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Posts Tagged ‘cordwood’


Demonstration wall showing cordwood stacked on earthbag bag foundation (click to enlarge)

Demonstration wall showing cordwood stacked on earthbag bag foundation (click to enlarge)


Demonstration wall showing cordwood stacked on earthbag bag foundation (click to enlarge)

Demonstration wall showing cordwood stacked on earthbag bag foundation (click to enlarge)


There are a lot of little details you can search on the Internet. This is just a basic introductory video to show you the cordwood/earthbag concept. What I like to do is have the mortar recessed slightly. It looks a little better if the wood is protruding slightly. You smooth this out. The mix is very similar — it’s basically cob. You could also call it earthen mortar.

Here is my general impression of cordwood construction. It’s extremely beautiful. It’s very practical in certain areas where you have an abundant wood supply. But it’s very labor intensive. Earthbag is several times faster. So it’s very slow. What I would recommend for most people is maybe just use it around a doorway, an entryway, because it’s very beautiful. Maybe around your fireplace, something like this, because it’s very beautiful. You can search the Internet and see some really beautiful examples of cordwood construction.

You can watch almost 100 videos at Earthbag Natural Houses YouTube channel. Each step of instruction, including how to make gravel bag foundations, is shown in detail.
Earthbag Instructable: steo-by-step earthbag building instructions

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Rob Roy’s earth-sheltered cordwood home

Rob Roy’s earth-sheltered cordwood home


“More than a third of the average American’s after-tax income is devoted to shelter, usually rent or mortgage payments. If a person works from age 20 to age 65, it can be fairly argued that he or she has put in 15 years (20 in California) just to keep a roof over their head. With a piece of land, six months’ work, and — say — $35,000, he (or she) and his family could have built his own home.

To save 14½ years of work, you cannot afford not to build, even if it means losing a job while you do it. Granted, the land (and the $35,000) has to come from somewhere, but this amount is no more (and probably no less) than the down payment on a mortgaged contractor-built home, and about half the cost of a new double-wide mobile home (figuring either option as being about the same square footage as an earth-sheltered home).

So… why don’t more people do it? Is it really worth giving up 15+ years of your life (and I’d say for many people, more) to pay off the house you live in just to save yourself the effort of having to do it yourself? Surely it can’t be that a life of 9-to-5 indentured servitude is so wonderful that one can’t give up a summer or three building a house like the one above, which I believe came in at about $20,000… And with an increasing percentage of people defaulting on their mortgages and losing all of those years, even on a risk management level it seems completely nonsensical.”

Source: I Need More Life

“An earth-sheltered, earth-roofed home has the least impact upon the land of all housing styles, leaving almost zero footprint on the planet.

Earth-Sheltered Houses is a practical guide for those who want to build their own underground home at moderate cost. It describes the benefits of sheltering a home with earth, including the added comfort and energy efficiency from the moderating influence of the earth on the home’s temperature (keeping it warm in the winter and cool in the summer), along with the benefits of low maintenance and the protection against fire, sound, earthquake, and storm afforded by the earth. Extra benefits from adding an earth or other living roof option include greater longevity of the roof substrate, fine aesthetics, and environmental harmony.”
Earth-Sheltered Houses by Rob Roy

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Cordwood Pole Shed at Treehaven

Cordwood Pole Shed at Treehaven


Sojourn Cabin at Sojourning Boston blog

Sojourn Cabin at Sojourning Boston blog


Here are the best cordwood photo galleries I could find. They include good basic info and links to other cordwood resources. Enjoy.

“Also known as Stackwall, Stovewood, Firewood or Cordwood Masonry. Short lengths of debarked trees (cordwood) are laid with a mixture of mortar and insulating materials – such as sawdust or spray foam – in between the mortar. The longer the length of the logs, the better the insulation qualities. 12 inches to 18 inches is most common and wood species will also determine insulating value. On average, a 12 inch wide wall will have a 20-25 R value.”

Source: Inspiration Green.com Cordwood Construction
Source: Inspiration Green.com Cordwod Homes
Image source: Cordwood Pole Shed at Treehaven
Image source: Sojourn Cabin
Image source: Masonry Design blog

Cordwood Building: The State of the Art by Rob Roy
“Cordwood masonry is an ancient building technique whereby walls are constructed from “log ends” laid transversely in the wall. It is easy, economical, aesthetically striking, energy-efficient, and environmentally sound.

Cordwood Building collects the wisdom of more than 25 of the world’s best practitioners, detailing the long history of the method, and demonstrating how to build a cordwood home using the latest and most up-to-date techniques, with a special focus on building code issues.

Author/editor Rob Roy has been building, researching, and teaching about cordwood masonry for 25 years and, with his wife, started Earthwood Building School in 1981. He has written 10 books on alternative building, presented four videos—including two about cordwood masonry—and has taught cordwood masonry all over the world.

