Shacks, and Shanties
Hunter's cabin showing how projecting
logs may be
Shacks, and Shanties
D. C. BEARD
With Illustrations by the Author
Charles Scribner's Sons
Copyright, 1914, by
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
Published September, 1914
DANIEL BARTLETT BEARD
BECAUSE OF HIS
LOVE OF THE BIG OUTDOORS
As this book is written for boys of all ages, it has been
two general heads, "The Tomahawk Camps" and "The Axe Camps," that is,
camps which may be built with no tool but a hatchet, and camps that
need the aid of an axe.
The smallest boys can build some of the simple shelters and
the older boys
can build the more difficult ones. The reader may, if he likes, begin
the first of the book, build his way through it, and graduate by
the log houses; in doing this he will be closely following the history
the human race, because ever since our arboreal ancestors with
toes scampered among the branches of the pre-glacial forests and built
nestlike shelters in the trees, men have made themselves shacks for a
temporary refuge. But as one of the members of the Camp-Fire Club of
America, as one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America, and as
founder of the Boy Pioneers of America, it would not be proper for the
author to admit for one moment that there can be such a thing as a camp
without a camp-fire, and for that reason the tree folks and the
link" whose remains were[viii]
found in Java, and to whom the scientists gave
the awe-inspiring name of Pithecanthropus erectus, cannot be counted as
campers, because they did not know how to build a camp-fire;
we admit the ancient maker of stone implements, called eoliths, to be
of us, because he, too, knew not the joys of a camp-fire. But there was
another fellow, called the Neanderthal man, who lived in the ice age in
Europe and he had to be a camp-fire man or freeze! As far as we
was the first man to build a camp-fire. The cold weather made him
and hustling developed him. True, he did cook and eat his neighbors
in a while, and even split their bones for the marrow; but we will
that part and just remember him as the first camper in Europe.
Recently a pygmy skeleton was discovered near Los Angeles
which is claimed
to be about twenty thousand years old, but we do not know whether this
knew how to build a fire or not. We do know, however, that the American
camper was here on this continent when our Bible was yet an unfinished
manuscript and that he was building his fires, toasting his venison,
building "sheds" when the red-headed Eric settled in Greenland, when
Thorwald fought with the "Skraelings," and Biarni's dragon ship made
trip down the coast of Vineland about the dawn of the Christian era. We
also know that the American camper was here when Columbus with his
toy ships was blundering around the West Indies. We also know that the
American camper watched Henry Hudson steer the Half Moon around
Manhattan Island. It is this same American camper who has taught[ix] us to
build many of the shacks to be found in the following pages.
The shacks, sheds, shanties, and shelters described in the
are, all of them, similar to those used by the people on this continent
suggested by the ones in use and are typically American; and the
are suited to the arctics, the tropics, and temperate climes; also to
plains, the mountains, the desert, the bog, and even the water.
It seems to be natural and proper to follow the camp as it
grows until it
develops into a somewhat pretentious log house, but this book must not
considered as competing in any manner with professional architects. The
buildings here suggested require a woodsman more than an architect; the
work demands more the skill of the axeman than that of the carpenter
joiner. The log houses are supposed to be buildings which any real
man should be able to erect by himself and for himself. Many of the
buildings have already been built in many parts of the country by Boy
Pioneers and Boy Scouts.
This book is not intended as an encyclopedia or history of
architecture; the bureaus at Washington, and the Museum of Natural
History, are better equipped for that purpose than the author.
The boys will undoubtedly acquire a dexterity and skill in
shacks and shanties here described, which will be of lasting benefit to
them whether they acquire the skill by building camps "just for the fun
the thing" or in building them for the more practical purpose of
furnishing[x] shelter for overnight
pleasure hikes, for the wilderness
trail, or for permanent camps while living in the open.
It has been the writer's experience that the readers depend
more upon his
diagrams than they do upon the written matter in his books, and so in
book he has again attempted to make the diagrams self-explanatory. The
book was written in answer to requests by many people interested in the
Boy Scout movement and others interested in the general activities of
boys, and also in answer to the personal demands of hundreds of boys
The drawings are all original and many of them invented by the
himself and published here for the first time, for the purpose of
supplying all the boy readers, the Boy Scouts, and other older "boys,"
calling themselves Scoutmasters and sportsmen, with practical hints,
drawings, and descriptions showing how to build suitable shelters for
temporary or permanent camps.
Daniel Carter Beard.
Flushing, Long Island,
April 1, 1914.
||Where to Find Mountain
Goose. How to Pick and Use Its Feathers
||The Half-Cave Shelter
||How to Make the
Fallen-Tree Shelter and the Scout-Master
||How to Make the
Adirondack, the Wick-Up, the Bark Teepee, the Pioneer, and the Scout
||How to Make Beaver-Mat
Huts, or Fagot Shacks, without Injury to the Trees
||Indian Shacks and
||Birch Bark or Tar
||Indian Communal Houses
||Bark and Tar Paper
||A Sawed-Lumber Shanty
||A Sod House for the
||How to Build Elevated
Shacks, Shanties, and Shelters
||The Bog Ken
Lookout, and Rustic Observatory
||How to Use an Axe
||How to Split Logs,
Make Shakes, Splits, or Clapboards. How to Chop a Log in Half. How to
Flatten a Log. Also Some Don'ts
Barrel Shacks, and Chimehuevis
||The Navajo Hogan,
Hornaday Dugout, and Sod House
||How to Build an
American Boy's Hogan
||How to Cut and Notch
||Notched Log Ladders
||A Pole House. How to
Use a Cross-Cut Saw and a Froe
||Log-Rolling and Other
||The Adirondack Open
Log Camp and a One-Room Cabin
||The Northland Tilt and
Indian Log Tent
||How to Build the Red
Jacket, the New Brunswick, and the Christopher Gist
||Cabin Doors and
Door-Latches, Thumb-Latches and Foot Latches and How to Make Them
||How to Make the
Bow-Arrow Cabin Door and Latch and the Deming Twin Bolts, Hall, and
||The Aures Lock Latch
||The American Log Cabin
||A Hunter's or
||How to Make a Wyoming
Olebo, a Hoko River Olebo, a Shake Cabin, a Canadian Mossback, and a
Two-Pen or Southern Saddle-Bag House
||Native Names for the
Parts of a Kanuck Log Cabin, and How to Build One
||How to Make a Pole
House and How to Make a Unique but Thoroughly American Totem Log House
||How to Build a Susitna
Log Cabin and How to Cut Trees for the End Plates
||How to Make a
Fireplace and Chimney for a Simple Log Cabin
||More Hearths and
||Fireplaces and the Art
of Tending the Fire
||The Building of the
||How to Lay a Tar
Paper, Birch Bark, or Patent Roofing
||How to Make a
Concealed Log Cabin Inside of a Modern House
||How to Build
Appropriate Gateways for Grounds Enclosing Log Houses, Game Preserves,
Ranches, Big Country Estates, and Last but not Least Boy Scouts' Camp
Shacks, and Shanties
WHERE TO FIND MOUNTAIN GOOSE. HOW TO PICK AND USE ITS FEATHERS
It may be necessary for me to
remind the boys that they must use the
material at hand in building their shacks, shelters, sheds, and
and that they are very fortunate if their camp is located in a country
where the mountain goose is to be found.
The Mountain Goose
From Labrador down to the northwestern borders of New England
and New York
and from thence to southwestern Virginia, North Carolina, and
the woodsman and camper may make their beds from the feathers of the
"mountain goose." The mountain goose is also found inhabiting the
soil of Alaska and following the Pacific and the Rocky Mountains the
make their dwelling-place as far south as Guatemala. Consequently, the
Abies, or mountain goose, should be a familiar friend of all the scouts
who live in the mountainous country, north, south, east, and west.
I forgot to say that the mountain goose (Figs. 1 and 2) is not a bird but
a tree. It is humorously called a goose by the woodsmen because they
make their beds of its "feathers." It is the sapin of the
French-Canadians, the cho-kho-tung of the New York Indians, the
of the tenderfoot, the Christmas-tree of the little folk, and that
particular Coniferæ known by the dry-as-dust botanist as Abies.
nothing in nature which has a wilder, more sylvan and charming perfume
than the balsam, and the scout who has not slept in the woods on a
bed has a pleasure in store for him.
The leaves of the balsam are blunt or rounded at the ends and
some of them
are even dented or notched in place of being sharp-pointed. Each spine
leaf is a scant one inch in length and very flat; the upper part is
grooved and of a dark bluish-green color. The under-side is much
often almost silvery white. The balsam blossoms in April or May, and
fruit or cones stand upright on the branches. These vary from two to
inches in length. The balsam-trees are seldom large, not many of them
being over sixty feet high with trunks from one to less than three feet
through. The bark on the trunks is gray in color and marked with
horizontal rows of blisters. Each of these contains a small, sticky sap
like glycerine. Fig. 1 shows
the cone and leaves of one of the Southern
balsams known as the she-balsam, and Fig. 2 shows the celebrated
balsam-fir tree of the north country, cone and branch.
Fig. 1. Fig. 2. Fig. 3.
Fig. 4. Fig.
5. Fig. 6. Fig. 7.
Showing the use of the mountain goose.
The balsam bed is made of the small twigs of balsam-trees. In
these, collect twigs of different lengths, from eighteen inches long
be used as the foundation of the bed) to ten or twelve inches long (for
the top layer). If you want to rest well, do not economize on the
you gather; many a time I have had my bones ache as a result of being
tired to make my bed properly and attempting to sleep on a thin layer
If you attempt to chop off the boughs of balsam they will
effort by springing back and slapping you in the face. You can cut them
with your knife, but it is slow work and will blister your hands. Take
twig by twig with the thumb and fingers (the thumb on top, pointing
the tip of the bough, and the two forefingers underneath); press down
the thumb, and with a twist of the wrist you can snap the twigs like
pipe-stems. Fig. 3 shows two
views of the hands in a proper position to
snap off twigs easily and clean. The one at the left shows the hand as
would appear looking down upon it; the one at the right shows the view
you look at it from the side.
After collecting a handful of boughs, string them on a stick
have previously prepared (Fig. 4).
This stick should be of strong, green
hardwood, four or five feet long with a fork about six inches long left
it at the butt end to keep the boughs from sliding off, and sharpened
the upper end so that it can be easily poked through a handful of
String the boughs on this stick as you would string fish, but do it one
handful at a time, allowing the butts to point in different directions.
It is astonishing to see the amount of boughs you can carry when strung
a stick in this manner and thrown over your shoulder as in Fig. 5. If you
have a lash rope, place the boughs on a loop of the rope, as in Fig. 6,
then bring the two ends of the rope up through the loop and sling the
bundle on your back.
Clean Your Hands
When you have finished gathering the material for your bed
your hands will
be covered with a sticky sap, and, although they will be a sorry sight,
little lard or baking grease will soften the pitchy substance so that
may be washed off with soap and water.
How to Make Beds
To make your bed, spread a layer of the larger boughs on the
commence at the head and shingle them down to the foot so that the tips
point toward the head of the bed, overlapping the butts (Fig. 7). Continue
this until your mattress is thick enough to make a soft couch upon
you can sleep as comfortably as you do at home. Cover the couch with
blanket and use the bag containing your coat, extra clothes, and
for a pillow. Then if you do not sleep well, you must blame the cook.
If you should happen to be camping in a country destitute of
hemlock, or pine, you can make a good spring mattress by collecting
green branches of any sort of tree which is springy and elastic. Build
mattress as already described. On top of this put a thick layer of hay,
straw, or dry leaves or even green material, provided you have a rubber
blanket or poncho to cover the
latter. In Kentucky I have made a mattress
of this description and covered the branches with a thick layer of the
purple blossoms of ironweed; over this I spread a rubber army blanket
keep out the moisture from the green stuff and on top of this made my
with my other blankets. It was as comfortable a couch as I have ever
on; in fact, it was literally a bed of flowers.
THE HALF-CAVE SHELTER
The first object of a roof of any
kind is protection against the weather;
no shelter is necessary in fair weather unless the sun in the day or
dampness or coolness of the night cause discomfort. In parts of the
there is so little rain that a tent is often an unnecessary burden, but
the East and the other parts of the country some sort of shelter is
necessary for health and comfort.
The original American was always quick to see the advantages
offered by an
overhanging cliff for a camp site (Figs. 9, 10). His simple camps all
through the arid Southwest had gradually turned into carefully built
houses long before we came here. The overhanging cliffs protected the
buildings from the rain and weather, and the site was easily defended
enemies. But while these cliff-dwellings had reached the dignity of
castles in the Southwest, in the Eastern States—Pennsylvania, for
instance—the Iroquois Indians were making primitive camps and
available overhanging cliff for that purpose.
To-day any one may use a pointed stick on the floor of one of
caves and unearth, as I have done, numerous potsherds, mussel shells,
awls, flint arrow-heads, split bones of large game animals, and the
wood of centuries of camp-fires which tell the tale of the first
shelter used by camping man in America.
The projecting ledges of bluestone that have horizontal seams
caves from the falling apart of the lower layers of the cliff caused by
rain and ice and often aided by the fine roots of the black birch, rock
oak, and other plants, until nature has worked long enough as a
and produced half caves large enough to shelter a stooping man (Figs. 8, 9, and 10).
Although not always necessary, it is sometimes best to make a
the open face of such a cave, even if we only need it for a temporary
(Fig. 10); this may be done by
resting poles slanting against the face of
the cliff and over these making a covering of balsam, pine, hemlock,
palmetto, palm branches, or any available material for thatch to shed
rain and prevent it driving under the cliff to wet our bedding.
It is not always necessary to thatch the wall; a number of
with leaves adhering may be rested against the cliffs and will answer
that purpose. Set the boughs upside down so that they will shed the
and not hold it so as to drip into camp. Use your common sense and
gumption, which will teach you that all the boughs should point
and not upward as most of them naturally grow. I am careful to call
attention to this because I lately saw some men teaching Boy Scouts how
make camps and they were placing the boughs for the lads around the
shelter with their branches pointing upward in such a manner that they
could not shed the rain. These instructors were city men and apparently
thought that the boughs were for no other purpose than to give privacy
the occupants of the shelter, forgetting that in the wilds the
itself furnishes privacy.
Fig. 8. Fig. 9. Fig.
The half-cave shelter.
The half cave was probably the first lean-to or shelter in this
but overhanging cliffs are not always found where we wish to make our
and we must resort to other forms of shelter and the use of other
in such localities.
HOW TO MAKE THE FALLEN-TREE SHELTER AND THE SCOUT-MASTER
Now that you know how to make a bed
in a half cave, we will take up the
most simple and primitive manufactured shelters.
For a one-man one-night stand, select a thick-foliaged
fir-tree and cut it
partly through the trunk so that it will fall as shown in Fig. 11; then
trim off the branches on the under-side so as to leave room to make
bed beneath the branches; next trim the branches off the top or roof of
the trunk and with them thatch the roof. Do this by setting the
with their butts up as shown in the right-hand shelter of Fig. 13, and
then thatch with smaller browse as described in making the bed. This
make a cosey one-night shelter.
