Category Archives: Workshop

Curved Cordwood & Corners

If you want a curved cordwood home, but would like an attached garage and some right angles for kitchen cabinets and a workshop, this home is a good combination of styles. Don Gerdes, an engineer from Reedsburg, Wisconsin created and built a design that combines the best of both worlds.

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Below is Don’s architectural rendering.  He wanted to have an attached two car garage, a curved wall great room and square corners for his workshop and kitchen.  Many folks who build round, or multi-sided eventually yearn for a couple of right angles.  That is why Pythagoras helped us understand the Golden Rectangle and why it was considered by the Greeks to be of the most pleasing proportion.

 

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The finished product.

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Inside Don used what he called Brilliant Bottles.  These are wired so they light up at night. Don Gerdes Reedsburg9Don Gerdes Reedsburg8

Here is how he made the Brilliant Bottles in his workshop.  Don auctioned one of these at the Cordwood Conference 2005 in Merrill, Wisconsin.

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The interior is tastefully arranged with a curved motif.

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The kitchen allows for hanging cabinets in a more traditional manner.

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A loft and fireplace compliment the interior. Don Gerdes Reedsburg4

A few photos of the framework and the room-in-the-attic trusses being installed.

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The two car garage and workshop are included in the rectangular area.

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Don passed away a few years ago.  This posting is to honor his contributions to the cordwood field.  Thank you, dear friend.

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

 

Yooper Cordwood Sauna

Yoopers & Finns love a good sauna!  Here are photos and descriptions about the cordwood sauna that Craig Williams and Kathy Binoniemi built in Negaunee, Michigan in 2016.  Fantastic work using best practices with cordwood.  Negaunee is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, near the mighty Gitche Gumee (Lake Superior).  It is a land of good, hearty folks, known affectionately as Yoopers. Kathy and Craig UP sauna 1It all started with a floating concrete slab with 12” footings, which was poured on May 19th of 2016.  The outer sauna dimensions are 12’ X 12’ with 2’ eaves.Kathy and Craig UP sauna 2The sauna was built with 4” X 4” cedar post framing and lap joints.  It was added to the side of the garage to make a covered walkway.Kathy and Craig UP sauna 10The cedar cordwood was cut to 8-9” and then, sanded.Kathy and Craig UP sauna 4

Kathy and Craig UP sauna 3Mortar, insulation, mortar.  There are many different mortar mixes to use with cordwood. Kathy and Craig UP sauna 11Live edge siding and cordwood look very handsome together. Kathy and Craig UP sauna 12Kathy did some wood burning on the log end in the middle.  Craig calls it “The Eagle has landed.”  Very nice! Kathy and Craig UP sauna 19A bit of bottle brick color for the sauna takers.   In the picture below, note the square blocks above the window. Kathy and Craig UP sauna 13Kathy and Craig UP sauna 14Note the scaffolding with ladders and the mortar box resting on a milk crate.  Good ideas!  The large overhangs protect the cordwood infill. Kathy and Craig UP sauna 15One of the great advantages of a post and beam framework, with roof attached is that you can set your cordwood in between the posts and let it get a few extra days of drying before it becomes part of your wall.  The drier the cordwood the better the result. Kathy and Craig UP sauna 16Kathy and Craig UP sauna 8The wood sauna stove was made out of 3/8” steel plate. It was custom made by Kathy and her brother Todd Binoniemi.  The finished dimensions: 19” wide, 21” long & 24” high and has an outside feed.Kathy and Craig UP sauna 6The metal roof helps to shed the heavy snows in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Kathy and Craig UP sauna 9The changing room measures 5’ X 10’ (approx.) and the sauna room 6’ X 10’ (approx.).  It took us a little over 4 months to complete.Kathy and Craig UP sauna 5The window frames, doors (cedar), and benches (poplar) were all made by Craig & Kathy.

Thank you Kathy & Craig for sharing your building adventure.  Very impressive!   The sauna is fired up every Sunday for a good body & soul cleansing.   If you have questions please contact them at:    crwilliams5053@sbcglobal.net

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 plays matchmaker

“Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match, find me a catch, catch me a catch…”  That is precisely what is going on with Clarke Snell’s hybrid cottage.  One wall is cordwood, one wall cob, one strawbale and one earthen plaster, topped off with a living roof.

