Cordwood Construction

Cordwood sheds and cabins; sometimes known as Stackwall, Stovewood, Firewood or Cordwood Masonry.

How Cordwood Construction Works

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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. Cabin by Rob Roy. Image by Pseu (Sioux) / Flickr.


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A two to three foot overhang (eave) is often recommended when cob or lime putty mortar is used in place of a cement mortar. Typically the logs are not coated with a moisture barrier, but are allowed to breath naturally. By Tony Wrench at Green Hamlet in Pupki, Poland. More information is available at That Roundhouse.

Amazing Cordwood Construction Around The World: Cordwood Sheds

Thatched-Roof Shed

Whimsical Thatched Potting Shed with Rabbit Hutch on Side

Cordwood Shed with a thatched roof. An overview by the builders is available on their website, roofthatch.com.

Cordwood On Decatur Island

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Gail and Mark Dupar’s cordwood shed on Decatur Island in Washington’s San Juans. Image: John Granen, Kathleen Brenzel, drummondhouseplans.com


Stacked Cordwood

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Piet Hein Eek for Hans Liberg, pietheineek.nl. Go to their website for more information.

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Another view of this cordwood shed. This photograph shows how the designers have used cordwood on the window covers as well. Piet Hein Eek for Hans Liberg, pietheineek.nl.

Cordwood Queen

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By Netonia Yalta, the Cordwood Queen of the Queen Charlotte Islands, BC, daycreek.com. Additional information about cordwood is available on Daycreek’s website.

Tool Shed

#cordwood #naturalbuilding #toolshed

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Cordwood is great for building a shed in the backyard. If you use cordwood, the smaller building pieces mean you have many customization options available.

Earthwood Building School

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Stoneview at Earthwood Building School. Cordwoodmasonry.com has more information about building with cordwood.

Cordwood On The Appalachian Trail

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Cordwood half timber on the Appalachian Trail. Image by Philip Shirk, originally provided at “picasaweb.google .com/lh/photo/0EqkiUqHyZEEq-6ydfCelg.”

The Pole Shed

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Cordwood Pole Shed at Treehaven. The wood shingles compliment the overall rustic feel of this shed. Daycreek.com provides more information on their website.

Shed From Ireland

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Irish Cottage Shed in a garden show. This photo, and more, can be found at daycreek.com.

Georgeson Botanical Garden

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Cordwood shed at Georgeson Botanical Garden, Alaska.

Basic Shed

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Cordwood shed by Dana. Workshops on how to make cordwood structures, along with this image, are available at daycreek.com.

Beginning Construction

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Cordwood Shed by Tom Huber at Paul Smith’s College, NY. Visit daycreek.com for additional information on constructing a cordwood structure.

Cordwood Tiny Home

#dreamhome #tinyhomes #cordwood #functionalart #inspiration #novascotia

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This tiny house owner used cordwood to build their home. Using the different shades of wood, they created a beautiful design around their home.

Cellulose Enhanced Mortar

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Cordwood Shed by Tom Huber – CEM Cellulose Enhanced Mortar was used for this project. Go to daycreek.com for additional information.

Kentucky Cordwood Shed

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Cordwood shed by Homegrown in Kentucky. This photo was originally found at “homegrownhideaways. org/naturalbuilding.aspx.”

Amazing Cordwood Construction Around The World: Cordwood Workshops

Workshop With A Living Roof

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Straw bale and cordwood workshop in eastern France with (a gorgeous) living roof by Thierry Dronet. Image by Catherine Wanek, shelterpub.com.

Cordwood In Ontario

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Cordwood workshop in Ontario built by John Ötvös in 1973. This photo was found at “greenerbuilding. ca.”

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Cordwood workshop in Ontario built by John Ötvös in 1973. Originally, this photo was found at “greenerbuilding. ca.”

Amazing Cordwood Construction Around The World: Cordwood Saunas

Inside A Cordwood Sauna

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Cordwood masonary sauna. West Chazy, NY. Additional information is available at cordwoodmasonry.com.

Small And Simple

#cordwoodsauna #kubbhus #kubbhusbastu #kubb #cordwood

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The decorative cordwood pieces add a touch of class to this sauna.

Polish Cordwood Sauna

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Cordwood sauna by Organica, Poland. Feel free to visit organica.net.pl for more inspiration.

Cordwood Masonry

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Cordwood masonary sauna. West Chazy, NY. More examples are available at cordwoodmasonry.com.

Earthen Design

Cordwood Sauna

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Sauna by Rena Upitas, Ontario, renaupitis.com. Visit their website for additional information on this project.

Shed From Cordwood

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Cordwood shed by Camaria. Daycreek.com provides more examples on their website.

Covered Addition

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Maple Sugar Shack Shed built at a Richard & Becky Flatau workshop. The workshops are available at daycreek.com.