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Log end tile flooring

Log end tile flooring


Heart pine log end flooring

Heart pine log end flooring


Log end floor made with custom fit 2” thick slabs

Log end floor made with custom fit 2” thick slabs


End grain hardwood flooring is known for it’s unique grain patterns and superior hardness

End grain hardwood flooring is known for it’s unique grain patterns and superior hardness


End grain driftwood flooring

End grain driftwood flooring


Hexagonal end grain wood flooring

Hexagonal end grain wood flooring


Historic end grain cobblestone

Historic end grain cobblestone


Reclaimed log end wood tile flooring

Reclaimed log end wood tile flooring


I’ve assembled some of the best photos I could find on log end flooring. This type of flooring is made with end grain (with the wood grain oriented vertically). Log end or end grain flooring has been used for centuries in palaces, luxury homes and high traffic areas because of its beauty and durability. End grain is harder than long grain (horizontal grain) and that’s why it is used on professional quality chopping blocks and top quality flooring.

“Residential real estate agents say homes with wood floors hold their value better, sell faster, and fetch higher prices, according to a recent nationwide survey commissioned by the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA). By a three-to-one margin, real estate agents said that a house with wood floors would sell faster than a carpeted house. Some 58 percent said a house with wood floors would bring a higher price. Health benefits are also a factor for those considering hardwood flooring. Whereas carpets over the years gather mildew, mites, animal dander, dust and pollen beneath the surface that can cause respiratory problems and aggravate allergies, hardwood flooring has a very durable surface that is easy to clean and maintain. Properly maintained hardwood floors are extremely resistant to mildew and the other ails of carpets. Hardwood and laminated wood floors are the smart and healthy choice.

Hardwood flooring is always made up of a real hardwood surface, whether it’s solid or engineered hardwood. The result is a natural, real hardwood floor that can be resanded, stained, and varnished to match your tastes and changes in your decor. If it’s well cared for, it will last nearly forever. A solid hardwood floor can be sanded and refinished several times over many, many years.”

Source: Hardwood Flooring
Image source 1 and 2: Heart Pine.com
Image source: Signature Floors.com
Image source: Hardwood Flooring
Image source: Materialicious
Image source: Wood Flooring Trends.com
Image source: Flickr
Image source: Revival Flooring

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Cordwood and earthbag structure

Cordwood and earthbag structure


“Educational Facility and Eco-Retreat
Natural Building varies based on climate, ecology, and geology of the region. Not all methods are appropriate for all locations. Here in the mid-southeast, we have a plethora of materials that we can put to work to create beautiful, healthy, and comfortable buildings that have much less environmental impact than other building methods.

Earthbag construction is a method of building a strong, earth-based structure consisting of subsoil compressed into poly-propylene bags and stacked in a running bond, similar to bricks. Bags are then plastered to prevent degradation from sunlight.”

[They go on to discuss straw-bale building, cordwood, straw/clay, cob, timberframe and other sustainable building methods.]

Source: Homegrown Hideaways

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Dining room area with cordwood, cob bench, dining room wall, plastered stove pipe, and stone work around the base of the masonry stove.

Dining room area with cordwood, cob bench, dining room wall, plastered stove pipe, and stone work around the base of the masonry stove.


Cordwood next to stone

Cordwood next to stone


Nice cordwood design

Nice cordwood design


Cordwood building is practical where there’s sufficient supply of rot resistant wood. Most areas don’t have an adequate supply of wood like this available, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and use cordwood in small areas. If all the walls are plastered, it gets a little boring. Cordwood, stone and bottles add some nice contrast. The photos above show a few examples of what’s possible. Details like this cost next to nothing.

Image source: Straw Bale at Rolling Ridge
Image source: Flikr.com
Image source: Kimberley Travel Deals
Previous blog post: Cordwood/Log End Detailing

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The corners are stacked like a self supported firewood pile.

The corners are stacked like a self supported firewood pile.


Smooth the surface of the cob with bent butter knives.

Smooth the surface of the cob with bent butter knives.


The other day I posted about the Hobbit House Shed that sent droves of readers to our site. We haven’t talk much about cordwood, so I thought you’d be interested in The Little Cordwood Barn – a cordwood/earthbag structure at A Homestead Daughter Blog.

“Hey Everybody! Popping in with some pictures to share of the cordwood barn we’re building. We built a floating foundation with rammed tires and tamped earthbags. Then we stuccoed over them with cement. And now we’re doing the cordwood! Yay. It’s so fun to be back to playing in the mud. Some of you know we built our house this way, and it was sooo much fun. I love building with these natural, free materials. I can imagine the boy Jesus and his parents working to build a dwelling the same way, with the adobe. I bet He loved doing it too.

We’re building this one load bearing, which means the cordwood will be supporting the roof. The corners are stacked like a self supported firewood pile. Theresa and Annie are our official pointers. Their job is to come back after we’ve finished laying a section of wall and smooth the surface of the cob with bent butter knives. They are very efficient at their job, let me tell you! I can’t hold a candle to their talent for pointing.”

Source: A Homestead Daughter
Rob Roy’s Earthwood Home
Note: It’s not necessary to put tires under the earthbags. It’s faster and easier to use all earthbags. Search our blog for extensive details on earthbag foundations/gravel bag foundations. The preferred technique is to fill poly bags, doubled bagged for strength, with gravel. You can also make insulated foundations with lightweight volcanic gravel such as scoria or pumice in cold climates.

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