Tag Archives: survial

Tiny Cordwood Garden Cottage in England

We’ve never built anything before but we’re very pleased with how it’s turned out.” Jan and Baz Whitlock sent pictures of their cordwood garden cottage in Bristol, England.  They used the ebook Cordwood Construction Best Practices as their go-to source/guide.  Jan & Baz write: “Here are some pics of a small cordwood build we’ve nearly finished it in the middle of our garden in the UK.Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 3“It’s around 12 feet square, we used lime mortar, the wood is softwood-larch and pine. It’s in the garden between 2 areas. Front door to enter, back to get to next bit (side to BBQ area). I haven’t totalled the cost-the cordwood was free, mortar not much, but the post and beam frame and roof were costly… could have been done with much smaller beams etc – we just went for chunky so it would last.”Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 7“We still have to render the blocks once we get a bit of decent weather. We are planning to insulate in between the beams, as we have found it retains heat well. We have electric and a radiator, so it could be used as an extra room to sleep in when the family all descend on us.”Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 5It is a lovely place to sit, we have great views & it’s a perfect spot to watch the sunset.Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 4“We just used the lime mortar-there’s a lot of old stone buildings around us with thick walls, all done with lime mortar and they’re still standing and cool in the summer so we figured it would be fine.”Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 6“We cut and dried the wood in our polytunnel for around a year, and dipped each log in a borax solution before using. The mortar was easier, as we have a nearby supplier of lime mortar, which we mixed using your instructions for lime putty mortar. We used what they call a unhaired course mix and added a bit of argical as it’s pretty damp in Cornwall. We mixed it in a cement mixer a batch at a time and after a while learnt how much wall we could do per bucket of mortar.

 We went back over the lime putty with disposable foam paint brushes rinsed in a bucket of water, which worked well.   We nailed strips of wood down the door and window posts with nails protruding to anchor the mortar, and used extruded foam where the mortar met the beams (again as you suggested-thank you).

Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 1It was really good to have a range of shapes and sizes for filling awkward gaps but I often wanted little triangular ones and wood does not split into 4 evenly. (We ended up with a nice lot of kindling!) I would advise anyone attempting a build with a partner to be sure they have a good relationship, as we had quite a few heated ‘discussions’ during the process (but were always ready to tackle it again the next day)!

We found your book and advice invaluable and we thank you for taking the time to post a lot of useful information online.

Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 2We could only get green or clear bottles, so after cutting I painted the inside end with glass paint that is set by putting in an oven-a few didn’t take well, but the majority did and it’s nice to have some different colour in there.

My advice would be, as yours is, to do a practice wall. We didn’t, as we didn’t have much space to do one and the first bit we did looked fine,until we stood back and realised the logs were too far apart and too formal (in neat rows); so we took it all down and started again. We improved, obviously as we did more, and got much quicker and our final wall (the one with no doors or windows) is much neater than our first one.

Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 8.JPGBaz writes, “Another pic of the inside…using an old sanding disc, I used friction to “scorch” the wood to darken and bring out the richness in the grain and also to protect the cordwood...this part of the UK it’s very damp so charing the ends of posts etc without using chemicals is not uncommon. We will see how that turns out in years to come… for fun, under the window is “hidden” a sailing ship for our gran kids to find,on other walls there are a clown and a cat…skirting boards are nearly finished and the white double doors are going back to wood…it’s been fun and thanks for the positive feedback…ocean apart, but same ideas …happy builds, Matey’s…”

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 Workshop DVD (2018),  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print 2017) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their Online Cordwood Bookstore.  The books & DVD are also available as ebooks for a quick and easy shipping free download.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

This is the Cordwood Workshop DVD will show you how to build a best practices cordwood home.

Cordwood Workshop DVD 3

The 30 detailed menu items from the Cordwood Workshop DVD.

