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Welcome to the Onalaska Log Building School, LLC  
Business license # 603-001-503  

A note to Onalaska Log Building School graduates, if you are going to be building in 2017 and want to be on a reality TV show, please let us know and we will send contact info. 


One-day classes, you will learn to build a log building in that one day, guaranteed. The key to this success is the Butt and Pass building method, no notching and no need to season the logs before building, and no real building expertise is needed.   We believe the biggest hurdle keeping  people from reaching their dream of a log building is lack of confidence, we want to give you that confidence.  

The classes in 2016 were great folks with lots of enthusiasm, we think a high percent will build.   2017 will be our 8th year of teaching this class.  Looks like all of our May classes are now full but if you want to be on a waiting list in case there is a cancellation, let us know.   We will hold your seat with a $50 pp deposit*.   We have penciled in Saturday July 29 and will hold class if we have at least 5 folks, otherwise the next class will be Saturday September 2.   Many of our students previously took the Vegas butt-and-pass class but found that just taking notes for two days left them wanting hands-on experience; taking a previous class elsewhere is not required.  

Note that on the day after class , if you'd like to visit and maybe help on an ongoing log building, a prior student has a project going about an hour drive from us, and he says that you'd be welcome.   This is also open to prior students, contact us for directions. 

Tuition is $325 per person ($300 per person for parties of 2 or more) and includes an outstanding pizza lunch provided by our local pizzarie. Phone number 360-978-4962.  Thanks.   

We now have a working model (photos below) for students to put hands-on lifting a wall log, a ridge pole and a set of rafters. It is one thing to be told and to see photos but quite another to actually do the task, invaluable experience for when you start your project. working model 1.JPG (657136 bytes) working model 2.JPG (527688 bytes)working model 3.JPG (494991 bytes)working model 5.JPG (506006 bytes)working mdel 4.JPG (475583 bytes)class lifting log.JPG (755335 bytes)class lifting ridge pole.JPG (574826 bytes)class lifting rafters.JPG (490513 bytes)

We are planning on building a log 'Wishing Well' in spring 2017 and as part of class, you can help put up and pin a couple of logs.  They will be short logs but getting the hands-on experience of pinning logs is worth a bunch.  We poured the foundation in October.    foundation.JPG (757348 bytes)foundation+skirt.JPG (913929 bytes) March 26, the lifting poles are up, waiting for the rain to stop. In April we put up the 4 sill logs and the classes will put up a couple logs for each class, will be great hands-on experience even though this is a much smaller scale.  lifting poles.JPG (737918 bytes)pulley blocks up.JPG (895662 bytes)1st sill log lifted.JPG (856284 bytes)sill logs on.JPG (862720 bytes)


Need an idea for Christmas or birthday?  How about nabbing them a tuition to the class.  

My name is Jack Tipping and with my wife Sharon, we have built 11 log buildings on our property in rural Onalaska, Washington (see photos).  We took the Skip Ellsworth log building class in 1979 and built our log house in 1980, and our log garage in 1981.  Starting in 2006,  we've constructed one log building each year on our place with trees we planted in 1980, a total of 11 buildings.  2011 was the Fort, 2012  was the Saloon,  2013 the 'Jail', 2014 is a log building to house a working model, and 2015 was 'Clairhouse'.   We have learned many things during our building that we wished we knew before we built our first building. In fact, I would have gladly paid 10 times the tuition price to know some of the things in this class.  Students  frequently mention that the class far exceeded their expectations (perhaps we are not charging enough). 

Here is what a student from one of our May, 2014 classes had to say: " Thank you so much for the opportunity of attending your great class.  I feel I accomplished my learning goals. The Onalaska Log Building School significantly boosted my knowledge base and confidence in moving forward with my own log home.  