Or take three forked sticks (A, B, and C,
Fig. 12), and interlock
the forked ends so that they will stand as shown in Fig. 12. Over this
framework rest branches with the butt ends up as shown in the
shelter (Fig. 13), or lay a
number of poles as shown in the left-hand
figure (Fig. 12) and thatch
this with browse as illustrated by the
left-hand shelter in Fig. 13,
or take elm, spruce, or birch bark and
shingle as in Fig. 14. These
shelters may be built for one boy or they may
be made large enough for several men. They may be thatched with balsam,
spruce, pine, or hemlock boughs, or with cat-tails, rushes (see Figs. 66
and 69) or any kind of
long-stemmed weeds or palmetto leaves.
To Peel Bark
In the first place, I trust that the reader has enough common
sufficient love of the woods to prevent him from killing or marring and
disfiguring trees where trees are not plenty, and this restriction
includes all settled or partially settled parts of the country. But in
real forests and wilderness, miles and miles away from human
there are few campers and consequently there will be fewer trees
and these few will not be missed.
To get the birch bark, select a tree with a smooth trunk
branches and, placing skids for the trunk to fall upon (Fig. 38), fell the
tree (see Figs. 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, and 118), and then cut a
circle around the trunk at the two ends of the log and a slit from one
circle clean up to the other circle (Fig. 38); next, with a sharp
shaped like a blunt-edged chisel, pry off the bark carefully until you
take the piece off in one whole section. If it is spruce bark or any
bark you seek, hunt through the woods for a comparatively smooth trunk
proceed in the same manner as with the birch. To take it off a standing
tree, cut one circle down at the butt and another as high as you can
(Fig. 118) and slit it along
a perpendicular line connecting the two cuts
as in Fig. 38. This will
doubtless in time kill the tree, but far from
human habitations the few trees killed in this manner may do the forest
good by giving more room for others to grow. Near town or where the
forests are small use the bark from the old dead trees.
Fig. 11. Fig. 12. Fig.
13. Fig. 14.
One-night shelter. The fallen tree and the
To shingle with bark, cut the bark in convenient sections,
commence at the
bottom, place one piece of bark set on edge flat against the wall of
shelter, place a piece of bark next to it in the same manner, allowing
one edge to overlap the first piece a few inches, and so on all the way
around your shack; then place a layer of bark above this in the same
manner as the first one, the end edges overlapping, the bottom edges
overlapping the first row three or four inches or even more. Hold these
pieces of bark in place by stakes driven in the ground against them or
poles laid over them, according to the shape or form of your shelter.
Continue thus to the comb of the roof, then over the part where the
of the sides meets on the top lay another layer of bark covering the
crown, ridge, comb, or apex and protecting it from the rain. In the
wigwam-shaped shelters, or rather I should say those of teepee form,
point of the cone or pyramid is left open to serve as chimney for smoke
HOW TO MAKE THE ADIRONDACK, THE WICK-UP, THE BARK TEEPEE, THE
The next shelter is what is
generally known as the Adirondack shelter,
which is a lean-to open in the front like a "Baker" or a "Dan Beard"
Although it is popularly called the Adirondack camp, it antedates the
when the Adirondacks were first used as a fashionable resort. Daniel
was wont to make such a camp in the forests of Kentucky. The lean-to or
Adirondack camp is easily made and very popular. Sometimes two of them
built facing each other with an open space between for the camp-fire.
the usual manner is to set up two uprights as in Fig. 15, then lay a
crosspiece through the crotches and rest poles against this crosspiece
(Fig. 16). Over these poles
other poles are laid horizontally and the roof
thatched with browse by the method shown by Fig. 6, but here the tips of
the browse must point down and be held in place by other poles (Fig. 10)
on top of it. Sometimes a log is put at the bottom of the slanting
and sometimes more logs are placed as shown in Figs. 15 and 16 and the
space between them floored with balsam or browse.
Where birch bark is obtainable it is shingled with slabs of
this bark as
already described, and as shown in Fig.
17, the bark being held in place
on the roof by poles laid over it and on the side by stakes being
in the ground outside of the bark to hold it in place as in Fig. 17.
Fig. 15. Fig. 16. Fig.
17. Fig. 18. Fig. 19. Fig. 20. Fig. 21.
The Adirondack. The scout, the pioneer,
and the bark teepee.
Fig. 18 shows the
Pioneer, a tent form of shack, and Fig.
19 shows how the
bark is placed like shingles overlapping each other so as to shed the
rain. The doorway of the tent shack is made by leaning poles against
forked sticks, their butts forming a semicircle in front, or rather the
arc of a circle, and by bracing them against the forked stick fore and
they add stability to the structure.
Or you may, if you choose, lash three sticks together at the
spread them in the form of a tripod, then lay other sticks against
their butts forming a circle in the form of a teepee (Fig. 20).
Commence at the bottom as you do in shingling a roof and place
birch bark around, others above them overlapping them, and hold them in
place by resting poles against them. If your camp is to be occupied for
week or so, it may be convenient to build a wick-up shelter as a
dining-room like the one shown in Fig.
21. This is made with six uprights,
two to hold the ridge-pole and two to hold the eaves, and may be
over with browse or birch, elm, spruce, or other bark; shingle with the
browse in the same manner as that described for the bark, beginning at
eaves and allowing each row of browse to overlap the butts of the one
HOW TO MAKE BEAVER-MAT HUTS OR FAGOT SHACKS WITHOUT INJURY TO
In building a shelter use every and
any thing handy for the purpose;
ofttimes an uprooted tree will furnish a well-made adobe wall, where
spreading roots have torn off the surface soil as the tree fell and
was the under-side is now an exposed wall of clay, against which you
rest the poles for the roof of a lean-to. Or the side of the cliff (Fig.
23) may offer you the same opportunity. Maybe two or three trees
found willing to act as uprights (Fig.
24). Where you use a wall of any
kind, rock, roots, or bank, it will, of course, be necessary to have
doorway at one side of the shack as in Fig. 23. The upright poles may
on stony ground where their butts cannot well be planted in the earth,
there it will be necessary to brace them with slanting poles (Fig. 25).
Each camp will offer problems of its own, problems which add much to
interest and pleasure of camp making.
The beaver-mat camp is a new one and, under favorable
conditions, a good
one. Cut your poles the length required for the framework of the sides,
lash them together with the green rootlets of the tamarack or strips of
bark of the papaw, elm, cedar, or the inside bark of the chestnut (A,
Fig. 22); then make a bed of
browse of any kind handy, but make it in the
manner described for making balsam beds (Fig. 7). You will, of course,
thatch so that when the side is erected it is shingled like a house,
upper rows overlapping the lower ones. Then lash a duplicate frame over
the browse-padded frame and the side is complete (B, Fig. 22). Make the
other side or sides and the roof (C, Fig. 22) in the same manner,
which it is a simple matter to erect your shack (Fig. 22, and E, Fig.
Fig. 22. Fig. 23. Fig.
24. Fig. 25. Fig. 26. Fig. 27. Fig. 28.
Shelters adapted to conditions. The
beaver-mat and the fagot shack.
The great advantage of this sort of shelter is that it is much easier
do your thatching on the ground than on standing walls, and also, when
done, it is so compact as to be practically water-proof.
The fagot shack is also a new style of camp and is intended
for use in
places where large timber cannot be cut, but where dwarf willows,
cane, alders, or other small underbrush is more or less plentiful. From
this gather a plentiful supply of twigs and with improvised twine bind
twigs into bundles of equal size. Use these bundles as you would stones
building the wall and lay them so as to break joints, that is, so that
joints are never in a continuous line. Hold the wall in place by stakes
shown in Fig. 26. Use the
browse, small twigs with the leaves adhering to
them, in place of mortar or cement so as to level your bundles and
their rocking on uneven surfaces. The doorways and window openings
no problem that a rank outsider cannot solve. Fig. 27 shows the window
opening, also shows you how the window-sill can be made firm by laying
rods over the top of the fagots. Rods are also used across the top of
doorway upon which to place the bundles of fagots or twigs. Twigs is
probably the best term to use here, as fagots might be thought to mean
larger sticks, which may be stiff and obstinate and hard to handle.
After the walls are erected, a beaver-mat roof may be placed
upon them or
a roof made on a frame such as shown in Fig. 28 and thatched with small
sticks over which a thatch of straw, hay, rushes (Figs. 66 and 69), or
browse may be used to shed the rain.
One great advantage which recommends the beaver-mat and fagot
lovers of nature and students of forestry lies in the fact that it is
unnecessary to cut down or destroy a single large or valuable young
in order to procure the material necessary to make the camp. Both of
camps can be made in forest lands by using the lower branches of the
trees, which, when properly cut close to the trunk (Fig. 121), do not
injure the standing timber. The fagot hut may be made into a permanent
camp by plastering the outside with soft mud or clay and treating the
inside walls in the same manner, thus transforming it into an adobe
INDIAN SHACKS AND SHELTERS
While the ingenuity of the white
man may make improvements upon the
wick-ups, arbors, huts, and shelters of the native red man, we must not
forget that these native shelters have been used with success by the
Indians for centuries, also we must not forget that our principal
objection to many of them lies in the fact that they are ill ventilated
and dirty, both of which defects may be remedied without materially
departing from the lines laid down by the savage architects. The making
windows will supply ventilation to Indian huts, but the form of the hut
must bear in mind is made to suit the locality in which we find it.
The White Mountain Apache builds a tent-shaped shack (Figs. 29 and 32)
which is practically the same as that already described and shown in
Figs. 18 and 19, the difference being that
the Apache shack is not covered with
birch bark, a material peculiar to the North, but the Apache uses a
of the rank grass to be found where his shacks are located. To-day,
however, the White Mountain Apache has become so degenerate and so lost
the true sense of dignity as a savage that he stoops to use corn-stalks
with which to thatch the long, sloping sides of his shed-like house but
so doing he really shows good horse sense, for corn-stalks and corn
make good material for the purpose.
Fig. 29. Fig. 30. Fig.
31. Fig. 32. Fig. 33. Fig. 34. Fig. 34.½. Fig. 35.
Designs adapted from Indian models.
San Carlos Shack
The San Carlos Apache Indians build a dome-shaped hut by
framework of small saplings bent in arches as the boys did in Kentucky
when the writer was himself a lad, and as shown in Fig. 30. The ends of
the pole are sunk into the ground in the form of a circle, while their
tips are bent over and bound together thus forming a series of loops
overlap each other and give stability and support to the principal
which run from the ground to the top of the dome. The Indians thatch
huts with bear-grass arranged in overlapping rows and held in place
strings (see Fig. 69) made of
yucca leaves (Fig. 31).
Much farther north I have seen the Chippewa Indians build a
practically the same manner as the San Carlos Apache, but the Chippewas
covered their frame with layers of birch bark held in place by ropes
stretched over it as shown in Fig.
32. The door to their huts consisted of
a blanket portière.
In the same locality to-day it would be difficult if not
procure such large strips of birch bark; but the dome-shaped frame is a
good one to be used in many localities and, like all other frames, it
be covered with the material at hand. It may be shingled with smaller
pieces of bark, covered with brush and thatched with browse or with
straw, palmetto leaves, palm leaves, or rushes, or it may be plastered
over with mud and made an adobe hut.
The Pima Indians make a flat-roofed lodge with slanting walls (Fig. 33)
which may be adapted for our use in almost any section of the country.
can be made warm and tight for the far North and cool and airy for the
arid regions of the Southwest. The framework, as you may see by
to the diagram, is similar to the wick-ups we men made when we were
and which are described in the "American Boy's Handy Book," consisting
four upright posts supporting in their crotches two crosspieces over
a flat roof is made by placing poles across. But the sides of this
are not upright but made by resting leaning poles against the eaves.
White Man's Walls
The principal difference between a white man's architecture
Indian's lies in the fact that the white man, with brick, stone, or
house in his mind, is possessed of a desire to build perpendicular
walls—walls which are hard to thatch and difficult to cover with
especially in the far North, where there is no true sod such as we
understand in the middle country, where our grass grows thickly with
interlacing roots. Boys will do well to remember this and imitate the
Indian in making slanting walls for their shacks, shanties, and
in the woods. If they have boards or stone or brick or logs with which
build they may, with propriety, use a perpendicular wall. The Pima
Indians, according to Pliny Earle Goddard, associate curator of
anthropology of the American Museum of Natural History, thatch their
houses with arrow brush and not infrequently bank the sides of the
If you want to put a dirt roof on a shack of this description,
poles with small boughs or browse, green or dry leaves, straw, hay,
or rushes and put the sod over the top of this. If in place of making
roof flat, as shown in Fig. 33,
you slant it so as to shed the rain, this
sort of shack will do for almost any climate, but with a flat roof it
only fitted for the arid country or for a shelter from the sun when it
not expected to be used during the rain.
The teepee-shaped hut used by the Navajo Indians will
shed the rain. To
build this shack interlock three forked sticks as shown in the diagram,
then lay other poles up against the forks of these sticks so that the
butts of the poles will form a circle on the ground (Fig. 34). Thatch this
with any material handy, after which you may cover it with dirt as the
Navajos do, in which case you had better build a hallway for entrance,
shown in Fig. 35. This same
teepee form is used by the California Indians
and thatched with wild hay (Fig. 34½).
BIRCH BARK OR TAR PAPER SHACK
A description of the Pontiac was
first published in my "Field and Forest
Handy Book," a book which contains several shelters similar to the ones
here given, most of which were originally made for Caspar Whitney while
was editor of Outing.
The Pontiac, as here given, is my own design and invention (Fig. 36). It
is supposed to be shingled with birch bark, but, as is the case with
these camps, other bark may be substituted for the birch, and, if no
is within reach and you are near enough to civilization, tar paper
an excellent substitute. Fig. 37
shows the framework of a Pontiac with a
ridge-pole, but the ridge-pole is not necessary and the shack may be
without it, as shown in Figs. 36
and 39, where the rafter
poles rest upon
the two side-plates over which they project to form the apex of the
In Fig. 39, although the
side-plates are drawn, the rafter or roof poles
are not because the diagram is supposed to be a sort of X-ray affair to
show the internal construction. The opening for smoke need not be more
than half as large as it is in Fig.
39 and it may be covered up in
inclement weather with a piece of bark so as to keep out the rain.
Fig. 38 shows a tree
felled in order to procure bark. You will note that
the bark is cut round at the bottom and at the top and a slit is made
connecting the two cuts as already described so that the bark may be
peeled off by running a blunt instrument or a stick, whittled to the
of a paper-cutter or dull chisel, under the edge of the bark and
peeling it back. If it is necessary to "tote" the bark any distance
the trail, Fig. 38 shows how
to roll it up and how to bind the roll with
cord or rope so that it may be slung on the back as the man is "toting"
in Fig. 36.
Building the Pontiac
To build a Pontiac, first erect the uprights E and E,
Fig. 37, then
the other two similar uprights at the rear and lay the side-plates G
the forks of the uprights; next erect the upright H and one in
to correspond, and across this lay the ridge-pole. Next take a couple
logs and put them at the foot of the E poles, or, if you want
further back toward where the roof poles F will come. Place one
logs on top of the other as shown in Figs. 36 and 39. Keep them in place
by driving sticks on each side of them. Put two more logs upon the
side of the Pontiac and then lay your roof poles or rafters up against
side-plates and over the logs as shown in diagrams 36, 37, and 39. Fig. 36
shows the roof partially shingled and the sides partially covered, so
you may better understand how it is done.
