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I'm interested in building a small Lincoln-log style cabin (more like a shed, <200 square feet) in hardiness zone 4/5 of northeast USA. Available timbers are mostly red spruce, some eastern hemlock, a little bit of white and red pine, and precious little cedar. My question is about the timing of construction. Below I'll pose a few different questions, but they all amount to "What are the timing considerations for construction of a Lincoln-log style cabin?"

When should logs be cut for the cabin? I know Spring is generally a bad time for logging due to mud and sapflow making it more likely that both felled and standing trees will be damaged more than necessary. Other than the details of logging, can trees be turned to logs at any time of year for use in a log cabin? In general the logging itself is something I'm comfortable with in terms of timing and all, but just about every part of the process after that is where I'm not sure about timing I should aim for.

How long should the logs be left to dry before they are hewn and fit together with notches? Can processing logs begin pretty much immediately upon them being cut, or (more likely I'd guess) do the logs need to sit (stacked or on the ground, in shade or sun) for some (2, 6, 12) months?

And what period can the processing take place over? For example can all the hewing, notching, fitting, etc. be finished over the course of a summer or even a year, or is there any particular time frame it should be done within? I imagine it's a work in progress for its entire lifetime, but maybe there's some critical timing with things like roof and floor completion.

Any info or resources I could look into for guidance would be appreciated. The standard of quality for this one is pretty low as it's an experiment (basically, sturdier than a tent), but I'd still like to try and do it right and learn the process correctly.

  • Maybe this is better for DIY.SE but that is more permanent residential construction using commercial-grade products, whereas what I'm doing is more raw materials with the most advanced tool probably being a chainsaw. Thus, I figured this fits more in TGO, in line with campcraft activities. – cr0 May 25 '18 at 15:48
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    Looks fully in scope here. Hopefully there will be an answer with optimal timing, You CAN do this anytime, and all at once. But sometimes are better than others, that will be the interesting to bit to learn. – James Jenkins May 25 '18 at 16:16
  • Do you want the best cabin ever build or are you happy with something that is put up fast and where you will fill in cracks between and in logs over time? – Willeke May 25 '18 at 16:44
  • @Willeke good question, and I tried to address that at the end of the post: "The standard of quality for this one is pretty low as it's an experiment (basically, sturdier than a tent), but I'd still like to try and do it right and learn the process correctly. " – cr0 May 25 '18 at 16:49
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    logcabinhub.com/log-preparation-tips Google dry logs for cabin – paparazzo May 25 '18 at 17:20
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A lot of timber gets harvested in the winter, especially now that you can harvest timber from the comfort of the heated cab of a harvester. Falling trees in the winter does the least amount of damage to the trees, the ground, and surrounding vegetation, it also makes it easier to haul the logs out because they just slide across the snow.

The cold helps with the curing of the wood too. The moisture content in the tree is low to begin with, and it dries out slow as you wait out the rest of winter and ease into the warmer months.

  • This part I already know, but thanks for that important info anyway. The logging itself is something I'm comfortable with in terms of doing that right, but just about every part of the process after that is where I'm not sure about timing I should aim for. For example, how long should I let the wood cure for? – cr0 May 25 '18 at 16:33
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    @cr0 You let it cure until it's cured. If you try cutting and shaping the wood too soon then it can split, twist and shrink as it dries. Curing time varies depending on the size and species of the wood, but it's typically 1 to 2 years... – ShemSeger May 25 '18 at 20:08

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