Angels Log Homes Inc. (780) 686-1685
Building a healthier world.

Modern Log Construction

What should you look for in a good log? Here's what we expect from our logs:

  • 10" top size minimum (length varies
  • Straight taper: 1" per 10 feet of log (this is how quickly the log narrows down over a certain distance)
  • sweep: reasonable (this is how much the log bends naturally when at rest)
  • no machine/bug/rot damage (machine damage can occur during harvest, or if the operators use the treads on a bulldozer or cat to rip/crush the bark off of the log during winter months, when the whole tree is more brittle)
  • newly harvested (can control checking, and reduce/eliminate bug and fungicidal damage, as well as UV damage, by applying a "yard guard")
  • Fresh is Best. If you leave the logs laying on the ground with their bark on for even a month you can see rot and insect damage set in. Logs that have had their bark "rough-peeled", and are then raised off the ground on "decks" (other logs), so that they are not in contact with the earth, will still be in good condition after a year.

Many builders use log-tongs to move logs. These leave holes in logs: we don't believe in marring the beauty of your logs this way.

Basic Styles of Handcrafted Log Homes: Finish options for log houses built by Angels Log Homes Inc:


  1. Saddlenotch: a.k.a. Norwegian, or Scandinavian, or even Canadian notch
  2. Dovetail Notch
  3. Round notch

Log walls themselves can be finished as (face options):
  1. Round
  2. Flat, two-side
  3. Square
  4. Fully Scribed (meaning one is carefully cut to fit precisely on top of the other)
  5. Chinker (One where the logs do not fit on top of each other, and the gap is filled with chink - more on that later)
  6. Piece-on-Piece (post and beam construction with log infill)

All log homes settle over time. Modern log home technology uses a method that works with the gravity and settling of logs. This involves scribing, where a lateral groove is cut into the bottom of a log, allowing it to fit snugly around the log below. Insulating between the notches and lateral grooves reduces the risk of cold drafts significantly. Complex practices of framing interior walls, window and door trims take the future movement of the logs into account.

Timber frame construction differs from log home design. Logs are used to frame the house (interior beams are generally left exposed, for aesthetics), but structural insulated panels (SIPs) are used to envelope the building. This could be siding or stucco finish.

What's inside of a log? Logs move. They move independently of each other, shrink, swell, twist, bow. They are going to move. For that movement, the best solution is a gasket between logwork. The best gasket we know of is called EMSEAL- a high tech sealant tape that expands and contracts with logs. Because logs move in 3D with respect to each other, a gasket with little or no memory is useless. And if you are using polystyrene rod, UV exposure will cause it to disintegrate over time. Finally, EMSEAL can be attached to both the upper and lower logs. No other gasket has that ability, which gives you a truly functional seal that takes the natural properties of the logs into account.

Here you can see a notch in a log, lined with the sheep's wool insulation we recommend, as well as the EMSEAL gasket in place around the edge.

WHY USE EMSEAL LOG HOME SEALANT tape? (No, we do not get finder's fees!)

  • Permanent elasticity/memory allows it to adjust to the shrinking and settling natural to log construction
  • It expands to fill all contours
  • EMSEAL provides a weather tight seal and thermally insulates over extreme temperature ranges
  • Does not dry out, become brittle or crack
  • Unlike putty-type (butyl) and liquid sealants which squeeze-out under compression, EMSEAL compresses into itself and remains in place.
  • Resistant to ultraviolet light and ozone
  • Does not cause "log-float" (suspension of logs by airfilled cells of closed-cell gaskets)
  • Highly resistant to vermin (bugs, rodents, birds, etc.)
  • No ozone-depleting chemicals used in manufacturing and contains no volatile organic compounds (V.O.C.'s)


Why chink? It is a form of caulking. In the good old days, pioneers built their cabins without scribing. This meant their cabins required chinking. The gaps between logs would be packed with anything that might possibly keep wind, rain, snow, rodents, insects, and hopefully curious neighbours out. It might have been mud, animal dung, straw, clay, leaves, moss, small sticks or stones, or all of the above - anything that would fill the gap and keep out the wind. Fortunately we have advanced a bit and today's products come in a wide range of colours and a lot more function. Today, quality chinking consists of polystyrene backer rod, with high tech caulking, and/or products like EMSEAL, that provide top quality gaskets that move with your logs.