Shingling with Bark
Commence at the bottom and lay the first row with the edges
for walls; for the roof you may lay one row of shingles from the bottom
to the ridge and hold them in place by resting a pole on them; then lay
the next row of shingles alongside by slipping the edges under the
When you have the two sides covered, put bark over the ridge as shown
in Fig. 36. This will make
a beautiful and comfortable little camp.
Fig. 36. Fig. 37. Fig.
38. Fig. 39.
Pontiac of birch bark.
To Keep Out Cold
Built as here described, the cold wind might come through in
winter-time, but if you can gather a lot of Sphagnum moss from the
swamp and cover your roof with it and then shingle that over with
layer of birch bark, the cold wind will not come through your roof. If
treat your side walls in the same manner and heap dirt up around the
of them, you will have a comfortable winter camp.
In the winter-time you will find it very difficult to peel the
or any other kind of bark, but when the sap is flowing it is not so
difficult to secure bark slabs from many varieties of trees.
INDIAN COMMUNAL HOUSES
When the French Communists were
raising Cain in Europe they doubtless
thought their idea was practically new, but thousands of years before
bore the red banner through the streets of Paris the American Indians
living quiet and peaceful communal lives on this continent; when I use
words quiet and peaceful, I, of course, mean as regards
particular commune and not taking into account their attitude toward
neighbors. The Pueblo Indians built themselves adobe communal houses,
Nez Percés built themselves houses of sticks and dry grass one
fifty feet long sometimes, containing forty-eight families, while the
Nechecolles had houses two hundred and twenty-six feet in length! But
is not a book of history; all we want to know is how to build shacks
our own use; so we will borrow one from the communal home of the
It is not necessary for us to make this one hundred feet long, as the
Iroquois Indians did. We can make a diminutive one as a playhouse for
children, a moderate-sized one as a camp for our Boy Scouts, or a
good-sized one for a party of full-grown campers.
But first we must gather a number of long, flexible saplings
them in two rows with their butt ends in the ground, as shown in Fig. 40,
after which we may bend their upper ends so that they will overlap each
other and form equal-sized arches, when they are lashed together, with
twine if we have it, or with wire if it is handy; but if we are real
woodsmen, we will bind them with rope made of fibres of bark or the
flexible roots which we find in the forests. Then we bind horizontal
or rods to the arches, placing the poles about a foot or two apart
according to the material with which we are to shingle it. We make a
simple doorway with upright posts at one end and bind the horizontal
on as we did at the sides. Next we shingle it with bark or with strips
tar paper and hold the shingles in place by binding poles upon the
outside, as shown in Fig. 41.
A hole or holes are left in the roof over
the fireplaces for openings for the smoke to escape. In lieu of a
a wind-shield of bark is fastened at its lower edge by pieces of twine
the roof so as to shield the opening; this wind-shield should be
so that it may be shifted according to the wind. The Iroquois is an
constructed shelter, useful to man, and one which will delight the
of the Boy Scouts or any other set of boys.
The Pawnee Hogan
The Pawnee hogan is usually covered with sod or dirt, but it
covered with bark, with canvas, or thatched with straw or with browse,
the camper may choose. Fig. 42
shows the framework in the skeleton form.
The rafter poles are placed wigwam fashion and should be very close
together in the finished structure; so also should be the short sticks
forming the side walls and the walls to the hallway or entrance. To
this hogan, first erect a circle of short forked sticks, setting their
ends firmly in the ground. Inside of this erect four longer forked
then place across these four horizontal side-plates, or maybe they
be more properly called "purlins," in which case the sticks laid on the
forks of the circle of small uprights will properly correspond to the
side-plates of a white man's dwelling. After the circle and square (Fig.
42) have been erected, make your doorway with two short-forked
your hallway by sticks running from the door to side-plates. In
your roof or in covering it with any sort of material, leave an opening
the top (Fig. 43) to act as a
chimney for your centre camp-fire. If the
roof is to be covered with sod or adobe, cover it first with browse,
straw, or rushes, making a thick mattress over the entire structure. On
top of this plaster your mud or sod (Fig. 43). If you intend to use
hogan as a more or less permanent camp you can put windows in the sides
admit light and air and use a hollow log or a barrel for a chimney as
shown in Fig. 44.
Fig. 40. Fig. 41. Fig.
42. Fig. 43. Fig. 44. Fig. 45.
The Iroquois, the Pawnee hogan, the
white man's hogan, and the kolshian.
The camps thus far described are supposed to be "tomahawk
camps," that is,
camps which may be built without the use of a lumberman's axe. The
kolshian (Fig. 45) of Alaska,
when built by the natives, is a large
communal council-house, but I have placed it here among the "tomahawk
camps" on the supposition that some one might want to build one in
miniature as a novelty on their place or as a council-room for their
scouts. The Alaskans hew all the timber out by hand, but, of course,
reader may use sawed or milled lumber. The proper entrance to a
or rancheree, as Elliot calls it, is through a doorway made in the huge
totem-pole at the front of the building. The roof is covered with
or shakes held in place by poles laid across them, the sides are made
hewn planks set upright, and the front has two heavy planks at the
which run down through holes in two upright planks at the corners (Fig.
45). These with the sill plank bind the upright wall planks in
The kolshian is undoubtedly a very ancient form of building and may be
related to the houses built by the ancient cavemen of Europe. The first
human house-builders are said to belong to the Cro-Magnon race who
in caves in the winter-time, and on the walls of one of the caverns
(Dordogne cavern) some Cro-Magnon budding architect made a rough sketch
one of their houses (middle sketch, Fig. 45). When you compare the
with the kolshian the resemblance is very striking, and more so when we
remember that the kolshian floor is underground, indicating that it is
related to or suggested by a natural cavern.
BARK AND TAR PAPER
To further illustrate the use of
bark and tar paper, I have made the
sketches shown by Figs. 46, 47, and 48. Fig. 47 is a log shack with an
arched roof drawn from a photograph in my collection. To keep the
warm not only the roof but the sides of the house as well have been
shingled with bark, leaving only the ends of the logs protruding to
of what material the house is really constructed. Fig. 47 shows a
fisherman's hut made with a few sticks and bark. Fig. 48 shows a tar paper
camp, that is, a camp where everything is covered with tar paper in
of bark. The house is made with a skeleton of poles on which the tar
is tacked, the kitchen is an open shed with tar paper roof, and even
table is made by covering the cross sticks shown in the diagram with
sheets of tar paper in place of the birch bark usually used for that
Personally I do not like tar paper; it seems to rob the camp
of a true
flavor of the woods; it knocks the sentiment out of it, and, except to
sailors, the odor of the tar is not nearly as delightful as that of the
fragrant balsam boughs. Nevertheless, tar paper is now used in all the
lumber camps and is spreading farther and farther into the woods as the
birch bark becomes scarce and the "tote-roads" are improved.
When one can enter the woods with an automobile, you must
expect to find
tar paper camps, because the paper is easily transported, easily
and easily applied for the purpose of the camper.
Fig. 46. Fig. 47. Fig.
use of bark and tar paper.
Practically any form of tent may be reproduced by tacking tar paper to
sticks arranged in the proper manner, but if you make a wigwam of tar
paper, do paint it red, green, or yellow, or whitewash it; do anything
which will take off the civilized, funereal look of the affair.
A SAWED-LUMBER SHANTY
Before we proceed any further it
may be best to give the plan of a
workshop, a camp, an outhouse, or a shed to be made of sawed lumber,
framework of which is made of what is known as two-by-fours, that is,
pieces of lumber two inches thick by four inches wide. The plans used
are from my book "The Jack of All Trades," but the dimensions may be
altered to suit your convenience. The sills, which are four inches by
inches, are also supposed to be made by nailing two two-by-fours
First stake out your foundation and see that the corners are square,
is, at right angles, and test this with a tape or ruler by measuring
feet one way and eight feet the other from a corner along the proposed
sides of the house marking these points. If a ten-foot rod will reach
exactly across from point to point, the corner is square and you may
You may use a foundation of stones or a series of stone piles,
but if you
use stones and expect your house to remain plumb where the winters are
severe you must dig holes for them at least three feet deep in order to
below the frost-line. Fill these holes with broken stone, on top of
you can make your pile of stones to act as support for the sills; but
simplest method is to use posts of locust, cedar, or chestnut; or, if
is too much trouble, pack the dirt tightly,
drain it well by making it
slope away from the house in every direction, and lay your foundation
sills on the level earth. In that case you had better use chestnut wood
for the sills; spruce will rot very quickly in contact with the damp
and pine will not last long under the same circumstances.
All through certain sections of this country there are
hundreds of humble
dwellings built upon "mudsills," in other words, with no foundation or
floor but the bare ground.
We will suppose that you have secured some posts about two
feet six inches
long with good, flat ends. The better material you can obtain the
and better will be the appearance of your house, but a house which will
protect you and your tools may be made of the roughest lumber.
The plans here drawn will answer for the rough or fine
material, but we
suppose that medium material is to be used. It will be taken for
that the reader is able to procure enough two-by-four-inch timber to
supply studs, ribs, purlins, rafters, beams, and posts for the frame
in Fig. 49. Two pieces of
four-by-four-inch timber each fifteen feet long
should be made for sills by nailing two-by-fours together. Add to this
some tongue-and-grooved boarding or even rough boards for sides and
some enthusiasm, and good American pluck and the shop is almost as good
First lay the foundation, eight by fifteen feet, and then you
to dig your post-holes. The outside of the posts should be flush or
with the outside edges of the sills and end beams of the house as shown
the diagram. If there are four posts on each of the long sides they
be equal distances apart.
Dig the holes three feet deep, allowing six inches of the
protrude above ground. If you drive two stakes a short distance beyond
foundation in line with your foundation lines and run a string from the
top of one stake to the top of the other you can, without much trouble,
get it upon a perfect level by testing it and adjusting until the
represents the level for your sill. When this is done, set your posts
correspond to the level of the string, then place your sill on top of
posts and test that with your level. If found to be correct, fill in
dirt around the posts and pack it firmly, then spike your sill to the
posts and go through the same operation with opposite sets of posts and
Frame of two-by-fours milled lumber,
with names of parts.
The first difficult work is now done and, with the exception of the
the rest only needs ordinary care.
It is supposed that you have already sawed off and prepared
two-by-four-inch beams each of which is exactly eight feet long. Set
on edge from sill to sill, equal distances apart, the edges of the end
beams being exactly even with the ends of the sills as in Fig. 49. See
that the beams all cross the sills at right angles and toe-nail them in
place. You may now neatly floor the foundation with one-inch boards;
boards must be laid lengthwise with the building and crosswise with the
beams. When this is finished you will have a beautiful platform on
to work, where you will be in no danger of losing your tools, and you
use the floor as a table on which to measure and plan the sides and
Ridge Plank and Rafters
It is a good idea to make your ridge plank and rafters while
the floor is
clear of rubbish. Lay out and mark on the floor, with a carpenter's
pencil, a straight line four feet long (A, B, Fig. 49). At right
angles to this draw another line three feet six inches long (A, D,
Fig. 49). Connect these
points (B, D, Fig.
49) with a straight line,
then complete the figure A, B, C, D (Fig. 49). Allow two inches at
the top for the ridge plank at B and two by four for the end of
side-plate at D. You then have a pattern for each rafter with a
edge" at B and a "bird's mouth" at D. The plumb edge
must be parallel
with B, C and the two jaws of the "bird's mouth"
parallel with D, C and A, D,
respectively. Make six rafters
of two-by-fours and one
The purlins and collar can be made and fitted after the roof
Set your roof timber carefully to one side and clear the floor for the
studs, ribs, and plates. First prepare the end posts and make them of
two-by-fours. Each post is of two pieces. There will be four outside
pieces each five feet eight inches in length, which rest on the end
and four inside pieces each six feet in length; this allows two inches
the top for the ends of the end plates to rest upon.
Examine the corner posts and you will see that the outside
rests upon the top side of the end beam and the side-plate rests
upon said two-by-four. You will also observe that the inside
rests directly upon the sill, which would make the former four inches
longer than the outside piece if it is extended to the side-plate; but
will also notice that there is a notch in the end plate for the outside
corner piece to fit in and that the end of the end plate fits on top
inside piece of the corner posts, taking off two inches, which makes
inside piece just six feet long. This is a very simple arrangement, as
be seen by examining the diagram. Besides the corner posts, each of
we have seen is made of two pieces of two-by-fours, there are four
for the front side, each six feet two inches long. The short studs
in the diagram on the rear side are unnecessary and are only shown so
they may be put in as convenient attachments for shelves and tool racks.
The first stud on the front is placed two feet from the corner post and
the second one about six feet six inches from the first, to allow a
for a six-foot window; the next two studs form the door-jambs and must
far enough from the corner to allow the door to open and swing out of
way. If you make your door two and one half feet wide—a good
may set your last stud two feet from the corner post and leave a space
two feet six inches for the doorway. Now mark off on the floor the
where the studs will come, and cut out the flooring at these points to
allow the ends of the studs to enter and rest on the sill. Next make
ribs—one long one to go beneath the window, one short one to fit
the corner post and the door stud not shown in diagram, another to fit
between the door stud and window stud, and another to fit between the
window stud and the first corner post (the nearest corner in the
Next make your side-plate exactly fifteen feet long. Fit the frame
together on the floor and nail the pieces together, toe-nailing the
in place. Get some help and raise the whole side frame and slip the
of the studs into their respective slots. Make the end posts plumb and
hold them in place temporarily by a board, one end of which is nailed
the top end of the post and the other to the end beam. Such a diagonal
board at each end will hold the side in place until the opposite side
raised and similarly supported.
It is now a simple thing to slip the end plates in place under
side-plates until their outside edges are even with the outside of the
corner posts. A long wire nail driven through the top-plates and end
plates down into the posts at each corner will hold them securely.
Toe-nail a rib between the two nearest end posts and make two window
and three ribs for the opposite end. The framing now only needs the
timbers to complete the skeleton of your shop.
Across from side-plate to
side-plate lay some loose boards for a platform, and standing on these
boards let your assistant lift one end of the ridge plank while with
nail to each rafter you fasten the two end rafters onto the ridge
fit the jaws of the "bird's mouth" over the ends of the side-plates,
hold them temporarily in place with a "stay lath"—that is, a
board temporarily nailed to rafter and end plate. The other end of the
ridge is now resting on the platform at the other end of the house and
this may be lifted up, for the single nails will allow movement.
The rafters are nailed in place with one nail each and a stay
fastened on to hold them in place. Test the ends with your plumb-level
when they are found to be correct nail all the rafters securely in
and stiffen the centre pair with a piece called a "collar." Add four
purlins set at right angles to the rafters and take off your hat and
three cheers and do not forget to nail a green bough to your roof tree
accordance with the ancient and time-honored custom.
The sides of the house may be covered with tent-cloth,
oilcloth, tin, tar
paper, or the cheapest sort of lumber, and the house may be roofed with
the same material; but if you can secure good lumber, use thirteen by
seven eighths by nine and one quarter inch, tongue-and-grooved, one
planed so that it may be painted; you can make two sideboards out of
piece six feet six inches in length. Nail the sides on, running the
vertically, leaving openings for windows and doors at the proper places.
