Glossary

glossary

This log cabin glossary contains many of the words and phrases you will need as you begin building your log home. Make sure to ask your builder if there is anything that confuses you. An unasked question could cost you money and we’re here to help!


Log Building Terms A-B

Adze: Axe-like tool to give wood a rough-hewn look.

Air-Dried Logs: Logs that are air dried from 8-16 months depending on the type of tree. Air drying allows the wood to dry naturally, with more even drying with minimal natural cracks.


Bay window: An alcove of a room, projecting from an outside wall and having its own windows.

Beam: Part of a home’s structural frame - usually a horizontal piece.

Blueprints: Construction drawings used to build a home.

Building code: Standards of construction designed to protect the health and safety of a home’s occupants.

Building permit: Permit issued by a municipality that allows construction work on a specific site to go forward according to approved plans. Ensures that all proposed construction work meets building code and is added to the tax rolls..

Butt and pass corner: Popular corner system where one log end extends beyond the intersection with the log in the opposing wall.

Butt joint: A joint formed by two pieces of wood or metal united end to end without overlapping.

Log Building Terms C-D

Casement window: Window style that has a window frame.

Caulk: The most common type of sealing material used on log home.

Character log: Building log that has holes or scars that give it an aesthetic character.

Chinking: Mortar that fills in holes in or between logs.

Colonial: Two story home with a central hall and symmetrical window placement.

Corner post: Intersecting logs do not touch, but connect with a vertical corner post.

Corner-support system: Stacking logs so the logs only touch at the corners where walls meet.


Dogtrot: Home style that usually has two small cabins connected by a breezeway.

Dormer: A small structure on a sloping roof that contains a window.

Double-hung window: A window style with two separate frames, that can be raised or lowered.

Dovetail corners: A style of interlocking corner used with square or rectangular logs. It is created when the end of each log is cut into a fan-shaped wedge that is narrower toward the middle of the log.

Log Building Terms E-F

Easement: A right held by one property owner to make use of the land of another for a limited purpose, as right of passage.

Elevation: A type of architectural drawing.


Fixed glass window: A window that does not open – sometimes called a picture window.

Footing: The base of the foundation that supports the walls.

Full logs: Complete logs – not cut in half.

Log Building Terms G-H

Gable Roof: The triangular shape at the end of a roof.

Green wood: New wood or logs that have recently been cut and are not dry.


Half logs: Logs that are cut in half lengthwise and affixed to a wall to create a wall that looks like full logs.

Hand-hewn: Wood that has been cut by hand tools such as an adze or ax.

HVAC: Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

Log Building Terms I-J

Interlocking corner: A complex corner where wood is removed, leaving a recessed area, locking into a similar area and holds both logs in place.


Joist: A horizontal beam that supports weight.

Log Building Terms K-L

Knot: A portion of a branch or limb that is considered an imperfection but is incorporated in a piece of lumber.


Lag screw/bolt: Fastener used in log home construction.

Laminated logs: Built-up timbers that are manufactured by gluing, or laminating, dimensional lumber together, then shaping the timbers into traditional log profiles.

Lap siding: Siding that forms an overlapping pattern.

Lintel: A horizontal part of a home frame that forms the top of a window or door opening.

Log siding: Siding material made up of logs.

Log Building Terms M-O

Overlapping corners: Corner design in which logs overlap each other at the corners, and the ends of all logs continue past the corner.

Log Building Terms P-R

Percolation (or “perc”) test: Test to measure how porous soil is.

Plate: A horizontal piece of the house's frame on which the rafters rest.

Post: A vertical piece of the house frame.

Post and beam: Home construction that has exposed timbers that form a structural frame.

Pre-construction: Activities that must be completed before construction of a home can begin, such as clearing the building site.

Purlin: A support beam for the roof.


R-value: A measure of resistance to the flow of heat. Higher R-values mean better insulation.

Random-length logs: Logs that are not cut to any specific length before being delivered to the building site.

Log Building Terms S-T

Salvaged wood: Old wood that is rescued from old buildings and reused in new construction.

Shrinkage: The decrease in log size as it loses its moisture content.

Specifications: A written description of the materials, fixtures, finishes and methods to be used in building a home.


Timber frame: Traditional construction characterized by exposed timbers that form a structural frame.

Trim: Detailed woodwork that finishes off certain elements in a home, such as windows, doors, stairs and cabinetry.

Truss: Triangular-shaped construction element that supports a home’s ceiling or roof, and allows for an open space below, unimpeded by posts.

Turn-key: Construction service that allows home owners to purchase a completely finished home, one that does not require any further work by the home owners.

Log Building Terms U-Z

Vent-free: Free-standing stove or fireplace, that operates without an exterior venting system.


Wood foundation: A foundation with walls built of pressure-treated wood that is impervious to rot, decay and insects.