Category Archives: solar

Cordwood Flooring DIY

Cordwood Flooring         

It’s not just for the walls, anymore…” 

A neighbor of mine, Steve, called one cold January evening and said,  “Richard, come on over and see my cordwood floor!”  Needless to say, we hurried over and were amazed.  Lee's Floor 1 with logo.jpgSteve is a mason by training and a general contractor by profession, so he has a knowledge and skill base that is both deep and wide.   The hard maple (Acer saccharum) slices he used were 100 years old.

During the past year, three creative souls have sent me pictures and descriptions of their experiences with “laying” interior cordwood floors.  There are, of course, commercial cordwood flooring options available, but most cordwood aficionados are looking to save money and come away with a building “statement” that “wows” and is attractive.Sunny Pettiz Lutz Cordwood floor 9.jpgSunny Pettis Lutz from Arizona was the next one to send photos and an explanation of her cordwood floor in Arizona.  While Steve Lee’s flooring was fastened to a wooden sub-floor, Sunny’s was glued to a slab-on-grade.Sunny Pettiz Lutz Cordwood floor 1 with logo.jpgFinally, Miroslav Bentley Kubala of the Czech Republic regaled me with photos of his beautiful cordwood storage garage complete with a cordwood floor. Miroslav Bentley Kubala Prague3.jpg from Pintrest site floor manufacture 3.jpgHerein follows a brief explanation of three cordwood floors with three different applications.

  1. Cordwood Floor: Steve Lee After finishing his remodeling project, Steve puzzled over what to do with the floor. He had many options in his construction skill set.  Since J & J Lee Construction had poured the foundation at our cordwood home in 1979 and assisted in the addition of a dormer in 1992, Steve thought a cordwood floor might look good in their new, open concept “great room.”  Here the idea of a cordwood floor came to fruition.

While listening to the local radio station’s “Swap Shop” program, Sharon heard about the availability of a pick-up truck load of 100 year old hardwood barn beams.  Dry as a bone, leveled on two sides, of varying diameters, these, when sliced would become the mosaic pattern for the floor.  Each eight foot timber was cut to three feet and leveled on the ends.  The log was then placed in a band saw and  braced vertically.  (Before cutting, these logs were checked with a metal detector, so any nails or screws could be removed.)  Like slicing a loaf of bread, the logs were then sawn into  5/8″ pieces.  In addition all the sawdust was saved for eventual use in the tile-grouting mixture.  The great room’s 600 sq. ft. sub floor was leveled and the cordwood slices were arranged to create a pattern. When an orientation was resolved (flat side north and south, rounded edge east and west), the construction adhesive, purchased in one gallon pails, was applied to a small section of the floor with a notched trowel. Steve suggests following the manufacturer’s instructions for applying the glue.  Dealing with only a small portion at a time is important so the adhesive doesn’t “skin over”.  The slices were firmly set and secured to the floor and the adhesive was allowed to dry for at least 24 hours.  The next step was packing grout in the spaces between the log end slices.  Steve used commercial tile grout mixed with the sawdust he had collected during the cutting process (the ratio was 80% tile grout to 20% sawdust.

After the grout had dried, an industrial sander was rented and coarse 24 grit sandpaper was used to clean the log faces.  (Steve now suggests sealing the top faces of the cordwood BEFORE grouting, so that the log faces do not become coated with grout.)   Steve sanded until he had a fairly level and smooth surface.  A non-latex, commercial varnish sealer was applied with a lamb’s wool pad to achieve a smooth, level surface.  Steve allowed the varnish sealer to set for 24 hours.  Then he used a scuff pad between coats and reapplied more sealer, until he achieved the surface he wanted.Lees' Floor 2.jpgSteve did the flooring at night and on weekends, but he projects that if someone could work full time on the floor, while allowing ample time for drying of the glue and finish coats, that it could be completed in one to two weeks.   Sharon suggests letting the completed floor set for a week before replacing the furniture.  When the furniture is returned to the room, place pads underneath of legs or pressure points to avoid damage to the final coat.

