Cleaning a Log Cabin

This post title is ‘Cleaning a Log Cabin“, it could also read: “Cleaning a log cabin successfully, and then ruining it by cocking up badly!” which is what happened!

Things were going so well, until I got too keen …… and ….. really cocked up and I have possibly put a friendship in jeopardy.

The Exciting New Timber / Wood Cleaner:

It all started with some excitement, a new product had been sent to me to try out. It’s a cleaner for wood / timber and primarily designed for cleaning timber before the application of our Carefree Protect timber Treatment.

I had been sent a video showing its super powers which I didn’t entirely believe.

Pretty impressive stuff! So, when the box of six arrived I set about finding every bit of rubbish and stained wood I could find and started spraying everything to see what happens. I found on surface dirt, like in the video, it was very very quick indeed. I tried it on a larch gazebo that is at the office currently being used as a carport, it worked well but not as quickly, I think maybe the dirt was a lot more ingrained and had been driven in by passing traffic, It did though bring up the post well. It was squirted onto mouldy timber, rotten timber, wood with fungal spores caused by damp or resin and all of them came up clean, much of it came up like new wood.

It seemed to me it was like a magic potion, and then others joined in, people were all hunting in the yards, warehouses and workshops for wood to clean, it turned into a bit of a cleaning frenzy with my six bottles liberally spread across Tuin.

Then, I noticed somebody had cleaned my experiment log that I’ve used in a few blogs now:

No treatment at all on this poor Log – This made up display boards showing various levels of treatment on logs, This picture was taken January 2017 and it is now August 2017.

This experiment was going really well, a year and a half of being exposed to the elements, along with other logs of varying degrees of treatment to show customers what can happen. A Very useful and scientific experiment you’ll agree. But, some clever bugger thinks it would be really handy if it was half cleaned – unbelievable!

My year and a half experiment ruined! …. Just great, so thanks to whoever at Tuin thought that was a good idea!  It is clean though…. well a quarter of it is.

YES it did clean it really well and bang goes an update blog which I had planned to revisit in January 2018.

At this point, enough is enough, I confiscate the bottles from everyone, suggest they stop mucking about and get back to work. The cleaning fest was over and I decide a proper experiment is needed.

A colleague has a log cabin that I knew had never, ever been treated. I featured it a few years ago in another blog post, at the time it was being used for chickens, I have a little chat, casually mentioning her log cabin and a super duper new wood cleaner for log cabins.

A completely untreated log cabin the home of a group of chickens.

I’m told the chickens have now all but gone, but then it went through a phase as a Guinea Pig home and sanctuary. Lately it is simply a store for general “stuff” that cannot be thrown away … Girls!.

However, it still remains untreated, and is now about 15 – 17 years old.

The Serious Log Cabin Cleaning Experiment 

I offer my services with the new timber cleaning product, my time and effort and promised to transform the log cabin for her, in the name of a thoroughly useful experiment. This is the log cabin before I conducted the experiment. Chickens and Guinea Pigs gone, it is a blank canvas and perfect for a restoration project:

An old log cabin, still untreated and looking in need of some TLC. A perfect restoration project

I would show you a completed after shot of the experiment but we are not quite … ahem … there yet.

So, onto the experiment and at this point it’s best to show you the video I made and you’ll see the huge effect the cleaner had and that the experiment was a resounding success – it did clean the log cabin, really quite remarkably…. I find this video amazing!

Of course this cabin is ancient so it cannot be perfect, that would be expecting far too much but it did clean as the video shows, and it cleaned the logs amazingly quickly. The process can keep working over 24 hours and the label says for really heavy dirt to apply three coats, one hour apart. The video is only showing one coat, but, I think you’ll agree this is pretty impressive even with one coat.

The corner of the cabin has always fascinated me, on the short side the wind and rain bellows up into it, as it’s flanked by a wall and it receives all the very worst weather year round. I find the marking and weathering particularly incredible. And like all timber it never rots if allowed to dry naturally, No rot in this log cabin timber is evident at all.

Corner connections of an old log cabin, heavily discoloured and marked.

After some squirts of the Carefree Timber / Wood Cleaner and allowing it to settle for ten minutes of so the result in impressive.

Corner connection of the log cabin starts to come clean again.

Now I’m fascinated with this side wall as it is so exposed, this is what it looked like

A really dirty side wall of a log cabin that is exposed to the worst of the weather. You can see part of the corner that has cleaned up quite well despite its years of exposure.

Again, a bit of time squirting the cleaner and things are looking a lot better.

Yes there is still some dirt but I was expecting a lot. a damn site cleaner though!

This was just one coat and got to this stage within 10 – 15 minutes, it’s not perfect or as new wood but when you consider how old the log cabin is it is pretty amazing and all done with a few squirts ….. and the squirting is where the problem now starts ………

The Log Cabin Cleaning Cock Up

The squirting …. well quite frankly it is a bit tiresome, at this point I had finished the parts shown in the video, most of the front wall, the corner and the side wall, about two and a half bottles have been used and my hand and wrist is getting sore, in fact my wrist is now really painful.

I start to wonder if there is an alternative to this method. I had promised my colleague a clean log cabin that she could now, finally, choose her colours and treat it (I had asked her not to in the past as I had assured her it would not ever rot, and it makes for a great experiment for me and my blogging), but, now at last she can treat it and I suggested we use the Carefree timber treatment that is so good, afterwards.

I don’t think this stuff is overly cheap, I’m told the price is around £19.50 for the bottle, so far I’ve used nearly £60 worth on this Log Cabin. But it is really quick acting, great results and damn good, it hurts my wrist though which I’m getting a little fed up of – I am old!

I deal with complaints from customers sometimes and I start thinking what complaints can be made from people about this cleaner.

We have the expectations of people but I think that’s covered, I cannot see how anyone can moan about the performance if they are realistic about what timber / wood they are cleaning bearing in mind the age and dirt.

I think about the effort and yes, there is some with the spray trigger which people could moan about. I am told though this can be bought in drums so a powered sprayer maybe better for bigger jobs so that complaint is covered.

