Guide to Literature on Trees, Building Techniques, Restoration, History, Philosophy, and Related Homesteading Areas
Compiled and Edited by Ron Brodigan
Sixteenth Edition, 2012 © Copyrights 1975 - 2012 Ron Brodigan & Great Lakes School of Log Building. All rights reserved.
Great Lakes School of Log Building
1350 Snowshoe Trail
Isabella, MN 55607
ISBN No. B0006P2PD4
* Note: Books and articles are listed by author in
alphabetical order. Some works which are out of print may often be secured through a book-finding service
on the internet or in used-book stores.
I would be appreciative of corrections and
suggestions for new items.
1 April, 2012
An informed approach to building with logs assumes a thorough acquaintance with trees, their growth patterns, geographical locations, and structural/insulative characteristics of the various types of wood. A few personal favorites are listed here.
Ahlgren, Clifford and Isabel, Lob Trees in the Wilderness. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984.
Brodigan, Ron, "Growing Logs for Logbuilders," in Better Forests, Winter 1996, Publ. by Kathleen Preece, PO Box 432, Grand Rapids, MN 55744.
Collingwood, G. H. and Brush, W.D., Knowing Your Trees . Washington: The American Forestry Association, 1955.
Edlin, Herbert and Nimmo, Maurice, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trees, Timbers and Forests of the World. New York: Harmony Books, 1978 .
Forester, Jeff, The Forest for the Trees; How humans Shaped the North Woods. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2004.
Neelands, R. W. , Editor. USDA Forest Service. Important Trees of Eastern Forests.
Peattie, Donald Culross, A Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton, 1966. Illustrated by Paul Landacre.
Peattie, Donald Culross, A Natural History of Western Trees. New York: Bonanza Books, 1953. Illustrated by Paul Landacre.
Platt, Rutherford, The Great American Forest . Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Prentice-Hall, 1965.
Sargent, Charles S., Manual of the Trees of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1933
Sargent, Charles S., The Silva of North America. 14 Vols. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1891-1902.
Sloan, Eric, A Reverence for Wood. New York: Ballantine, 1965
Stone, Christopher, Should Trees Have Standing? Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects. New York: Avon Books, 1975
Symonds, George W.D., The Tree Identification Book. New York: M. Barrows & Co., 1958
Log Building Technology, Furnishing, Restoration:
Books on the mechanics of log construction have proliferated in recent years. However, some of the older writings are still among the best. Along with their very lucid "how to" sections, it would be hard to beat Calvin Rutstrum or Bradford Angier for extraordinary doses of philosophical perspective on backwoods log building. Allan Mackie, Vic Janzen, Dan Milne, and Tom Walker, among others, deal specifically with the best scribe-fit methods in a textbook style.
In my opinion, skills associated with log building cannot be conveyed well in writing, although much of the knowledge can. Books are only supplementary to a course of instruction where one can, in the flesh, be taught the many skills which accompany the use of a log scriber, chainsaw, axe, and the other hand and power tools used in the construction of a log house or cabin.
A complete log builder's education, whether for home-use or a future trade, must be a blend of reading, formal instruction, and experience in log building and related trades, gained by actually working on various log structures.
1. Log Building Technology
Aldrich, Chilson Darragh, The Real Log Cabin. NY: MacMillan Co., 1928. Recently republished with valuable supplemental material by Harry Drabik, Hovland, MN.
Brabik version incredibly good on log restoration elements &
Beard, Daniel Carter, Shelters, Shacks and Shanties. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1914, 1972.
A classic of the outdoor movement of late 19th & early 20th
Brodigan, Ron, "Build a Log House From Scratch," Backwoods Home Magazine, No. 9, May/June, 1991.
Bruyere, Christian, In Harmony With Nature and Country Comforts. NY: Drake Publ., 1975
Chambers, Robert W, Log Building Construction Manual, River Falls, WI: 1999.
The foremost textbook on best log building techniques.
Construction Safety Association of Ontario, Rigging
Manual. Information at 416.674.2726.
