We get the same question quite a few times a month when talking to log home owners and people interested in getting a log home. What’s the difference between milled log and handcrafted logs. Well lets jump right into it!
Handcrafted log are either hand-peeled with a draw knife or water peeled. The most typical handcrafted log use in log home construction are Douglas fir, pine, or spruce, however, you will see oak, Cyprus, juniper, and true firs, such as alpine fir used from time to time. Advantage of using log is that they can be used “green” within days/weeks of being cut and hauled; Air dry, which is a fine line to many people which is used to explain when a log is no longer “green”. There is also the process called kiln dried (Kiln drying full sized log for handcrafting is a very expensive process and it really only used by a hand full in the North American demographic. There is also the process of bettle-killed drying of timber…where additional drying by air or kiln is not necessary.
After the harvesting and drying of the logs the next step of fitting together comes in to play. There are a number of different ways logs are put together, one being scribe-fit. Scribe-fit is a style most popular in the mid-western communities. In this process of scribe fitting each long is scribed to precisely fit together with the log below it. The scribe-fit style does not require and kind of chinking and is usually joined from the corners using a shrink to fit saddle notch system. Another style of fitting together logs together is chinking which leaving space between each round of logs that will be constructed and filled with a backer rod material and chinking. Some other popular styles include piece-en-piece and hand-hewn dovetail
As you can see the process of handcrafted logs has a lot more labor invested into it, making it more expensive than the milled log homes.
Milled Log Homes
There is a lot of confusion among people on the distinction between milled and handcrafted logs. A “milled log” is one that have gone through a saw mill, lathe, or planer and has been cut to an exact measurement or shape / profile. If you haven’t noticed in a milled log home all the logs are the exact shape and size.
Milled logs may have a flat top and bottom surface, may be coped, or maybe tongue and grooved. Typically the side of the logs are either sanded smooth, left with a rougher or more rustic feel, or sometimes hand peeled with a draw knife. Milled log are normally air and or kiln dried to an exact moisture content before they ever see the construction site.