I think about the cost. I’ve done some research and cannot find anything like it, there’s lots of claims but nothing I can see with the speed of this product. No one seems to produce videos of it actually working. – Please send me some links if you have found any so I can compare. But, there is a cost implication, this whole log cabin might be close to £100 worth of treatment to get it clean. On top of that you have the proper treatment needed, it could get expensive and in a complaint situation I have to justify it.

It’s at this point i have a great idea, no costs involved, quick, easy, fun and not a lot of effort!

I fetch my pressure washer 🙂

Pressure washer being used on a log cabin – what a great idea!

And at this point please understand a few other cock ups I made before I get onto the main horrendous one. It turns out there is a really big red label on the bottle that should be read.

Big red warning label – A must read.

I hadn’t actually read this, please if you choose to use this product follow it’s guidance. When I saw the door handle I realised I should have!

The handle was very old and in hindsight I should have removed it before applying the cleaner. I should have also used gloves and a mask throughout.

Maybe because I’m 50 in a few weeks my brain is not working as it should, the label says it can cause  irritation, and to use gloves, a mask, protective clothing ….. Doh! … My self and my helper didn’t for most of the application, not good.

I should have also removed the handles before application of the cleaner, they were pretty bad before hand and now I have made them worse….. damn it.

If you use this cleaner, please follow the advice of the red label and protect yourself properly, also remove any metal work in case of it reacting badly with it.

Carrying on pressure washing the log cabin

So I’m now cracking on with the pressure washer, I’m having to get really, really close with the nozzle, as the dirt is so old and ingrained, I’ve even put on a special swirl nozzle and the logs are getting pretty clean. The dirt is lifting, it looks as good as the Carefree Timber / Wood Treatment and costs nothing is you already have a pressure washer.

The dirt is tough to get out though!

Several years ago I used a pressure washer to clean a huge cabin we had just built, it was only a bit of mud splats and we were really careful to keep our distance from the wood, and it worked really well to clean it up.

This time though, to get the dirt out I had to get in close and really go for it. At this stage in the above picture it looked pretty good, I was feeling pretty smug ….. and after £60 worth of treatment this was SOOOOO much better …. WoooooHooooo….. and cost nothing and my wrist didn’t hurt at all.

And then it went bad …. a few hours later it was dry …..

Too close and too higher pressure – ruined the log cabin!

And …. this is what I had done!  Bugger, too close, too high a pressure, too much dirt and I have destroyed the logs.

A Ruined Log Cabin

AND now I have a huge problem! A very old log cabin, never treated, it was doing fine. I could have stuck with the really impressive cleaner but now I have really destroyed the surface …… now I have a problem…..

My advice from now on …. Use the Carefree Timber / Wood cleaner if you have something similar, pressure washing is NOT a good idea!

More to follow, if i can get out of this predicament …….!

Use this stuff though if you want a clean log cabin which you have not treated properly, if at all, then, spend some money on some proper treatment so you never have to go through this.

Carefree Protect Timber Cleaner

Carefree Protect Timber cleaner.

Shepherd Hut Review

One of our customers, James from East Sussex, has been very generous in sending us his review of the Shepherd Hut Gypsy styled caravan and his process of installing them from start to finish- with plenty of pictures!

James writes as follows: 

I ordered two Shepherd’s Huts before Christmas to take advantage of the generous discount. They were delivered in the first week in January. The delivery driver was superb and, though it was difficult and time-consuming, he managed to get both into one of our barns.

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We debated where to undertake construction and in the end decided that it would be best right by the house, which involved some nice exercise to stroll up and down the drive when stuff was needed.

The kits were extremely well packed and there was no need to use additional tarpaulin or covering. They have sat there in the barn until today when I opened the first one. I used my car to haul the heavy metal chassis and wheels, nuts, bolts and other hardware up to the build area. There is one thing we did: I read a review about the axle being tube which broke when the hut was moved a short distance. We decided to get a blacksmith to beef up that component, just in case, so the tube was cut off and solid steel bar was welded in its place for each axle.

Axle Tube Modifications

Since all the metal work was on top of the kit, I kind of thought that the contents of the delivery would be packed in the order you need them. But that isn’t the case and it’s not a problem. So, after looking at the drawings and instructions and much head scratching, we opened up the delivery and had another round of head scratching.

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Day 1:

Our aim for today – I am building this with my friend who is a great deal more handy and adept than I am – was to get the base done. We started at 10.00am and, unusually for me, we carefully studied the manual/building plans and decided we would just go at it a page at a time. So, first order of business was to build the chassis. The metal bit was easy and that was the starting point and first job to do. All we had to do was lay out the metal work roughly where we wanted to build the hut.

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It was at this point that we realised we would need various lengths of timber from the kit and, when I opened it, I noticed that a lot of them were right down the bottom of the pallet! So, we would have to take everything off the pallet and stack it in vertical piles. That took a little while as we looked at various components and discussed them and where they would fit into the overall thing. I was very surprised to see that the panels that had windows actually had the glass in! OK, if you want to double glaze your hut you need to change that but it says something for the quality of the packaging and the way things are shipped that all the glass is in first class condition – not a scratch or crack anywhere on it.

Looking at the build instructions, and the separate parts list, the various lengths of timber, some of which look the same length, I had hoped would be numbered to correspond with their number in the parts list. They aren’t. It’s not a problem – but you just need to be careful to make sure you use a tape measure to check the sizes to correctly identify the various components.

For instance, you might just be able to make out below that to join the two chassis units, you need to make up a joist which uses one 2, one 2a and a 2b. 2a and 2b are not dissimilar in size but if you make that mistake – we did – you end up with a joist that is either too short by a few inches or too long by the same amount.

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The first task that involves wood is to make two items that bolt onto the metal work. We did these on the ground and then fitted them.

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A point on the metal chassis. We did a bit of head scratching because what we had in front of us didn’t match the drawing. It was obvious that this assembly had been beefed up with two additional bolts but that isn’t reflected in the drawing. Sill, you would want to be fairly uptight to worry about it and I am certain that the additional metal and bolts are an improvement.

