Northup Farms

My House as it Looks Today From the North West.
A Modern Log Cabin
Built By the Seat of My Pants

When I decided to build a Home in the North Country of Bemidji, Minnesota, I quickly learned there is no code in the county, and you can pretty much do what you want and never see an inspector. I even did my own electric and just had the Beltrami Electric guy come back out and reseal my meter when I was done messing around.

I practiced by building a chicken coop, squaring the logs with a chainsaw, fitting each one to the last one while my brother held it in place. We spaced the rafters a cubit apart, and since my cubit was longer than his, my side of the roof ended up being a little longer than his side, and we didn't use a square, so it was somewhat out of square besides.

Then we bought a sawmill and started squaring logs on that. Our first project using these squared logs cut from Poplar and Balsam right off my five acres, was a pump house about eight feet square, minus the overlap of the 8 foot logs we used. When we got to the main house, My Brother, Ron also helped with his Massey Ferguson 65 Diesel tractor, breaking ground. My Father-in-Law helped me with the plumbing and I had another brother, Chuck and my Dad both helping with laying block for the basement. Occasionally, someone came by and helped nail a few boards on the floor or something. I ordered two truckloads (about 14 cords) of balsam pulp and started sawing. Every bolt that hit the skidway, I looked at it first to see how big of a building log I could saw out of it. Mind you, this is pulp grade timber, and very little of it would have made a decent bolt for a serious sawyer. The very biggest bolts gave me two 4" by 6" logs and I seldom did that, because it was too much trouble. Usually, I simply sawed all the side lumber off whatever building log I ended up with, saving the straightest side to be last cut. Most of the house was built using these 4" by 6" building logs, sawed flat on three sides and left natural on the fourth. I later peeled that side and stacked them for drying.

When it came time for the construction, I had lots of 8 foot two by fours, two by sixes and quite a few two by eights stacked around, plus lots of one inch thick material for sheeting floors and roof, that I got out of these fourteen cords of pulp, plus I made quite a stack of 3" by 3" logs from the stuff that was just too darn small to make a 2" X 4". I used these for dog-houses, fences and even my one pig barn is completely built from these smaller 3" logs. My back porch is completely built from 4" square logs, but the main building is mostly 4" by 6". For Floor joists and rafters, I needed longer material, so I bought another truckload of Red Pine Poles, which had diameters big enough to saw quite a few two by eight and smaller material in varying lengths.

Then I bought a surface Planer from Bellsaw and thickness sized everything I had sawed except the building logs, which I used rough. Eventually, I even went so far as to use a jig I set up to Tongue & Groove 3 and 4 inch Maple paneling for the living room. Since this planer was a single side planer and only opened up to six inches, everything had to go through four times minimum, and it was not a very good attempt. The maple I used was hard and brittle, and It did not like being forced around to fit. The result was less than perfect. After that, I bought all my T&G material or paid someone with better equipment to do it for me. Most of the interior is paneled with that Maple, Poplar or Pine and Balsam. These are all native timber, some of it cut off my place there in Northern Minnesota.

I decked the 1st floor and stood 2" by 4" frame walls and set them in slightly from the outside edge of the deck. Then a layer of tarpaper with the logs outside of that. They really constitute a heavy siding, as opposed to an actual building log. Each 8 foot log is set in place with a piece of sill seal under and behind for a good air tight insulation. They are also insulated where they butt together, and after it was all done, I caulked every crack. Logs are toe-nailed together end-to-end using 40 and 60 penny pole barn nails and drilled and spiked with 60 penny bridge spikes. One of these will go completely through two logs and into the third, so they hold pretty good. The windows and corners were framed with 2" X 5" s, and the logs butt to them, so they are spiked through to the ends of all logs that terminate there. I capped off the corners with a vertical log, center cut to fit the angle. I also had cut a few 2" 6" log slabs with square edges that I used to cap the rim joists under deck level, and to hang below the top edge of the concrete. Below that level, I covered the blocks with 1 1/2" styrofoam with pressure treated plywood over the top and drilled and nailed to the blocks. The completed walls are 9" thick and well insulated.


Click to see Photo Album
Click to see Slide Show
Rick's Log Cabin
During the Construction

Buildings I Have Built
Using Alternative Building Styles

Rick's First Building: Log Chicken Coop.
Rick's Original Pump House.
Dad's Chicken Coop,
Using my Building Techniques.

Rick's Log Home
Inside Rick's Greenhouse

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