Tremblant Living

How to Build Your Own Log Chalet

Nov 17th, 2008 by James Fraser | 0

“Wood Jerry, wood.”  There’s just something about it.  Whether it’s the comforting smell of it burning in the fireplace, the rustic look of it as it runs along the floor of your loft, or the sturdy feel of it as you knock a baseball out of the park, there’s just something about wood.  Nothing beats getting out of the glass and brick and metal of the city for a weekend away at a friend’s wooden cottage in the woods. You always leave refreshed with a feeling of “I’d love to own a chalet of my own someday.”  Well building your own log cabin has never been easier.  With the help of this guide, all you’ll need is the land, $50,000 bucks, and of course, wood.

The first thing you’ll want to decide is whether you truly want to start from scratch, in which case you’ll need to locate and cut your own logs, or whether you want to build your log cabin from a kit.  To give you an idea, a fairly basic 800 square foot cabin kit with two bedrooms and one bathroom costs approximately $30,000-$35,000 (this of course does not include labour or equipment).  But if you happen to own several acres of land with your own trees then by all means, chop away.  Here are some tips on how to get started.

Step 1

If you are going to build a log cabin, the first step is to dress like a lumberjack.  If you’re going to submerse yourself into the world of wood, you need to look the part.  When buying a shirt you only need to remember three words: red, plaid, and flannel.  Jeans are fine, preferably black, and suspenders are recommended for a more authentic lumberjack look.  Make sure to wear steel-toed boots, and a little red knitted tuque.  For more serious lumberjacks who value the stuff inside their    Now you can eat your fried eggs and beans in style.

Required Materials

-2×4” stock wood
-Insulation material

Required Tools

-Drill with full bit set
-Sledge hammer
-Pry bar

How to cut a tree

Pick a tree which is approximately 20-25cm in diameter for your log chalet.  Pine is a decent choice for wood, as it is considered by many builders to be relatively soft, light and easy to work with.  Using a chainsaw, (or if you really want the full lumberjack experience you can use an axe) and make a horizontal cut and the base of the tree, about 1/3 of the way through the trunk.  Then, a few inches above the horizontal cut, make a diagonal cut angled to meet the end of your first one.  Once your wedge has been cut, step aside and have a beer and admire the perfect wedge you’ve cut into the tree.  Once the beer is finished, crush the can in your hand and discard in some form of recycling container.  Now, approach the other side of the tree and cut another horizontal cut just above the first one.  Give the tree a little push in the direction of the wedge and bellow out a hearty “Timber!”  Make sure you determined an appropriate direction for your tree to fall, preferably away from your car.


Now that your trees have been cut and trimmed, crack open several cans of beer to attract friends and family to help you carry, transport and hopefully assemble your logs into some sort of cabin shape.  Your first step will be to cut notches at the ends of your logs so they can accept the uncut logs resting on top.  For this you will need your chainsaw, a hatchet or a chisel.  Round log cabins or “pole cabins” built with pine logs are crafted with what’s called in the biz “saddle notches.”  For an edge-of-your-seat article on saddle notching complete with instructional video, feel free to visit here

The goal is to have your logs fit as snugly together as possible, so as to keep out the weather and rabid squirrels.  An effective technique to achieve this end is called “scribing.”  Scribing is an ancient technique which allows two different shapes to fit together seamlessly.  Using a compass and a pencil you can trace the shape of one log onto another. Then with a chisel, a sander, or a plane you can trim away the excess wood and BLAM!  Two logs fit together like pieces of a puzzle.

mont tremblant log chalet

Now that’s what I call a Scribed Saddle Notch!

Once you and your drunk building buddies have completed the four walls, it’s important to stand back and realize that you have absolutely no idea how to add doors, windows, or a roof.  You probably didn’t lay down a floor or foundation either.  Hey, this article is just a “guide.” It can only bring you so far before you need to start taking matters into your own hands.  Obi Wan could only “guide” Luke Skywalker towards the force, but Luke had to eventually turn off the computerized targeting system on his X-Wing fighter to blow up the Death Star on his own.    But don’t worry. We’re not going to leave you high and dry with four walls and no roof.  The following instructional video will give you the step by step information on how to properly construct your log cabin.  Make sure to have a pencil ready as you’re going to want to take notes.

As this video demonstrates at approx. 0.38 seconds, you must be very careful as several black chickens can swarm your project, bringing production to a near halt.  (Our next article will include a section on how to defend your wood from swarming chickens.)

Hopefully you’ve figured out by now that perhaps a log-cabin kit was the smarter way to go.  Well good for you!  There are several companies around the world who have access to lots of people who actually know what they are doing.  Not only do they chop and pre-notch all the logs for you, but you simply have to send them the blueprints including the roof plans, and they will ship the whole kit ‘n’ caboodle to your doorstep (or at the site where you want the chalet built, whichever is more convenient).  Notches and grooves come rubber-sealed for optimal insulation, door and window openings will be pre-cut for you, and every piece of wood will be labelled.  Now you can either crack open several cans of beer to attract your friends and family members, or you can put the beer money towards hiring a team of professionals to build your chalet for you.

mont tremblant log chalet

Alright so maybe this isn’t so much a “How to build your own log cabin” guide as it is an “Are you sure you want to build it yourself when other people can do it for you?”  Sure there’s the satisfaction of hard work and a job well done, but there’s also satisfaction in knowing that you can sleep in your new chalet without the roof falling in and crushing your priceless collection of passed out family members.

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