Earlier this year I attended a different training that taught the same  butt & pass method but it was solely classroom-based instruction (Las Vegas).  What positively distinguishes the Onalaska Log Building School is that you provided actual, physical hands-on experience of the different stages of log home construction.  Just as you explained on your website, itís proven very true that itís one thing to be told how to work with log construction but itís much more valuable to actually do it (with instruction). Thank you for providing that to me.

Learning from a husband-and-wife team who are truly experts in this style of log home construction was a profoundly inspirational and meaningful experience because it showed more than just the mechanics of construction - it touched on the spirit of family and home, and it gave me and my own wife a real example of what potential we have of doing for ourselves, just like you two.  Thank you for sharing your knowledge, your home and sincere hospitality.

Ashland, Montana"

Dave and Bonnie S. (class of 2012) are currently building 2 log structures in Satsop, Washington and are making great progress (photos).  They have started building number 2 and have the ridge pole up.  dave 2016 log 1.JPG (650411 bytes) dave row 4 june 2016.JPG (752056 bytes)dave center post 1.JPG (727505 bytes)dave center post4.JPG (749128 bytes)2nd floor joist.JPG (668295 bytes)ridgepole on deck1.JPG (808095 bytes)ridgepole on deck3.JPG (612672 bytes)dave bonnie ridge pole on deck.JPG (494743 bytes)rp up.JPG (343236 bytes)rp up2.JPG (428534 bytes)2016 rafters up.JPG (123782 bytes)2016 log work done.JPG (599542 bytes)Dave has posted a blog webpage of his building experience, well worth reading!   www.logcabinfromscratch.com  If you have taken our class and want to give Dave a hand, please let me know and I'll forward to him. 


Rollie and Barbara S. (class of 2013) are doing great on their log building in Lake Wenatchee, Washington. They just finished putting on the metal roof.  Rollie and all.JPG (873702 bytes)Rollie S  9 row.jpg (141167 bytes)second floor joists.JPG (49129 bytes)Rollie May 2016 4.jpg (110676 bytes)Rollie May 2016 3.jpg (97597 bytes)Rollie 2016 outside of bldg.JPG (155169 bytes)decking going on.JPG (123211 bytes)entry way2.JPG (108835 bytes)roof on 3.jpg (2972042 bytes)roof on 1.jpg (4787529 bytes)

Margaret, who took the June 25, 2016 class, started a small log cabin (200 sq ft) in her backyard in Olympia in July, and she finished the log work within a month, great going !  Marg row 4.JPG (975501 bytes)Marg row 12.JPG (877531 bytes)Margaret row 18.JPG (1046497 bytes)log work done.JPG (1041736 bytes)She now has the roof decking and door and windows in and has started applying the log finish.  after bargeboard.JPG (856918 bytes)partial stained.JPG (162525 bytes)


Our house cost us $20,000 to build in 1980, including new appliances, and today it is valued at over $250,000.  Building our own house allowed me to retire in 2005 at age 52 after working 30 years for Washington State Fish and Wildlife (fish biologist).

Because we are hands-on oriented and local to the Northwest, we decided to offer a one-day class on log building construction.  2016 is our 7th year of teaching this class.  We have learned many things since taking the class in 1979 and some will save you hundreds of hours of effort, and keep your house from being infested with golden bruprestids for decades, like ours is.  We've had a lot of students who had previously taken Skip's class and then took our class due to the hands-on opportunity and they tell us that they preferred our class. It is one thing to be told about how to lift logs, peel logs and chink but it is another to actually do it.  The tuition cost is pennies compared to the cost of building, so why not learn all you can before you start. 

NOTE:  Many building code requirements were recently updated and now require a structural engineer, we will show you how best to work with those requirements.

There is nothing like the comfort of a warm and cozy log house, you will never want a stick house again. By building your own log home you will acquire a great sense of accomplishment.  We estimate that a new 1,600 square foot log house will cost about $100,000 to $130,000 to build, depending on your desires and abilities, which compares to about $280,000 if you hired it done.  We spend $2,500-$4,000 on the 12' x 15' log buildings which include high quality metal snap-lock roofing but does not include the cost of logs as we have our own trees. 