DVD Menu 1

DVD menu 2Thank you for your kind attention to Cordwood Construction.   If you would like more information, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Or email richardflatau@gmail.com 

 

 

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Cordwood at White Earth

  “This was not a ‘spec house’ but one that has a unique personality and footprint. The purposes of this undertaking were to produce a natural, attractive home, provide labor opportunities on the reservation and instill pride of ownership within a community directed operation.”   –Richard Flatau

 Cordwood Home on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. White Earth Article 5

Making Contact
The MMCDC (Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation) contacted us with regard to the possibility of building a cordwood home on the White Earth Reservation in NW Minnesota.  The idea was to provide attractive, affordable, energy efficient housing on the reservation, while offering employment opportunities for the training of tribal cordwood masons.

The plan to work with the White Earth Tribal Land Office allowed the home to be constructed on Tribal Trust Land.  The local contractor and members of the tribe were enthusiastic about building a home that would be in harmony with the natural surroundings, be energy efficient and use locally available resources.  It would be designed and built with wood from the area and in accord with Ojibwa home traditions.  That is, the house would be a multi-generational home, it would incorporate a large family gathering area, the entrance would face east, and it would be comprised mostly of renewable materials.   White Earth Article 2.jpg    Floor plan for 1840 sq. ft. home (1,040 sq. ft. first floor, 800 sq. ft. second floor).

Vision

Here are the processes and  attributes of this very successful home building project.

  • Efficient design with owner input (Ojibwa Tribal member) leading to functional space usage
  • 12/12 pitch roof for additional 800 sq. ft. adding 2 bedrooms, and a bath upstairs
  • Insulated sand bed with radiant-in-floor heat (coupled with off-peak power usage)
  • Northern White Cedar post and beam framework (a sacred tree in Ojibwa culture)
  • 16″ Northern White Cedar cordwood log ends
  • High R-value foam insulation in center cavity (R-30)
  • Cold weather mortaring techniques
  • Ojibwa design features mortared into the cordwood walls
  • Ojibwa mortaring crews hired

Good People

We were fortunate to work with two very capable builders: Robert Zahorski, the general contractor and Bill Paulson, a tribal member who was the project coordinator.   Each dovetailed into the other’s strengths and the result was a building that evokes Ojibwa traditions, built with 21st century construction techniques.

Sand bed for heat storage White Earth Article 1.jpg

In the fall of 2009 the foundation was built with an insulated sand bed, beneath an insulated cement slab.  This sand bed will store heat during off-peak energy hours and then radiate it throughout the house during the high-energy-rate use daylight hours.   This is similar to radiant-in-floor heat, except the large sand bed under the foundation is insulated and provides heat energy storage for the home.  The drawing on the left, courtesy of Alan Stankevitz of daycreek.com, gives a rendering of this concept.

Cedar post and beam framework

The post and beam framework was erected by a local contractor.  Cedar posts gathered from near the reservation were milled on the two sides that would abut the cordwood infill.  They were left rounded on the interior and exterior.

East wall under construction.jpg

The cedar post and beam framework was braced.  The bracing is very important to maintain structural integrity and prevent sections from going “out of square.”  The braces are only removed after the cordwood walls approach the four foot mark.  As you will notice, the roof is complete and shingled. Having the roof finished before cordwood construction begins means that the cordwood mortaring can take place, for the most part, out of the elements. If a section is not finished in time, it can be ‘boarded up’ for the winter and work can continue on the inside of the building.  Attaching tarps to the fascia boards is helpful when it is necessary to protect the mortar and the workers from the drying rays of the sun.

Electrical

There are many code compliant ways to run electrical wiring in a cordwood building.  In general for wiring jobs we recommend that you follow your local building codes.  In cordwood buildings in various parts of the country, we have used conduit, Romex NM, and UL 12-2 wiring (with a resistant coated jacket) wire-stapled to the middle of the posts.   In this particular instance the electrical contractor chose to run flexible, plastic tubes (also called flexible PVC conduit). In accord with the blueprint, the ‘blue smurf’ wiring tubes were then installed throughout the building.  Bill injecting foam.jpgThe hanging blue tubes (with metal receptacles) were very irritating to work around during construction.  The masons were constantly bumping into them while mortaring.