The floor creates a cozy and beautiful ambiance to the home which is filled with other wonderful examples of repurposing (cabinets, paneling, cedar ceiling, claw foot bathtub, etc.) and is a fine example of using surplus materials in a new way.  These projects show the warmth of wood and the attraction of natural materials. The Lee cordwood floor provides an opportunity for creativity when using recycled wood in the home.  One can only ponder the variations of cordwood flooring that could be produced using different patterning and cutting techniques. Visit our blogsite at www.cordwoodconstruction.wordpress.com/ to learn more about cordwood flooring.

  1. Cordwood Floor: Sunny Pettis Lutz in Arizona    Cordwood flooring by Sunny Pettis Lutz in Cornville, AZ.jpg

   Sunny Pettis Lutz sent some photos of her gorgeous, hand-made cordwood floor.  The following is a detailed list of how she and her husband, Tony, made their floor with legal pickings from the state forest.   “Get a permit to go out to the forest and harvest dead trees. In our area that means Juniper and Pine.  On this floor we are using Shaggy Bark Juniper and Alligator Bark Juniper.” Note that their flooring is on top of a cement slab.   Sunny Pettis Lutz new floor pix 2.jpg  Here are their directions:

  • Cut each piece with a chop saw set at 1 inch.
  • Sort ‘disks’ for clean, useable slices.
  • Remove any loose bark.
  • Sand both sides using a belt sander
  • Prepare concrete surface by sweeping and mopping clean.
  • Begin to layout the disks on the floor getting them as close as possible. Work in 2′ sections.
  • Glue the layout you like using Loctite PL Premium Construction Adhesive.
  • Sand the glued discs, using a belt sander until everything is smooth and level.
  • Use a shop-vac to cleanup all dust and debris.
  • Apply 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 with a mix of 80% grout & 20% sawdust.
  • Apply 2-3 coats of polyurethane to finish.  Sunny Pettis Lutz cordwood floor  Floor has 3 coats of oil polyurethane. I'll take pics tomorrow. We are VERY happy with this floor with logo.jpg
  1. Cordwood Floor: Miroslav Bentley Kubala of the Czech Republic installed his cordwood flooring on a concrete slab using the same basic techniques as Steve Lee (see above).   Miroslav Bentley Kubala near Prague25 no logo.jpg

Here are instructions from Miroslav:

  • Clean the floor.
  • Cut slices of wood (hardwood or a rot resistant softwood) 3/4″ to 1 inch.
  • Seal the top of the slices so they don’t get stained by the grout.
  • Glue the slices to the floor
  • Fill the gaps with grout
  • Miro used a mortar/bentonite/acryl mixture
  • Seal the floor with polyurethane

Miroslav Bentley Kubala near Prague28.jpgAnd now for something completely different … A cordwood floor using reclaimed cypress by Matt Marwick of www.PrecisionFloorcrafters.com out of river recovered heart cypressCordwood Flooring from FB page of Woodworking Ideas precisionfloorcrafters.com end grain cypress.jpgNote: Anyone wishing to try a DIY project like cordwood flooring is encouraged to study all the available literature and hone your skill set on a small “practice project.”  The success of your venture, will be commensurate with the skills you have acquired and the quality of your construction.  There are commercially available cordwood floor systems which can be examined through an internet search. Google “wood block flooring” and “end grain log flooring,” for starters. You’ll find manufacturers, DIY articles and videos.Cordwood countertop by precision floor crafters and Matt Marwick.jpg(Above) Matt Marwick also built this beautiful cordwood countertop.Cordwood countertop BillandVicki Jarratt 3.jpg(Above) Bill Jarratt, an excellent craftsman from Florida, built this bathroom countertop using cedar and epoxy.  Check out his article on how to do this project. https://cordwoodconstruction.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/cordwood-construction-website/      

Plus, for good measure, we have thrown in a cordwood garden pathway!Cordwood garden path.jpgFinally, many folks have seen exterior cordwood garden paths and outdoor cordwood slices laid in the soil.  This is a different animal than interior flooring.  For outdoor cordwood paths, choose a rot resistant wood (like cedar or cypress) and lay the cordwood slices – two inches thick or better – in a soil or sand base. Then tamp the wood pavers in place and smooth and stomp the soil/sand/aggregate, similar to how one would “lay” a brick or stone patio path.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home (in which to build your cordwood floor), 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 thousands of cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Here is a picture of the Cordwood Workshop Video cover.  DVD label cover yellow.jpg

