Log Cuts in Log Cabins

This short article is the second in my timber series which tries to explain the types of timber we can use in log cabins. In this post I will try to explain how we can muck about with the timber to give you a really good price, but is it really good quality? Do you really want it?

The first in the series is here: Types of Timber in your Log Cabin

Timber Mills

I’ve already spoken about Spruce and Pine and their differences, now we can look at the actual log.

Logs arriving at the mill

Logs arriving at the mill

When the felled logs arrive at the mill an assessment is carried out on the best way to cut them for what ever uses have been specified. There are numerous different cuts for various reasons. It not simply a case of slicing them up. Wood is very expensive and the various parts of a log are worth varying amounts of money.

Parts of a Log

So lets look at this log:

Parts of a tree trunk

Parts of a tree trunk

There’s a few parts to it, each has it’s own properties and of course monetary value. It makes sense that the most valued part of the tree is the heartwood, this is the strongest part. It’s far more dense, it has less knots in it and is where all the full ‘goodness’ of the wood is.

This is the bit we like and are most interested in. This is the part that we make all of the posts from in the gazebos so we can be sure of the full strength, of course it does cause a few problems sometimes. Please see this post about the inherent problems of using this heartwood that sometimes a customer may see as a defect: Crack and splits in timber. However if we didn’t use it, and we used a different section and make a higher profit, your gazebo would not be half as strong. We’d be laughing to the bank but would you want that?

The heartwood is also the part Tuindeco will use for the log cabins but more on that a little later, lets keep looking at the log.

Best Bit of the Log

Lets look at our log again, we now know that the best and most expensive part is going to be the heartwood.  So as a mill we might look at this log and think to ourselves how we can cut it to provide the strongest piece and of course make the most money giving the highest grade of timber. Perhaps we’ll cut this from it:

Best and strongest part of a tree trunk for logs

Best and strongest part of a tree trunk for logs

With this we can take the most expensive piece and sell it at a premium and meet the Swedish Timber Grade of I – IV. We still have the rest of the log to play with and we can cut it up for all sorts of different uses meeting lower Swedish timber grades, maybe we could cut it like this:

Cuts you could possibly apply to a log

Cuts you could possibly apply to a log

There’s lots of technical terms we can use, Flitches, Deck, Board Scantlings etc. I’ll not bore you even more than maybe I am now.

Basically it means we’re cutting up the log to make the very best use of it. We’re cutting it to grades and to what we can get for it according to the buyers requirements and maybe their budget.

I found these images very interesting on the various cuts that can be found within a tree for various purposes:

Various types of cuts available from a log

Various types of cuts available from a log

As you can see there are lots of different ways to cut it, it gets even more technical and in another post I can blabber away about how we cut it to ensure knots do not fall out (Re-Sawn). Or how we ensure the very heart is cut to remain totally straight throughout the length of the final log cabin log.

Log Cabin Differences

I’ve seen another supplier of log cabins talk about differences in various log cabins. They are however completely missing the point. Double glazing and locks, roofing materials and sizes really are not the point when it comes to the buildings.

The ONLY thing that matters is the type of timber used, the quality of it, where it is from and where it is cut from within a log. And of course the moisture content (another post will deal with this) Moisture content makes a HUGE difference to the timber used in a log cabin.

Windows and doors, fancy locks, glazing, roofing etc is very superfluous and will not have any bearing on the quality or longevity. The timber is the important part and in my opinion the only part to worry about when you are researching or buying a log cabin.

The Log Cabin Cut

OK, lets assume you’re out to buy a log cabin, you’ve got cash to spend and maybe you can go direct to the timber mills and maybe even you can go direct to the factory. First I suspect you want the best timber, we’ve already talked about timber before: Types of Timber in a log cabin. and maybe you can get to the forest to select the best trees in the right location.

BUT now you can make it even cheaper and really get the price to where you want it. Maybe you are a UK supplier out to blast the market with you super duper best price log cabin

So why not use these cuts from a log and ask them to make the logs from them? This would be super cheap, probably about 20 – 40% cheaper :

Logs you could take from a tree trunk

Logs you could take from a tree trunk

Blimey, you’d make a killing! Your Log cabin would be way cheaper than anyone else, You’d sell LOADS

This is exactly what some suppliers will do, the outside of a tree is about 20% less weight than the inside, it makes for a cheaper building and certainly looks right on paper. You can even quote a Swedish log quality (above V but would you know the difference?). Kiln dried, really super duper! All the customers would think they have the UK’s best deal! WOOHOO!