Window Boxes

The window boxes (made of double 2″ x 8″s) were hung, using the sturdy top plates as fastening points.  The two exterior door frames were ‘roughed in.’   Later these would have doors with beautiful etched glass panels installed for both privacy and beauty (see picture at end of article).

 White earth for OB 1.jpgThe window boxes, door framing and wiring tubes are shown in the phot0.  Notice that the window boxes are screwed into the top plate of the post and beam framework.  This helps to assure that the windows will always open.  White Earth Article 15.jpg

Cedar Log Ends

Early in the process, the decision was made to use 16″ cedar log ends for the cordwood infill.  This length would provide an insulation value of R-24.   The logs had been cut and dried for four years in eight foot lengths.  After that they were cut into 16″ lengths and 70% of the logs were split to assure faster drying.

On the way to being stacked the logs were dipped in a borate solution (four cups of borax to one gallon of water). Finally, the logs were stacked in single rows for drying. While stacked, the exterior ends of the log ends were brushed with a UV blocker (Lifeline Exterior from Permachink) so that the faces of the exterior log ends would maintain their color.  The interior log end faces were left natural.

Mortar Mixing                                                    

A mortar mixer was purchased and three different individuals were trained on mixing proper cordwood “mud.” It was very helpful to have an alternate “mortar mixer” when someone had a scheduling conflict.White Earth small pixel window boxes with keyways on inside and outside

The mortar mixture used was the Flatau’s favorite mix of:

  • 1 part Portland Cement
  • 1 part Hydrated Lime Type S
  • 2 parts soaked softwood sawdust (coarse)
  • 3 parts washed, coarse sand

The overall feel of the mortar is an adobe style texture which is easily tuck-pointed with a spoon.

Injecting Foam Insulation 

For insulation, the initial strategy was to use regular coarse softwood sawdust mixed with hydrated lime in the center cavity, but a dearth of coarse, softwood sawdust in the area, led to another decision.   It was determined that injected closed cell foam was going to be used.  The main advantages of injected foam are:  high R-value (R-7 per inch), it bonds well with the wood and tends to fill every nook and cranny.  Cordwood builder Sandy Clidaras of  Quebec has been a pioneer in using closed cell foam in single wall cordwood and so we consulted him for advice.  Sandy generously gave of his time and information.  Convinced of the foam’s merits, we ordered eight kits of foam insulation.

White Earth Article 4.jpg

When using injected closed cell foam the cordwood wall is first built in two-foot-high sections.  Half-inch  tubes are inserted in the center cavity as the wall is being built.  The mortar is left to harden for at least 24 hours (any sooner and the wall may be lifted by the pressure of the expanding foam).   The foam is then injected into the tubes. The foam comes in two canisters, which must be warmed before being used and then shaken while injecting (this makes certain all the foam is used).  There are many companies that make expanding foam and quite a number of building supply stores carry the kits.  To find a foam retailer, do a Google search and make a few phone calls to get your best price.   On a 1,200 square foot home, with eight foot high cordwood walls, the foam will add approximately $4000 to the cost of construction.

The closed cell foam is rated at an R-value of 7 per inch.  A 5 inch cavity gives an R-value of 35.  Coupled with the usual 16″ cordwood walls’ R-value of R-24, we extrapolated that our wall R-value approached R-30.White Earth Interior 2010  bear paw  feather by door2.jpg

Cold Weather Mortaring

When we left to conduct another workshop in North Carolina the cordwood mortaring crew was about one third finished.  Little did we know at the time that the fall of 2009 in northwestern Minnesota would turn into one of the coldest on record.   Finishing the cordwood infill in October meant tarping the house, covering the cordwood walls with blankets and ‘firing-up’ a propane heater.  Starting a little later in the morning allowed the temperatures rise a bit.

If at all possible, cold weather mortaring is something to avoid.  If the water in the mortar mix freezes it can cause the mortar to flake and crumble.  Since this home was built within a post and beam framework there was no worry about structural integrity, but to have to re-mortar a complete wall or part of a wall would become a very labor intensive operation, especially since the mortar flaking may not be immediately apparent.