Hunt, Walter Bernard, How to Build and Furnish a Log Cabin the Easy - Natural Way Using Only Hand Tools and the Woods Around You. New York: MacMillan, 1974.
Not particularly useful for building construction, but
nevertheless a classic of sorts.
International Log Builders' Association (ILBA) Log Building Standards for Residential, Handcrafted, Interlocking, Scribe-fit Construction, Lumby, BC, 2000.
Presently undergoing a revision to be known by a new title.
Go to www.logassociation.org
for a copy of the older version, or to the Chambers book
Janzen, Vic, Your Log House , Muir Publishing Co.
4th edition recently published. Contact Schroeder Log Home Supply, Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
Kylloe, Cabins and Camps. Salt Lake City, Gibbs
Smith, Publ., 2002
Langsner, Drew, A Logbuilder's Handbook. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1982.
Something of a quasi-classic.
Leitch, William C., Hand-Hewn: The Art of Building Your Own Log Cabin. Chronicle Books, 1976.
Typical 1960s-70s back-to-the-land genre.
Mackie, B. Allan, Building with Logs. Prince George, BC, Log House Publ. Co. Ltd. See also Log House Plans, Picture Book of Log Homes, Notches of all Kinds, Log Span Tables, and the more recent account of building in eastern Ontario - The Owner-Built Log House. See also his nine instructional videos published by Daizen Company of Vancouver Island, BC
Mason, Bernard, Cabins, Cottages and Summer Homes. New York: A.S. Barnes Co. 1947.
Useful for ideas.
Milne, Dan, The Handbook of Canadian Log Building. Muir Publ. , 1984.
Becoming dated and was never revised, but a useful how-to
Rempel, John I., Building with Wood and Other Aspects of Ninteenth Century Building in Ontario. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967
Sloan, Eric, A Museum of Early American Tools. NY: Ballantine, 1964.
Classic on hand tools.
Walker, Tom, Building the Alaska Log Home. Anchorage, AK: Alaska NW Publ. Co. 1984, 1998.
Angier, Bradford and Vena. How to Build Your Home in the Woods. (and many other books).New York: Sheridan House, 1952.
Bruette, William Arthur. Log Cabins and Cottages: How to Build and Furnish Them, by Practical Architects and Woodsmen. 1934.
Carlson, Axel R. Building a Log House in Alaska. Fairbanks: University of Alaska, 1977. Good chapters on permafrost building and furniture construction.
Hunt, Walter Bernard. How to Build and Furnish a Log Cabin the Easy Natural Way Using Only Hand Tools and the Woods Around You. New York: Macmillan, 1974 .
Aldrich, Chilson Darragh. The Real Log Cabin.
New York: The Macmillan Co., 1928 (written by an architect
who built many log and stone structures in the Minnesota
backwoods. Also see a newer version edited and annotated by
Hovland, MN restoration expert Harry Drabik, who has lived
in and restored some of Aldrich's buildings.)
Hutslar, Donald A. Log Cabin Restoration: Guidelines for the Historical Society. American Association of State and Local History, Technical Leaflet No. 74. Write to them at 1400 8th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37203.
Friedman, Renee, and Goodall, Harrison. Log Structures; Preservation and Problem Solving. Nashville, Tenn: Association for State and Local History, 1980.(One of the best on restoration - long out of print, but there are copies around - if you look hard.)
Protecting Log Cabins, Rustic Work and Unseasoned Wood From Injurious Insects in Eastern United States. Farmers' Bulletin No. 2104, USDA, Wash. DC: Government Printing Office, Dec., 1962.
Rempel, John I. Building With Wood and Other Aspects of Nineteenth CenturyBuilding in Ontario. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967.
Schroeder, Gary. The
Log Home Maintenance guide; A Field Guide For Identifying,
Preventing & Solving Problems.
Woodstock, VT: The Counterpoint Press, 2003
Wood Handbook, US Forest Service Forest Products
Laboratory, Madison, WI. Available From US Govt. Printing
Office, Wash., DC
Benson, Tedd. Building the Timber Frame House. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1980 (and other works).