For more information on Cordwood Construction, click on the picture or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVD Menu 1A 400 pixels

DVD menu 2A 400 pixels.jpg

 

 

 

 

Cordwood Cottage Garden Shed (recycled)

Tom & Mary Barchacky built this beautiful cottage garden shed in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The entire building was made with recycled materials.  For example: the shake shingles were repurposed from a garage.  The large front window came from a dumpster in an alley in Milwaukee.Barchacky cottage garden shed 4The Eastern Red Cedar cordwood infill was destined to become firewood and was donated by a arborist neighbor.  The front door was nicely handcrafted from materials lying about the Barchacky garage. Barchacky Garden Cottage by Richard Flatau 2The green side door came from a second hand building store.  The timbers were reclaimed from an old barn. Barchacky Garden Cottage by Richard Flatau 1This lovely cottage garden shed was inspired by the D. Stiles book Sheds.  The Barchacky’s spent an afternoon at an open house at our cordwood home in Merrill. Then we communicated through phone and email. Barchacky GARDEN COTTAGE door hand madeThe red center of Eastern Red Cedar is very attractive and smells like a hope chest. Barchacky GARDEN COTTAGE 5 small pixI asked the editor of Backhome Magazine if he would like to have an article about this DIY project.  The rest, as they say, is history!  Barchacky Cover of Backhome 102 600 pixels.jpg

This became one of the most popular articles in Backhome’s history and has been used extensively in their advertising.  The entire article is reprinted with permission.  http://www.cordwoodconstruction.org/img/Backhome_article_Barchacky_shed.pdf

Barchacky Truss derrick.jpg

This is a close up of the truss derrick they built to place the hand-made trusses on the top plates.

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 DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVDandPrint

Here is a picture of the print version and the DVD label in one composite.

For more information on Cordwood Construction, click on the picture or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood, Cardboard & Bottle Ends

What do cordwood, cardboard and bottle ends have in common?Kinstone Dragon 3

They all help make an organized, dramatic, visual statement in a cordwood wall. Let’s say you want a rainbow or a peace sign or the big dipper in a cordwood wall. Here’s one way to do it.  First lay out the design on heavy cardboard.  Then cut out the shapes with a scissors, box cutter or exacto knife. Mandala and cardboard 1Use the cardboard template as a tool to place the bottle bricks and log ends in their proper places.

Mandala and cardboard 2Be patient and let the design be your guide to proper orientation.

Mandala and cardboard 3The end result is worth the extra time.

How about a peace sign?Peace sign cordwood with logo.jpg

 

Novitch workshop 1a.jpgAn Ojibwe medicine wheel is a fine addition to this sauna of health & healing. Novitch shed 30The Big Dipper and North Star are happy to oblige. Big Dipper wall #2.jpgWood ceilings, Big Dipper, Encore Wood Stove and some taxidermy.  This gives very attractive woodsy feel to the room. CEC stove and big dipper wall logo.jpg

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 DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVDandPrint

Here is a picture of the print version and the DVD label in one composite.

For more information on Cordwood Construction, click on the picture or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood Fishing Lodge in Russia

Andrew Dubovskiy (who lives in Moscow, Russia) was kind enough to send me these photos. This is his fishing lodge called “Andre-sur-Mer.” It is basically a small fishing cabin with a beautiful view of a deep bay on the White Sea (isn’t that what everyone wants!) Andrew also “hid” the cabin into the hillside. Here are his own words about his “hut.”

Andrew Dubovskiy 5.jpg“The status is “fisherman lodge.” According to ancient maritime traditions – a refuge for those who need it. I (like many correct houses) left a bag of soup, half a bottle of rice, oil, matches, flour, frying pan, saucepan.

And those houses that are still alive (many collapsed) is used in the White Sea by fishermen and tourists. There are several inhabited “hotels”.Andrew Dubovskiy 9Andrew Dubovskiy 6I want to try a few little known and virtually non-applicable in the Russian technology of designing and building such structures, see what happens.

The final version of the hut to be quite fit for winter.Andrew Dubovskiy winter 3Andrew Dubovskiy winter 2Andrew Dubovskiy winter 1

Andrew Dubovskiy 8.jpgThere has to be a decent “thermos” in my estimation and sufficiently efficient heating. Certainly in times better than the houses that I have seen in all the banks of White sea. But this is theory — the practical realization of the idea is not so close.

