a childhood saved

A Naturalist's Notebook

When I was 14-15 years old, I wrote a series of 23 essays as a weekly assignment for my high school English class. I called the series "A Naturalist's Notebook." Naturalist's Notebook Table of Contents

Log Cabins: January 2, 1974

Log cabins have an appeal to very many people who are interested in woodcraft. The solid foundation, the sturdy roof, and the woodsy smell are all appealing. The quality of the cabin reflects on the builder, and he has a wide variety of designs to choose [from], limited only [by] his equipment and materials available.

I had a fantasy as a young teenager of living in a log cabin way out in the woods, built with my own hands with wood cut from the surrounding forest.

To make a simple log cabin, follow these instructions. First, build a stone foundation approximately 18 inches high. Then, cut four long logs, long enough to run over the foundation. These logs are known as sills. Place a stone on top of the foundation at each of the four corners. Now, cut a notch in each end of the logs, large enough to fit the rock.

Then, cut more logs and cut notches in each end. Cut a corresponding notch in the top of the sill. Fit the log on top of the sill. Fit the other logs on top of the sills. Cut more logs, and fit them on top of the others. Keep going until you want to make the slope of the roof. Attach smaller logs as you go up. Then, attach a framework with a very sturdy log, a ridgepole, on top. Nail cross-pieces down the framework.

Now, the roof is ready for shingles. Shingles are split with a froe, a tool that looks like an old-fashioned razor with its blade at a right angle to its handle. The shingles are smoothed with a draw-knife, and are nailed to the top. Windows are not usually used, unless it is a summer house. The next step is chinking, with mud, sticks and clay. Paneling is not necessary, but it can be used for added warmth.

A variety of things can be added to a log cabin. If a log is left with a small branch stub, the stub can be used as a coat-hanger or hat hanger. Many people put a wooden floor in, supported by beams. A basement can even be added, using a trap door. A hole dug below the cabin is cooler, and may be used as a refrigerator!

Many, many wooden articles can be made to use in a log cabin. I have seen pictures of things hanging from a wooden telephone to a latch for a door! A log cabin is one of the most variable types of shelter. It can take many forms, and use many improvements. All in all, it is a good idea, if one has the materials and patience!

Next: "Timber Wolves" January 10, 1974