shape, square, rectangle, oval and not just round.  Its a handmade Natural building Constructed around an Oak ‘Henge’ Frame they have walls 40cm thick made using the ancient method of Cob (Soil, Sharp sand, Hay, Lime, and water) and wood, and an amazing self supporting ‘Reciprocal’ roof frame supporting a real flowering meadow. These tried and tested buildings have been designed to withstand Continental weather systems of freezing Winters and baking Summers.  They are made from 3-6 metres in diameter (internal floor space) but other designs can  be much bigger (up to 200 sq metres).  They are made with a mixture of reclaimed Stained glass leaded windows and modern round windows as well as Larch wooden flooring and solid Oak doors, giving them a natural warm feel with each one being unique.

In using  locally sourced materials and labour where possible these buildings are both low impact and and natural and take a about 8-14 weeks to make including off-site  preparation.Earthmovedesignuk 2A beautiful stove warms the building.Earthmovedesignuk 1Framing the floor with larch for insulation purposes.Earthmovedesignuk 10 floor insulationRaking the dry cellulose to an even amount.Earthmovedesignuk 7 garden room Essex UKWhat’s it for?   These beautiful, versatile and unique buildings can be commissioned from me and can be just a small garden Snug or scaled up to be something much bigger, more sophisticated and  have a multitude of uses such as: Environmental School Classroom, Garden office, Den, Dwelling, Kiosk, Summer house, Holiday Let, Bar, Studio, Shop, Retreat, the list goes on. We can make you one either on its own or as part of a landscape design.Earthmovedesignuk 3

Earthmovedesignuk 6We are not your average landscape designers, more like landscape artists and we are passionate about hand making outdoor garden rooms, Log Cabins cobwood roundhouseswood-fired clay ovensnatural water-gardens and ponds, outdoor kitchens , snugs and rustic living roof sheds. If you can think of it, we can make it, and if you cant think of it, we’ve got plenty of ideas and designs.                    

If you would like to learn more about Cordwood Construction and the 5 mortar choices (one being Cob) please visit 

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Cordwood Sauna on the Iron Range (Part 2)

Tony and Denise have finished their gorgeous sauna on the Iron Range of northern Minnesota.  Hand-built out of Northern White Cedar (after taking a workshop at Kinstone Permaculture Academy) here is a glimpse at the next workshop at Kinstone the Brough’s dedicated themselves to building this beautiful and practical addition to their camp grounds.   Here are some pictures to showcase their results. Tony and Denise Sauna Minnesota1The interior is bright and comfortable. Tony and Denise Sauna Minnesota2One can go sailing into warm dreams while taking a soothing sauna. Tony and Denise Sauna Minnesota3The pooch enjoys the sauna too!Tony and Denise Sauna Minnesota4The sauna stove is “fed” from the changing area. Tony and Denise Sauna Minnesota5


To see the early construction days of this wonderful creation check out and Denise finished sauna13Tony and Denise would like suggestions about “how to finish the top of this section of wall” (above the sauna stove).   It has to be fire proof.   If you have an idea, please reply in the Comment Section below.  We thank you, in advance.

Should you be interested in learning more about Cordwood Construction, please visit

Cordwood Sauna at Kinstone finished and ready for some heat

On June 28, 2015 the final log end was placed into the Kinstone Cordwood Sauna!  Many wonderful and talented worked on framing, cordwooding, and making bottle ends for this much anticipated structure.  The workshop crew that finished to the “top plates” was focused and not to be denied.  I said, “I don’t think we can finish this by the end of the workshop.”  They took that as a challenge and worked diligently to prove me wrong.  I am so happy they did.  A group of fine folk who bonded with each other and the cordwood.  Here are some heartwarming photos to show the detailsKinstone 28
Kinstone 12

Kinstone 3

Kinstone 9

Kinstone 8

Kinstone 5Deer antler for a towel hook. Kinstone 13Cordwood makes people happy:0)Kinstone 11Big Rich is setting the window box into place. Kinstone 14Working on each side of the wall. Kinstone 4Almost to the top and time for lunch.Kinstone 6The Michigan Girls (two lovely young ladies from central Michigan) invented a new technique (named by the class, “The Michigan Girls Top Plate Technique”) for finishing the wall “up to” a top plate.  We finished by 4:00 PM on Sunday!  Note the tree motif in the center of the wall.Kinstone 7Ed McAllen stopped by to pay a visit.  Ed has a gorgeous cordwood home in Galesville, Wisconsin.DCIM100MEDIADJI_0250.JPGAlan Stankevitz of cordwood fame dropped by to talk about PEM (paper enhanced mortar) and take pictures and video of the workshop.  It was great to see Alan.  Alan also took some of these pictures with his drone camera.Kinstone 21

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0244.JPGKinstone Permaculture Academy from the air.   There is one more cordwood workshop this summer on July 31 to August 2, 2015.  Registration is on the Kinstone Circle website.kinstone 30Putting in the shelf brackets, made out of half rounds of cedar. Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels 640 x 480If you are interested in learning more about Cordwood Construction, please click on the picture and you will be taken to   To order books and plans click on the Online Bookstore link.

Questions?   or fill out the form below.