Please do not buy a log house kit until you take our class, or you will regret it.  We've had log kit owners call who have had to replace house logs for a steep cost after 7 years; we will show you how to design your structure so no logs will ever need to be replaced.   A local realtor has hired me to recommend remedies for local log kit failures,  the remedy runs about $20K and another $15K to replace rotten logs, tuition for this class is much less expensive.  Also, the expense to finish a log kit is about 3-5 times the kit prices, so a $100K kit may end up being $500K.  

We teach you how to construct your log building using ropes and pulley blocks, rather than using an expensive boom or crane. Two people is the ideal number for building.  With the Butt and Pass building method, it is not uncommon to put up 8 logs in a day, compared to 1-2 logs for a notched house. The class will go into far more detail than the brief overview listed below, and you will be provided with a 37 page booklet and a CD of the PowerPoint for future reference. The class is about 60% PowerPoint and 40% outside.  Class size is limited to 8 people and is conducted in our log home, so you can ask all the questions that you need; our goal is for you to leave with the knowledge and confidence to build your own log building.  

You will also get to inspect our log buildings and the classroom part is held in our log house of 36 years.  You will also learn from our mistakes, just knowing the best time to cut your trees is worth far more than the class tuition; there is a window when the bark is easy to remove and the logs won't turn black from mold, and you will avoid insect infestations; did you know that golden bruprestids will eat your logs and reside for up to 50 years in the logs before boring out (not good!).  Some students also said that they were quite impressed with the looks of our home-made log furniture and redwood doors.  

Some of the reasons that folks like our class over other classes include: 
1. We teach code compliant construction, including continuous foundations,  
2. We use ropes and pulley blocks rather than expensive equipment, 
3. We use log rafters and a ridge pole so you can enjoy an open beam ceiling, 
4. We show you the time window for cutting your logs, saving hundreds of hours of log peeling. 
5. We review and show the five different log finishes that we've used to keep logs looking great, including some that you'll want to avoid. 

The hands-on demonstrations include:

1) lifting a large log (Bertha) with ropes and pulley blocks, 

2) walking through timber trees to view which ones would make good log building logs,

3) peeling a log with a drawknife and spud,

4) reviewing and handling the tools needed to build a log building,

5) viewing actively used lifting poles, guy lines, and pulley block assemblies, 

6) using tape measurers to lay out and square up a foundation, and use of board-and battens, 

7) stringing a set of pulley-blocks,

8) how to use the 2-stick measuring method for vertical poles and story-stick for wall heights,

9) reviewing the existing log buildings for the various differences in construction,

10) lifting a wall log, a ridge pole and a set of rafters with pulley-blocks on a working model,

11) mixing up mortar mix and chinking part of a log building, 

12) viewing what various log treatment products look like on the logs,

13) laying out several rows of a butt-and-pass building with lumber, so all will understand the concept.  

It is one thing to see photos of how things are done, but it helps considerably to actually do it yourself, even on a small scale.  

One thing we recommend is that before you build, that you construct a scale model of your building with sticks or dowels.  As part of the class, we provide each party a  stick package to build a model at home.    model of fort.JPG (411129 bytes)

Brief class overview:

bulletBuilding site and permits.
bulletTools needed
bulletLogs (when to cut, sizes needed, peeling, etc.)
bulletLearn how to avoid insect infestations in your logs.
bulletLog building assembly
    Lifting logs
    Placing sill logs
    Putting up wall logs
    Getting logs to fit
    Ridge pole
bulletFinish work
    Floor joists, flooring, electrical.
    Log care

If you want a class on a certain date, we can put that date on the webpage and if at least 4 people sign up, we will conduct the class. 

Assistance offered:  We now offer our assistance to our students who want help getting started or any part of their project.  All we ask is that our expenses be paid and that you make a tax deductible contribution to a charity. 