Sauna With A Bench

#cordwood #cordwoodsauna #kubb #kubbhus #kubbhusbastu #motorsåg #chainsaw #stihl #sauna #bastu #bastulav

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The wooden bench is a great addition to this cordwood sauna.

Green Roof

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Green Roof by Wildwood Landscapes, www.wildroof.co.uk. Their website provides a deeper look into other projects.

Italian Shed

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Cordwood Shed. Pellizzano, Val di Sole, Trentino, Italy. Photo: Marvin 345. Via: Avantgardens.org.

Amazing Cordwood Construction Around The World: Cordwood Cabins and Houses

Cordwood Hobbit House

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Hobbit House with living roof by Rena Upitas, Ontario. The living roof provides insulation to the house, which is used by guests. Additional work can be seen at renaupitis.com.

Rustic Cabin

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John Meilahn’s cabin, Copper Harbor, Michigan. The flowers soften the sterile appearance of the mortar used in constructing this cordwood cabin. Cordwood Construction / Facebook.

Modern Cordwood

The uniformity of the cordwood makes this cabin look like it’s made from brick, rather than wood.

Sojourn Cabin

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Sojourn Cabin from sojourningboston.blogspot.com. More cabins can be seen on their website.

Using Large Cordwood

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Cordwood Cabin by Rob Roy from his ‘The Sauna, A Complete Guide’: books.google.com.

Writer’s Getaway

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Olle Hagman built this writer’s cabin in Sweden as a get away from his teaching job. He wrote two articles for the Cordwood Conference Papers 2011: A Social History of Cordwood Houses in Sweden and Norwegian Cordwood Wall Technique. For more information and more pictures see: Cordwood Construction.

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Backside of above cabin. Ole Hagman has documented 150 cordwood homes that have been built in Sweden since the 1850s. Ole built this cabin while he was learning and researching cordwood. Cordwood Construction has more examples available on their website.

Cabin From Colorado

Cordwood Cabin #dadscabin #gunnisonriver #colorado#cordwood

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Cordwood is a great material for building. This rustic looking cordwood cabin is a perfect get away.

Cordwood In Brazil

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Ecocentro IPEC, Brazil, ecocentro.org. The EcoCentro IPEC has more information about living a greener life on their website. Photo: Felipe Gil / Flickr.

Cordwood Construction Around the World: Cordwood Everything

Decorative Shed

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Garden shed/chicken coop by Netonia Yalta in British Columbia, Canada. Cordwood Construction / Facebook.

Cordwood Flooring

A cordwood project doesn’t have to include a wall. This floor is a great example of using cordwood for other parts of the home.

Classroom In The Forest

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Woodland classroom with fireplace wall by Ben Law. Cordwood masonry is easy, economical, aesthetically striking, energy-efficient, and environmentally sound. Originally, this photo was found at “permaculturemagazineeditorial.blogspot. com/2010_09_01_archive.html.”

Glass And Cordwood

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Special Effects at Mushwood by Rob Roy. The light shines through the glass, illuminating the wall in brilliant colors. More designs can be found at daycreek.com.

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This creation is part of Rob Roy’s “Easter Island Wall.” He uses glass, wood, and mortar to bring this wall to life.

Cordwood Owl

#Cordwood #owl centre piece built in a day and looking magic. #volunteer #build #roundhouse #sustainability

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Don’t forget to have fun building your cordwood structure, unique wood pieces can be transformed into a work of art.

Solar Springs Lodge

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Solar Springs Lodge, permacultureglobal.com. Visit their website for more information about this project.

The Spinning Wheel

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Cordwood siding depicting a spinning wheel by Bob Gormley, Starwood Store, Backus, MN. Bob painted the back plywood with a durable exterior grade paint. He then marked the 1.5 inch thick cordwood discs in place, then drilled 2 or 3 small holes in the plywood. Then he would hold the disc back in place and have someone screw it from the inside. Other inspirational works of art can be found at daycreek.com.

Solar Flare

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Cordwood wall in British Columbia. Additional information and photographs of cordwood pieces can be found on daycreek.com.

Mermaid Cottage

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Mermaid Cordwood Cottage in Del Norte, Colorado. Go to Cordwood Construction’s website for additional information.

How To Do Cordwood Construction

Mortar Mix Possibilities For Cordwood Construction

  • Lime putty mortar—lime makes the mix plastic—dates back to 400 BC: Pure lime and sand; or 9 parts sand; 3 soaked sawdust; 2 Portland; and 3 hydrated lime –
  • Papercrete (paper enhanced mortar)
  • Cob mix (1 part clay, 4 parts sand mixed with straw and more…)

Insulation For Cordwood Construction

  • Sawdust has an insulative value of about R-3 per inch (add hydrated lime as a preservative).
  • Vermiculite and Perlite are also good insulators.