Chinking is applied in three possible ways:

  • Spatula it on
  • Use a gun and tube (like silicone caulking)
  • A system with an electric pump that pumps it through hoses and a gun.

In a chinked house, the logs are not scribed on the laterals - only at the notch. The space between the logs is filled with insulation, and chinked inside and out. The width of the chinking gap is determined by the width of the gap between the logs, which is a personal choice. Scribed logs can be chinked, but it will be a very narrow strip of chink.

So, you can have a scribe-fit log, with insulation in between the laterals and notches, and EMSEAL in the laterals, AND chinking, which can act as a backup if the logs separate beyond the expansion potential of the EMSEAL. Very energy efficient. Also keeps out the flies.

Pros and Cons: EMSEAL and Chinking

EMSEAL Chinking
Cheaper to instal Nearly 20 x the cost to install
Can hold water Won't hold water
Slightly lower insulative value Slightly higher insulative value
Added cost of scribing, cutting laterals and notches ($$$) No lateral cut

EMSEAL and Permachink chinking products can be found at Steel's

Insulation products we recommend (and use): Sheep's Wool Insulation

We use sheep's wool batting, not fibreglass, to insulate between lateral grooves and notches. This is safer for everyone, and environmentally friendly.

  1. Safe Choice - Wool insulation is a natural resource that is environmentally friendly.
  2. Flame Resistant Wool is naturally flame resistant and complies with the Australian Standards for flame resistance. When tested they found the following results:
    On a Scale of 0 to 10, 0 being the best:
    Ignitability 0
    Heat Evolved 0
    Spread of Flame 0
    Smoke Developed 1
  3. Superior Insulator - Research funded by the Wool Research Development Corporation has shown that wool is a better thermal insulator than other fibers under typical weather conditions because of its ability to absorb and desorb moisture from the air. It can help keep a building cool in summer and warm in winter. When outside temperatures increase the wool is heated and releases moisture which has a cooling affect on the fiber and the building. This may reduce temperatures by up to 7E °C. When outside temperatures decrease the wool absorbs moisture which can increase peak temperatures by as much as 4E °C.
  4. Natural Sound Block - Wool insulation absorbs sound and therefore reduces noise levels considerably.
  5. Healthy Alternative - Wool is non-carcinogenic and does not cause irritation of the skin, eyes or respiratory tract. It can be installed without the use of gloves or protective coating.
  6. Repels Pests - The additive used to make our wool fire resistant and to repel vermin and insects is Boron, a naturally occurring element found in the earth
  7. Recyclable - Our wool may be used for other environmentally friendly applications at the end of its useful life.
  8. Wool is also a very efficient absorber of indoor air pollutants. Research has shown that it can absorb and permanently retain high levels of formaldehyde, emitted from some common building materials and furniture and nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide, which are normal by-products of combustion processes (eg, gas stoves and heaters).


We use Roxul instead of fibreglass for insulation in walls and roofing systems, gable ends and dormer ends. Here's why: From the website

"Fire-Resistant: Roxul insulation offers a barrier that can delay the spread of fire and provide you and your family with precious extra minutes to escape. Its unique composition won't burn, or release toxic gases or smoke when exposed to high heat. And it can withstand temperatures of up to 2150°F (1177°C) - well above heat levels of typical house fires.

Water-Repellent: Roxul insulation actually repels water. As a result, even after exposure to water and moisture, Roxul won't slump in the wall cavity like that of many conventional batt insulation products. Nor does it affect the R-value that Roxul provides. Equally important, Roxul is also completely resistant to mold, mildew, rot and bacterial growth, which means a safer indoor environment for your home.

Made from Stone: Roxul insulation is created using a unique combination of stone and recycled slag - a by-product of steel production that would otherwise go to landfill. Its nondirectional fiber structure and higher density give it better dimensional stability and make it an effective barrier against noise."