If you have made a triangular edge to your ridge board, it
will add to the
finish and the roof may be neatly and tightly laid with the upper edge
one side protruding a couple of inches over the opposite side and thus
protecting the joint from rain. Additional security is gained by
what are called picket strips (seven
eighths by one and three quarter
inches) over each place where the planks join, or the roof may be
with sheathing boards and shingles. It is not necessary here to give
many details such as the manufacture of the door and the arrangements
the windows, as these small problems can be easily solved by examining
doors and windows of similar structures.
A SOD HOUSE FOR THE LAWN
The difference between this sod
house and the ones used in the arid
regions consists in the fact that the sod will be growing on the sod
house, which is intended for and is an ornamental building for the
Possibly one might say that the sod house is an effete product of
civilization where utility is sacrificed to display; but it is pretty,
beauty is always worth while; besides which the same plans may be used
A Real Adobe
and practically are used in some of the desert ranches along
River. The principal difference in construction between the one shown
Figs. 50, 53, and 57 and the one in Fig. 55 is that in the sod house
sod is held in place by chicken-coop wire, while in the ranch-house (Fig.
55) the dirt or adobe is held in place by a number of sticks.
Fig. 50. Fig. 51. Fig.
52. Fig. 53. Fig. 54. Fig. 55. Fig. 56.
A house of green growing sod and the
Colorado River adobe.
 Fig. 50 shows how the
double walls are made with a space of at least a
foot between them; these walls are covered with wire netting or
chicken-coop wire, as shown in Fig.
53, and the space between the walls
filled in with mud or dirt of any kind. The framework may be made of
milled lumber, as in Fig. 50,
or it may be made of saplings cut on the
river bank and squared at their ends, as shown by detailed drawings
between Figs. 50 and 52. The roof may be made flat,
like Figs. 54 and 56,
and covered with poles, as in Fig.
54, in which case the sod will have to
be held in place by pegging other poles along the eaves as shown in the
left-hand corner of Fig. 54.
This will keep the sod from sliding off the
roof. Or you may build a roof after the manner illustrated by Fig. 49 and
Fig. 51, that is, if you want
to make a neat, workmanlike house; but any
of the ways shown by Fig. 52
will answer for the framework of the roof.
The steep roof, however, must necessarily be either shingled or
or the sod held in place by a covering of wire netting. If you are
building this for your lawn, set green, growing sod up edgewise against
the wire netting, after the latter has been tacked to your frame, so
arranging the sod that the green grass will face the outside. If you
to plaster the inside of your house with cement or concrete, fill in
behind with mud, plaster the mud against the sod and put gravel and
against the mud so that it will be next to the wire netting on the
of the house over which you plaster the concrete. If you make the roof
shown in Fig. 54, cover it
first with hay and then dirt and sod and hold
the sod down with wire netting neatly tacked over it, or cover it with
gravel held in place by wire netting and spread concrete over the top
one does on a cellar floor. If the walls are kept sprinkled by the help
the garden hose, the grass will keep as green as that on your lawn, and
you have a dirt roof you may allow purple asters and goldenrod to grow
upon it (Fig. 62) or plant it
with garden flowers.
If you are going to make a thatched roof, soak your thatch in
straighten the bent straws; build the roof steep like the one shown in Fig. 57 and make a
wooden needle a foot long and pointed at both ends as
shown in Fig. 59; tie your thatching
twine to the middle of the needle,
then take your rye or wheat straw, hay, or bulrushes, gather it into
bundles four inches thick and one foot wide, like those shown in Fig. 60,
and lay them along next to the eaves of your house as in Fig. 58. Sew them
in place by running the needle up through the wire netting to the man
the outside who in turn pushes it back to the man on the inside. Make a
knot at each wisp of the thatch until one layer is finished, let the
ends overhang the eaves, then proceed as illustrated by Fig. 66 and
described under the heading of the bog ken.
If in place of a simple ornament you want to make a real house
of it and a
pretty one at that, fill up the space between the walls with mud and
plaster it on the outside with cement or concrete and you will have a
cheap concrete house. The wire netting will hold the plaster or the
concrete and consequently it is not necessary to make the covering of
cement as thick as in ordinary buildings, for after the mud is dried
the inside it will, with its crust of cement or plaster, be practically
good as a solid concrete wall.
Fig. 57. Fig. 58. Fig.
59. Fig. 60. Fig. 61. Fig. 62.
sod house for the lawn.
HOW TO BUILD ELEVATED SHACKS, SHANTIES, AND SHELTERS
For many reasons it is sometimes
necessary or advisable to have one's camp
on stilts, so to speak. Especially is this true in the more tropical
countries where noxious serpents and insects abound. A simple form of
stilted shack is shown by Fig. 63.
To build this shack we must first erect
an elevated platform (Fig. 64).
This is made by setting four forked sticks
of equal height in the ground and any height from the ground to suit
ideas of the camp builder. If, for some reason, the uprights are
the frame may be stiffened by lashing diagonal cross sticks to the
After you have erected the four uprights, lay two poles through the
crotches, as in Fig. 64, and
make a platform by placing other poles across
these, after which a shelter may be made in the form of an open
camp or any of the forms previously described. Fig. 65 shows the framework
for the open camp of Adirondack style with the uprights lashed to the
bars; if you have nails, of course, you can nail these together, but
plans are made on the assumption that you have no nails for that
which will probably be true if you have been long in the woods.
Fig. 63. Fig. 64. Fig.
A simple stilt camp.
THE BOG KEN
Ken is a name now almost obsolete
but the bog ken is a house built on
stilts where the ground is marshy, damp, and unfit to sleep upon. As
will see by the diagram (Fig. 66),
the house is built upon a platform
similar to the one last described; in this instance, however, the
itself is formed by a series of arches similar to the Iroquois (Fig. 41).
The uprights on the two sides have their ends bent over and lashed
together, forming arches for the roof. Over the arches are lashed
horizontal poles the same as those described in the construction of the
Iroquois lodge. Fig. 67 shows
one way to prevent "varmints" of any kind
from scaling the supporting poles and creeping into your camp.
The protection consists of a tin pan with a hole in the bottom
the supporting poles. Fig. 66
shows how to lash the thatching on to the
poles and Fig. 68 shows how
to spring the sticks in place for a railing
around your front porch or balcony.
The floor to this bog ken is a little more elaborate than that
of the last
described camp because the poles have all been halved before laying
for the floor. These are supposed to be afterwards covered with browse,
hay, or rushes and the roof shingled with bark or thatched.
Soak your straw or hay well in water and smooth it out flat
The steeper the roofs the longer the thatch will last. In this bog ken
roof happens to be a rounded one, an arched roof; but it is sheltering
temporary house and the thatch will last as long as the shack. While
real pioneer uses whatever material he finds at hand, it does no harm
him to know that to make a really good thatch one should use only straw
which is fully ripe and has been thrashed clean with an old-fashioned
flail. The straw must be clear of all seed or grain and kept straight,
mussed up, crumpled, and broken. If any grain is left in the straw it
attract field-mice, birds, domestic mice and rats, domestic turkeys and
chickens, and these creatures in burrowing and scratching for food will
play havoc with the roof.
Fig. 66. Fig. 67. Fig.
68. Fig. 69.
Details of bog ken.
It is not necessary to have straight and even rafters, because the
bumps, and hollows caused by crooked sticks are concealed by the
of straw. Take a bundle of thatch in your hands, squeeze it together,
place it so that the butt ends project about three inches beyond the
(A, Fig. 66); tie the
thatch closely to the lower rafter and the one
next above it, using for the purpose twine, marlin, raffia, or
well-twisted white hickory bark. This first row should be thus tied
both ends to prevent the wind from getting under it and lifting it up.
Next put on another row of wisps of thatch over the first and the butt
ends come even with the first, but tie this one to the third row of
rafters not shown in diagram. The butts of the third row of thatch (B,
Fig. 66) should be about nine
inches up on the front rows; put this on as
before and proceed the same way with C, D, E,
and F, Fig. 66,
until the roof is completed. The thatch should be ten or twelve inches
thick for a permanent hut but need not be so for a temporary shed.
As there is no comb to this roof the top must be protected
thatches from each side join, and to do this fasten a thatch over the
and bind it on both sides but not in the middle, so that it covers the
meeting of the thatches on both sides of the shack; this top piece
be stitched or bound on with wire if you have it, or fastened with
withe or even wisps of straw if you are an expert. A house, twenty by
thirty feet, made of material found on the place and thatched with
costs the builder only fifty cents for nails and four days' work for
persons. A good thatched roof will last as long as a modern shingle
for in olden days when shingles were good and split out of blocks, not
sawed, and were well seasoned before using, they were not expected to
much over fifteen years; a well-made thatched roof will last fifteen or
foundation for bog ken.
But a real bog ken is one that is built over boggy or marshy places too
soft to support an ordinary structure. To overcome this difficulty
required considerable study and experiment, but at length the author
upon a simple plan which has proved effective. If you wish to build a
hunter's camp on the soft meadows, or for any other reason you desire a
camp on treacherous, boggy ground, you may build one by first making a
thick mattress of twigs and sticks as shown by Fig. 70. This mattress acts
on the principle of a snow-shoe and prevents your house from sinking by
distributing the weight equally over a wide surface. The mattress
be carefully made of sticks having their branches trimmed off
to allow them to lie in regular courses as in the diagram. The first
course should be laid one way and the next course at right angles to
first, and so on, until the mattress is sufficiently thick for the
Standing on the mattress, it will be an easy matter with your
force the sharpened ends of your upright posts A, B, C,
and D down
into the yielding mud, but be careful not to push them too far because
some of these marshes the mud is practically bottomless. It is only
necessary for the supports to sink in the mud far enough to make them
of simple bog ken.
The next step is to lay, at right angles to the top layer of brush, a
series of rods or poles between your uprights as shown in Fig. 70; then
take two more poles, place them at right angles to the last ones, and
press them down until they fit snugly on top of the other poles, and
nail them fast to the uprights as shown in Fig. 70, after which to further
bind them you may nail a diagonal from A to D and B
to C, but this
may not be necessary.
When you have proceeded thus far you may erect a framework
like that shown
in Fig. 71, and build a
platform by flooring the crosspieces or horizontal
bars with halves of small logs, Fig.
It is now a simple matter to erect a shack which may be roofed
as in Fig. 72 or thatched as
in Fig. 74. Fig. 72 shows the unfinished
shack in order that its construction may be easily seen; this one is
roofed with birch bark. A fireplace may be made by enclosing a bed of
(Fig. 73) between or inside of
the square formed by four logs. On this
clay or mud you can build your camp-fire or cooking fire or mosquito
smudge with little or no danger of setting fire to your house.
The mosquito smudge will not be found necessary if there is
blowing at all, because these insects cling to the salt hay or
and do not rise above it except in close, muggy weather where no breeze
disturbs them. I have slept a few feet over bog meadows without being
disturbed by mosquitoes when every blade of grass on the meadows was
with these insects, but there was a breeze blowing which kept the
mosquitoes at home.
Fig. 72. Fig. 73. Fig.
Adaptation of a bark shack to the bog ken foundation.
Now that we know how to camp on
solid ground and on the quaking bog we
cannot finish up the subject of stilt camps without including one
over-water camp. If the water has a muddy bottom it is a simple matter
force your supporting posts into the mud; this may be done by driving
in with a wooden mallet made of a section of log or it may be done by
fastening poles on each side of the post and having a crowd of men jump
and down on the poles until the posts are forced into the bottom.
If you are building a pretentious structure the piles may be
the ordinary pile-driver. But if your camp on the water is over a hard
bottom of rock or sand through which you cannot force your supports you
may take a lot of old barrels (Fig.
75), knock the tops and bottoms out of
them, nail some cross planks on the ends of your spiles, slide the
over the spiles, then set them in place in the water and hold them
by filling the barrels with rocks, stones, or coarse gravel. Fig. 77 shows
a foundation made in this manner; this method is also useful in
piers (Fig. 78). But if you
are in the woods, out of reach of barrels or
other civilized lumber, you can make yourself cribs by driving a square
a circle of sticks in the ground a short distance and then twining
or pliable branches inside and outside the stakes, basket fashion, as
shown in Fig. 76. When the
crib is complete it may be carefully removed
from the ground and used as the barrels were used by filling them with
stones to support the uprights. Fig.
79 shows an ordinary portable house
such as are advertised in all the sportsmen's papers, which has been
erected upon a platform over the water.
Fig. 75. Fig. 76. Fig.
77. Fig. 78. Fig. 79.
Showing how to make foundations for over-water camps.
My experience with this sort of work leads me to advise the use of
upon which to build in place of piers of stones. Where I have used such
piers upon small inland lakes the tremendous push of the freezing ice
upset them, whereas the ice seems to slide around the piles without
pushing them over. The real danger with piles lies in the fact that if
water rises after the ice has frozen around the uprights the water will
lift the ice up and the ice will sometimes pull the piles out of the
bottom like a dentist pulls teeth. Nevertheless, piles are much better
a foundation for a camp or pier than any crib of rocks, and that is the
reason I have shown the cribs in Figs. 75 and 77, made so as to rest upon
the bottom supposedly below the level of the winter ice.
SIGNAL-TOWER, GAME LOOKOUT, AND RUSTIC OBSERVATORY
If my present reader happens to be
a Boy Scout or a scout-master who wants
the scouts to build a tower for exhibition purposes, he can do so by
following the directions here given, but if there is real necessity for
haste in the erection of this tower, of course we cannot build one as
as we might where we have more time. With a small tower all the joints
be quickly lashed together with strong, heavy twine, rope, or even
and in the wilderness it will probably be necessary to bind the joints
with pliable roots, or cordage made of bark or withes; but as this is
a book on woodcraft we will suppose that the reader has secured the
material for fastening the joints of the frame of this signal-tower and
must now shoulder his axe and go to the woods in order to secure the
necessary timber. First let him cut eight straight poles—that is,
straight as he can find them. These poles should be about four and one
half inches in diameter at their base and sixteen and one half feet
After all the branches are trimmed off the poles, cut four more sticks
each nine feet long and two and a half or three inches in diameter at
base; when these are trimmed into shape one will need twenty six or
more stout sticks each four and one half feet long for braces and for
flooring for the platform.
It being supposed that your timber is now all in readiness at
where you are to erect the tower, begin by laying out on the ground
we call the "kite frame." First take three of the
sticks, A, B, C (Fig. 82), and two of the
nine-foot sticks D and E (Fig. 82), and,
placing them on a level stretch of ground, arrange
them in the form of a parallelogram. Put A for the top rail at
of the parallelogram and C for the bottom of the parallelogram
them rest upon the sides D and E, but put B
under the sides D and E. In order to bind these
together securely, the ends of
all the sticks
must be allowed to project a few inches. B should be far enough
below A to give the proper height for a railing around the
platform itself rests upon B. A forms the top railing
to the fence
Now take two of your sixteen-and-one-half-foot poles and place
diagonally from corner to corner of the parallelogram with the small
of the poles lying over the ends of A and the butt ends of the
extending beyond C, as in Fig.
82. Lash these poles securely in place.
Where the poles cross each other in the X, or centre,
it is best to
flatten them some by scoring and hewing with a hatchet, but care must
taken not to weaken them by scoring too deep. Next take your lash rope,
double it, run the loop down under the cross sticks, bring it up on the
other side, as in Fig. 83,
then pull the two loose ends through the loop.
When they are drawn taut (Fig. 84),
bend them round in opposite
directions—that is, bend the right-hand end of the rope to the
down and under the cross sticks, pull it out to the left, as in Fig. 84,
then bend the left-hand piece of rope to the left, down and under,
it out to the right, as in Fig.
