The Book: Your Log House
11. The Chainsaw
On today’s log house building
site, the chainsaw does the vast majority of the work.
It will do 80% of the building with speed and efficiency,
with no loss to the building strength or aesthetics.
Certainly, axes, slicks, adzes, chisels, and broadaxes
have their place on the job. However, to approach tools
from a romantic rather than a practical point of view
is, in my opinion, pointless. A building is no less
credible, honest, noble, or beautiful if it has been
built with a modern piece of equipment. The dishonesty
comes when the natural logs are converted to round lumber
and then made to look like milled logs. With practice,
the chainsaw becomes a precision tool in the hands of
Certainly, the saw should not be used
for finished visible surfaces. These are the domain
of the adze, axe, slick, chisel, and so forth. The chainsaw
can be used for felling timber, limbing, bucking, cutting
all kinds of notches and lateral grooves, flattening
for nailing surfaces, and cutting openings and projections.
The chainsaw can also be used for a certain amount of
shaping and artistic work.
Since the chainsaw is the most important
single device used in the process of building the log
house, it should be a good one — the best money
can buy. How to choose a saw? How to dare recommend
a saw? What does the prospective buyer look for? Unfortunately,
owing to the highly competitive business of chainsaw
sales and manufacturing, a certain mythology is created
around each saw. The unwary buyer, walking into the
local chainsaw shop will be told things like, “All
the loggers around here use this kind!” Even if
that statement is true, it is not enough of a recommendation.
The demands of the logger are not precisely
the same as the demands of a builder. He cuts trees
down. He does not use his saw as a carpentry tool. He
may be using a particular saw because the local sales
and servicing in the area have been good and he has
to count on a steady supply of parts and repair expertise.
Loyalties to chainsaws are usually based, from the consumers’
points of view, on the same kind of emotion surrounding
loyalties to particular makes of vehicles. Emotional
loyalties are not to be trusted. The owner of every
variety of saw can make impressive claims as to performance,
long life, and reliability of his particular saw. Do
not be tempted to buy a lightweight, backyard saw. Log
house building makes heavy and constant demands on a
saw. If the saw is not up to the hard work, the human
body will have to take up the slack.
I suggest a quiet-running saw outfitted
with a safety brake and antivibration features. It is
possible to do serious damage to the circulation in
the hands if a saw is not outfitted with antivibration.
Otherwise, select your saw on the basis of power and
chain speed. A good workhorse is a saw with an engine
displacement of around 80 cu. cm. and a speed at maximum
power of 8,000 rpm to 10,000 rpm.
Other tools will be mentioned as their
need arises throughout the book. A standard list of
tools is provided here:
- Starret #92–9-in. scriber,
Veritas log scriber, or similar scriber of equal value.
- #3 gouge chisel 1 in.
- 25-ft. bell tape measure.
- 75-ft. logger’s tape.
- Indelible pencils.
- Wooden mallet for chisels and gouges.
- One or two peaveys.
- Raker files and chainsaw files.
- Chalk line.
- Carpenter’s spirit level.
- Peeling spud.
- 7-in. grinder with rubber backing
- 100-ft. extension cord.
- 3/4-in. drill with assorted wood
The list can go on forever. The professional
builder will eventually accumulate several thousand
dollars worth of tools and equipment. While necessary
for steady production work, all the possible tools on
the market are not necessary for the once-in-a-lifetime