Metal Chassis Closeup

Getting on with the frame, we built the first two long joists (the 2 + 2a + 2b) that bolt to the metal frames on the ground. Then it was just a case of positioning them accurately, drilling holes and bolting to the metal. This fixes the length of the unit – and it’s big!

From here, you need to assemble the rest of the joists – another five. As mentioned, each one is made of three pieces of different length timber. There was a whole lot of head scratching trying to get the right ones together. Basically, we put all the possible pieces on the part-built base, which is a great work bench, and then worked out what went with what. You just need to take your time and things click into place.

Underlining the point that the Shepherd Hut base is a very handy workbench at exactly the right height, in the image you can see James making up one of the three-component joists.

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The Tuin hut is a quality item and as we were working we were having some thoughts about making sure it lasts. The base we are working on, the underside won’t show, unless someone crawls underneath. The wood is untreated and, as it goes through its life, while rain can’t get under there, dew and damp, over time, could. So we decided that we would not fix any of the joists for the moment. That’s because I am going out tomorrow to get some really good wood preservative for everything we have made so far before it is fixed – it’s a lot easier brushing on preservative when I can turn the joist over to get all sides, rather than crawling around under the base. Also, I am going to apply a coat of preservative to the underside of the floorboards – the ones that will be open to mist and moisture from beneath. So this is as far as we got on Day 1 – all the joists are ready to be screwed down but they will get a coat of preservative before that happens.

In terms of time, what you see above is not a day’s work – it took four hours work for two guys from start to finish, and that included a fair bit of time at the beginning getting familiar with the kit, instructions, components and how to read the drawings and specs, looking at parts and figuring things out. Most of all, we want to enjoy this build so we are not rushed. Tomorrow is preserving day. At this stage we are delighted with everything and though we have had the offer of whatever support and advice from Richard at Tuin, we haven’t felt the need to avail ourselves of it.

Day 2: 

Day 2 is a misnomer. On Day 2, as mentioned above, I treated everything with a preservative/sealant against moisture and that included the floor joists and all the underside of all the floorboards. I stacked the made-up joists on the axles and used the hut base to paint on the preservative to the floorboards and then I left them there and covered the lot with the tarpaulin.

We cleared the deck and positioned the five joists. It was at this stage that we discovered a length discrepancy in two of them – one was a bit short while the other was a few inches too long. Clearly we had made a mistake and we figured out we had used the wrong three components, as indeed we had. It didn’t take long to figure out where we made the mistake and we switched over components. However, it underlines that you need to take your time and make sure you identify all the components and put a pencil mark on them so that in the heat of constructing things, you don’t mistake similar sized and shaped lengths.

Things are still a bit slow at this stage, as compared with later but you need to just take your time. The joists have to be positioned accurately and we did that and clamped them in position while we screwed on the metal brackets. There’s 20 of them so, even with two of us, it still took time. I guess, from unwrapping things, getting the joists positioned and putting the brackets in – with a stop for a bacon sarnie and a tea – it took us nearly three hours to get everything ready. After that, things began to speed up in terms of seeing real change and progress. I think it only took us about half an hour or so to screw the floorboards to the joists and suddenly we had a platform and we could look at putting up the wall panels.

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We decided to offset the side windows, looking over the timestamps of the images I was able to work out that it took just a few minutes over one hour to get from the first image… To the last one.

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It is definitely a two-man job but not a difficult one. Up goes a panel and while one holds it in place and pushed tight against the base and its neighbour panel, the other then screws it bottom and sides to the next panel.

The next task, attaching the curved roof timbers, was a slower job because they are attached at each side with small metal brackets using fiddly little screws plus being up a ladder. But from start to finish, and in all of this construction work we were not in a hurry or rushing things, it took over an hour to fit all of the curved roof timbers and the two end sections.

So below is where we got to by 4.00pm when we decided to call it a day. Tomorrow we need to complete the roof pieces to cover the porch area, and then apply the tongue and groove roof boards.

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After James headed off and I did a few chores, I decided it would be pleasant and relaxing to do at least one side with the primer undercoat I had bought from Screwfix that comes very highly recommended. It’s a job that needs doing, so why not get a bit of it done. And, in the way of these things, a couple of hours later and I had done the whole lot.

And so, construction Day 3 looms and the forecast is for it to be very hot and sunny all day.

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Day 3: 

Today’s forecast was for the hottest day of the year so far and they didn’t get it wrong. It was in the 70s with not a cloud in the sky. I was up early and while having my first coffee of the day, I tried a patch of the blue I have selected for the exterior to check the colour. It will need another coat but I like the light blue.

Paint Test

I was probably jumping the gun last night by priming/undercoating the build so far because we added on the porch today which will need to be primed. But what I have done certainly wasn’t a waste of time. We started work before 9.00am and we used the van to move up all of the tongue and groove roofing boards – there are three sizes that make up a length. As we looked at things, we discovered a slight error in that one of the roof beams was not in the right place – we were about 5cms out, so we did a bit of remedial work to get that set up perfectly. Then we built the porch which went together well. We had some head scratching because we hadn’t noticed that we needed a little batten up top on the outside of the porch upright at each side, but once we realised that, it didn’t take long to find the two bits of board and get everything properly lined up ready to start work on the roof boards.

A word of caution on those curved roof beams. They are held in place by a little bracket which you can see in the photo below. It stands slightly proud – and we couldn’t see a way of avoiding that – which causes some fun and games when you try to put a roof board on top of it. We worked out a way – bash down the metal edge that is protruding and leave the board above loose while you fit the final board, then nail them both down. But it would be good if a nick could be taken off that bracket in manufacture – or maybe we should have positioned it further inward so it didn’t stand proud, but that doesn’t look right as you can see from the second shot.

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From the time stamp on the photo, I can see that we started work on boarding the roof at 12.00. It was really hot so it was sweltering doing the work but we got it all done by 3.25pm, which included about 40 mins for lunch.

By the time we had roofed the entire hut, we were tired and decided to call it a day. We haven’t quite made up our minds about the roof – use the felt supplied or go for a corrugated roof with insulation beneath. So we will have to leave things for a few days while we earn a crust so we decided to cover the roof with a tarpaulin. It is not big enough but I have a bigger one that will go on before the rain arrives tomorrow afternoon.