Students putting together model to illustrate Butt and Pass method of construction. 2x2 model.JPG (463721 bytes)

Another outside demonstration includes training on setting up and using batter boards to level and square your foundation.  You will save a ton of money doing your own foundation.

Students working on laying out a square foundation. Sharon w batter boards.JPG (1105096 bytes)

There is also a log lifting station where you will easily lift a 11" diameter x 16' long log with pulley blocks.   log lift class.JPG (1067053 bytes)log lift 2.JPG (804467 bytes)log lift 1.JPG (767254 bytes)

Other stations include log peeling with spuds and drawknives. P1140489.jpg (98203 bytes)P1140494.jpg (109782 bytes)spud 2 2012.JPG (817093 bytes)spudding 2012.JPG (985558 bytes)

Spinning a log with a peavey. P1140492.jpg (104345 bytes)

You will learn how to string a set of pulley blocks. pulley block stringing.JPG (631265 bytes)pulley block stringing 2.JPG (621704 bytes)

Reviewing the hand and power tools needed. P1140488.jpg (53649 bytes)

You can see if it is worth cutting rebar pins with boltcutters. cutting rebar.JPG (709293 bytes)

 Learning how to chink between logs. chinking.JPG (607996 bytes)chinking2.JPG (566096 bytes)chinking 2012.JPG (656756 bytes)

Classes are conducted in our log home and class size is limited to 8 people.  You will receive a 37 pg booklet of the class and a copy of the Powerpoint CD.   If you organize a group of 4 or more and want the class at another time, just let us know and we will set one up for you.  

Sign-in is at 8 am, class starts at 8:05 am and ends around 5-6 pm. Tuition is $325 per person ($300 per person for parties of 2 or more) and includes an outstanding pizza lunch provided by our local pizzarie.  We will have vegetarian, pepperoni, etc., to get everyone covered.   To register for class, contact us via email tmusky@tds.net  or phone 360-978-4962 and send a $50 deposit per person via Paypal or check (send to 2101 Hwy 508, Onalaska, WA 98570) at least two weeks before the class.  Deposit will be refunded if your reservation is canceled more than one week before class.  Balance due on day of class.  We do not accept credit cards although we do take Paypal (Paypal address is tmusky@tds.net ).

Please note, we have cats, so if you are badly allergic to cats, you should not attend the class. 

We are located about 30 miles south of Olympia and 10 miles east.  The area is rural and quiet. You are welcome to take a walk in the woods at lunch break.  Be sure to bring a raincoat and shoes that you can remove easily  as we will be going outside several times for demonstrations (no muddy shoes in the house).   Thanks !

Tools and pulley blocks available:  A prior student has finished his log building project and has 2 sets of pulley blocks (4 blocks total) that you are welcome to use for free ($50 deposit per set required).  These include about 100 ft of poly rope.   I have several peaveys available ($35 ea), if you are interested.   

Visit us on Facebook Be sure to like our page while you are there!

* on the deposit, we will refund if cancelled more than 30 days before class, otherwise it will be credited to a future class. 

Links to related sites:

Need a cool B&B to stay overnight while attending the log building class?  Great lodging  and food at a good price. Students staying there say the food is excellent and abundant.  http://www.theshepherdsinn.com   phone: 360-985-2434

Onalaska is located in central Lewis County.  For an overview of what to do in Lewis County, please visit www.DiscoverLewisCounty.com 

Perma-Chink log stains, and chinking materials.  We've started using their stains and like them.  www.permachink.com

Log Homes, Log Cabins & Log Furniturehttp://loghomelinks.com/

For lots of information on log buildings:  http://www.log-cabin-connection.com

Log building tools and supplies (prices look good). www.kingsbridgesupply.com

www.loghomestore.com Log building supplies, etc. What you need to get the job done ! 

For local fly fishing for tiger muskies and steelhead and supplies contact:  www.lostcreekflies.com  Christoph, class of 2014,  caught and released a dandy tiger muskie.  Christoph muskie.jpg (185632 bytes)