If you must mortar in cold weather, it is imperative to finish all mortaring before freezing temperatures occur.  If this becomes impossible, then precautions need to be taken to assure the mortar will not freeze:

  • The freshly mortared cordwood wall must be covered with blankets or tarps and secured, so it is protected from freezing cold and wind.
  • If there is a crew working on different sections (as was the case on this project) wrap the entire building with tarps to cover the work. (see picture)
  • Even though there is a little heat generated from the chemical reaction of the Portland cement and the water, it is not enough to prevent it from freezing when the temperatures plummet.
  • On this project, not only did we tarp the entire house, but we placed a propane heater in the middle of the house to keep the mortar from freezing.
  • It is very important to keep the walls covered, except when mortaring, for at least seven days.
  • According to masonry experts, masonry mortar takes seven days to dry and fourteen days to cure.White Earth Article 17.jpg

There are ingredients that can be added to the mortar mix to retard freezing (calcium chloride), but with the soaked sawdust in this mix, no one can adequately be certain that these non-freeze agents will work properly.  So it is best to cover, seal and provide a source of heat if the temperature is going into the 20’s.  Diminishing the amount of sawdust as temperatures drop can be helpful, as the retarding feature of the sawdust is less important.On this project we were properly prepared to prevent the masonry from freezing during the very cold month of October.

       While the precautions kept the cordwood walls from freezing, it added to labor costs by requiring time consuming ‘take-down’ every morning and ‘button-up’ in the evening.  The cordwood masonry was finished by late October and the inside work commenced.  The entire cordwood infill was accomplished in less than six weeks.                                  

Native Cordwood Masons

One of the highlights of this project was meeting and teaching the cordwood mortaring group which had been assembled for this task.  The crew was paid a good wage and learned valuable masonry and construction skills in the process.  They were enthusiastic and learned quickly.  As the project went along, some of the guys started talking about building an Ojibwa Ceremonial Lodge and personal homes, using the abundant Tamarack on the edges of the surrounding wild rice lakes.  One of the many side benefits of being involved in this project was receiving gifts of hand harvested and processed wild rice.   Even though the project was open to women applicants, there were no takers.  Becky ended up being the only woman on the crew and enjoyed working with the guys.

Special Effects

Bill and Robert were instrumental in making some of the artistic Ojibwa motifs in the White Earth Home.  The owner of the home was a member of the Bear Clan, so Bill decided he would put a bear paw, a feather, the Medicine Wheel and shelves in the cordwood wall.  They became the focal points of the house. White Earth Article 10.jpgWe visited the home a year after completion to do any weatherizing that might be required   We applied  Permachinktm around a few log ends that had loosened and stuffed a few round log ends that had checked with white fiberglass.  This well constructed home is easy to heat and blends beautifully into the surrounding woodland.    White Earth Article 13

The home has caused quite a stir in the surrounding area, and there are plans for building a commercial law office, a ceremonial lodge and more cordwood homes. We are proud of our involvement, and grateful for the friendships made, but we are also thankful to the tribal members who welcomed us and provided insight and assistance in making this home come to fruition.  Being involved in a project of this magnitude was certainly a peak experience for us.

White_Earth_Winter_2009_best_Flatau300dpi

(Below) Note the feather (left) and the Bear Paw (right) on either side of the door.

Flatau White Earth Reservation Corwdood Home 3 Naytahwaush, Minnesota USA.jpgWinter or summer, the White Earth Cordwood home is comfortable and inviting to family and friends.

 

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 Workshop DVD (2018),  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print 2017) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their Online Cordwood Bookstore.  The books & DVD are also available as ebooks for a quick and easy shipping free download.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

This is the Cordwood Workshop Video will show you how to build a best practices cordwood home.

Cordwood Workshop DVD 3

These are the 30 menu sections from the Cordwood Workshop DVD.

