Staining Logs

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1st coat done, except for a few spots here

It’s been a lot of work getting to this point where we can stain the logs. About 9 months. Why has it taken so long? So many reasons, that I guess I should start at the end of the last major milestone- the roof.

Summary: June 2019 – March 2020

I got the roof on June 2019. I had promised myself and my wife that I would finally get that truck working and install the new motor. So I took a month off from the cabin and worked on the truck- replacing parts as I went. I got it running by August, but then my son’s car needed a new motor. So I worked on that for a couple weeks. Then my truck’s new motor blew a head gasket. Wha??? So I tore it apart – and found the company I bought it from (on Ebay) had gone out of business. Grr. They didn’t torque the head bolts correctly- a few of them came right out – no breaker bar necessary- weren’t even tight. What else did they do wrong? So I carefully went through and replaced everything I could find that wasn’t right. Had to wait for the machine shop to surface the heads, make some of my own parts (like a belt tensioner bracket that you can’t buy for some reason) etc. So that took another couple weeks.

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Lil’ Red lives!

Pressure washing, buffing, filling holes, caulking, sanding, and gutters:

Meanwhile, at the cabin, in between waiting for parts for the truck, we had decided to pressure wash the whole thing and apply the last treatment of borate. I mixed up 7 gallons and sprayed liberally. Pressure washing created fuzz, so I went back and buffed that; then filling in the bee holes- at least a month to fill with caulk and then go back and top off with wood filler. Then another month to sand off the filler – and while sanding, I decided to just go ahead and do a good job on the outside, and a really good job on the inside.

Once we got into the new year, it started raining. It rained almost every day from January through February. For almost 6 weeks, we never had more than one day without rain. Broke some records. I worked on sanding and filling in holes on the inside when it rained, and the outside when it wasn’t raining. Water was still splashing up on the lower logs on the East and West sides. I thought a porch was the answer, but it wouldn’t stop raining enough to pour concrete, so I changed plans and decided on gutters. When we finally got more than one day without rain, I got one side installed.  Some LHBA folks hate gutters. I guess it doesn’t rain where they live? But here, the rain was so heavy at times that it would splash up from the ground and onto the bottom layer of logs. Once the gutter was installed, the logs stayed almost completely dry, and were almost ready for stain. But first-

Stopping the bees

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Stopping the bees was our biggest concern. I researched eliminating them and came up with a planned approach:

  • fill in the bee holes (they are apparently “lazy bees” – they don’t like to drill new holes)
  • build traps (they are apparently kinda dumb, too)
  • treat and stain the logs (they don’t like preserved wood – they are picky)

Bee season begins this month- if it ever warms up. The holes are filled in and I have a lot of bee traps. Last coat of stain is almost complete – just have a section on the North side to work on. I’ve seen a few carpenter bees, and one new hole on a rafter where I think I missed applying some stain. There are some smaller carpenter-like bees that I haven’t been able to identify – but I am fighting them off- I’ll build some smaller traps for them in the next few days, and haven’t seen them building many nests- maybe one or two where I haven’t stained. Working like mad to try and get the thing stained before the heat / bee season is fully upon us. We’ve had several cold fronts come through this month, so it’s a strange year where it won’t warm up, but this is buying us some time.

Finally, the stain

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I like the stain. it is a water-based stain made by Sashco called “Capture”. The color is “natural”. I bought it from Katie & Meredith at Pioneer Log Systems in Tennessee. They have been really great with their service. We wanted to keep the logs as light in color as possible. It goes on thick and heavy for the first coat. For the second coat, I tried for thick and heavy as well, but it can only take so much. Anyway, the second coat dries to a very elastic and tough looking coating. I didn’t like the look at first, but it is growing on me.

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Left: no stain. Right: after one coat. 

It ties all the logs together, colorwise. I do like how light the color is- we wanted to keep it as close to natural as possible. And it doesn’t give off much vapor- very easy to work with and water clean up. We are just using 4″ brushes. It’s been suggested to spray it on, and then brush it in, but I think I would just waste stain because of the large gaps in my logs.

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I don’t think she’ll ever finish…. 🙂

So far, it is covering almost as advertised – even though I have a lot of knots. I went ahead and bought just one more bucket (total of seven, at $300 each. yeah- ouch). Sashco said it would take about 1 bucket to provide 2 coats of stain on about 800 sq ft of logs, which is one wall on my house. My walls are about 40′ wide x 20′ tall, so I calculated about 4 buckets total for both coats – one for each wall.  I think the knots have added at least one bucket so far to the mess, as well as the large surface area caused by large logs.

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sanding fascia boards…with my 40′ ladder.

I stained the fascia boards on the front of the roof- thinking that I didn’t need to sand them first. Nope. So I sanded the stain off and re-did them. Much better (see pic) – it ties in well with the logs.

And it seems to be keeping the bees away- I’ve only found three in my traps so far. A few have been buzzing around, and I quickly dispatched them with our “Made in the U.S.A.” flyswatter – it is a heavy duty swatter – not quite big enough to take care of a bear, but plenty for bees.

I also bought a taller ladder – I thought I could get by with a 24′ ladder, but I finally woke up and realized I can’t reach the peak of the roof- and what if wasps decided to build a nest up there? I wouldn’t be able to reach them. Plus, I still need to sand the ridge pole and remove some bark. It’s 33′ up. The new 40′ ladder is scary, but solid. I don’t like using it, but it works. I made some of my own modifications to make it easier to handle (“easier” is relative).

Next steps

We’re working under a state-wide mandatory “stay at home” order during the Covid-19 outbreak….but they didn’t say which home! Joking aside, I read the order carefully- outdoor activities are acceptable as long as you remain six feet from other humans. Our tiny 3.5 acres allows us about 600 feet of distance, so I think we are better working there than we are cooped up in the city. And we’re not stopping anywhere – not even for fast food. And I have mixed feelings about the whole virus thing anyway. I think the virus is real, but the response to it is over the top. We’ll see if the powers that be pull another “post 9/11 freedom grab” on us or not. Back to the matter at hand….

With the stay at home order, only hardware and grocery and fast food stores are open for the most part. I worry that with all the funny money being injected into the economy, it won’t be long until prices begin to rise. I’ve already turned some of my cash into floor joists; later, I’ll turn the rest into lumber, subfloor, and etc.

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Bought some gravel for the driveway, and then once I had that ready, the gravel guy came back with more to shovel under the house. Got the vapor barrier installed, and most of the gravel is now under the house, just in time for the 100+ 2×12’s I got for the floor joists. I was going to do engineered I-joists, but if they get wet, they fall apart. And they are more expensive. After that, I’ll cut windows and doors, install the 2nd floor cants, and then close in the gable ends. Then insulate the cracks, and chink, and move onto finish the inside, which is the next big exciting part.

3 thoughts on “Staining Logs

  1. Wow, looking great! Awesome job! Would love a pic of your bee traps, though. Could use them around here. Not sure I agree with overkill re Covid. Daughter is first responder and this shit is scary and very contagious. Pretty sure we’ll all get it eventually! Stay safe and keep posting. I’m learning a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

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