Clarke Snell small pixel with logo.jpgThe cob wall and living roof (top). The cordwood and strawbale wall (bottom).Clarke Snell #2a small pixel with logo

Clarke snell cob and cordwood with logo.jpgCordwood and cob play very well together.

So do strawbale (balewall) and cordwood (in this instance in Manitoba, Canada, the cordwood is double wall.IMG_4121

This how the strawbale and cordwood look when they meet in the corner of the room.

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This is cordwood in the kitchen in the lovely Cannon home in Antelope Valley, Manitoba, Canada.

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Sigi Koko has added a cordwood green house/sunroom in a strawbale and earthen plaster home in West Virginia. Sigi Koko Cordwood Greenhouse solar room2

Below is a cob and bottle wall greenhouse with excellent framing.

Greenhouse from Sigi www.dayonedesign.org

Windows and wooden framing make for astounding light and views.

FB page of Sigi Koko house in Guatemala from Green Renaussabce

Cordwood and bottle bricks brighten up the walls.

Sigi Koko Cordwood Greenhouse solar room

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 Tree of Life

“If you build it, they will come” rings true even with cordwood.  It is said that when one builds with cordwood, help arrives in interesting and unusual ways. This story is no exception. Stuart, a man of many talents (and obviously cordwood is one of them), selected a crew of beautiful cordwood apprentices. stu-bridge-mn-shed-9Stu wanted to save and remember a beloved cherry tree that came down in his yard.  What better way than to place it gently in the cordwood wall.stu-bridge-mn-shed-2Here is Stu, the man with the cordwood plan.  stu-bridge-mn-shed-3Here are the lovely ladies that worked on Stu’s project.  They helped create the beautiful shed and its wonderful motifs with verve and panache.

To create “The Tree of Life”  Stu first laid out the bottles in his basement on a cold winter’s night. stu-bridge-mn-shed-6He transferred the design to heavy cardboard and then built it, bottle by bottle and piece by piece into the side of the Tree of Life Shed. stu-bridge-mn-shed-7Here is the tree mortared in the wall.  When the sun hits the outside the inside lights up like a Christmas Tree. stu-bridge-mn-shed-8What a beautiful way to honor the tree that had to be removed from his yard. stu-bridge-mn-shed-9Here is what it looks like all “prettied up” with trim, doors and paint. Nice job Stu!stu-bridge-finished-shedStuart has opened a Bed and Breakfast at his home in White Bear Lake,  Minnesota.  He is a wonderful host and very knowledgeable about many, many things.  If you want to stay at a clean, comfortable home, see some beautiful cordwood and his Tree of Life Shed, give him a holler.  https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/14283781?s=dsDND2I6

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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 Shed in Newfoundland, Canada

Paul & Josephine Johnson enjoyed the labor intensiveness of building a Cordwood Ladder Pad Shed in Newfoundland, Canada.The Johnson’s used Richard Flatau’s Cordwood Shed Plans (details at the end of the article) to build the simple, inexpensive framework.  paul-johnson-newfoundland-3Then they mortared the cordwood infill into the wall sections.  On certain areas they used 60 year barn boards for vertical siding.   Below is the article that appeared in the newspaper.paul-johnson-newfoundland-5(From the newspaper article)——————————————–Cordwood masonry appears to be a contradiction in terms   by Randy Edison

“When Paul Johnson first heard of the construction method from a friend it became a curiosity.He was curious enough, in fact, to turn it into a handyman project that, despite the challenges, brought a sense of accomplishment.

paul-johnson-newfoundland-1Cordwood construction consists of placing “log ends” into a wall within a mix of mortar. The method has been used on both sides of the Atlantic for hundreds of years.Johnson, a Grand Falls-resident, studied a little on the subject and decided to try his hand at it his “home away from home” in Rattling Brook, Green Bay.

“You can only use softwood so I cut some and thought, well, if I didn’t want to do it I can burn the wood anyway,” he told TC Media.

cordwood-shed-paul-and-josephine-newfoundlandNote the ladder pad, post framework above. paul-johnson-newfoundland-2The framework breaks the work up into manageable sections.

With admittedly more vigour than knowledge, he set about the task, which included the sinking of posts below the frost line to support to the pole barn structure he envisioned. That design called for seven holes.

