How to Build a Small Cabin: The Steps Explained

Considering that a log cabin is made of trees, you might wonder how itcould save trees (and the environment) by building this way.

It takes at least 20 sixty-year-old fir or pine trees for the average wood-frame home structure. It takes another 20 or so for everything going in, on, and over it.

Log cabins use younger trees, leaving the ancient old-growth trees to keep sheltering the forest. Aside from that, log cabins are inherently energy-efficient homes, as reported by a study by the NAHB.

All you need to know now is how to build a small cabin for yourself. Keep reading to find out!

What You’ll Need for a Backyard Cabin

First, you’ll need a good design. The best log cabins are properly designed and can last for hundreds of years. Second, you’ll need to know if you’re going to use hand tools or power tools.

Traditional log home tools include:

  • Drawknife
  • Ax
  • Handsaw
  • Hacksaw
  • Adz
  • Log Dog
  • Mallet
  • Log Peavey
  • Hand or skidding log tongs
  • Hand bore
  • String, chalk-line, and other layout hand tools

If you want to use power tools, the logs will come out with much less of a rough look. They’ll be more finished and precise. You’ll still need a number of tools above, but also include:

  • Chainsaw
  • Power drill
  • Jigsaw
  • Circular saw
  • Electric screwdriver
  • Light towers or other light sources
  • Flashlights
  • Power source

There are many batteries or generators on the market, but lithium-ion batteries are the best way to go these days. They’re smaller, lighter, have higher voltage and lower amps.

For example, the Jackery 1000 can power any tool in your arsenal and even has solar charging capabilities. Most other systems are twice the weight as lithium-ion and are composed of deep-cycle batteries similar to lead-acid systems on yachts. They even charge in 6-8 hours.

How to Build a Log Cabin: The Steps

There are five primary steps to building a log cabin. None of them are very hard, just labor-intensive and time-consuming for newbies and those using only hand-tools.

They are:

  1. Planning your log cabin
  2. Picking and preparing the logs
  3. Building the foundation
  4. Laying the logs
  5. Exterior preventative maintenance

There are, of course, sub-steps such as laying out and clearing the land in accordance with zoning laws and building codes.

You’ll also need to do research on the best tree species for log cabins. You’ll need to do felling, debarking, and drying unless you’re getting logs delivered. Don’t forget you also need to connect the logs together with wooden pegs.

Some questions are for you alone to decide. For the roof, will you bring in pre-made trusses or make your own? Will you use a full concrete foundation or use local stone?

Log Cabin 101: How to Build a Small Cabin

Since log cabins are based on a shell design, it comes with the inherent freedom to change anything you like. In the end, log cabins come with a lot of plusses without too many minuses, since there are so many modern ways to deal with old problems.

Now that you know how to build a small cabin, why not see what other articles we have in store?

Plan Outdoor has everything you need, from the best product reviews on outdoor gear to how to survive in the wild. Keep hiking through our blogs for the right tips you need!

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