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After my friend James left, I was still in the mood to just potter about and do a little more. So I fitted the doors and the door frame and that was a fairly easy process. I just needed my wife to hold the components steady while I screwed them and we got the doors hung after a bit of messing about trying to put them on backwards!

Then I decided to fit the little gates things at the end of the porch. I was hot and tired and not at my brightest so there was an awful lot of head scratching and trying to figure out these strange hinges. I have never seen anything like them in my life before. On the left, that’s just one hinge – I know they are special and let the little gate thing swing either way and open back out of the way. I couldn’t figure out how to fit them, so I left that for another day when I am less tired and hot and bothered…

I contemplated getting out the primer and doing the new pieces we had fitted – mainly the porch – and also the underside of the interior roof but it was still very hot and I decided instead to make up the steps which was a fairly easy task.

Shepherd Hut Completed.

So that’s it. There is more work to do – the roof in whatever material we decide to do it, but other than that we’re pretty much there. There’s the fitting out to do – prime and paint the rest of it; add the exterior trim, run some electric cables inside for lights and power; insulate inside and then panel the walls; lay an oak laminate floor; general painting and decorating and “dressing” the hut, etc. etc. I’ve bought a sofa bed from Ikea specially for it and I have been collecting a few period things that will look the part. But that is an on-going fun element which we will do over the next couple of weeks because we are in no hurry.

As I was reading customer comments on building one of these, it was suggested you can build one in a weekend. Of course the devil is in the detail – at what stage do you determine it is built? If you look at our timings and what you see in the photo above, then certainly, two averagely handy guys, working at a steady, unrushed pace, got this far in a long weekend. If we were building the other one, I think it would be quicker because we did an awful lot of head scratching and that’s understandable. There are no written instructions in terms of describing that you need to do this, then that, etc. etc. and how you do it. The manual is made up of about 18 pages of drawings – very well annotated drawings – that show you what is needed, and where and how it is placed. It shows you what screws to use and where necessary, there are little exploded drawings for key details. It is easy to miss something or confuse two pieces of the jigsaw so double check everything. That is not to criticise the instructions – but what we realised is that we weren’t familiar with following this kind of instruction booklet and at times things didn’t make sense. And then the penny would drop and you would see what was required and it was easy.

I think, most of all, I’m happy with the attitude we approached the build with: this is going to be fun. Let’s enjoy this. We certainly did despite the head scratching as we turned another page onto another stage of the build until it sank in what we were looking at and what we needed to do.

Thank you to James for your article. We appreciate the amount of detail and passion you show in both your writing and your images! I send my best wishes for when you build the other one and modify it. We would love to see images of the interior design when you’re finished!

Other customer experiences, build articled and ideas can be found here: Pictorial Tuin Reviews.

European Larch Timber

I love Larch, it has such a wonderful colour and feel to it, a really lovely hue of pinks, oranges and yellows. We’ve recently built a raised decking area on our show site incorporating Larch decking, steps and balustrade, we built it around one of the very popular Tourist Gazebos and it really has worked very well.

Tuin UK Show site

Larch decking and balustrade incorporated into one of our standard treated pine gazebos.

It looks gorgeous!  Larch does not need treating but I love the colour of it and to ensure we can see it for a very long time we’ve treated it with Clear Carefree Protectant.

Of course, being made from Larch you do not have to treat it, it is a very oily, resinous and dense wood that does not need any maintenance. It will weather eventually to a silvery grey and this process depends on its location, weather conditions and positioning. Of course if you would like to keep the gorgeous colour then it can be treated with a clear timber treatment as we have done.

On a recent to visit Tuindeco we went through the latest products for the coming season and I was really pleased to see as well as the stunning Larch Modular Garden Building Range they are also introducing a Gazebo range, all made from Larch. I have already ordered one and we’ll be putting it up on show soon, I’m sure sales of these will far exceed the pine ones, not only for its beauty but also its extensive longevity, strength and ease of care.

Larch is such a wonderful timber, it’s been used in construction for years and is also used with boat building, in Central Europe it has been long regarded as one of the best building timbers. It’s stronger than pine and is very popular with architects for external cladding and outdoor structures. Un-dried larch is particularly good for heavy structural work.

Larch is unusual amongst the softwoods as it is deciduous and sheds its pine needles in the Autumn. It also features in Lapp and Siberian folklore as the ‘World Tree’. The smoke from burning the timber is said to ward off evil spirits and is used as protection by their Shamans as well to induce visions (not recommended).

Properties of European Larch

Strength and its ability to withstand constantly changing wet and dry environments is its main desirable property, couple this with its natural rot resistant properties, wonderful colour and fine texture which make it lovely to work with and enjoy in your garden.

  • Larch is a deciduous, softwood, conifer tree, highly resinous, and a medium density wood (530 kg/m3)
  • Tuindeco Larch is sourced from Western Europe – PEFC or FSC. Environmentally sound and sustainable.
  • Being a  very dense wood it can resist constant changes from wet to dry with very little distortion, warping and shrinkage once dry. It can be prone to surface splits but this does not affect the strength, longevity or durability.
  • A strong timber and stronger than other conifers such as Spruce and Pine. It is 60% stiffer than European redwoods, 30% stronger in bending and compression, 40% harder. It does though have similar crushing and impact properties to that of pine and spruce.
  • Larch is faintly scented and has a wonderful straight grain with small knots. It is reddish, orangy, pinky in colour with contrasting white sap rings. It has fine texture and a high definition of grain.
  • Low maintenance and does not need treating, when allowed to weather if becomes a silvery grey colour. It is a good idea though to treat it where it is directly in contact with the ground.
  • Larch is in the durability class of 3 – 4. Durability is the measurement of a 50mm x 50mm cross section of timber left in the ground unprotected. Class 3 is 10 – 15 years. Class 4 is 5 – 10 years. When untreated and NOT in ground contact you can expect a life of 50 – 60 years. When treated and outdoors the life expectancy is 100 years.

Larch Limitations:

Like everything there are some limitations and foibles that it’s worth bearing in mind when you are working with Larch.

