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I live in Michigan in an area that has been impacted by the Emerald Ash Bore. This bug is killing ALL of the ash trees on my property.

A few years ago I hired a portable saw mill and milled 50 or so trees into 1 1/4" planks and construction grade lumber (2x4, 2x6, 2x8, 4x4, & 6x6).

I used the planks to create 6" wide t&g flooring for an addition I put on my old farm house. I then "recreated" the orginal turn of the century 8" molding that is in the main house by purchasing a bit for my shaper.

I now have serveral hundred more trees impacted by the bug and they will be standing dead in a year or so.

I am considering felling these trees, stacking and stickering, and building a log home on the property. It would be a "long term" project that I could take my time with since I live on the property. I understand that ash is best for furniture and fuel, but it sickens me to think of all of that lumber going "up in smoke". Also, since ash is pretty hard and not real rot resistant the prospect of building an ash log home may quite possibley be insane.The goal would be to do as much as possible from scratch to keep costs low so that I can sell the farm house and get out from under my mortgage.

.. so, am I crazy to be dreaming / planning such a project?

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One of the things that helps to keep logs from deteriorating is the roof overhang, I built my home out of so.yellow pine with 8' porches on three sides, I wish I did all four sides the covered sides still looked good after 7 years, the open side about 3 years needed to be stain/sealed very badly.

If I had the ash available like you have I would go for that loghome in a minute.

Thanks for the encouragement Glenn. I had read that large overhangs were important, I guess even more so if I attempt this with my ash trees.

Since my bride's agreement is critical to his endeaver, I have been showing her various pictures of log homes and the "theme" of the ones she likes seems to be "porches and dormers", so that should fit in well.

Guess one of the next steps will be to find a company that sells plans that I could use.
I was going to ask if it might be possible to sell or trade the trees for a better wood, but I looked up the Ash Bore problem on the internet and see that it is huge. Billions of trees are dying. And that they are asking people not to transport the affected wood out of the infected areas in hopes of slowing the spread of the disease.

So, my only other comment would be that the trees would have to be allowed to dry down to a lower moisture content level. This means the wood would probably be getting harder at the same time. Most hard woods do. My only experience with the wood is as things like ax and hammer handles. To me, that means working the wood (chipping out the cups so that they can fit over the logs under them) might be quite a bit more than difficult. I would want to get that question answered, as well as the general advisability of fighting ash's propensity to rot. I assume if you keep it dry it will be fine, and as Glen mentioned, design considerations like large overhangs can help keep water problems to a minimum. In your case, a house with a a porch all the way around might help guarantee water will not be a problem.

Also, it sounds like the trees don't typically get very tall. If you were to build a handcrafted type house, where full logs are normally used, you might have to plan for short wall lengths.

It may be best to make a dovetailed house rather than a round log house. That would involve sawing square timbers and then dovetailing the corners. I know a guy here in Montana who can make a jig for cutting dovetails. Dovetailed corners might solve most of the workability problem. Let me know if you find yourself considering that option. Many of the logs in the photo appeared to be big enough in diameter to get a decent sized square log out of. And having to use shorter logs in longer walls is not a problem if each log is exactly the same size.

I should say I don't mean literally square. Most dovetailed log homes have a log that is taller than it is thick. Its just squared off. The taller each log, the fewer you have to use, so you would have to estimate what you could get away with and base your plans around that dimension.

In any case, good luck. I live in Montana, where we have a Pine Bark Beetle problem, and in places the effect has been devastating. But the trees affected are the exact same trees we build log homes with anyway, so in many cases it has been possible to salvage log the dead timber and use it in construction. Wikipedia said that seven billion Ash trees in the US and Canada are threatened by the Bore outbreak, and that is a genuine tragedy. I do hope you can find a way to do something besides burn them up. Ask old timers if they know anything about using Ash for log homes. Someone local should know how viable a wood it is for that purpose.
Thanks ChinkerBob, I would be more than happy using squared logs and the dovetail idea sounds great. I would be interested in a jig for the purpose if I move forward from dream to plan to reality. The would is very hard after drying (I still have a significant quantity of construction grade lumber).

The only good so far that has come out of this problem is the lumber I was able to salvage the first go around while the state was still trying to stop the bug and the road that they installed through my woodlot that has made this dream "possible" from a financial point.
To use the jig I mentioned, every log has to be cut to the same dimension. And I oversimplified a bit. Its better not to cut the tops and bottoms exactly square: you'll want to leave some of the rounded surface, though they will all be cut to the same height. Hope this picture adequately explains what I mean.

The logs will be stacked with a gap of perhaps an inch between them, but the rounded corners mean a) you get larger logs than if you sawed the square and b) you get a rounded surface to chink to. It is much easier than chinking a squared off gap.

If the logs taper a lot this presents a few problems and you may want to go closer to square. But if they don't, then such a cutting method will make the job easier and the finished product look better.

You might, for example, cut each log 10" high and 8" thick. The size you go with will mostly be determined the the size of the logs you use. Remember that the large the log, the fewer you have to stack up, but there are other size considerations as well. You will want some even combination of logs to equal the ceiling height, for instance. It starts getting complicated and actually building with logs is not my strongest suite, though I have done it. You'll probably need a book, at least.

I trust that Ash is a fairly stable wood, in that it does little twisting. Your floor picture would seem to indicate it doesn't move much, and that is an important consideration in log building. I've seen square logs made of the wrong wood twist literally 90 degrees in a wall already built.

As I mentioned the first time, I would ask around a bit about whether or not anybody ever uses Ash for logs homes, and if not, why not. It would be pretty terrible to spend a bunch of money and then have all of this be unworkable or worse yet, have the house rot out from under you in 20 years. A good design can keep the logs dry, but there may be other considerations.

I know log homes are made out of oak, another hard wood, so there is no reason to automatically discount the material for this use.

Does it do much checking when the logs dry? Lot home people are used to checks, and that in and of itself is not a problem. Just curious.

I'll get in touch with my friend who can build the jig and get a general idea of what one will cost. Price will probably vary depending on the size of the jig, so the sooner you have an idea of what is possible in that department, the sooner you can get an accurate price for the jig. If I remember right, it also requires the modification of the chain saw bar because a guide is bolted to it, but I forget the details. I'll get you more info as soon as I can.

If the wood is as hard as I think it is, you might start saving up for chains for your chainsaw. I suspect you'll need a lot of them. And a friendly local sharpener to restore the dull ones.

Oh, speaking of that, if you don't have a Husqvarna or Stihl chainsaw, that's what you'll want when you start doing the hard work of cutting up these logs. Log builders here in Montana swear by them, and swear at every other brand.


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