84. Next bring those two pieces up over
and tie them together in a square knot, as shown in Figs. 85 and 86.
Fig. 80. Fig. 81. Fig.
82. Fig. 83. Fig. 84. Fig. 85. Fig. 86. Fig.
Parts of tower for a wireless, a game
lookout, an elevated camp or cache.
Make a duplicate "kite" frame for the other side exactly as you made
first one, and then arrange these two pieces on the ground with the
sticks F and F on the under-side and with their butt
ends opposite the
butts of the similar poles on the other frame and about five feet
Fasten a long line to the point where the two F pieces cross
and detail a couple of scouts to hold each of the butt ends from
by placing one of their feet against the butt, as in Fig. 82, while two
gangs of men or boys pull on the ropes and raise the kite frames to the
positions shown in Figs. 81
Be careful, when raising the frames, not to pull them too far
so that they
may fall on some unwary workman. When the frames are once erected it is
easy matter to hold them in place by guy-ropes fastened to stones,
or trees or held by men or boys, while some of the shorter braces are
fastened to hold the two kite frames together, as in Fig. 90, wherein you
may see these short braces at the top and bottom. Next, the two other
sticks, legs, or braces (G, G, Figs. 89 and 90) should be held
temporarily in position and the place marked where they cross each
in the centre of the parallelogram which should be the same as it is on
the legs of the two kite frames. The G sticks should now be
together at the crossing point, as already described and shown by Figs.
83, 84, 85, and 86, when they may be put up
against the sides, as in Fig.
89, in which diagram the G poles are made very dark and the
indicated very lightly so as to better show their relative positions.
the G poles at the top and at the other points where they cross
braces and secure the framework by adding short braces, as indicated in
Fig. 88. Fig. 89. Fig.
90. Fig. 90..
Details of scout signal-tower or game lookout.
If all the parts are bound together with wire it will hold them more
securely than nails, with no danger of the poles splitting. A permanent
tower of this kind may be erected on which a camp may be built, as
in Fig. 87. It may be well to
note that in the last diagram the tower is
only indicated by a few lines of the frame in order to simplify it and
prevent confusion caused by the multiplicity of poles.
If you desire to make a tower taller than the one described it
best, perhaps, to take the regular Boy-Scout dimensions as given by
Scout-master A. G. Clarke:
"Eight pieces 22 feet long, about 5 or 6 inches thick at the
pieces 6 feet long, about 3 or 4 inches thick at the base; 12 pieces 6
feet long, about 2½ or 3 inches thick at base; 12 or 15 pieces
and platform about 6 feet long."
When putting together this frame it may be nailed or spiked,
but care must
be used not to split the timber where it is nailed. With most wood this
may be avoided by driving the spikes or nails several inches back of
ends of the sticks. To erect a flagpole or a wireless pole, cut the
of the pole wedge-shaped, fit in the space between the cross poles, as
in Fig. 90 A, then
lash it fast to the B and A pole, and, to further
secure it, two other sticks may be nailed to the F poles, one
side, between which the bottom of the flagpole is thrust, as shown by Fig.
The flooring of the platform must be securely nailed or lashed
otherwise there may be some serious accident caused by the boys or men
falling through, a fall of about twenty and one half feet according to
last measurements given for the frame.
An observatory of this kind will add greatly to the interest of a
home or seaside home; it is a practical tower for military men to be
in flag signalling and for improvised wireless; it is also a practical
tower for a lookout in the game fields and a delight to the Boy Scouts.
By the natural process of evolution
we have now arrived at the tree-top
house. It is interesting to the writer to see the popularity of this
of an outdoor building, for, while he cannot lay claim to originating
he was the first to publish the working drawings of a tree-house. These
plans first appeared in Harper's Round Table; afterward he made
for the Ladies' Home Journal and later published them in "The
Having occasion to travel across the continent shortly after
plans were published, he was amused to see all along the route, here
there in back-yard fruit-trees, shade-trees, and in forest-trees, queer
little shanties built by the boys, high up among the boughs.
In order to build a house one must make one's plans to fit
the tree. If
it is to be a one-tree house, spike on the trunk two quartered pieces
small log one on each side of the trunk (Figs. 91 and 92). Across these
lay a couple of poles and nail them to the trunk of the tree (Fig. 91);
then at right angles to these lay another pair of poles, as shown in
right-hand diagram (Fig. 91).
Nail these securely in place and support the
ends of the four poles by braces nailed to the trunk of the tree below.
The four cross-sills will then (Fig.
95) serve as a foundation upon which
to begin your work. Other joists can now be laid across these first and
supported by braces running diagonally down to the trunk of the tree,
shown in Fig. 95. After the
floor is laid over the joist any form of
shack, from a rude, open shed to a picturesque thatch-roofed cottage,
be erected upon it. It is well to support the two middle rafters of
roof by quartered pieces of logs, as the middle rafters are supported
in Fig. 95; by quartered
logs shown in Fig. 92.
Fig. 91. Fig. 92. Fig.
93. Fig. 94. Fig. 95. Fig. 96. Fig. 97.
of tree-top houses.
If the house is a two-tree house, run your cross-sill sticks from trunk
trunk, as in Fig. 94; then
make two T-braces, like the one in Fig.
of two-inch planks with braces secured by iron straps, or use heavier
timber, and bolt the parts together securely (Fig. 93), or use logs and
poles (Fig. 94), after which
hang these T's over the ends of your two
cross sticks, as in Fig. 94,
and spike the uprights of the T's securely to
the tree trunks. On top of the T you can rest a two-by-four and support
the end by diagonals nailed to the tree trunk (Fig. 94) after the manner
of the diagonals in Fig. 95.
You will note in Fig. 95 that
blocks are spiked to the tree below the end of the diagonals in order
further secure them. It is sometimes necessary in a two-tree house to
allow for the movement of the tree trunks. In Florida a gentleman did
by building his tree-house on the B sills (Fig. 94) and making them
movable to allow for the play of the tree trunks. Fig. 96 shows a two-tree
house and Fig. 97 shows a
thatch-roofed cottage built among the top
branches of a single tree.
It goes without saying that in a high wind one does not want
to stay long
in a tree-top house; in fact, during some winds that I have experienced
would have felt much safer had I been in a cyclone cellar; but if the
braces of a tree-house are securely made and the trees selected have
heavy trunks, your tree-top house will stand all the ordinary summer
and winter storms. One must remember that even one's own home is not
secure enough to stand some of those extraordinary gales, tornadoes, and
hurricanes which occasionally visit parts of our country.
Since I published the first plans of a tree-top house many
adopted the idea and built quite expensive structures in the boughs of
trees. Probably all these buildings are intact at the present writing.
The boys at Lynn, Mass., built a very substantial house in the
the truant officer claimed that the lads hid away there so that they
play "hookey" from school; but if this is true, and there seems to be
doubt about it, it must be remembered that the fault was probably with the
schools and not the boys, for boys who have ingenuity
enough to build a substantial house in a tree cannot be bad boys;
industry, skill, and laborious work are not the attributes of the bad
Some New York City boys built a house in the trees at One
Sixty-ninth Street, but here the police interfered, claiming that it
against a city ordinance to build houses in shade-trees, and maybe it
but, fortunately for the boys, there are other trees which may be used
this purpose. There is now, or was recently, an interesting tree-house
Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn; a house so commodious that it was capable of
accommodating as many as fifteen people; but it was not as pretty and
attractive a tree-house as the one located at the foot of Mount
in Mill Valley, San Francisco, which is built after the plan shown by Fig.
95. This California house is attached to the trunk of a big redwood
and is reached by a picturesque bridge spanning a rocky canyon.
Tree-houses are also used as health resorts, and recently
there was a
gentleman of Plainfield, Mass., living in a tree-house because he found
the pure air among the leaves beneficial; while down in Ecuador another
man, who feared malarial mosquitoes and objected to wild beasts and
snakes, built himself a house on top of an ibo-tree, seventy feet from
ground. This is quite a pretentious structure and completely hides and
covers the top of the tree. It is located on the banks of the Escondido
River; and in this tropical country, while it may be a safe retreat
the pests enumerated, it might not be so safe from lightning in one of
those violent tropical storms. But it is probably as safe as any house
that country, for one must take chances no matter what kind of a house
Primitive and savage men all over the world for thousands of
built dwellings in tree tops. In the Philippines many natives live in
tree-top houses. The Kinnikars, hill-tribesmen of Travancore, India,
said to live in houses built in the trees, but in New Guinea it seems
such houses are only provided for the girls, and every night the dusky
lassies are sent to bed in shacks perched in the tree tops; then, to
safety doubly safe, the watchful parents take away the ladders and
daughters cannot reach the ground until the ladders are replaced in the
The most important thing about all this is that a tree-house
is always a
source of delight to the boys and young people, and, furthermore, the
have over and over again proved to the satisfaction of the author that
they themselves are perfectly competent to build these shacks, and not
only to build them but to avoid accidents and serious falls while
in the work.
The difference between tomahawk
shacks and axe houses reminds me of the
difference between the ileum and the jejunum, of which my classmate
said: "There is no way of telling the beginning of one or the ending of
t'other 'cept by the pale-pinkish hue of the latter."
It must be confessed that some of the shacks described in the
pages are rather stout and massive to be classed as tomahawk shelters,
but, as indicated by my reference to physiology, this is not the
fault. The trouble is owing to the fact that nature abhors the
division line which man loves to make for his own convenience. The
tomahawk shacks gradually evolve into axe camps and houses and "there
no telling the beginning of one and the end of t'other." Hence, when I
that all the previous shacks, sheds, shelters, and shanties are
with a hatchet, the statement must be accepted as true only so far as it
is possible to build them without an axe; but in looking over the
it is evident at a glance that the logs are growing so thick that the
necessity of the woodman's axe is more and more apparent; nevertheless,
the accompanying caches have been classed with the tomahawk group and
will allow them to remain there.
Wherever man travels in the wilderness he finds it necessary
cache—that is, hide or secure some of his goods or provisions.
security of these caches (Figs. 98-111) is considered sacred in
and they are not disturbed by savages or whites; but bears, foxes,
dogs, porcupines, and wolverenes are devoid of any conscientious
and unless the cache is absolutely secure they will raid it.
Fig. 98. Fig. 99. Fig.
100. Fig. 101. Fig. 102. Fig. 103. Fig. 104.
Simple forms of caches.
The first cache (Fig. 98) is
called the "prospector's cache" and consists
simply of a stick lashed to two trees and another long pole laid across
this to which the goods are hung, swinging beneath like a hammock. This
cache is hung high enough to be out of reach of a standing bear.
The tripod cache (Fig.
100) consists of three poles lashed at the top with
the goods hung underneath.
Another form of the prospector's cache is shown by Fig. 102, where two
poles are used in place of one and an open platform of sticks laid
the poles; the goods are placed upon the platform.
The tenderfoot's cache (Fig.
105) is one used only for temporary purposes
as it is too easily knocked over and would be of no use where animals
large as bears might wreck it. It consists of two sticks lashed
at their small ends and with their butt ends buried in the earth; their
tops are secured by a rope to a near-by tree while the duffel is
from the top of the longest pole.
The "Montainais" cache is an elevated platform upon which the
placed and covered with skins or tarpaulin or tent-cloth (Fig. 99).
The "Andrew Stone" cache is a miniature log cabin placed on
the ground and
the top covered with halved logs usually weighted down with stones (Fig.
The "Belmore Browne" cache consists of a pole or a half of a
log placed in
the fork of the two trees on top of which the goods are held in place
rope and the whole covered with a piece of
canvas lashed together with
eyelets, like a shoe (Fig. 103).
The "Herschel Parker" cache is used where the articles to be
cached are in
a box. For this cache two poles are lashed to two trees, one on each
of the trees (Fig. 104), and
across the two poles the box is placed.
We now come to more pretentious caches, the first of which is
"Susitna," which is a little log cabin built on a table with four long
legs. The poles or logs composing the legs of the table are cut in a
peculiar fashion, as shown in the diagram to the left of Fig. 107; this is
intended to prevent animals from climbing to the top; also, as a
protection, pieces of tin are sometimes tacked around the poles so as
give no foothold to the claws of the little animals.
Fig. 106 shows two
other methods sometimes adopted to protect small caches
and Fig. 108 is still
another method of using logs which have the roots
still attached to them for supports. Such logs can be used where the
ground is too stony to dig holes for posts.
Fig. 109 shows
another form of the Susitna cache wherein the goods are
packed in a box-like structure and covered with tent-cloth tightly
The "Dillon Wallace" cache (Fig. 110) is simply a tent
erected over the
goods and perched on an elevated platform.
The "Fred Vreeland" cache is a good, solid, practical
storehouse. It is
built of small logs on a platform, as shown by Fig. 111, and the bottom of
the building is smaller than it is at the eaves. It is covered with a
thatched roof and is ornamental as well as useful.
Fig. 106. Fig. 107. Fig. 108. Fig. 109.
Fig. 110. Fig. 111.
These caches might really belong to a book of woodcraft, but it is
case of the "ileum and jejunum," and we will rule that they technically
come under the head of shacks, sheds, shelters, and shanties and so are
included in this volume; but there is another and a very good reason
publishing them in this book, and that is because some of them, like
Figs. 107 and 111, suggest novel forms of
ornamental houses on country estates,
houses which may be used for corn-cribs or other storage or, like the
tree-top houses, used for pleasure and amusement.
HOW TO USE AN AXE
The old backwoodsmen were as expert
with their axes as they were with
their rifles and they were just as careful in the selection of these
as they were in the selection of their arms. Many a time I have seen
pick up a "store" axe, sight along the handle, and then cast it
contemptuously aside; they demanded of their axes that the cutting edge
should be exactly in line with the point in the centre of the butt end
the handle. They also kept their axes so sharp that they could whittle
with them like one can with a good jack-knife; furthermore, they
allowed no one but themselves to use their own particular axe.
my log house
in the mountains of Pike County, Pa., I have a table fashioned entirely
with an axe; even the ends of the boards which form the top of the
were cut off by Siley Rosencranz with his trusty axe because he had no
Both General Grant and Abraham Lincoln were expert axemen, and
number of other Presidents were also skilful in the use of this tool;
it is not expected that the modern vacation pioneer shall be an expert,
consequently a few simple rules and suggestions will be here given to
guide the amateur and he must depend upon his own judgment and common
sense to work out the minor problems which will beset him in the use of
All edged tools are dangerous when in the hands of "chumps,"
themselves and to any one else who is near them. For instance, only a
chump will use an axe when its head is loose and is in danger of flying
off the handle; only a chump will use his best axe to cut roots
sticks lying flat on the ground where he is liable to strike stones and
other objects and take the edge off the blade. Only a chump will leave
axe lying around on the ground for people to stumble over; if there is
stump handy at your camp and you are through using the axe, strike the
blade into the top of the stump and leave the axe sticking there, where
will be safe from injury.
Remember, before chopping down a tree or before using the axe
at all, to
see that there is enough space above and around you to enable you to
the axe clear (Fig. 112)
without the danger of striking bushes or
overhanging branches which may deflect the blade and cause accidents
or less serious.
Do not stand behind a tree as it falls (Fig. 115), for the boughs may
strike those of a standing tree, causing the butt to shoot back or
and many a woodsman has lost his life from the kick of a falling tree.
