Welcome to the Onalaska Log Building
Updated April 11, 2014.
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.
The 2013 classes were great folks with lots of enthusiasm. The May 24, 2014 is now full and the next class after that is Saturday May 31. After that, the next class is Saturday July 12 and there are 6 seats remaining. We can hold class at other times if you can get a group of at least 4 together. 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 will be constructing log building number 10 on our place in May, so that is a great time to see a building being built and help lift a couple logs into place. We will also have a new working model in place for the May class; the working model is a great teaching tool as the students will put up a ridge pole and set of rafters.
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 built 9 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. In 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 (The Saloon), and 2013 (the 'Jail') we constructed one log building each year with trees we planted in 1980. 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).
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. 2014 will be our 5th 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 number of students who had previously taken Skip's class and then took our class due to the hands-on opportunity and they liked it. 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.
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 is far less than most new homes sold today. We spend $2,500-$4,000 on the 10' x 12' 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 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.
We teach you how to construct your log building using ropes and pulley blocks, 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 notes 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 34 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 of the reasons that folks like our class over other classes include:
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.
Brief class overview:
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.
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.
Classes are conducted in our log home and class size is limited to 8 people. You will receive a 28 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 8:15 am and ends around 5 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com ).
Class availability as of January 28. May 24 class - full
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 !
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
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 !
Interested in helping reconstruct a historic slave log quarters at Montpelier? Cost is $1,000 for a week of lodging, archaeology, architectural history and timbersmithing. Feb 16 to Feb 22, 2014. Contact http://www.montpelier.org/research-and-collections/archaeology/archaeology-programs/archaeology-expeditions/log-cabin-school