Anyone who has worked the ground in Newfoundland knows that, in many areas, digging postholes can be a challenge as rocks abound.

Such is the case in Rattling Brook and before long he realized how labour intensive the task ahead was going to be.And that was before he and his construction partner and spouse, Josephine, actually began the wall construction and learned just how long the job would take.

“(A neighbour) stopped by one day when I was just at the pole barn structure and said, ‘You know Paul, if you had a few sheets of 3/8 plywood you’d be done by now.’”

“I said, ‘That’s right, but this is what we’d kind of like to do.’”

There isn’t an ounce of regret over the physical toiling.

In fact, he’s glad the project got his attention because it ended up “filling a gap” for him while he was unable to work due to a medical issue.

He does wish he’d realized what others had.

“Most people start with a kennel, or at least something small,” he joked.

With his wife’s artistic eye adding to the flare and presentation, the couple worked some bottles into the design for effect and plugged away for five months to complete the project.

While his wife brought the artistic flare, Johnson did have a design vision that came to life.

He wanted to incorporate some rustic looking barn wood and found the right touch – in an old building on the Jigg’s Farm property near Botwood.With permission, he gathered some of the board and worked it into the construction.
Undaunted (but a lot wiser in the ways of cordwood construction) Johnson is even considering another project.One distinct possibility is a gazebo to act as an art studio for his wife.

It’s fitting that he’d want to put that effort into something for his spouse since the Rattling Brook property was an anniversary gift of hers to him.After coming to Canada from England in 1967, Johnson had bounced around the country between Ontario and Nova Scotia and Alberta and, of course, Newfoundland.“I said I’d come for one year and if I didn’t like it, I’m out of here,” he joked.

In fact, he did leave again but decided to come back in 1996 and settled in central Newfoundland.

“I wouldn’t live anywhere else,” he says of his adopted province.

“And it’s been home ever since.”

Cordwood shed and all.”

———————————————————————-The booklet Cordwood Shed Plans is available as an ebook.  It contains 30 pages, chock full of color photos about how to build the inexpensive and functional ladder pad system that provides both framework and support for the cordwood infill, without having to pour a footer. .

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Cordwood Shed Plans is available at the Online Cordwood Bookstore.

 

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 Sauna: Medicine Wheel & Grade Beam

Dan & Kristen wanted a sauna on their 80 wooded acres in northern Wisconsin.  They had previously hosted a very successful workshop at the 2005 Cordwood Conference which resulted in the construction of a beautiful cordwood maple syrup shed.  novitch-shed-31

They wanted to have their teenage sons participate in the process, they decided on a grade beam  for economy and ease of building.Novitch sauna 2A grade beam is simply a shallow, perimeter poured slab which rests on a rubble trench foundation.  In the trades it is called a Frost Protected Shallow Foundation (FPSF) and is insulated on the bottom and sides. Novitch sauna 1The posts are anchored to the grade beam using angle iron and wedge anchors or anchor bolts.   All the posts were cut at a local sawmill. Novitch 19It is important to cross brace the framework.  The roof was built before the cordwood infill commenced. Novitch workshop 18Before the workshop portions of the walls built with the family for practice. Novitch workshop 20

On the top right hand side an “exploded log” has been split and then placed in the mortar matrix to regain its round shape.  This is done to eliminate log shrinkage. Novitch workshop 21We had an August workshop with a delightful and studious group of cordwooders from all over the country.  Novitch workshop 23A cardboard template for bottle end designs works very well.Novitch workshop 24The finished Ojibwe-inspired Medicine Wheel. novitch-shed-31

The Novitch’s are very happy with their new sauna!novitch-cordwood-finished-1-with-logonovitch-cordwood-finished-2-jpg-with-logoA butterfly checks it out!novitch-cordwood-finished-3-with-logonovitch-cordwood-finished-4-with-logonovitch-cordwood-finished-5-with-logoExploded large pieces look very good in a wall. novitch-cordwood-finished-6-with-logonovitch-cordwood-finished-7-jpg-with-logonovitch-cordwood-finished-8-with-logo

Cordwood Lessons by Dan Novitch

Cordwood Points gleaned from two cordwood projects: a cordwood pole shed built on a ladder pad foundation and a post-and-beam framed cordwood sauna built on a grade beam/ring beam foundation) completed 11 years apart:

* Tuck pointing – we used table knives to tuck point the mortar on our first building and tea spoons followed by a wet paint brush on the second building.  The spoon, brush technique was quicker and resulted in a smoother finish.