DVD Menu 1

DVD menu 2

Thank you for your kind attention to Cordwood Construction.   If you would like more information, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Or email me at richardflatau@gmail.com 

 

 

Cordwood on a Basement is Off Grid

A beautiful cordwood cabin done the “right way” using Best Practices. The owner’s were meticulous and made sure every part of the cabin was finished properly.  The full walk-out basement required extra support.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe cabin rests in the middle of 320 acres of hardwood and conifer forest.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis 28′ x 36′ cordwood cabin was built on a full basement.  The engineer made certain the foundation was able to handle the significant weight of a 16″ cordwood wall.  An 8′ high cordwood wall weighs 500 to 700 pounds per lineal foot.  So every four feet you have a ton of weight sitting on your foundation.  Sierra Exif JPEGNOTE: People have been asking about the plans for Cordwood on a Basement. This cabin’s basement specs are featured in a comprehensive article in the Cordwood Conference Papers 2005 available for $10 at the Online Cordwood BookstoreOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe cordwood posts are red pine & cedar and the cordwood infill is pine, cedar  and aspen.  The basement was “capped” with a floor and the framework was added to the wooden sub-floor. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoo Boo the bear cub walks across the central rafter log. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe heavy timber framing makes for a very attractive cabin.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe sliding glass doors are attached to a large deck which overlooks a small spring fed pond. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A view from the loft. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe cabin boasts four bedrooms and a loft sleeping quarters. It also has an indoor sauna and an off grid system.

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 Workshop DVD (2018),  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print 2017) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their Online Cordwood Bookstore.  The books & DVD are also available as ebooks for a quick and easy shipping free download.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

 

This is the Cordwood Workshop Video label. Cordwood Workshop DVD 3

These are the 30 menu sections from the Cordwood Workshop DVD.

DVD Menu 1

DVD menu 2

 

Cordwood Chalet BnB in BC

Golden, BC cordwood rental.jpgCordwood Chalet in Golden, British ColumbiaGolden, BC cordwood rental2 Cordwood Chalet B&B.jpgThis cottage shows how different building styles compliment one another:   cordwood, lime plaster, cedar plank siding and stone, all take their turn showing off. In doing so, they make a truly unique cottage.Golden, BC cordwood rental3 Cordwood Chalet B&B.jpgFrom the Airbnb site: “Situated in the stunning Blaeberry Valley, 15 minutes drive from Golden, our Cordwood Chalet is the perfect getaway to peacefulness and tranquility in the heart of nature. Newly built and comfy, its location offers a wide range of outdoor activities.”    https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4440075

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 Workshop DVD (2018),  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print 2017) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their Online Cordwood Bookstore.  The books & DVD are also available as ebooks for a quick and easy shipping free download.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

This is the Cordwood Workshop Video label. Cordwood Workshop DVD 3

These are the 30 menu sections from the Cordwood Workshop DVD.

DVD Menu 1

DVD menu 2

 

 

 

 

Alaska: The Last Frontier Cordwood Cabin

Shane & Kelli Kilcher of the Discovery series Alaska: The Last Frontier have built a beautiful cordwood cabin on their land near Homer, Alaska.  The Discovery Channel has been documenting their journey.  Shane & Kelli bought my book (Cordwood Construction Best Practices) and stayed in contact via email and text throughout the building process.  We answered questions as they were building on site. Here are a few photos they sent of their progress.  That’s the film crew in the background.

Shane and Kelli Kilcher with logo cropped

Kelli recently wrote on her Facebook page  “This guy (Richard Flatau) literally wrote the book on cordwood building and has been a great help with all our questions!”  They also purchased the Cordwood Workshop DVD, which is a great way to prepare for building your first walls.

Continue Reading as the adventure of Shane and Kelli’s continues in Homer, Alaska.   Cordwood Construction

Cordwood Window Boxes: How to build

Making a well built window box (also called window buck) for your cordwood home is crucial.  Done properly your windows will open and close with ease in perpetuity.  There are a couple of important points to follow.