Before chopping a tree down, select the place where it is to fall, a
where it will not be liable to lodge in another tree on its way down.
not try to fell a tree against the wind.
Cut a notch on the side of the tree facing the direction you
wish it to
fall (Fig. 113) and cut it
half-way through the trunk. Make the notch, or
kerf, large enough to avoid pinching your axe in it. If you discover
the notch is going to be too small, cut a new notch, X (Fig. 116), some
inches above your first one, then split off the piece X, Y
two notches, and again make the notch X, Z, and split
off the piece Z, W, Y (Fig. 116), until you make room
for the axe to continue your
chopping. When the first kerf is finished begin another one on the
opposite side of the tree a little higher than the first one (Fig. 114).
When the wood between the two notches becomes too small to support the
weight of the tree, the top of the tree will begin to tremble and waver
and give you plenty of time to step to one side before it falls.
Fig. 112. Fig. 113. Fig. 114. Fig. 115.
Fig. 116. Fig. 117. Fig. 118.
How to "fall" a tree and how to take off the bark.
If the tree (Fig. 117) is
inclined in the opposite direction from which
you wish it to fall, it is sometimes possible (Fig. 117) to block up the
kerf on the inclined side and then by driving the wedge over the block
force the tree to fall in the direction desired; but if the tree
too far this cannot be done.
There was a chestnut-tree standing close to my log house and
toward the building. Under ordinary circumstances felling this tree
cause it to strike the house with all the weight of its trunk and
branches. When I told Siley Rosencranz I wanted that tree cut down he
sighted up the tree, took a chew of tobacco, and walked away. For
days he went through the same performance, until at last one day he
brought out his trusty axe and made the chips fly. Soon the chestnut
lying prone on the ground pointing away from the house. What
backwoodsman did was to wait until a strong wind had sprung up, blowing
the direction that he wanted the tree to fall, and his skilful chopping
with the aid of the wind placed the tree exactly where he wished it.
Fig. 118 shows how
to make the cuts on a standing tree in order to remove
the bark, which is done in the same manner as that described for
the birch bark (Fig. 38).
HOW TO SPLIT LOGS, MAKE SHAKES, SPLITS, OR CLAPBOARDS. HOW TO
CHOP A LOG
IN HALF. HOW TO FLATTEN A LOG. ALSO SOME DON'TS
Logs are usually split by the use
of wedges, but it is possible to split
them by the use of two axes. Fig.
119 shows both methods. To split with
the axe, strike it smartly into the wood at the small end so as to
crack, then sink the axe in the crack, A. Next take the second
strike it in line with the first one at B. If this is done
should open the crack wide enough to release the first axe without
trouble, which may then be struck in the log at C. In this
manner it is
possible to split a straight-grained piece of timber without the use of
wedges. The first axe should be struck in at the smaller or top end of
log. To split a log with wedges, take your axe in your left hand and a
club in your right hand and, by hammering the head of your axe with the
club, drive the blade into the small end of the log far enough to make
crack deep enough to hold the thin edge of your wedges. Make this crack
all the way across the end of the log, as in Fig. 119. Put two wedges in
the end of the log, as in the diagram, and drive them until the wood
begins to split and crack along the sides of the log; then follow up
crack with other wedges, as shown at D and E, until the
log is split
While ordinary wood splits easily enough with the grain, it is
difficult to drive an axe through the wood
at right angles to the grain,
as shown by diagram to the left (Fig.
120); hence, if the amateur be
chopping wood, if he will strike a slanting blow, like the one to the
right in Fig. 120, he will
discover that the blade of his axe will enter
the wood; whereas, in the first position, where he strikes the grain at
right angles, it will only make a dent in the wood and bounce the axe
back; but in striking a diagonal blow he must use care not to slant his
axe too far or the blade of the axe may only scoop out a shallow chip
swing around, seriously injuring the axeman or some one else.
If it is desired to cut off the limb of a tree, do not
disfigure the tree
by tearing the bark down; trees are becoming too scarce for us to
them unnecessarily; if you cut part way through the limb on the
(see the right-hand diagram, Fig.
121) and then cut partly through from
the top side, the limb will fall off without tearing the bark down the
trunk; but if you cut only from the top (see left-hand diagram, Fig. 121),
sooner or later the weight of the limb will tear it off and make an
wound down the front of the tree, which in time decays, makes a hollow,
and ultimately destroys the tree. A neatly cut branch, on the other
when the stub has been sheared off close to the bark, will heal up,
leaving only an eye-mark on the bark to tell where the limb once grew.
If it is desired to chop a log up into shorter pieces,
remember to stand
on the log to do your chopping, as in Fig. 122. This will do away
necessity of rolling the log over when you want to chop on the other
Do not forget to make the kerf, or notch, C, D the same
as A, B;
in other words, the distance across the notch should equal the diameter
the log. If you start with too narrow a kerf, or notch, before you
you will be compelled to widen it.
Fig. 119. Fig. 120. Fig. 121. Fig. 122.
Fig. 123. Fig. 124. Fig. 125.
Fig. 126. Fig. 127. Fig. 128. Fig. 129.
Fig. 130. Fig. 131.
How to split a log, chop a log, flatten
a log, and trim a tree.
To flatten a log you must score and hew it. Scoring consists in
number of notches, C, D, E, F, G,
H, J, etc., to the depth
of the line A, B (Figs. 123 and 124); hewing it is the act of
off or splitting off the pieces A, C and C, D
and D, E, etc.,
leaving the surface flat, as shown by Fig. 125, which was known among
pioneers as a puncheon and with which they floored their cabins before
advent of the saw-mill and milled lumber.
Perhaps it will be advisable for the amateur to take a
chalk-line and snap
it from A to B (Fig.
123), so that he may be certain to have the flat
surface level. The expert axeman will do this by what he calls
"sensiation." It might be well to say here that if you select for
puncheons wood with a straight grain and wood that will split easily
will simplify your task, but even mean, stubborn wood may be flattened
scoring and hewing. Quoting from Horace Kephart's excellent book on
woodcraft, an experienced man can tell a straight-grained log "by
scanning the bark"; if the ridges and furrows of the bark run straight
and down the wood will have a corresponding straight grain, but if they
are spiral the wood will split "waney" or not at all. "Waney" is a good
word, almost as good as "sensiation"; so when you try to quarter a log
with which to chink your cabin or log house don't select a "waney" log.
quarter a log split it as shown in Fig. 119 and split it along the
lines shown in the end view of Fig.
In the Maine woods the woodsmen are adepts in making shakes,
clapboards, or shingles by the use of only an axe and splitting them
of the billets of wood from four to six feet long. The core of the log
(Fig. 130) is first cut out
and then the pieces are split out, having
wedge-shaped edges, as shown by the lines marked on Fig. 127. They also
split out boards after the manner shown
by Fig. 128. In making
boards or the shakes, if it is found that the wood splinters down into
body of the log too far or into the board or shake too far, you must
commence at the other end of the billet or log and split it up to meet
first split, or take hold of the split or board with your hands and
tear it from the log, an art which only experience can teach. I have
two-story houses composed of nothing but a framework with sides and
shingled over with these splits. In the West they call these "shake"
It may be wise before we close this axeman's talk to caution
against chopping firewood by resting one end of the stick to be cut on
log and the other end on the ground, as shown in Fig. 131, and then
striking this stick a sharp blow with the axe in the middle. The effect
this often is to send the broken piece or fragment gyrating through the
air, as is shown by the dotted lines, and many a woodchopper has lost
eye from a blow inflicted by one of these flying pieces; indeed, I have
had some of my friends meet with this serious and painful accident from
the same cause, and I have seen men in the lumber fields who have been
blinded in a similar manner.
There are two sorts of axes in general use among the
lumbermen; but the
double-bitted axe (131 A)
appears to be the most popular among
lumberjacks. My readers, however, are not lumberjacks but campers, and
double-bitted axe is a nuisance around camps. It is always dangerous
even when one blade is sunk into the tree the other blade is sticking
a menace to everybody and everything that comes near it. But the real
old-fashioned reliable axe (131
B) is the one that is exceedingly useful
in a camp, around a country place, or a farm. I even have one now in my
studio closet here in the city of New York, but I keep it more for
sentiment's sake than for any real use it may be to me here.
The Stefansson Sod Shack
Now that we know how to wield the
axe we can begin on more ambitious
structures than those preceding. We may now build camps in which we use
logs instead of poles. Most of these camps are intended to be covered
sod or earth and are nearly related to the old prairie dugout. The sod
house is used in the arctic regions because it is warm inside, and it
used in the arid regions because it is cool inside. You will note that
principle on which the Stefansson is constructed (Fig. 135) is practically
the same as that of the Pontiac (Fig.
36); the Stefansson frame, however,
is made of larger timbers than the Pontiac because it not only must
support a roof and side of logs and sod but must also be able to
any quantity of snow.
First erect two forked upright sticks (Fig. 132), and then steady them
two braces. Next lay four more logs or sticks for the side-plates with
their butt ends on the ridge-pole and their small ends on the ground as
in Fig. 133. Support these
logs by a number of small uprights—as many as may
be necessary for the purpose. The uprights may have forks at the top or
have the top ends cut wedge-shaped to fit in notches made for that
in the side-plates as shown by Fig.
133 A. The shortest uprights at the
end of the roof should be forked so that the projecting fork will tend
keep the roof logs from sliding down. The roof is made by a number of
straight rafters placed one with the butt in front, next with the butt
the rear alternately, so that they will fit snugly together until the
whole roof is covered. The sides are made by setting a number of sticks
a trench and slanting them against the roof; both sides, front, and
of the building should project six inches above the roof in order to
the sod and dirt and keep it from sliding off.
Fig. 132. Fig. 133. Fig. 134. Fig. 135.
Details of the Stefansson sod shack.
Up in the north country one must not expect to find green, closely
lawns or even green fields of wild sod in all places. Although in some
parts the grass grows taller than a man's head, in other places the sod
only called so by courtesy; it really consists of scraggy grass thinly
distributed on gravelly and sandy, loose soil, and consequently we must
secure the sod by having the walls project a little above the rafters
around the building. Of course, in summer weather this roof will leak,
then one may live in a tent; but when cold weather comes and the sod is
frozen hard and banked up with snow the Stefansson makes a good, warm
The same style of a camp can be made in the temperate zone of
trees and shingled with browse, or in the South of cane or bamboo and
shingled with palmetto leaves, or in the Southwest of cottonwood where
may be covered with adobe or mud. Fig.
134 shows a Stefansson shack roofed
with sod. The front is left uncovered to show its construction and also
show how the doorway is made by simply leaving an opening like that in
tent. In winter this may have a hallway built like the one described in
the Navajo earth lodge (Fig. 35)
or in the Pawnee hogan (Figs. 42
and in milder weather the doorway may be protected with a skin. An
is left in the roof over the fireplace, which answers the purpose of a
The author aims to take hints from all the primitive dwellings which
be of service to outdoor people; the last one described was arbitrarily
named the Stefansson because that explorer built himself such shelters
the far North, but he did not invent them. He borrowed the general plan
from the natives of the northern country and adapted it to his use,
thereby placing the official stamp on this shack as a useful building
outdoor people and, consequently, as deserving a place in this book.
RAILROAD-TIE SHACKS, BARREL SHACKS, AND CHIMEHUEVIS
No observing person has travelled
far upon the American railroads without
noticing, alongside the tracks, the queer little houses built of
ties by Italian laborers. These shacks are known by the name of dagoes
(Fig. 136) and are made in
different forms, according to the ingenuity of
the builder. The simplest form is the tent-shaped shown in Fig. 136, with
the ends of the ties rested together in the form of a tent and with no
other support but their own weight (see the diagram to the right, Fig.
136). I would not advise boys to build this style, because it might
trap to fall in upon them with serious results, but if they use a
ridge-pole like the one shown in Fig.
139 and against it rest the ties
they will do away with the danger of being caught in a deadfall trap.
course, it is understood that the ridge-pole itself must first be
Railroad ties being flat (Fig.
137), they may be built up into solid walls
(Fig. 137) and make neat
sides for a little house; or they may be set up
on edge (Fig. 138) and
secured in place by stakes driven upon each side of
them; or they may be made into the form of an open Adirondack camp
139 and 140) by resting the
ties on a ridge-pole supported by a pair of
"shears" at each end; the shears, as you will observe, consist of two
sticks bound together near the top and then spread apart to receive the
ridge-pole in the crotch.
Fig. 136. Fig. 137. Fig. 138. Fig. 139.
Fig. 140. Fig. 141. Fig. 142.
Railroad-tie shacks, barrel shack, and a Chimehuevis.
All of these structures are usually covered with dirt and sod, and they
make very comfortable little camps.
In the Southwest a simple shelter, the "Chimehuevis," is made
a room in upright poles (Fig. 141)
and then surrounding it with a circle
of poles supporting a log or pole roof covered with sod, making a good
camp for hot weather.
Fig. 142 shows a
barrel dugout. It is made by digging a place for it in
the bank and, after the floor is levelled off, setting rows of barrels
around the foundation, filling these barrels with sand, gravel, or
then placing another row on top of the first, leaving spaces for a
and a door, after which the walls are roofed with logs and covered with
sod, in the same manner as the ones previously described. The dirt is
filled around the sides, except at the window opening, as shown by Fig.
142. A barrel also does duty as a chimney.
Shacks like this are used by homesteaders, miners, trappers,
in fact, these people use any sort of material they have at hand. When
mining-camp is near by the freight wagons are constantly bringing in
supplies, and these supplies are done up in packages of some kind.
are frequently worth more a yard than silk, or were in the olden days,
so the home builders used other material. They built themselves houses
discarded beer bottles, of kerosene cans, of packing-boxes, of any and
every thing. Usually these houses were dugouts, as is the barrel one
in Fig. 142. In the big-tree
country they not infrequently made a house of
a hollow stump of a large redwood, and one stone-mason hollowed out a
bowlder for his dwelling; but such shacks belong among the freak
The barrel one, however, being the
more practical and one that can be
used almost anywhere where timber is scarce but where goods are
transported in barrels, deserves a place here among our shacks,
The houses along the coast of the
Bering Sea are called barabaras, but the
ones that we are going to build now are in form almost identical with
Pawnee hogan (Figs. 42 and 43), the real difference being
in the peculiar
log work of the barabara in place of the teepee-like rafters of the
To build a barabara you will need eight short posts for the
and six or eight longer posts for the inside supports (Fig. 145). The
outside posts should stand about three feet above the ground after they
have been planted in the holes dug for the purpose. The top of the
should be cut wedge-shaped, as shown by Fig. 144, in order to fit in
notch B (Fig. 144).
The cross logs, where they cross each other, should
be notched like those of a log cabin (Figs. 162 and 165) or flattened at
the points of contact.
Plant your first four posts for the front of your barabara in
a line, two
posts for the corners B and E (Fig. 145 A), and two at
the middle of
the line C and D for door-jambs (plan, Fig. 145 A). The tops
these posts should be level with each other so that if a straight log
placed over them the log will lie level. Next plant the two side-posts F
and G (Fig. 145 A)
at equal distances from the two front posts and
make them a few feet farther apart than are the front posts. The sketch
the framework is drawn in very steep perspective, that is, it is made
if the spectator was on a hill looking down upon it. It is drawn in
manner so as to better show the construction, but the location of the
posts may be seen in the small plan. Next set the two back posts, H
and K, and place them much closer together, so that the bottom
the rails are on the post will be very near the shape of a boy's
Fig. 144. Fig. 145. Fig. 146. Fig. 147.
details of a Barabara.
