Glossary of Log Homes Terms

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Cants are produced from green logs that are brought into our mill by local loggers. Their logs are stripped of their bark and then run through saws to make them 4-sided timbers. The cants are then used to make dimensional lumber, logs or siding.


Sealant used to fill joints and spaces between logs. Caulk comes in tubes or pails and is applied with a caulk gun in a narrow strip or ‘bead’ that dries to a tough elastic coating. Usually applied in a color that matches the wood so that it is not prominent when viewed from a distance.


Filling used between rows of logs. Most often used in log systems where rows of logs do not bear directly on the row below, but are separated by a space of about 1 inch or more. Traditional chinking is mortar-based. Modern synthetic chinking, manufactured to look like traditional chinking, is similar to caulk but with greater density and durability.

Corner Configurations

The following are just a few of the common corner configurations used on log structures:

1.) Dovetail Corners: These corners are used mainly with square or rectangular logs. The end of each log is cut to produce a fan-shaped wedge. As the logs are stacked the ends of one wall’s logs lock into the perpendicular logs.

2.) Butt and pass corners: These corners are formed when one log stops where it meets the intersecting log, and the other log extends past the corner. There are dozens of variations, all involving the shape of the area where the logs butt. In most, passing logs have a cutout, or mortise, into which the butt log fits. If the end of the butting log is shaped to match the mortise, the projection is called a tenon. The joint is referred to as a mortise and tenon or V joint.

3.) Saddle-notch corners: These are also known as saddle cope or round notch. They get their name form the saddle shaped notch cut into the bottom of each round log. This notch on the bottom of the top log straddles the top of the log coming from the perpendicular wall. Both logs then extend past the corner. The opposing walls of a saddle-notch corner system, both gable walls for example, start with a half log. This ensures that the logs overlap one another at the corners rather than butt into each other. The saddle-notch is one of the most traditional corner intersections and is favored by many handcrafters.

Corner notch

A notch cut to interlock logs at a corner intersection. There are a number of notch styles used in constructing log homes. The type of notch will determine the appearance of the log corners.

Decay Resistance

The ability of wood to resist the effects of exposure to air, water and the ultraviolet rays in sunlight. While wood species vary in their resistance, none is completely decay-proof.


The tool consisting of a sharp blade set between two handles. Users pull the blade toward their bodies along the log or timber’s surface to peel bark or wood.


Hardware used to secure logs and timbers. Fasteners include spikes, screws, wooden pegs and through-bolts.

Foam Gasket

Compressible foam material, usually water resistant, used between logs and other building components to prevent air and water infiltration. Many tongue and groove log systems use foam gaskets to seal the joint between adjacent rows of logs.

Green Logs

Green logs are logs that are used within weeks and sometimes even days of having been cut.

Green Wood

Technically, any wood above fiber saturation moisture content (28%) is considered green, regardless of the time since it has been cut or milled. In practice, many people think of green wood as wood that has been recently cut from a living tree.


The process of removing the bark and outer layer (cambium) of a log. Hand-peeling is usually done using a drawknife, although some companies use machines to achieve a hand-peeled look.

Insulated log wall

A wall system consisting of half-logs applied to either side of a conventionally framed or structural insulated panel core. While insulated log walls have the appearance of solid log, they are not subject to settlement and can have a substantially higher R-value.


The materials or methods used to prevent the flow of heat from one area to another. Log homes often use insulation made from fiberglass, loose cellulose and several types of rigid foam in roofs and around doors and windows. In solid log systems, the logs themselves provide the wall insulation.

Kiln Dried-logs

controlled heat and humidity conditions it help artificially dry out the logs ultimately reducing the effects of shrinking, checking and warping of the logs when used later in construction.

Log Grading

Evaluation of logs according to a set of specific standards developed to ensure safe and sound construction. In the log home industry, grading is according to standards provided by the Log Home Council of the National Association of Home Builders or a third party, private timber inspection firm. It is important to note that grading standards refer to the structural characteristics of logs and not their appearance. Characteristics such as knots and checks usually have no effect on the log’s grade. Graded logs are usually stamped or marked by the grader in a specific location and delivered along with a certificate of inspection.

Log Package

The materials and services necessary to provide at least the log wall system of a log home. Most log packages offered by manufacturers are much more extensive, including materials necessary for a weather tight or complete structural shell. Services include the preparation of blueprints and materials lists. Construction services are rarely included in log packages offered by manufacturers. Handcrafters may include erection labor or supervision of log erection in their packages.

Log Profile

The cross-sectional shape of a log. Manufacturers mill logs to a variety of profiles such as ‘D’, round , beveled or flat. Some manufacturers may have their own unique profiles and names. The log profile—combined with the sealants and fasteners used to secure the logs—forms the manufacturer’s log system. Because a profile may be unique, it can be risky to use one manufacturer’s profile and another’s sealant and fasteners.

Log Shell

Generally, the basic structure of a log home consisting of at least the log walls. Log shell can also refer to the entire outer structure of a log home consisting of sub-floor system, log wall system, second-story floor system and roof system. To a log home provider, ‘log shell’ may refer only to the components, or it may refer to the final structure once the components are constructed. Because the term can have several meanings, it is very important to have the log provider define the term.

Log Siding

Log siding is often milled from dimensional lumber stock and may be used to cover dormers or garages. Also used to give a log appearance inside or outside conventionally framed homes.

Milled logs

Milled is the term for logs that are milled or cut by a machine to a uniform diameters as well as style. This is opposed to handcrafted logs that are normally cut, shaped and fitted by hand. Milled logs are the most common method of log home building today. Modern milling equipment provides logs of uniform size in a wide variety of profiles. These uniform logs shapes allow for very tight fitting logs and a variety of finishing techniques.

Moisture Content

The amount of water contained within wood, usually expressed as the percentage weight of water relative to the over-dry weight of the wood. Water contained within the wood may be ‘free water’ found between wood cells or ‘bound water’ found within the cell walls. Drying of wood does not result in significant shrinkage until all free water has been removed. The point at which no free water remains and shrinkage begins is known as the fiber saturation point (FSP), which occurs at about 28 percent moisture content.


North Eastern Lumber Manufacturer's Association

Pre-cut Logs

Logs that have been cut by the provider to fit into a specific location in a log wall. Precut logs are numbered and accompanied by a diagram that shows the location of each log in the wall.


A chemical applied to logs or timbers to protect them from decay and the effects of weathering. Preservatives may contain a mixture of chemicals designed to protect against different threats such a mold, mildew or ultraviolet light.


Profiles are the various milled shapes of the logs when looking at a cross-section of the log. For example a flat/round log is flat on three sides and rounded on the fourth side. See our profile sheet for other styles.


A measure of a material’s resistance to the flow of heat. R-value is a laboratory measurement based on the constant temperatures on both sides of a material. However, it does not reflect the fluctuating conditions that face the insulating materials in actual use, nor does it include the effect of thermal mass on energy efficiency.