Wood Types for Cordwood Construction

  • Softwoods are best. Cedar has a good R-value (1.5 per inch) and is naturally decay resistant. The best softwoods: white cedar, white pine, cottonwood, poplar, red cedar, spruce or larch followed by hemlock and poplar.
  • Hardwoods have a tendency to swell and crack mortar joints. If all you have is hardwood, you must split the wood and let it dry for only months instead of years, otherwise it will expand in the wall.
  • For a 32′ x 36′ one story structure, you need approx 5 cords of cedar wood.

Cordwood Construction Resources

Cordwood Construction Workshops

The Best Cordwood Construction Books

Cordwood Building: The State of the Art, Rob Roy (Editor)
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. Information about what species of wood are best, how to select, prepare and store the wood.

Complete Book Of Cordwood Masonry Housebuilding: The Earthwood Method by Rob Roy

Cordwood Construction Best Practices by Richard Flatau

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Author: Keiren

Keiren is an artist who lives in New York City. A lover of animals, nature, science & green building.

Comments
  1. Ok guys sorry for the raw comments. In my oiinpon depending on where you live the best cord wood to use for your structure would surely be what is native around you and available free or for the work of getting it. If you live in Florida cypress wood is best or long leaf yellow heart pine. If you are from the north locust is best. if you are from the west say northern california redwood. All of these woods resist rot and fungus naturally. If you have to use soft woods you can treat it with non toxic anti freeze,borax and boric acid mixture and saturate the wood with it once a year and prevent fungus and dry rot and as a bonus it will kill termites as well. To make the solution you will use one gallon of nontoxic RV antifreeze, one pound of borax (20 mule team type) and one pound of boric acid. I have found that walmart has this roach pruf stuff for killing roaches(99% pure boric acid)for 3 bucks a bottle, powder form. In a bucket mix it all together till disolved and spray on wood till it runs off I usually go over the area twice..This stuff works..Do the research for your self if you like..Big Al

  2. Shortly after my husband & I were married & visiting his ma in the northwoods (WI) he took me to a cordwood house. I’ve loved it then, & love it now.

    Thinking it would be great for lower area of the barn I’m hoping to build.

    I assume weaving some conduit into the walls while building would add electricity

  3. I live in georgia and I am intersteded in building a cob house!

    The thing that wories me is legalalty of building one.

    do you know what pirmits needed?

    Thank You

    Zane Clark

  4. Mis saludos y cordiales felicitaciones, a quienes propician este tipo de construcción, que a mi parecer son originales, ecologicas, limpias, acogedoras, económicas y respetuosas con el planeta.Quisiera me sugieriesen algunos libros que hayan sido escritos en castellano o algun material en el que me pueda ilustrar más sobre este tipo de construccion.

    Atentamente

    Osmar Escobar

  5. Mis saludos y cordiales felicitaciones, a quienes propician este tipo de construcción, que a mi parecer son originales, ecologicas, limpias, acogedoras, económicas y respetuosas con el planeta.Quisiera me sugieriesen algunos libros que hayan sido escritos en castellano o algun material en el que me pueda ilustrar más sobre este tipo de construccion.

    Atentamente

    Osmar Escobar

  6. Cordwood sheds are the most cost effective and classy single storey structures for wooden homes or cabins. These cordwood sheds depict traditional as well as modern looks and are used for hobbies, storage or a workshop.

    ttp://www.poulter.com.au/sheds/default.aspx

  7. Just a note to thank you for the inspiration.

    Have lived in Fairbanks for 40+ years so using wood in creative ways is dear to my 74 year old heart. Thanks for your work, creativity and imagination appreciation.

  8. Hello, My Husband and I have been discussing building a house using Cob and low-impact materials and techniques. We have been doing quite a bit of research online however we have failed to find any information that pertains to our uniqe environment and climate structure. We live deep in the Alaskan interior, about 20 miles north of Denali National Park. We only have about 5 months out of the year that we would be able to avoid freezing(32F or below) and most of the year temps are well below 0 degrees(F). We were wondering if a cob structure would be able to avoid cracking or altogether crumbling in prolonged subarctic extremes and if you by chance could put us in touch with anyone who has built with cob in alaska or similar lattitudes(63 N or higher). Any information or general advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

  9. Hi there Aidee,

    I think cob might give you a difficult time up there.

    Here is a forum that has many cob experts to answer your questions: permies.com/forums/f-76/cob

    Cordwood or strawbale might be a better choice.

    Check out the Permies site.

    Best! Good Luck!

  10. I built a log cabin in the 70’s and helped a friend build a cordwood home in the mid 80’s. Rob Roys Logend Homes book was one we bought back then. Nice to see he is still active. Website looks good. So many really beautiful structures. Gotta do another one before I get too old.

  11. Pingback: Stacking Firewood • Nifty Homestead

  12. Pingback: Stacking Firewood • Nifty Homestead

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