  • Due to its dense nature larch can split easily if you nail it without some preparation. Always drill a pilot hole before nailing or screwing to stop any splits being created.
  • Larch can leach slightly when new and can stain concrete surfaces. This is due to the high tannin content. It is a good idea to treat the timber when in contact with the ground
  • The Tannins can also react with iron and will produce and blue / black colour stain. Ideally always use non-ferrous nails and screws to guard against this.

Identification of the Larch Tree

A couple of useful videos to aid in the identification of a larch tree should you wish, the first one I found particularly useful!

Tuindeco Larch Timber Products

The ranges of timber are constantly expanding, numerous lengths, profile, and pieces are available for your own Larch construction project


Larch timber is available to complete any garden construction project in a huge variety of thickness, profiles and lengths.

Also available is an extensive range of Larch modular buildings in both flat roof and apex roofs.

Apex larch gaben building

Modular Larch Garden Buildings in three main styles and a myriad of possibilities, sizes and styles.

New for this season are Larch Gazebos: I can see these really taking off as these will make a stunning addition to any garden.

Larch timber gazebos

Larch timber gazebos

Tanalised / Pressure Treated Garden Timber

Earlier this week we received a review on one of our products, part of it was:

“The first thing I noticed was how badly it had been pressure treated with green splatters on a number of pieces”

I personally really hate a bad review, this was one but unfounded, we try our hardest to provide a top quality product with a top class service and will review everything that is said to improve where we can.Sometimes though it just comes down to understanding a product that you are buying and the expectations that match it.

This review has prompted me to write this quick post as from this statement it is clear that customers are not realising what tanalised timber actually is: I shall explain a little about it so people can gain more understanding of what you are buying and that there are no faults at all nor “badly” carried out.

Tanalisation / Pressure treatment are one of the same, it is the identical process and is carried out normally on pine timber for outside use as a rot protection:


The two terms used are describing exactly the same timber treatment:

  • Tanalised is actually a trademark, as is ‘Tanalith E’ which you will see sometimes.  This brand has been around since the 1940’s.
  • Pressure treatment is the process carried out using ‘Tanalith E’ or similar.


The treatment process is carried out by placing the timber in a big tank.  The door is shut and a vacuum is created inside it.  Then the pressure treatment fluid is allowed to enter and is forced in the wood under the pressure.  It penetrates to a depth of a few millimeters.

Pressure Treatment process using 'tanalith' or similar


The main ingredient is copper with other chemicals added.  Copper is excellent for protection against rot and insects.  The other chemicals (Biocides) protect against other rot that the copper can’t such as ‘brown rot fungi’.  These substances are not harmful at all and can be used around animals and children.  Fish may be sensitive to it.

Rot Proofing of Timber 

It does exactly what it says and protects the timber from rot really well, internally they say about 60 years and externally about 30 years against any form of rot.  It’s pretty good stuff!

Promotional video explaining the Tanalisation process / Pressure Treatment

Please note after watching the process, it is in a huge tank under a vacuum, it cannot be at fault or ‘Badly’ done.

Limitations of tanalisation / Pressure Treatment

So now we understand how the process works, as the video explains, the timber will be:

  • An initial light green colour.
  • Weathers to a light honey brown.
  • Eventually to a natural silver grey.

This change of colour is not any indication of loss of preservative protection. Subsequent decorative finishes can be added to create the look you desire, you will see many examples of this across our website and catalogue.

We supply fixings that will have a comparable life to the timber for many of our products but please note if timber is cut, notched, sawn etc then a comparable treatment will need to be applied to carry on protecting the timber.

Perceived Faults in Pressure Treated / Tanalised Timber

Occasionally, a customer will perceive faults in the process without a full understand of it such as the above review. Some of these perceived faults are:

Formation of salts: 

With impregnated wood it may seem as if salts are formed on the surface of wood. It is actually resin that colours yellow/green due to the impregnation. These stains will vanish in time. This is an example and shows the ‘Splatters’ complained about in the review:

One of our fence panels displaying the formation of salts and "Splatters"

One of our fence panels displaying the formation of salts and “Splatters”

You can see from this picture green portions on the fence panel. This cannot be helped and is part of the pressure treatment process. You may see this on your new pergola, planter or gazebo, please expect this, it is completely normal.

Fungi and blue moulds:
Wood impregnated by boiler pressure induction will become very humid while being processed. As a result, the wood can be affected by mildew and fungi, especially during the warm seasons. These visual imperfections of the product will vanish or can otherwise easily be removed by hand.  Fungi do not affect the quality or strength of the wood.  Since wood can swell and shrink as a natural product, the dimensions listed in the catalogue and product pages can show small deviations.
This is an example from one of our show buildings. You can also see a small split in the timber which is also completely normal (more information: Splits in Timber is normal)
Blue mold and the formation of salt crystals.

Blue mold and the formation of salt crystals.

 All of these blooms, stains, salts etc can either be washed off or left, they will eventually go and is a standard feature of any timber that has been pressure treated. Our customer with the bad review went on to say:
“The pergola is up now and after fixing it and rubbing down the green splashes”
This was extremely worrying and I have advised him since, but, please do not “rub down” the ‘Splashes’! Doing so will remove the protection. Removal of resin bubbles is fine with a sharp knife but do not rub down the surface.
As we have learnt these are not a splash, these are the inherent properties of timber and the tanalisation process and are the cause of the copper ingredient reacting with the moisture and sap within the timber itself.
Here’s another example of a perceived fault:
Light bleaching after the tanalisation process.

Light bleaching after the tanalisation process.

I have added green lines on his product to highlight it more for you. You will notice there are some lighter lines. These lines will have been caused after the pressure treatment process and during storage. Light affects timber, it cannot be helped.
During storage certain parts may be covered due to packaging, positioning etc. Other parts are exposed to light. Light will start to react with the timber turning it first to brown and then to a silvery colour. Again this cannot be helped and should be expected.
After a few weeks all of the new structure will reach the same colour due to light exposure.
Of course you can add your own preferred colour to any tanalised timber. Tanalisation / Pressure treatment is of course only a rot proofing treatment is is NOT a decorative or weatherproof finish. Further treatment is highly recommended to stop cracks and splits, prevent warping and to maintain its good looks

Dented Floor Board

A very quick little post but someone may find it handy, I know I did when I was fitting log cabins and especially if i cocked up and was not as accurate as I could be with my hammer.