Benson, Tedd, Building the Timber Frame Home: Design, Construction, Finishing
Graubner, Wolfram, Encyclopedia of Wood Joints. (450 variations on 66 basic wood joints.)
Sobon, Jack, and Schroeder, Roger, Timber Frame Construction, and Build a Classic Timber Frame.
History of Log Construction:
It can be fascinating to trace the development of log building in the northern part of the world from Russia to the Scandinavian cultures, and hundreds of years later, into various parts of North America, old styles and techniques merging with new, according to settlement patterns of the diverse immigrant log builders.
Bealer, Alex W., Photos by John Ellis, The Log Cabin: Homes of the American Wilderness. Barre, MA: Crown Publishing Co., 1978
Bealer, Alex, Old Ways of Working Wood, Barre, MA: Barre Publishing Co., 1972
Benson, David R., Stories in Log and Stone; The Legacy
of the New Deal in Minnesota State Parks. Minnesota
Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, 2002
Buchar, Robert C., "The Continental Log House," Pennsylvania Folklife, Vol. 12, No. 4 (Summer 1962) pp. 14-19
Bugge, Gunnar and Norborg-Schulze, Christian, Stav og Laft i Norge. Oslo: Byggekunst, 1969. Title also in English: Early Wooden Architecture in Norway. (Excellent work on early stabbur and stavkirch construction.)
Clemson, Donovan, Living With Logs: British Columbia's Log Buildings and Rail Fences. Saanichton, BC: Hancock Publ., 1974. Illustrated by Susan Baumgarten.
Good, Albert H. Park and Recreation Structures. New
York, Princeton University Press. A reprint of the National
Park Service 1938 edition. (Recently republished by Princeton
University Press, this is a comprehensive look at log and
stone structures built by CCC, WPA and other programs of the
1930s. Should be part of every log builder's library.)
Glassie, Henry, "The Types of the Southern Mountain Cabin," in Jan V. Brunvand's The Study of American Folklore. New York: W.W. Norton, 1968. Pp. 338-370
Glassie, Henry, Patterns in the Material Folk Culture of the Eastern United States. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1969
Glassie, Henry, "A Central Chimney Continental Log House," Pennsylvania Folklife, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Winter, 1965), pp. 33-39
Gudmundson, Wayne and Winkler, Suzanne, Testaments in Wood; Finnish Log Structures at Embarrass, Minnesota. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1991
Holan, Jerri, Norwegian Wood; A Tradition of Building. New York: Rizzoli International Publ., 1990. (The best historical treatment so far of Norwegian architecture in wood.)
Hutslar, Donald A., "The Log Architecture of Ohio," Ohio History, Vol. 80, Nos. 3 & 4 (Summer-Autumn, 1971), pp. 171-271
Jeffers, Jack, "Cabins in the Blue Ridge: A Photographic Essay," Virginia Cavalcade, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Winter, 1975), pp. 116-123
Jordan, Terry G., Texas Log Buildings; A Folk Architecture. Austin & London: University of Texas Press, 1978
Kauffman, Henry J., American Axes: A Survey of Their Development and Their Makers. Brattleboro, VT: Stephen Greene Press, 1972
Klammer, Paul W., "Collecting Log Cabins: A Photographer's Hobby," in Minnesota History. Vol. 37, No. 2 (June, 1960), pp. 71-77
Kniffen, Fred, and Henry Glassie, "Building in Wood in the Eastern United States: A Time-Place Perspective," Geographical Review. Vol. 56, No. 1 (January 1966, pp. 40-66
Kniffen, Fred, "On Corner-Timbering," The Journal of the Pioneer American. Vol. 1, No. 1 (January 1969), pp. 1-8
LaFontaine, Bruce, Wigwams, Longhouses and Other
Native American Dwellings, Dover Publishing, Mineola,
Langsner, Drew and Louise, Handmade: Vanishing Cultures of Europe and the Near East. New York: Harmony Books/Crown Publishing Co., 1974
Moogk, Peter, Building a House in New France; An Account of the Perplexities of Client and Craftsmen in Early Canada. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, Ltd., 1977. (Good information on stonework and log pieces-sur-pieces construction in French Canada as well as amusing stories on the ubiquitous contractual disputes.)