Inside erect another set of posts, setting each one opposite the
ones and about a foot and a half or two feet farther in, or maybe less
distance, according to the material one is using. Next set some posts
the hallway or entrance, which will be the door-jambs, and you are
to build up the log roof. Do this by first setting the rail securely on
the two side-posts on the right and left of the building; then secure
back plate on the two back posts at the rear of the building, next
a long log over the side rails at the front of the building. The
door-posts, of course, must be enough taller than the two end posts to
allow for the thickness of the log, so that the front log will rest
their top. Next put your two corner logs on, and your outside rail is
complete. Build the inside rail in the same manner; then continue to
up with the logs as shown in the diagram until you have a frame like
in Fig. 145. Fig. 147 shows the inside of
the house and the low doorway,
and Fig. 148 shows the
slanting walls. This frame is supposed to be
covered with splits or shakes (Figs. 147 and 148), but, as in all pioneer
structures, if shakes, splits, and clapboards are unobtainable, use the
material at hand—birch bark, spruce bark, tar paper, old tin
tent-cloth, or sticks, brush, ferns, weeds, or round sticks, to cover
as you did with the Pawnee hogan (Figs. 42 and 43). Then cover it with
browse, or thatch it with hay or straw and hold the thatch in place
poles or sticks, as shown in Fig.
146. The barabara may also be covered
with earth, sod, or mud.
This sort of a house, if built with planks or boards nailed securely to
the rafters and covered with earth and sod, will make a splendid cave
house for boys and a playhouse for children on the lawn, and it may be
covered with green growing sod so as to have the appearance of an
ornamental mound. The instinct of the cave-dweller is deeply implanted
the hearts of boys, and every year we have a list of fatal accidents
caused by the little fellows digging caves in sand-banks or banks of
gravel which frequently fall in and bury the little troglodytes, but
will be safe in a barabara. The shack is ventilated by a chimney hole
the roof as shown by Fig. 146.
This hole should be protected in a
playhouse. The framework is a good one to use in all parts of the
for more or less permanent camps, but the long entrance and low doorway
are unnecessary except in a cold climate or to add to the mystery of
cave house for children. It is a good form for a dugout for a root
or cyclone cellar.
THE NAVAJO HOGAN, HORNADAY DUGOUT, AND SOD HOUSE
If the reader has ever built little
log-cabin traps he knows just how to
build a Navajo hogan or at least the particular Navajo hogan shown by
Figs. 148 and 150. This one is six-sided and
may be improved by notching
the logs (Figs. 162, 164, 165) and building them up one
on top of the
other, dome-shaped, to the required height. After laying some rafters
the roof and leaving a hole for the chimney the frame is complete. In
countries no chimney hole is left in the roof, because the people there
not build fires inside the house; they go indoors to keep cool and not
get warm; but the Navajo hogan also makes a good cold-country house in
places where people really need a fire. Make the doorway by leaving an
opening (Fig. 150) and
chinking the logs along the opening to hold them in
place until the door-jamb is nailed or pegged to them, and then build a
shed entranceway (Fig. 153),
which is necessary because the slanting sides
of the house with an unroofed doorway have no protection against the
entrance of dust and rain or snow, and every section of this country is
subject to visits from one of these elements. The house is covered with
brush, browse, or sod.
Fig. 152 shows how
to make a log dugout by building the walls of the log
cabin in a level place dug for it in the bank. Among the log cabins
(Figs. 162 and 166) we tell how to notch the
logs for this purpose.
Fig. 149. Fig. 150. Fig. 151. Fig. 152.
Fig. 153. Fig. 154.
of dugouts and mound shacks.
 Fig. 151 shows one of
these log dugouts which I have named the Hornaday
from the fact that Doctor William Hornaday happens to be sitting in
of the one represented in the sketch. Fig. 154 shows a dugout with
made of sod which is piled up like stones in a stone wall. The roofs of
all these are very flat and made of logs (Figs. 54, 55, and 56), often
with a log pegged to the rafters above the eaves to hold the sod. All
houses are good in dry countries, cold countries, and countries
by tornadoes or by winds severe enough to blow down ordinary camps.
The Navajo hogan is an easy sort of a house for boys to build
lads may use small poles in place of logs with which to build the camp
thus make the labor light enough to suit their undeveloped muscles, but
the next illustration shows how to build an American boy's hogan of
lumber such as one can procure in thickly settled parts of the country.
HOW TO BUILD AN AMERICAN BOY'S HOGAN
The first time any working plans of
an underground house for boys were
published was when an article by the present writer on the subject
appeared in the Ladies' Home Journal. Afterward it was
published with a
lot of similar material in "The Jack of All Trades." Since then other
writers have not hesitated to use the author's sketches with very
alteration; imitation is the sincerest compliment, although it is not
always fair, but it does, however, show the popularity of the
The American boy's hogan may be built like the preceding
shacks of the
material found in the woods or it may be constructed of old boards and
waste material to be found in village back yards or on the farm, or, if
the boys have the price or if they can interest their fathers or uncles
their scheme, it may be built of milled lumber procured at the
Procure some good, sound planks and some pieces of two by four
to build your frame. The hogan should be large enough to allow room for
table made of a packing-case, some benches, stools, or chairs, and the
ceilings should be high enough for the tallest boy to stand erect
bumping his head.
One funny thing about this house is that it must be furnished
before it is
built, because the doorway and passageway will be too small to admit
furniture larger than a stool. Select or make your furniture and have
ready, then decide upon the location of your hogan, which should be,
the Western dugouts, on the edge of some bank (Fig. 158). In this diagram
the dotted line shows how the bank originally sloped.
The real hard work connected with this is the digging of the
one Y. M. C. A. man started to build one of these hogans, but he
"weakened" before he had the foundation dug. He wrote the author a long
letter complaining of the hard work; at the same time the author was
receiving letters from boys telling how much fun they had in
and finishing their underground houses.
Ever since "Robinson Crusoe" and "Swiss Family Robinson" were
houses have been particularly attractive to boys; no doubt they were
as attractive before these books were written, and that may be the
the books themselves are so popular; at any rate, when the author was a
small boy he was always searching for natural caves, or trying to dig
for himself, and so were all of his companions. One of the most
features of the "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn" stories is that
connected with the cave.
Fig. 155. Fig. 156. Fig. 157. Fig.
157.A. Fig. 157.B. Fig. 157.C.
Fig. 158. Fig. 159. Fig. 160. Fig. 161.
The original American boy's hogan or underground house.
The trouble is that with caves which the boys dig for
themselves there is
always serious danger of the roof falling in and smothering the young
troglodytes, but a properly built underground hogan is perfectly safe
After you have levelled off the foundation erect the rear
two-by-fours A, B and C, D (Fig. 156). These posts should
the same height and tall enough to allow the roof to slant toward the
front as in Fig. 155. The
front posts E, F and G, H, although
shorter than the back posts, should be tall enough to allow headroom.
two, or three more posts may be erected between the post A, B
post C, D if additional strength is required. The same
is true of the
sides, and in place of having only one post in the middle of each side
(M, N and O, P, Fig. 156), there may be two or
three posts, all
according to the size of the house you are building; the main point is
make a compact and strong box of your framework so that in the
weather the banks surrounding it will not be tempted to push in the
and spoil your house.
Locust, chestnut, and cedar will last longer than other
varieties of wood
when exposed to contact with damp earth, but common wood, which rots
easily, may be protected by preservatives, one of which is boiled
linseed-oil with pulverized charcoal stirred into it until a black
is produced. Some people say that a coat of charcoal paint will preserve
even a basswood fence post for a lifetime, and if that is true a hogan
protected by a coating upon the outside of paint made by stirring fine
charcoal into boiled linseed-oil until it is as thick as paint will
longer than any of my readers will have occasion to use the hogan for a
playhouse. Erect the frame (Fig.
156) by having some boys hold the
uprights in place until they can be secured with temporary braces like
those shown running diagonally across from B to E and A
to F. You
may then proceed to board up the sides from the outside of the frame by
slipping the planks between the frame and the bank and then nailing
the inside wherever you lack room upon the outside to swing your
The door-jambs I, J and K, L will help
support the roof.
The roof may be made of lumber, as shown by Fig. 160, or it may be made of
poles like those shown on the Wyoming Olebo (Fig. 236), or it may be made
of planks and covered with tar paper (Figs. 296, 297, 298, and 299), or it
may be shingled, using barrel staves for shingles, or covered with bits
old tin roofing tacked over the planking—or anything, in fact,
keep out the water. As for looks, that will not count because the roof
to be afterward covered with sod.
If you wish to make the roof as the cliff-dwellers made
theirs, put your
biggest logs crosswise from A, M, E to C,
O, G of your house
for rafters, and across the larger logs lay a lot of small poles as
together as may be, running from the back to the front of the house.
in the cracks between with moss or calk them with dry grass; on them
place a layer of brush, browse, or small sticks and over this a thick
coating of clay, hard-pan, or ordinary mud and pack it down hard by
tramping it with your feet until it becomes a smooth and tightly packed
crust; over this you can put your sod and weeds to conceal your secret.
To make the frame for the underground hall or passageway (Fig. 156), first
nail Q, S across the door-jambs to form the top to the
which put in the supports Q, R and S, T.
Next build the frame U, V, X, W and
join it to Q, S
by the two pieces Q, U and S, V and put
in the middle frame support marked ZZZZ.
The passageway should be about six feet long and the front
doorway (U, V, X, W, Figs. 156 and 157) of sufficient size to
enable you to
creep through with comfort. The bottom piece W, X can
be nailed to a
couple of sticks driven in the ground for that purpose. The next thing
order is the floor, and to make this firm you must lay a number of
two-by-fours parallel to B, D and F, H
and see that they are
level. You will need a number of shorter pieces of the same material to
run parallel to F, H and W, X for the
hall floor, as may be seen
in Fig. 157. Across these
nail your floor securely as shown in Fig. 155.
There are no windows shown in the diagram, but if the builders
wish one it
can be placed immediately over the entrance or hallway in the frame
marked I, K, Q, S (Fig. 156), in which case the
top covering of dirt must
be shovelled away from it to admit the light in the same manner that it
in the dugout shown in Fig. 142
and also in the small sketch (Fig.
The ventilator shown in Fig. 155
may be replaced, if thought desirable, by
a chimney for an open fire. On account of the need of ventilation a stove
would not be the proper thing for an underground house, but an open
would help the ventilation. In the diagram the ventilator is set over a
square hole in the roof; it may be made of a barrel or barrels, with
heads knocked out, placed over the hole in the roof, or kegs, according
the size of the roof. When your house is complete fill in the dirt
the edges, pack it down good and hard by the use of a piece of
two by four or four by four as a rammer, then cover the roof with small
sticks and fine brush and sod it with growing weeds or grass.
You should have a good, stout front door (Fig. 157) and a padlock with
which to secure it from trespassers.
A rustic hinge may be made by splitting a forked branch (Fig. 157 C) and
using the two pieces nailed to the sides of the door-jambs (Fig. 157 A)
to hold the round ends of the rod (Fig.
157 B) run through them. The
middle of the B stick is flattened to fit on the surface of the
which it is nailed. This hinge was invented by Scout Victor Aures of
stockade 41144 of Boy Pioneers of America and a description with neat
diagrams sent by the inventor to his chief. When all is completed you
conceal the ventilator with dry brush or by planting weeds or shrubs
around it, which will not interfere with the ventilation but will
the suspicious-looking pipe protruding from the ground. The top of the
ventilator should be protected by slats, as in Fig. 161, or by wire
netting with about one-quarter-inch mesh in order to keep small animals
from jumping or hopping down into your club-house.
Of course, a few toads
and frogs, field-mice and chipmunks, or even some lizards and harmless
snakes would not frighten any real boy, but at the same time they do
want any such creatures living in the same house with them.
In place of a ventilator or chimney a trap-door may be placed
in the roof
and used as a secret entrance, access to inside being had by a ladder.
description of an appropriate ladder follows (Figs. 169 and 170).
Fig. 159 shows a
rude way to make a chandelier, and as long as your
candles burn brightly you may know that the air in your little hogan is
pure and fresh. When such a chandelier is used pieces of tin should be
nailed above the candles to prevent the heat from burning holes through
HOW TO CUT AND NOTCH LOGS
Boys you have now passed through
the grammar school of shack making, you
are older than you were when you began, you have acquired more skill
more muscle, and it is time to begin to handle the woodsman's axe, to
handle it skilfully and to use it as a tool with which to fashion
from a table to a two-story house. None of you is too young to learn to
use the axe. General Grant, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Billy
Sunday—all of them could wield an axe by the time they were eight
years old and do it without chopping off their toes or splitting any
else's head open. Remember that every time you hurt yourself with an
have a yellow ribbon for you to wear as a "chump mark"; but, joking
we must now get down to serious work of preparing the logs in order to
build us a little cabin of our own, a log club-house for our gang, or a
log camp for our troop of scouts.
To make the logs hold together at the corners of our cabins it
necessary to lock them in some manner, and the usual way is to notch
You may cut flat notches like those shown in Fig. 162 and this will hold
the logs together, as shown by 162
E or you may only flatten the ends,
making the General Putnam joint shown in Fig. 163.
This is called after
General Putnam because the log cabins at his old camp near my farm at
Redding, Conn., are made in this manner. Or you may use the Pike notch
which has a wedge-shaped cut on the lower log, as shown by Fig. 164 J,
made to fit into a triangular notch shown by 164 H. When fitted
these logs look like the sketch marked 164 F which was drawn
cabin built in this manner.
But the simplest notch is the rounded one shown by A, B,
and C (Fig.
165). When these are locked together they will fit like those shown
at Fig. 165 D.
Away up North the people dovetail the ends of the logs (Fig. 166) so that
their ends fit snugly together and are also securely locked by their
dovetail shape. To build a log house, place the two sill logs on the
ground or on the foundation made for them, then two other logs across
them, as shown in Fig. 168.
Handling the Logs
That the logs may be more easily handled they should be piled
up on a
skidway which is made by resting the top ends of a number of poles upon
big log or some other sort of elevation and their lower ends upon the
ground. With this arrangement the logs may be rolled off without much
trouble as they are used.
A log cabin built with hardwood logs or with pitch-pine logs
can seldom be
made as tight as one built with the straight spruce logs of the virgin
forests. The latter will lie as close as the ones shown in Fig. 162 E,
while the former, on account of their unevenness, will have large
between them like those shown in Fig.
165 D. These cracks may be stopped
up by quartering small pieces of timber (Y and W, Fig. 168½) and
fitting these quartered pieces into the cracks between the logs where
are held by spikes. This is called "chinking the cabin."
Fig. 162. Fig. 163. Fig. 164. Fig. 165.
Fig. 166. Fig. 167. Fig. 168. Fig.
how the logs are notched.
To keep the cold and wind out, the cracks may be "mudded" up on the
with clay or ordinary lime mortar.