This hint will also work on your furniture and pretty much any timber you might dent inadvertently. In my case and specifically log cabin floors and fascias.

Here we have a perfectly good log cabin floor board, it could also be a fascia or even a log in fact any piece of timber:

Floor board or facia or even a log, at the moment it is unblemished.

Floor board or facia or even a log, at the moment it is unblemished.

Here we have the same piece after a cock up and a bloomin’ great dent in it caused by a miss hit with a hammer – of course this one is set up but you will get the idea.

Dented log cabin floor after less than accurate and careful use of a hammer.

Dented log cabin floor after less than accurate and careful use of a hammer.

This has happened to me a few times in the past and after being so careful with the floor and the overall build I don’t like to hand over the building with something like this. Thank goodness it’s straightforward to fix.

If you didn’t know about timber and how it works I would suspect you would think it’s impossible to remove a dent in a piece of wood, am I correct?

A while ago I posted about moisture content in timber we use for log cabins in it I also explained how wood loves to absorb and then expel moisture, in fact wood is basically a sponge and it’s this property we can exploit to our advantage for once in repairing it and all you need is a wet rag.

soak a rag and wring it our but keep it damp and put it over the area you need to repair the dent.

soak a rag and wring it out but keep it damp and put it over the area you need to repair the dent.

As my caption says, soak a rag and put it over the area that need repairing,  leave it on there for about an hour and let it do it’s magic.

Wet board after the rag has been removed

Wet board after the rag has been removed

The floor board has absorbed some moisture from the rag and already the dents have lifted, you can still though make out the outlines.

Very nearly dry and one dent has disappeared, the other almost

Very nearly dry and one dent has disappeared, the other almost

If you were to rub your finger over this you would now find it to be smooth and the dent has gone, there is still a fine mark where more moisture was absorbed by the hammer dent but in the next picture when it’s totally dry it is gone.

Now totally dry the dent is pretty much invisible and will not return.

Now totally dry the dent is pretty much invisible and will not return.

Wood is an impressive material and if you understand how it works and what it is you can understand a lot more about the inherent properties of your log cabin. It’s also handy to know how we can fix a cock up and no one would ever know.

Depth of Treatment and Moisture Content in Wood

I’ve spoken about the treatment of your log cabin in a previous post and I wanted to explain a little more about the importance of the depth of treatment which we recommend as 80 – 120 microns.

I personally try to make it very clear to customers the importance of a good treatment but I still find customers treating their cabin with rubbish and then contacting me a year later showing me splits and cracks, shrunk logs, uneven logs and other horrible things.

I tell them every time – All of this is entirely down to the treatment you are using and especially the depth and quality of treatment.

This post will give the technical aspects why we advise this, honestly I’m not making it up, there’s very good reasons for it:

Moisture Content, Sponges and the UK

I was sent this picture this week, The customer has had this cabin for about 9 months. The picture is showing a warped door on one of our Ingrid corner log cabins:

Warped door on an Ingrid log cabin

Warped door on an Ingrid log cabin. Notice the bolt at the bottom they have applied, this is the correct thing to do if you are experiencing a warp but the correct treatment could have helped prevent this warp.

I get a few of these problems over a year and 99% of the time it comes down to the treatment that has been used, and not just the treatment brand but the way it has been applied. I’ll come back to the warp in a little bit, let’s look a little more at the wood in this door.

Wood is a Sponge

Wood does of course warp and move, it can’t be helped, it’s natural and we all know that. The annoying thing with wood is that it acts like a sponge, you have to view every piece of wood in the Log Cabin as a sponge.

In a building there are shorter and longer logs – shorter and longer sponges. There doors and windows, horizontal and vertical parts to the frames, all of which are sponges.

Each one of these sponges is trying to be the same as it’s environment, I talk about this in my post on Splits and Cracks in Timber and how wood is constantly trying to reach an equilibrium with its surroundings.

If we zoom into a piece of wood you’ll see exactly why it’s a sponge:

Wood is a sponge and is made up of straws all drawing water for the tree.

Wood is a sponge and is made up of straws all drawing water for the tree.

Layer upon layer of straws are all drawing water for the tree. Many now support the Cohesion method theory where a tree draws it’s water using the tension of water, very clever stuff wood.

You can easily see from these pictures that when we look closely wood is full of holes and it’s these little buggers that will be causing a problem as they all fill with water or, drain of water as seeing as we killed the poor thing there is no tension of water to rely on.

For an untreated piece of wood this is happening constantly, it’s trying to reach the same moisture content as the surrounding air. This is known a Relative Humidity and is a measurement of the amount of moisture in the air around us.

Relative Humidity in UK

There is a direct link between the relative humidity and the moisture content in wood. The UK has an average high humidity of 92% and a low of 69% and this also depends on where you live.

Average humidity levels and these change according to where you are in the UK.

Average humidity levels and these change according to where you are in the UK.

Relative humidity change

Relative humidity changes over the course of a month can be quite dramatic in its highs and lows.

Relative Humidity in the months of the year in the UK

Relative Humidity in the months of the year in the UK

You can see from these that there is a difference in humidity. Over the course of a year it is 21% which is huge. You can also see how it is higher – wetter in the winter and lower – drier in the summer.

If you look at the graph of September you will see a difference of 18%. All of this is making wood grow and then contract, it’s happening constantly.

Moisture Content vs Relative Humidity

There is a direct correlation of the untreated woods moisture content and the humidity in the air:

There is a direct correlation of the amount of moisture in wood according to the relative humidity in the air.

There is a direct correlation of the amount of moisture in wood according to the relative humidity in the air.

Moisture Content of our Log Cabins

You’ll see from the charts above that at 75% relative humidity the moisture content of wood is 14%. The average is about 75% and this is why we dry all our log cabins to 14%.

It means that when we machine the wood it is at its ‘average’ moisture content for its lifetime in its intended location of use. To get it to this level of 14% takes about three days in a kiln.

