Henley Log Cabin

This week’s big project was a Henley Log Cabin, a 12ft by 10ft construction that took the best part of two days to build.

The finished result, though, was a very solid building that’s much more substantial (and heavy) than a conventional wooden shed of the same size – the walls are more than twice the thickness of shiplap panels, at around 30mm.

Henley log cabin

Day One

The first job was to get the floor into position on the concrete platform. It comes in three pieces, each just about manageable. The floor boards are quite thick, 18mm, I think, and the joists are fairly substatial and pressure treated against rot.

Once these were in place and square I could begin piecing the logs together after unpacking them and placing them in piles around the four sides of the cabin. They sit on the ends of the floor joists, clear of the ground and then slot into place, layer by layer. Two of the first layer are half logs, including one with a cut out for the door frame, so it would be difficult to go wrong. I can say this quite safely now!

Handling the individual logs wasn’t too demanding, although I am now feeling the effects of two days of it! The logs fitted together very well, even the longest, at 12ft plus, and only a few needed any persuasion to slot into place – a large piece of 4×2 packing made a useful and non-damaging ‘mallet’.

Doors were very heavy, as exterior quality doors should be, but lifting two of them, in their frames, over the bottom five or six layers of logs and into position was impossible for one person (and would have been very difficult for two), so I took the doors off and fitted the empty frame instead. Even this was quite heavy, but manageable.

The opening window, in its frame, was more manageable and I lifted that into place without mishap. I left the doors off while I built up the rest of the walls log by log so I could easily work from the inside.

The gable ends were pre-assembled, so they were heavier than they might have been but not beyond my ability to lift them into place. On of these didn’t want to ‘sit’ properly but was eventually persuaded. The three roof purlings were very substantial but again, fitted easily enough, thanks to the pre-cut notches in the gable end logs and the purlings themselves.

Then all I had to add for the main structure was the roof, comprised of six-inch tongue and groove boards, so it took a while to nail each of those into place. The last two needed cutting to size, and I left those for day two.

I re-hung the doors at this stage, adjusted them so they closed properly without fouling the frame (actually physically shifted the frame, which has a fair bit of slack to play with) and that was day one – about eight hours’ solid work.

Day Two

A shorter day, although finishing off a big job always takes longer than you might expect – think how long it takes to finish a house after the walls and roof have been built – and it was almost six hours in total.

I started by cutting those last two roof boards and nailing them in place. Then came two strips of wood to add to the underside of the roof edges. There were no suitable nails or screws in the pack but I had some with me to do the job. Finally, two lengths of skirting were nailed to these, giving a smooth surface for the felt to be nailed to. Now it was time for the roofing felt – always a tricky and time consuming job. There were two rolls, each to be cut into two lengths, so four strips in all. Getting the felt straight and taught without tearing it takes a bit of patience and there are, of course, hundreds of nails to knock in as you go.

Then the facia boards for the gable ends were nailed into place and finally the felt had to be nailed to the underside of the roof edges – cue an avalanche of grit in the face of the person doing the nailing…

Being a cabin and not a shed, there was skirting to fit to the inside. It was pre-cut more or less to length but not chamfered at the ends, so each end had to be cut 45 degrees and the two end pieces had to be shortened by a few millimetres as well. Finally, two pieces had to be cut to length and chamfered for the door side.

The owner wanted a hatch cut into the floor to access an inspection cover. This was done using a jig saw, after a lot of careful measuring! The floor needed a bit of reinforcing around the hole, but all went well.

Finally, there were four storm braces to fit. These hold the cabin together in the event of a violent storm (as the logs could theoretically be lifted apart). Two coach bolts per brace took a few minutes to drill and screw in.

The owners were painting the cabin as I left.



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