By the way, I heard a quote recently from a very good friend in the industry. He said: “I can make a log cabin to any price you want. You want cheap? You will sell hundreds in the first few weeks but never answer the phone again!”

We would like to answer the phone this year and next and the year after……

But really what do you want? If you were at the mill and knew all of the above what would you really want?  Maybe this cut or are you not that bothered?

Inside cuts for a log cabin

Inside cuts for a log cabin

Timber Series

Following on from this I intend to write a short series on timber in log cabins, you really wouldn’t believe the differences and the ways we can play with wood to get to the prices you the consumer wants but, do you really want it in the long term?

The first in the series is here: Types of Timber in your Log Cabin

The following will be added to this blog over time:

  1. How we can cut a timber log to make a cheap log cabin.
  2. Moisture content in timber, machining and the impact of the content.
  3. Timber calculation to cut costs you can work out yourself and see where you maybe opting for a bargain while adding to a companies profits.
  4. More expansion information for log cabins.
  5. The pitfalls of thinner logs, barge-boards, windows and doors.
  6. Drying processes – kiln dried versus natural drying.
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About Richard

This blog is my personal platform which I do enjoy. It is my own viewpoint and my own ideas. I may not be right and other installers / experts may offer a different view point or a alternative way to do something. I welcome contributions from anybody experienced to do so.

All my blog writing is MY OWN personal opinion ONLY and is NOT always the opinion of TUIN | TUINDECO as a company.

Log Cabins and Garden timber have a myriad of intricacies , I love to give away the secrets, there are a lot!

I enjoy using this blog to expose them so you know what you are buying. I love to know I am causing a few problems in the industry as it can be on occasions less than honest.

I actively encourage everyone to install their own buildings. So many times I would fit and the company I was working for would charge loads for my time, only then to be faced with the embarrassment when the customer says 'I could have done that' and YES you can without paying hundreds of Pounds!

I have over 19 years experience within the garden timber industry. I have particular expertise in garden buildings including the manufacture, design and installation from sheds to log cabins and all the way up to timber framed houses.

In my time I have been involved with virtually every manufacturer and supplier of garden buildings. I have also installed pretty much every make of Garden Building there is from ALL suppliers and manufacturers.

Prior to my career change I was a Watch Commander in the Fire Service with particular expertise in chemical incidents, training, technical design / technology / IT /Procedures / ISO Systems and road traffic accidents. I retired due to a nasty injury after 20 years service.

During my time in the Fire Service, on my days off, I was a self employed fitter for any type of garden building, I worked with most of the well known companies as a subcontractor.

I now work with Tuin | Tuindeco in the UK, supporting and advising on the vast range of products. I keep an eye out for help requests when we a supposed to be closed and can usually get back to you out of hours via email only (wife and children permitting on my days off).

In my private life I consult as an independent expert assessor for companies or private individuals when a dispute is present over their structure which results in producing an impartial report and assessment for whoever requires it. This is often higher valued than a structural engineers report born from my credentials, experience and widely recognised as an 'Expert' in the field.

I am a freelance writer for numerous companies, publications and blogs as well as an independent expert and fault finder for parts of the Industry and consumers with a particular emphasis on timber structures, both framed and of an interlocking design such as log cabins.

I produce numerous articles about timber in general, information on general timber products and specific guides when needed. I hope you enjoy and find my writing useful.

Please contribute and comment to my posts as you would like and I will try to respond as best I can.

Thank you

Richard.

3 thoughts on “Log Cuts in Log Cabins

  1. This is the sort of information potential log cabin purchasers needs to know . It makes that decision much easier and puts pricing into perspective.
    Excellent factual article from somebody with a clear passion for their work

  2. A really informative pieceof writing with no ‘bullshit’.In the modern world of massed production and cutting corners to maximise profits it is something that is rarely found. So impressed that I am just about to order one of your summerhouses for delivery early January. Many thanks.

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