By the way these things aren’t cheap to run either and they contribute to some of the cost of your log cabin.

You will see some manufacturers / suppliers happily tell you their log cabins are dried to 20%. I’ve seen a very high profile supplier happily state this in a promotional video as if it is a good thing!

Using these charts you can blatantly see that the relative humidity would need to be considerably higher to maintain the moisture content at that level and the UK would need a severe weather shift if that was to happen.

The supplier of course saves a day’s worth of money in the kilns but it means once the cabin is built it will shrink more to the UK’s average of 14%. This is why if you buy a log cabin and find loose joints as you install or a month or two later you see gaps appear, this is all down to the moisture content of the timber at the time of milling and that it is now reaching the UK’s relative humidity.

One of our 45mm show buildings I measured today. As expected the moisture content of the wood is 14% using my moisture metre. My meter is a very handy tool when finding out what is wrong with a customers log cabin, every time it’s treatment! Wood by its very nature cannot be ‘defective’ or ‘faulty’

14% – 16% Moisture Content in your Timber

So, understanding this, look for log cabins and indeed any other timber for use outside in the garden and make sure it has a kiln dried moisture content of between 14% and 16%. If it’s not at that then it soon will be and that maybe a problem as the joints will become looser.

If it is above this it will need to shrink further to reach this level which is the UK average.

This is also a very good question to ask any prospective supplier as it makes a large difference. You’ll see why in the next paragraph.

Movement in your Log Cabin due to untreated wood.

Here’s a startling statement and one that should explain it all in a few words:

For every 4 % change in relative humidity there is a change in the wood of 1%. 

Take a log of 114mm. Don’t treat it. Don’t treat it properly. Leave it out all year. for every 4% change it will grow or shrink 1.14mm.

We’ve already seen a difference of 21% in the UK. That’s about five 4% blocks of growths.

Would you believe that means a theoretical movement of 5.98mm for each log. In reality it’s about 3mm per log as wood can’t move that quickly but it’s still a bloomin’ lot.

Put that across 15 logs on top of each other and you have a theoretical movement of 89.78mm. WOW!

Understand that this is not a good thing, we don’t want your cabin or indeed your doors and windows moving to these degrees, if it does you can see various problems start to happen over time:

  • Warps in doors and windows
  • Cracks and Splits
  • Gaps may appear in some logs when they shrink quicker than a larger log.

Even though we use an average of 14% this can still be a problem as when relative humidity drops below 75% the logs will also follow it and shrink. If your logs have not been treated properly and if the drop is sudden you can see the smaller sponges lose their water quicker than the bigger sponges in your walls and you could see gaps appearing on the small logs.

It makes sense when you think of them as sponges that haven’t been inhibited and when you see the figures above it’s quite obvious why it’s happening and why the cabin is up and down like yoyo.

I did actually have a complaint a while ago that our logs were tight to get in whereas a neighbours cabin from a different supplier had fallen into place. This is why, if it’s a humid day the logs in a cabin will be very tight as they have swollen. A less humid days and they will be looser. But if you started with a log with a moisture content of 20% that then shrinks down to UK average 14% it will fall in to place, handy for when you are fitting.

Imagine what happens though when that same log shrinks down to say 10% moisture content during a scorching hot summer – yup, nice loose logs and gaps in the corners.

This is a 'print screen' from a promotional video of a prevalent supplier on the internet

This is a ‘print screen’ I took from a promotional video of a log cabin I watched on youtube,  you can clearly see gaps between the logs and this is down to the wood not being dried to 14% before milling. This supplier states they dry to 20% as if it’s a good thing. With further shrinking to the UK average of 14 – 16% the wood becomes smaller and you will see this. Some manufacturers will dry to 20% as it saves a days cost of the kiln.

Wind and Water Tight Connections

As well as this promotional video cabin having moisture content issues it also does not have ‘Wind and Water Tight Connections’ They’re the subject of this post: Wind and Watertight Connections in log cabins this is something we do as standard that others obviously do not do. Here’s a quick overview, you should be able to see the difference in the picture below. It’s a feature we don’t shout about too much. Having seen this ‘promotional video’ from a heavily advertised manufacturer perhaps we should!

Wind and water tight connection on our walls logs. With a moisture content of 14% - 16% and good connections and good treatment it's rare you'll have a problem.

Wind and water tight connection on our walls logs. With a moisture content of 14% – 16% and good connections with proper treatment your cabin will last for years and years. Not having a stepped W&W connection is not helping in sealing the cabin from the weather or helping to give allowance for further shrinkage. Creating the extra cuts to make this connection costs money and machinery and is a good place for a manufacturer to save it along with less time in the kilns.

Inhibit the movement of wood with a Good Quality Treatment

Now we know all this it is becoming crystal clear that we need to do something about it and that is where treatment is so important.

There’s all the bits about UV light protection, water repellent, fungicides etc which are all really good but the biggest thing a good treatment is doing is stopping this moisture transfer. It’s basically bunging up all the holes in the wood.

Getting back to the door at the start of this post. We had several conversations over this door and one of them was:

‘What did you treat it with?’ the answer was a very satisfactory Ronseal product which is known to be very good and one we recommend. The next question was:

‘How many layers did you give it?’ The answer was ‘two’

This is part of the problem, the manufacturer states three coats in their instructions and there’s a reason for that, they don’t just make it up, they know you need the proper depth of treatment for it to be properly effective and bung up the pesky holes in the wood and to stop any come back on them.

I pointed this out to my customer and suggested he needed to treat it as per Ronseals instructions and should have done so from the outset and that this could have probably stopped the warp. His reply was:

‘A third coat will be applied when i see fit’

This was missing the point completely!  If three coats is suggested on the tin then please use three coats from the outset otherwise it will not be functioning as it should and you can still expect problems.

If you don’t use the treatment correctly it is not the woods fault it has moved, it’s not the fault of the supplier or the fault of the treatment manufacturer. Putting it on nine months later or when ‘you see fit’ really isn’t going to help.