Museum of Finnish Architecture, The Language of Wood; Wood in Finnish Sculpture Design and Architecture, 1987
Phleps, Hermann, The Craft of Log Building. Translated by Roger MacGregor. Ottawa, Ontario: Lee Valley Tools, 1982. (A book to read and reread - the best detail drawings and a good overview of European log construction through time.)
Roe, Frank Gilbert, "The Old Log House in Western Canada," Alberta Historical Review, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Spring, 1958), pp 1-9
Rosenberger, Jesse Leonard, The Pennsylvania Germans. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1923
Shurtleff, Harold Robert, The Log Cabin Myth. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1939. (A study of the early dwellings of colonists on the East Coast; edited with an introduction by Samuel Eliot Morrison. This book and Weslager's are basic to an understanding of log use in North America.)
Shemie, Bonnie, Houses of Wood, Bark, Adobe, Snow,
Skin, Bones, Hide etc. (a series), Tundra Books.
Weslager, Clinton Alfred, The Log Cabin in America, From Pioneer Days to the Present. Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1969
Weslager, Clinton A., "Log Structures in New Sweden During the Seventeenth Century." Delaware History, V (September 1952) pp. 77-95
Basic Masonry Techniques, Ortho Books. San Ramon,
CA. (Another basic, well-illustrated work on the whole range
of masonry topics.)
Basic Stonemasonry, Sunset Books, Menlo Park, CA,
1996. (An excellent, easy-to-understand, basic introduction to
simple stonework, as well as brick, cement block and
Fine Homebuilding on Foundations and Masonry. Newtown, CT: Taunton Press, 1990
Kennedy, Stephen, Practical Stonemasonry Made Easy. Blue Ridge Summit, PA: TAB Books, 1988
McRaven, Charles, Building With Stone . Garden Way Publishing, 1989. See also Stonework; Techniques and Projects . Pownal, VT: Storey Communications, Inc. , 1997
Stone By Design; The Artistry of Lew French. Salt
Lake City, Gibbs Smith, Publ., 2005
- Homesteading issues
All of these could come under a heading of "rural living." Included also are some works on other kinds of dwellings. A few of the relevant magazines dealing with these topics are also listed.
Alth, Max and Charlotte, Constructing and Maintaining Your Well and Septic System. TAB Books, 1984
Angier, Bradford and Vena, many titles including How to Stay Alive in the Woods, How to Live in the Woods for Pennies a Day etc.
Classics their genre of "how to."
Arcand, R. D., Log Building Tools and How to Make Them. Prince George, BC: Log House Publ. Co., Ltd.
Bryere, Christian, In Harmony With Nature and Country Comforts. NY: Drake Publ., 1976
Bryere, Christian, and Inwood, Robert, The New Homesteader's Handbook. NY: Drake Publ.., 1976
Bubel, Mike, Root Cellaring. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1979
Chainsaw & Crosscut Saw Training Course. Almonte,
Ontario, Algave Publishing, 2005. (originally publ. buy USDA
Cook, D., Keeping Warm with an Axe - A Woodcutter's Manual. New York: Universe Books.
Cooper, Jane, Woodstove Cookery. Garden Way Publishing, 1977
Farmstead Magazine (ed.) The Homesteader's Manual. NY: Tab, 1983
Foxfire Books. Edited with an introduction by Eliot Wigginton. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1972.
Genuine classics if you can find the entire set.
Hall, Walter, Barnacle Parp's Chainsaw Guide. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1977.
Slightly dated, but still a good, basic, humorous initiation
Holloway, Dennis, and McIntyre, Maureen, The Owner Builder Experience; How to Design and Build Your Own Home. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1986
Johnson, Tom, and Miller, Tim, The Sauna Book. New York: Harper & Row, 1977
Kern, Ken & Magers, Steve, Fireplaces. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1978.