  1.  Buy your windows first so you can make the right size window box. Window boxes 1.jpg
  2.  Make the window box out of dimensional lumber for added strength adding 1/4″ to each side (called the rough opening).  Have windows of all the same size:  make a template like in the picture above. White Earth small pixel window boxes with keyways on inside and outside.jpg
  3.  Secure the window box to a post, top plate, lintel or framework.  Window box with top plate and masons line.jpg
  4.  Brace the window box diagonally so it stays square, level and plumb.Window install into window box.jpg
  5. Stack your windows safely out of the elements and then install carefully to keep them level on the outside of the window box.  If they come with a nailing flange, make sure it is nailed securely to the outside edge of the box. Cordwood window with logo.jpg
  6. It is possible to float small windows into a cordwood wall.

7. More photos of well built and well installed window boxes. Random Pattern 3 and window.jpg

8. These tips  work for all natural building styles.

Window boxes and door frames installed.jpg9. Door frames and window boxes attached and ready for cordwood infill.Window boxes.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 instruction for thousands of cordwood builders.  Cordwood Workshop Video (2017),  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (2017) 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, featuring the Cordwood Education Center.

DVD label cover yellow.jpg

For more information on Cordwood Construction, click on the picture or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   Below is the 30 item Video menu. 

DVD Menu 1A 400 pixels

DVD menu 2A 400 pixels.jpg

 

Cordwood Patio Floor in Slovakia

Continue reading

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

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Cordwood “Dragon’s Keep” Welcomes Guests @Kinstone

The Entrance Center at Kinstone Permaculture Academy is called the Dragon’s Keep. Nineteen dragons reside within its walls, including the 15 foot beast undulating along in the wall.   This project has been ongoing and we finally made the big push to finish. Besides all the wonderful folk who put their heart and soul into the beginnings, we had twenty-three intrepid souls, brave the cold rainy spring weather to put on the finishing touches.  [Thank you to Kristine for the delightful pictures.]  Kinstone Dragon 4(Above)The 15 foot dragon has a dark green eye (far left), scales (triangle bottles) and a tiny set of wings (trapezoidal windows).  The Eastern Red Cedar is apparent in the red tinged pieces of cordwood.  The belly is a 4 foot piece of horizontal White Cedar.Kinstone Dragon 3

(Above) The mandala was created two years ago using cardboard for a template (see below). This is the brightest it has ever shined.  I think it likes having the building completed.  The dragon’s belly was previously positioned and placed.

Kinstone workshop 2The mandala was cut out of a large piece of cardboard to enhance accuracy. Kinstone workshop 9

Kinstone Dragon 10The group (above) worked diligently on April 29.   The group (below) feasted off the first groups’ hard work and completed the final rows of cordwood on April 30.  Kinstone Dragon 5A pewter dragon brings out a delightful smile from our Canadian kindergarten teacher,  Erin. Kinstone Dragon 9Dressing in layers is important for staying comfortable outside.  The bandana is useful as a dust mask and neck warmer for 39 windy degrees! Kinstone Dragon 13Having a heated classroom to eat and discuss Best Practices with cordwood was wonderful and comfortable. Kinstone Dragon 11We have an 8″ fence wall that we are laying out for a motif between the living roof post and beam framework.   It provided fun instruction in a group setting.  Everybody learned by eyeballing each other’s work!

Kinstone Dragon 7

Normally we use 16 inch cordwood in order to achieve an R-value of 24, but on the fence/wall we are using 8″ cordwood and insulating it to give workshop participants a visual reminder to build a thermal break for their home building, all the while using best practices.  M-I-M stands for mortar-insulation-mortar.  Kinstone Dragon 6

A fine row of cordwood and bundled up cordwooders!

Kinstone Dragon 8

Two of our participants from Rhinelander, Wisconsin (Kerry and Cecelia) placed the mythical Hodag into the wall using glass beads.Kinstone Dragon 14As luck would have it, two baby goats were born during the Sunday workshop. Named Peanut and Butter.  Everyone got a chance to cuddle the new borns.  They are very, very sweet animals.

Kinstone Dragon 19.jpgKinstone Dragon 16

Becky and Christy are smitten by the baby goat (Peanut).

Kinstone Dragon 17

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