Depth of Timber Treatment on your Log Cabin

I’ve been playing with some of our show buildings today. Wrongly, this year we only put one coat of treatment on them as we just didn’t have time at the start of the season and now we are suffering as some of them are looking less than good and starting to show all the faults I warn customers against. A false economy and one we’ve got to now fix and treat them properly.

In a sense though it was a good exercise and  it showed some interesting results and is the inspiration for an experiment I am going to be running over the coming year for another post.

I went around the buildings with my meters:

Two types of meters for establishing what is happening with timber, a moisture meter and a depth of covering meter.

Two types of meters for establishing what is happening with timber and log cabins; A moisture meter and a depth of treatment meter.

First of all I calibrate it against a test piece. This meter measure the depth of a surface treatment in microns

First of all I calibrate it against several test pieces of various thicknesses to make sure it is functioning properly. This meter measures the depth of a surface treatment that has been applied to wood in microns. Like my moisture meter this one is also used a lot in fault finding with log cabins. Yup, every single time it comes down to the treatment used and applied affecting the wood.

Remember we’re looking for a depth of 80 – 120 microns as I have mentioned in the Log Cabin Treatment post which is the equivalent of two to three coats of a high quality treatment. This is to fully ensure the treatment is going to be effective in inhibiting the constant transfer of moisture and to bung up all those holes in our wood making it a little less sponge like.

A reading of 72 microns.

A reading of 72 microns.

Only one coat and this one was using one of our stains. With just one coat this attained 72 microns, with two coats it would be pretty much there. Be aware though that it does vary according to the painters skills in keeping an even coat.

A reading of 55 microns

A reading of 55 microns

This one was interesting for me and confirmed what I knew in that clear or close to clear treatments cannot give the same depth of coverage in one go, this would take three coats to be effective.

This building is a shepherd hut we have on display using one of our paints. Still only one coat but done by a professional painter so it’s quite uniform and he applied it quite thick. Another coat is still needed but only just. Still not a bad coverage at 85 microns.

This last building really surprised me, it’s a bespoke 58mm log cabin that was made to fit an area, it’s been up for years and we used to use it as an office for some staff. We painted this with a treatment obtained locally, I know for a fact it has had four coats on it over it’s life of about 10 years as I painted two coats myself.


This building has had four coats (of a treatment we don’t recommend), I was really surprised at the depth!

And the treatment that we used? Yup something cheap! We’ve still got the tin. If you visit our show site ask us about this cabin, it’s the big old one at the end.

Here’s another measurement at the door, slightly thicker but still very much down from where we need it to be.

Virtually the same depth on the door as well.

Virtually the same depth on the door as well.

I was actually quite shocked at the difference in the depth across the treatments. This one I know was one of the cheaper treatments you can get. Some of the really cheap ones will barely register on this meter and form playing in the past you’d need to apply 8 – 10 coats to get to the 80 – 120 microns needed. With this cabin we do have all the features that we don’t want, I’ll do a post dedicated to this cabin one day.

Keep an eye out for my experiment post where I am going to paint lots logs in lots of different treatments from various manufacturers and various coats applied. I’m then going to monitor and measure them over the course of a year for moisture content and expansion / contraction to prove all of this more.

It’s worth knowing that when you pay for a treatment much of the cost of it is for the depth of the application.

So, my advice is:

Buy a top quality treatment and follow exactly what it say on the tin to get a proper depth so it can do it’s thing. Don’t only put on two if it asks for three!

Just to finish, a customer will tell me ‘But I used it on my shed and it was fine’ A shed and a log cabin are two entirely different animals. A shed is held together by a frame and the cladding will be about 12mm. It does not behave at all the same as a slotted wall log which is not held at all.

Here’s a good example of a sponge in action with only one layer of a poor treatment:

Smaller logs shrinking quickly by the side of a window far quicker than the large ones elsewhere in the cabin.

Smaller logs shrinking quickly by the side of a window far quicker than the large ones elsewhere in the cabin will leave a gap. When all the others have shrunk to the same moisture content this gap then closes. It’s best though if we can inhibit this by properly treating the cabin with a good treatment and the proper depth from the outset. We really don’t want this happening!

This cabin only had one coat, the customer told me it was fine for his shed:

Fine for a shed perhaps but a shed is held together with nails on a timber frame with a thickness of about 12mm. A 45mm lump of wood is a bit different. Even so, notice the contraction of the boards, is it really fine for a shed as well,? Perhaps you should follow the same rules for all your garden timber as all of it is behaving in exactly the same way.

Also, all of the above applies whether a building is tanalised or not. All tanalised buildings behave in exactly the same way as an untreated one and STILL require all of the above.

Moisture Difference in the outside to the inside of a Log Cabin

For a future post I’m going to be showing one of our neglected show buildings, and whether a log cabin should be treated inside, after seeing these readings and for this specific building the answer is yes for several reasons.

This moisture content reading I showed you earlier of the 45mm building was 14%, this was an external reading of a log. Looking at the same log internally it is showing a very surprising 9% moisture content! This is due to it being sealed up most of the time, no ventilation, no damp proof membrane in the base and in constant sunlight with high temperatures inside compared to the outside.

Big heat build up inside an unventilated log cabin means the moisture content has dropped to 9%

Big heat build up inside an unventilated log cabin means the moisture content has dropped to 9% this cabin is a show building and has not been treated on the inside. It is un-vented and in direct heat all day with no damp proof membrane in the base or a timber floor.

This is why sometimes you can see a split in a wall log open up, the poor thing is bigger on the outside than the inside. We need to treat the inside of this cabin as well!

I think this explains it well so please also consider treating inside your cabin if some of the above conditions exist so the entire log is regulated and inhibited.

Further advise on Log Cabin Ventilation.

Please also see my other advice post on the Treatment of your Log Cabin which has other information you may well be interested in.

This post also forms part of my timber series which is still being completed:

  1. Types of Timber in your log cabin
  2. How we can cut a timber log to make a cheap log cabin.
  3. Moisture content in timber, machining and the impact of the content.
  4. 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.
  5. More expansion information for log cabins.
  6. The pitfalls of thinner logs, barge-boards, windows and doors.
  7. Drying processes – kiln dried versus natural drying.

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.