Andrew Dubovskiy 3

Wintering is not in my plans)) Although, by the way, actually my travel gear allows wintering in a tent in the cold like -40. Actually on the ice of Lake Baikal I felt quite comfortable for a month. A hut will be better then any tent without heating in the middle of ice.”Andrew Dubovskiy 13.jpgA big thank you to Inna Savitskaya for help with the translation.
For additional pictures and comments please visit Andrew’s Facebook page.
https://www.facebook.com/andrew.dubovskiy/media_set…

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 DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVDandPrint

Here is a picture of the print version and the DVD label in one composite.

For more information on Cordwood Construction, click on the picture or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

 

Cordwood in Brazil

Jair Dias sent the following pictures and explanation of the cordwood (cobwood) home he is building in Brazil:    “Jair Dias lives in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil .”

Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 6A with logo

The wood he is using for the cordwood infill is  Pinus Elliottii   The cob mortar is a mixture of red soil (sifted) and combined with clay, sand, sawdust, cement and lime. He says it works very well.  The bottle bricks in a circular pattern are very colorful. Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 9 with logo

Note the metal roof, the large overhangs and the wrap around porch.   These help to keep the rain off the cobwood walls and stop any degradation.  Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 8 with logoJair Dias Brazil cob mortar 7 with logoJair is making an outline (in relief) in the mortar so the wood stands away from the mortar. That makes it easy to clean and sand.   I believe Jair means he is tuckpointing the log 3/4″ back from the end of the log.  This will allow for a final coat of cob for the wall.

Jair Dias 19Jair Dias 18Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 6 with logo

The bottle bricks are very attractive. Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 4 with logo

The center does not require a “center post” but rather a cap that helps maintain the integrity of the roof rafters. Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 3 with logo

The walls are 12″ thick.  Jair Dias 17Jair Dias 16

Lots of windows and entranceways to make the jungle readily available for viewing. I will post more as Jair sends more information.   For pictures of the finished home click on https://cordwoodconstruction.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/cordwood-in-brazil-2/

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 DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVDandPrint

Here is a picture of the print version and the DVD label in one composite.

For more information on Cordwood Construciton, click on the picture or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Hobbit Cordwood

In the green valleys of western Wisconsin resides a cordwood hobbit house.  Built by Jessi & Dan Peterson, complete with a round door and sparkling bottle bricks, it is surely a welcoming sight for anyone from the Shire or beyond Bag End.  Always remember: “Not all those who wander are lost.”  J.R.R.TolkienJessi hoy peterson12Winter lends a whole new feel to Jessi & Dan’s creation.  Jessi hoy peterson14The living roof is simply green and verdant!Jessi hoy peterson11

Dan built the round green door that bids you enter!Flatau Jessi & Dan's 16 sided earth roofed, round door home 2 in Wisconsin, USABacklit bottles are a  beautiful touch. Jessi & Dan's cordwood castleThe new deck for entertaining.Dan and Jessi in Eau Claire WI new deck living roofA beautiful masonry, brick heater graces the inside.  Jessi explains, ” The masonry heater is named Norbert, which means “Northern Bright” and is also a play on words of sorts – my mother’s masonry heater is named Albert, Albie for short, which is the mason’s name and means “Royal Bright.” Masonry heater httpwhistlepigalmanac.blogspot.com

Rafters, wooden ceiling and cordwood walls.  Simply delicious.  Jessi hoy peterson3Gorgeous lighting and beautiful touches are everywhere. Jessi hoy peterson4A nice combination of round and split pieces with a round window.  This is a very good example of excellent random patterning in a cordwood wall. Jessi hoy peterson5A green stairway for star gazing and accessing the living roof and masonry chimney. Jessi hoy peterson6Jessi painted the floors with nasturtiums.   What a gorgeous cordwood build!  Kudos to Dan & Jessi and all their helpers.   Nicely done.Jessi hoy peterson7.jpgFor more pictures and verbiage visit Jessi’s blog at  http://whistlepigalmanac.blogspot.com/

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 DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVDandPrint

Here is a picture of the print version and the DVD label in one composite.