* First building used treated lumber for the frame of the ladder pad and the poles.  Second building used posts and beams from trees cut on site and milled on site with portable bandsaw mill.  Use as much site sourced or locally sourced building material as possible.

*. Both buildings used coarse sawdust for insulation and when soaked, as a set retardant in the mortar.  Really liked this due to low cost, local material, and completely “green” building material.  Plus, any leftover sawdust is great for composting or as mulch.

* Ladder pad foundation from first building is on a well drained, sandy soil site.  After 11 years and 11 Wisconsin winters, the building has NOT moved a bit.  I wouldn’t hesitate to use similar foundation in the future for a shed or similar out building.

* The second building is on a grade beam foundation.  I was originally going to build it on a floating slab until a grade beam foundation was suggested.  I think the grade beam is definitely the way to go.  In addition to greatly reducing the amount of and cost for concrete, it allows for a plethora of really cool flooring options.

* First building was built when our sons were 5 and 3 years old.  For the second building they were 16 and 14.  Besides being a great help as laborers and mortar mixers, they learned how to run a sawmill, do post and beam construction methods, use cordwood masonry skills, etc.  In the future, if they choose, their parents could be laborers for their own cordwood building dream.

*  For anything but a very small project, use a mortar mixer or modified cement mixer.  It will speed the project and reduce physical fatigue.  Definitely,  mix your first batches of mortar in a wheelbarrow or mortar boat, though.  That is the best way to truly get to know and understand the mortar.

*  For the first project all log ends over 6-7 inches in diameter were split and air dried for 15 months before building began.  However, in looking at other cordwood buildings over the intervening 11 years, I found that I liked the look of at least  a few large, true rounds in each wall.  So for the second project, we used both “exploded” rounds and kiln dried true rounds in each wall along with smaller diameter rounds and various split log ends.  At three months post cordwooding, the exploded rounds haven’t changed or moved a bit.  For the largest kiln dried true rounds, some 12-16 inches in diameter, there is a 2-3mm gap between the mortar and the log ends due to further shrinkage/drying of these really large rounds with time.  I still like the look of the larger rounds but it looks like permachink will be needed in the future.  The kiln dried rounds up to 8-10″ diameter have not shrunk to this point, but I’ll keep my eye on them over the coming months and cold, dry winter.

*  Bottle end designs are really cool.

*  My wife is not only a wonderful, beautiful partner in this voyage known as life, she is a patient, forgiving building partner who knows all my shortcomings, but loves me anyway.

*  The 94# bags of Portland cement weigh more now than they did 11 years ago!

A cardboard template for bottle end designs work very well.
*  We used different mortar mixes for each building.  I liked the second building’s mix a bit better, but both worked fine.  If you plan to do a small “learning” cordwood building before undertaking a larger house or cabin project, consider trying different mortar mixes on different walls of the learner project to see which type of mortar you like best.

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 (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/

Moveable Cordwood Cabin

Usually a cordwood cabin’s mortar is prone to cracking if it is moved.  Ernie Burgener has figured out a method of moving a small cordwood cabin (for short distances). He has devised a set of sturdy skids on which he built the frame.  Then he has applied “stay in cross bracing” into the actual walls to stabilize them for an eventual change of scenery.  ernie-burgner-14-new

This 10′ x 12′ cordwood cabin has been lovingly built out of cedar this past summer.  ernie-burgner-10-new

Ernie is a northern Wisconsin horizontal log cabin builder and knows a thing or two about how to make a cabin warm, sturdy and safe.

ernie-burgener-12-new

Ernie is going to sell this cabin, so if you are interested please send me an email  richardflatau@gmail.com 

ernie-burgner-2Ernie farms, logs, hunts, fishes, builds and gardens.  He is 80 years old and still going strong.  ernie-burgner-4

The inside shows how the bracing extends all the way through.

The viewer can see from the inside and out that the cabin is well braced.   Since it hasn’t been moved yet, we are not sure how it will hold up.  When that happens I will report back to the Cordwood Construction Blog page.

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/