(A classic work on fireplaces - long out of print, but a gem.)
Kirkpatrick, Frank, How to Find and Buy Your Business in the Country. Ponal, VT: Storey Communications.
Lee, Leonard., Complete Guide to Sharpening.
Lee Valley Tools, Sharpening Woodworking Tools.
DVD, with Leonard Lee.
Logsdon, Gene, Practical Skills: A Revival of Forgotten Crafts, Techniques and Traditions. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1985.
The book to have should you ever be thrown on your own
resources. Also Marks (below)
Marks, Vic (ed.) Handbook of Rural Skills and Technology. Mayne Island, BC: Cloudburst Press, 1977
McCallagh, James C., The Solar Greenhouse Book. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1978
Oullette, Robert A., Chainsaws; Buying,Using, Maintaining and Repairing. Blue Ridge Summit, PA: Tab Books, 1979
Roy, Rob, The Sauna. Chelsea Green Publishing,
Soderstrom, Neil, Chainsaw Savvy. Dobbs Ferry, NY, Morgan & Morgan, 1982
Stihl, Inc., Chain Saw Safety, Maintenance, &
Operation DVD. Stihl, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA, 2006
Tressemer, David, Splitting Firewood. Brattleboro, VT: By Hand and Foot, Ltd., 1981. (A pragmatic approach to firewood issues with a Jungian Twist.)
Wik, Ole, Wood Stoves; How to Make and Use Them. Anchorage, AK: Alaska Northwest Publ., 1977
Underground Space Center, Univ. of Minnesota, Earth Sheltered Housing Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1979
Viherjuuri, H. J., Sauna, The Finnish Bath. Brattleboro, VT: The Stephen Greene Press, 1972
Virtanen, John O., The Finnish Sauna; Peace of Mind, Body and Soul. Owen, WI: Arctic Circle, 1988.
Philosophies and Backwoods Life:
Anyone contemplating the establishment of a recreation or permanent home in a rural or wilderness environment would do well to read again Henry Thoreau's account of his hand-built hideaway near Concord or Sigurd Olson's story of the creation of his "Listening Point" in the Minnesota wilderness. I could not begin to list all of the books that might fall under this category, so just a sample of the more interesting are found below.
Hoover, Helen, A Place in the Woods. New York: Knopf, 1969.
Also other books about life on the old Gunflint Trail in
Hubbell, Sue, A Country Year; Living the Questions. New York: Random House, 1986
Keith, Sam, One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey. From the journals and photograph collection of Richard Proenneke. Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Publishing Co., 1973. (recently republished).
Also, the movie about Proenneke, Alone in the Wilderness.
LaBastille, Anne, Woodswoman and Beyond Black Bear Lake., New York: Norton
Leopold, Aldo, A Sand County Almanac. New York and London: Oxford University Press, 1949
McPhee, John, Coming into the Country. NY: Bantam, 1977.
Meinecke, Conrad E. Your Cabin in the Woods. Buffalo, NY: Foster & Stewart Publ. Co., 1945. Also, Cabincrafts and Outdoor Living.
Nearing, Helen and Scott, Living the Good Life. New York: Schocken Books, 1970. Also later works: Continuing the Good Life and Loving and Leaving the Good Life.
Olson, Sigurd, Listening Point. New York: Knopf, 1958 (and many other of his books)
Thoreau, Henry David, Walden. Many editions and publishers.
Rowlands, John J. Cache Lake Country. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1947. Republished by Lyons & Burford, N.Y., 1990
Rutstrum, Calvin, The Wilderness Cabin. New York: MacMillan, 1972. Illustrated by Les Kouba. Also, The Wilderness Life and others.
Teale, Edwin Way, A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm. NY: Vail-Ballou Press, 1974
Vickery, Jim Dale, Wilderness Visionaries. Merrillville, IN: ICS Books, 1986. Also, Open Spaces. Minocqua, WI: Northward Press, 1991, and others.