For more information on Cordwood Construction, click on the picture or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

 

Cordwood Greenhouse in Montana

Hanna fell in love with Montana, nature, gardening and cordwood.  She built a gorgeous cordwood greenhouse/shed and filled it with plants and gardening tools.hanna-montana-3Then she planted a beautiful garden of flowers and vegetables around the shed. hanna-montana-2Finally she added a deer fence to protect the lovely produce and beautiful plants.hanna-montana-1

greenhouse-hanna-montana-2-800-x-600During construction she repurposed windows for maximum light.  hannah-montanss-greenhouse-08a-800-x-600A few stained glass windows add a nice touch to the natural “feel” of the shed. Hanna wrote a blog about her shed and shared it with the website I helped moderate at http://www.daycreek.com   We are hoping she will update her blog and let us know how things are progressing.

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 DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVDandPrint

Here is a picture of the print version and the DVD label in one composite.

For more information on Cordwood Construciton, click on the picture or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

 

Cordwood Warming Shelter

We built a cordwood warming hut at the Merrill School Forest that gradually morphed into a public school classroom along the way. The goal was to create a natural building using materials from the surrounding woods for students to warm up in on their winter hikes.
The result is a state code-approved, public school classroom that boldly demonstrates “best practice building” using sustainable methods.  Many of  these techniques can be used with other alternative building methods like strawbale, cob, earthen plaster, adobe and cobwood. Cordwood Education Center Richard Flatau highresjpeg with logo

The building started with architectural drawings and blueprints. These were sent to the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin to be assessed for code compliance  We were pleased when they were approved. [Note:  In the future this tiny cabin may become a care-takers cottage and so “knock outs” were made during construction to provide for plumbing for a kitchen and a bathroom.]

The wood for the entire building (posts, cordwood, window boxes, paneling, trim) was cut within 1000 feet of the building site.  We used tamarack (larch), pine, spruce and balsam. Crews of community volunteers from ages 4 to 80 turned out to help. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A Wood Mizer cut all the posts, beams and one inch lumber. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For planning, we started with an architectural drawing.

foundation-rubble-trench-with-fpsf

A rubble trench is much messier in reality.  This poor soil is called “goose nuggets.” sfwh5

A 4″ perforated drain tile surrounds the foundation and carries the water away. sfwh12

In order to satisfy code requirements, we topped it with a Frost Protected Shallow Foundation (FPSF).  Five million of these foundations have been built in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland and they are now approved in the USA and Canada.  They work very well in cold climates, keeping the heat in the building and most are outfitted with radiant-in-floor heating systems.  This type of foundation saves money by reducing materials and excavation costs.

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The building was framed using heavy timbers of pine and tamarack (larch).  The roof truss was built with a 14″ Energy Heel so that  starched cellulose could be packed to the outside edge of the top plate, giving the roof an R-value of 53.

cordwood-education-center-framing

The high school construction classes and middle school students came to work and learn.  They wanted to live and work here all semester.

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Everybody pitched in.  We had 90 volunteers and 180 folks who came to “have a look/see.”  So, doing the math,  for every one who worked, two supervised :0)

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The split faced blocks are needed in this area because of the high snow depth (70″ per year) to protect the cordwood.  The double posts allow for a 16″ wall, which not only provides an excellent thermal mass, but also an R-value of 24.

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The sawdust mixed with lime provides a thermal break.

cordwood-wall-builders

As the walls began to rise, the community came together to help.

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Building the Big Dipper wall with seventeen volunteers.

Below, ready for the windows and doors as Autumn approaches.

cordwood-shelter-october08

The cup end of the dipper points to the North Star.  “Follow the drinking gourd” was what Harriet Tubman sang to her escaping comrades.

cec-interior-2015-low-rez-with-logo

The dedication was planned and celebrations took place.  The Cordwood Education Center is now used every day by the students of the Merrill Area Public Schools. It is also used as a Warming Shelter by weekend skiers and hikers.

dedication-songs

The students celebrate!

Watch a brief video about beavers at the Cordwood Education Center .  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xh6uW663R88

Even the media found this little classroom in the woods appealing.

The local and national media payed close attention to the project.  Many other cabins, homes and cottages have been built using the Cordwood Education template.

Cordwood has a tremendous amount of “thermal mass” which means it has the capability of taking and holding and then releasing the warmth or coolness that has been introduced by passive or active means.   In other words your warm building will stay warm and if you cool it, it will stay cool:0)

Ready to welcome the students!cordwood-education-center-with-summer-small-pixels-for-new-pioneer-sample

We host an annual Solar Tour of Homes and Businesses. solar-tour-cordwood-education-center-2015-with-logo

Best Practices used in this building.

  • Rubble Trench
  • FPSF  (Frost Protected Shallow Foundation)
  • Natural materials built up (off grade)
  • 16″ cordwood walls (R-24)
  • Post & Beam Framework
  • Energy Heel Truss
  • Large Overhangs (2′ and 6′)
  • Gutters to prevent splashback
  • Metal Roof (to shed extreme snow load)
  • Energy Efficient Windows and doors
  • Passive Solar Design
  • Natural materials sustainably and locally harvested (posts/sawdust/cordwood/lumber)
  • Random patterning of well dried softwood
  • 200 recycled bottles/stones/momentos placed in the walls from the volunteers

Let’s be clear. Not everyone has to use all these best practices.  They are simply listed for the owner/builders consideration.  The choices you make will be based upon your time, talents and treasure.

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  

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 DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.”  www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVD label cover yellow

Here is a jpeg of the new Cordwood Construction DVD cover available at http://cordwoodconstruction.org/

Cordwood (you see) can be Mortgage Free!

mortgage-free-landscape-photoNew Pioneer Magazine published a four page article on DIY Cordwood Cottages.  The editor allowed me to place the article in various social media sites to encourage the idea of natural building.   The article details the building of cordwood cottages, cabins, classrooms and homes.

new-pioneer-page-1The second page talks about how we built our mortgage free cordwood home.new-pioneer-page-2

The next page details the advantages of being mortgage free.  new-pioneer-page-3

The last page shows a cordwood sauna and a cordwood garden shed built after attending one of our two-day cordwood workshops.  new-pioneer-page-34jpg

This article is reproduced with permission from New Pioneer magazine (www.newpioneermag.com).  If you wish to find out more about Cordwood Construction visit www.corwdoodconstruction.org and read a few of the many instructional articles about many unique and interesting cordwood buildings.

The article is available online in a larger print format at:   http://www.cordwoodconstruction.org/img/Newpioneerarticlewinter2014 or you can press Ctrl and + to increase the size of the text.

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  

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 DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.”  www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVD label cover yellow

Here is a jpeg of the new Cordwood Construction DVD cover available at http://cordwoodconstruction.org/

Cordwood & Timber Frame

Can you combine Cordwood with Timber Framing?   Ya sure you betcha!  Here are photos of the infilling of a traditional timber frame home with 16″ cedar cordwood and lime putty mortar with a 10″ sawdust insulation cavity (R-value of 24). .  This style of timber framing  is called Hall & Parlor and was one of the first timber frame styles used in America.

Hylla House for BlogThe posts and beams are mostly Tamarack with some pine for bents.  Tamarack develops small cracks and not big checks like other species.

The cordwood infill is Northern White Cedar, the gold standard for cordwood construction. Cordwood Workshop 2010 050Vinnie is loving his cordwood work.  He looks like he came off the set of Hew Haw!Hylla House Anne 1 with logo

Anne takes a break after a hard days work.

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A close up of the tamarack post and the stackwall corner with glaciated stones set in the foundation wall.

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The corner posts are wrapped with a stackwall corner “look.”

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The second storey is framed and the windows installed. The Great wall of LimePuttyMortar

Lime putty mortar is simply rehydrated Type S lime and sand.  It has a much whiter color than other mortars.

Cordwood Workshop 2010 052Cordwood can be stacked and mortared until the weather goes below freezing.

 

Timber framing mallet in hand Nick lets out a whoop, Anne smiles and Oliver strikes a Greco Roman wrestling pose.Hylla House 2 with logoRandom patterning looks the best with many different sizes of logs.

hylla house 4

The home is banked into a hill and the solar installation provides heat for the floor, the hot water and electricity. hylla house 5

The walls were completed at workshops and work parties.  The PV panels on the roof provide most of the families needs.  This installation also has grid intertie.

hylla house 8

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  

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 DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.”  www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVD label cover yellow

Here is a jpeg of the new Cordwood Construction DVD cover available at http://cordwoodconstruction.org/