Study these diagrams carefully, then sit down on the ground
with a pile of
little sticks alongside of you and a sharp jack-knife in your hand and
proceed to experiment by building miniature log cabins. Really, this is
the best way to plan a large cabin if you intend to erect one. From
model you can see at a glance just how to divide your cabin up into
where you want to place the fireplace, windows, and doors; and I would
advise you always to make a small model before building. Make the model
about one foot three inches long by ten inches wide, using sticks for
a little less than one inch in diameter—that is, one inch through
inch thick. I have taken these dimensions or measurements from a little
model that I have before me here in my studio, but, of course, you can
vary them according to the plans of your cabin.
NOTCHED LOG LADDERS
Ever since man learned to use edged
tools he has made ladders or steps, or
whatever you may call them, by notching logs (Figs. 169 and 170).
Fig. 169. Fig. 170.
The pioneer log ladder.
A few years ago I took a splendid trip among the unnamed lakes and in
is known as "the unexplored country"—that is, the unmapped
northwestern Quebec. We travelled over trails that had not been changed
man since canoes were invented. The forests were untouched by the axe
the white man. There were no roads, no houses, no fences, no people
a few wandering Indians, no cattle except caribou and moose, no dogs
except wolves, and we slept at night on beds of balsam and paddled by
through rivers and lakes or carried our luggage and our canoes over the
portages from one body of water to another over centuries-old trails.
one place the trail led up the side of a mountain to the beetling face
a cliff—a cliff that we had to climb with all our canoes and
we climbed it on a couple of notched logs, as shown in Fig. 169. By the
way, boys, the Indian with the big load on his back is my old friend
Bow-Arrow, formerly chief of the Montainais, and the load on his back
sketched from the real one he carried up that ladder portage. This old
was then sixty years of age. But all this talk is for the purpose of
telling you the use of the notched log. Our pioneer ancestors used them
ascend to the loft over their cabins where they slept (Fig. 170). It is
also a good ladder to use for tree-houses and a first-rate one for our
underground hogans when we have an entrance through the top instead of
at the side shown by Fig. 156.
Since you have learned how to use the axe
you may make one of these primitive ladders to reach the hay-loft in
barn, if you have a barn. You may make the ladder of one log if you set
the pole or log upright and notch it on both sides so that you can
it with your hand and, placing one foot on each side of it, climb up in
A POLE HOUSE. HOW TO USE A CROSS-CUT SAW AND A FROE
171 shows a pole house—that is, a house, the walls of
which are made
by setting straight poles up on end with sides against each other and
nailing a beam across the top (Fig.
172) and toe-nailing them (Fig.
that is, driving the nails slantingly down through the poles to the
beneath. Fig. 172 shows how
to nail them to the top beam or side-plate. To
build a pole house, erect the four corner-posts and any intermediate
which may be necessary, nailing the plates on top of the posts to hold
frame together (Fig. 172),
afterward fitting the other posts in place, as
shown in the sketch.
We have not yet arrived at the part of the book where we can
extensive houses as the one shown here. The drawing is only inserted at
this place because it naturally comes with the use of the cross-cut
You can, however, without much trouble, build a small pole house
the veranda, and after you have learned how to build the big log houses
you can turn back to this page and try a pole house like Fig. 171.
Fig. 171. Fig. 172. Fig. 173. Fig. 174.
Fig. 175. Fig. 176. Fig. 177.
Fig. 178. Fig. 179.
use of the saw in log work.
Sawing on an Angle
Fig. 174 shows how
to saw off poles on the bias, as a woman would say, or
on an angle, as a man would say. Suppose, for instance, you want to cut
the poles to fit the dormer over the veranda shown in Fig. 171. Measure
off the height of the middle pole, then the distance along the base
the middle pole to the corner at the eaves. Next fit the poles you are
going to use closely together to cover that distance; hold them in
by nailing a plank temporarily across the bottom ends; then place
plank at the point marked for the height of the middle pole, run it
to the bottom plank, and nail it temporarily along this line. Now take
hold of one end of the saw, as the fellow does in Fig. 174, and let
another boy take the other end of the saw; then by working it back and
forth along the line you may saw off the protruding ends of the poles.
Proceed in the same manner along the base-board. You will then have
the dormer poles all nicely tacked together and cut in the right shape
that they may be evenly fitted in place, and after they are secured
the marking planks may be knocked off. Fig. 175 shows two boys at work
"pit-sawing." They are sawing planks from a log, which is rather hard
but not unpleasant. I know, for I have tried it when I was up among the
moonshiners in the mountains of Kentucky. Fig. 176 is from a sketch I
up in Michigan, where two men were sawing down a tree as they
do nowadays in place of chopping it down with an axe; this tree,
was first notched with an axe so that it would fall in the right
direction. Fig. 178 shows
the peculiar teeth of one of these two-handled
saws. It is not necessary for you to be expert on the sort of teeth a
should have; any saw that cuts well for your purpose is the sort of saw
Fig. 179 shows two
forms of the froe, an implement used for splitting
shakes and shingles and clapboards like those on the roof of Fig. 171. The
froe is held by the handle with the left hand and hammered on the top
a mallet held in the right hand. Fig.
177 shows two boys sawing a log up
into sections, but for our work in cabin building the woodsman's axe is
the real tool we need. The saw is all right and may be used if you have
it, but it is a little too civilized for real woodcraft work. You
throw one of these saws over your shoulder as you would an axe and go
marching into the woods with any comfort. The saw is also a more
implement around camp than even a sharp axe.
LOG-ROLLING AND OTHER BUILDING STUNTS
Of course my readers know all about
geometry, but if by the rarest of
chances one of them should not it will not prevent him from using that
science to square the corners of his log cabin. Builders always have a
ten-foot measuring rod—that is, a rod or straight stick ten feet
marked with a line at each foot from end to end. Make your own ten-foot
pole of as straight a piece of wood as you can find. With it measure
feet carefully on the log C, G (Fig. 180) and mark the point at
(Fig. 180); measure eight
feet on the other log C, A (Fig. 180) and
mark the point at N. If these measurements have been carefully
made from C to O and from C to N and
corner is "square," then your
ten-foot pole will reach between the two points O and N
with the tips
of the pole exactly touching O and N. If it does not
between N and O, either the corner is not square or you
marked off the distances accurately on the logs. Test the measurements
if they are not found true then push your logs one way or the other
it is exactly ten feet from O to N. Then test the
corner at H in the
Fig. 180. Fig. 181. Fig. 182. Fig. 183.
How to square the corners, roll the
logs of cabin, and make log steps.
In the olden times log-rolling was always a great frolic and
people from far and near to lend a helping hand in building the new
In handling logs, lumbermen have tools made for that
peevy irons, lannigans, and numerous other implements with names as
peculiar as their looks—but the old backwoodsmen and pioneers who
in log houses owned no tools but their tomahawks, their axes, and their
rifles, and the logs of most of their houses were rolled in place by
men themselves pushing them up the skids laid against the cabin wall
that purpose; later, when the peddlers and traders brought ropes to the
settlements, they used these to pull their logs in place. In building
log house in Pennsylvania we used two methods; one was hand power (Fig.
181). Taking two ropes we fastened the ends securely inside the
then passed the free ends of the ropes around the log, first under it
then over the top of it, then up to a group of men who, by pulling on
free ends, rolled the log (Fig.
181) up to the top of the cabin. But when
Lafe Jeems and Nate Tanner and Jimmy Rosencranz were supplied with some
oxen they fastened a chain to each end of the log (Fig. 182), then
fastened a pulley-block to the other side of the cabin, that is, the
opposite the skids, and ran the line through the pulley-block to the
as it is run to the three men in Fig.
182. When the oxen were started the
log slid up the skids to the loose rafters N, O, P
and when once up
there it was easily shoved and fitted into place.
Sometimes one wants front steps to one's log house and these
may be made
of flattened logs or puncheons, as shown by Fig. 183.
THE ADIRONDACK OPEN LOG CAMP AND A ONE-ROOM CABIN
Adirondack Log Camp
Not satisfied with the open brush
Adirondack camp, the men in those woods
often build such camps of logs with a puncheon floor and a roof of real
shingles. The sketch (Fig. 184)
is made from such a camp. At the rear the
logs are notched and placed like those of a log house (Figs. 162, 163, 164, 166), but the front ends of the
side logs are toe-nailed (Fig. 173)
to the two upright supports. In this particular camp the logs are also
flattened on the inside in order to give a smoother finish, as they
are in old Virginia and Kentucky log houses. In Virginia they formerly
hewed the logs flat with broad axes after the walls were up, but that
required a workman of a different type than the ordinary woodsman. The
broadaxe is seldom used now and may be omitted from our kit.
A one-room log cabin with double bunks at one end makes a good
185) with room for two or four sleepers according to the width of
Fig. 184. Fig. 185. Fig. 186.
The lean-to and one-pen cabin plan.
The bunks are made by setting the ends of two poles into holes
in the logs
bored for that purpose (Fig. 185)
and nailing slats across the poles. Over
this a bed of browse is laid and on this blankets are spread and all is
then ready for bedtime.
THE NORTHLAND TILT AND INDIAN LOG TENT
Some years ago in the north country
the Indians built themselves log tents
like the one shown in Fig. 187.
These were the winter houses in the north
country. A ridge-pole was set up on two forked sticks and the logs
up against each other and rested upon that pole. Smaller poles were
laid up against this frame, both front and rear, all of which could
be covered with sod or browse and made into a warm winter house. My boy
readers may build a similar house by using small poles instead of big
logs, or they may make a "northland tilt" (Fig. 189), which is a
modification of the Indian's log tent and has two side-plates (Fig. 188)
instead of one ridge-pole. The log chimney is also added, and when this
connected with a generous fireplace the fire will brighten and warm the
interior of the tilt and make things comfortable. The chimney may be
by first building a fireplace of sod or stone, as shown in Figs. 269 and 270, on top of which a
chimney can be erected in the same manner that you
build a log house.
Fig. 187. Fig. 188. Fig. 189.
Log tilts of the North.
The front of the northland tilt is faced in with small logs set on end,
shown in the unfinished one (Fig.
189); this makes a substantial, warm
winter camp. If the logs fit close together on the roof they may be
with moss and dry grass. If the cracks are too wide on account of the
unevenness of the log, cover them first with grass, fine brush, or
and over all place a coating of sod or mud and you will have a house
for a king to live in. To tell the truth, it is much too good for a
king and almost good enough for a real American boy—that is, if
is good enough for such a lad.
HOW TO BUILD THE RED JACKET, THE NEW BRUNSWICK, AND THE
The "Red Jacket" is another camp;
but this, you see, has straight walls,
marking it as a white man's camp in form not apparently
the red men. It is, however, a good, comfortable, rough camp and Figs. 190
and 191 show how it was
evolved or grew. To build the Red Jacket one will
first have to know how to build the more simple forms which we call the
New Brunswick, then the next step will be the Christopher Gist, and
the Red Jacket. We will now begin with the New Brunswick.
The New Brunswick
By referring to Fig. 190
you will see that it is practically a deep,
Adirondack, open-face camp with a wind-shield built in front of it. To
build this camp, make the plan about six feet by twelve on the ground;
course the back logs must be something over six feet long to allow for
feet in the clear. Notch about four or five back logs with the plain,
rounded notch already described and illustrated by Fig. 165. Then lay the
side sill logs and erect two upright forked sticks for the front of
cabin to hold the cross stick which supports the roof rafter. Now build
your cabin as you would a log house, notching only the small ends of
side logs and saving the larger ends for the front; between each of
chink with other logs shaped to fit the spaces or with pieces of other
logs so as to make the front higher than the rear. When the logs meet
rafter pole all the cracks are chinked up with small pieces of wood and
the crevices calked with moss. Then the roof of bark is put on,
as described for the Pontiac, and illustrated by Figs. 36 and 190 A. The
bark is kept in place by laying sticks or poles over it to weight it
as may be seen by the plan of the roof (Fig. 190 A), which is
to be the way the unfinished roof would look to you if you were looking
down upon it from the branch of a tree or an aeroplane. After you have
your open-faced camp finished take some green logs from the fir-trees
they are handy and split them in half by one of the methods shown by Fig.
119. Then leaving enough room for a passageway, erect your
green logs, resting them against a pole laid between two forked sticks.
sure you have the green, split side of the log facing the camp and the
bark side facing outdoors, because the green wood will not burn
and as the camp-fire is built close to the wind-shield, if the shield
made of very inflammable material it will soon burn down. Some woods,
know, burn well when green and some woods must be made dry before we
use them for fuel; but the wood we want for the fire-shield is the sort
that will not burn readily; the good-burning woods we save to use in
The next camp is the Christopher Gist, named after George
camping friend. This camp, as you may see by Fig. 191, is built like a New
Brunswick except that the side sill logs are much longer as is also the
log which extends over the doorway. Then, in place of having a
built by itself, the wind-shield in Fig. 191 is the other end of
built just the same as the rear end, but it should be built of peeled
as they are less liable to catch afire than the ones with the bark upon
them. If you feel real lazy it will only be necessary to peel the bark
from the inside half of the log. Above the door at the end of the roof
the Adirondack camp part of the space is filled by logs running across,
with the lower one resting upon the top of the door-jamb; this closes
shed above the wind-shield and leaves a little open yard in front
to build your camp-fire.
Fig. 190. Fig. 191. Fig. 192.
The stages in the evolution of a log cabin.
The Red Jacket
The Red Jacket continues the suggestion offered by the
and extends the side walls all the way across to the wind-shield, and
latter now becomes the true end of the log shack. The side walls and
wall are built up from the top of the shack to form a big, wide log
chimney under which the open camp-fire is built on the ground. The Red
Jacket is roofed with bark in the same manner as the New Brunswick and
Christopher Gist and occupies the important position of the missing
between the true log cabin or log house and the rude log camp of the
hunter. If you will look at Fig.
184, the open-faced log camp; then Fig.
190, the camp with the wind-shield in front of it; then Fig. 191 with the
wind-shield enclosed but still open at the top; then 192 where the
wind-shield has turned into a fireplace with a chimney; then Figs. 271 and 273, showing the ends
of the real log cabin, you will have all the steps
in the growth or evolution which has produced the American log house.
CABIN DOORS AND DOOR-LATCHES, THUMB-LATCHES AND FOOT LATCHES
AND HOW TO
Perhaps my reader has noticed that,
although many of the descriptions of
how to build the shacks, shanties, shelters, camps, sheds, tilts, and
forth are given with somewhat minute details, little or nothing has
said regarding the doors and door-latches. Of course we have no doors
the open Adirondack camp, but we have passed the open camps now and are
well into cabin work, and all cabins have some sort of a door. All
have, or should have, some sort of a door-latch, so the doors and
door-latches have been saved for this place in the book, where they are
sandwiched between the log cabin and the log houses proper, which is
probably the best place for them. The "gummers" who collect spruce gum
the north woods and the trappers and all of the hermit class of
frequently come home to their little shack with their hands full of
or with game on their shoulders, and consequently they want to have a
which may be opened without the necessity of dropping their load, and
they use a foot latch.
One of the simplest of the foot latches consists of a piece of
out by the aid of axe and hunting-knife to the form shown by Fig. 199; a
hole in the door cut for
that purpose admits the flattened and notched
end and upon the inside it fits the round log sill. The owner of the
shack, when reaching home, steps upon the foot latch (Fig. 199), which
lifts up the catch (on the inside) and allows the door to swing open.
Fig. 200 shows a
more complicated form of latch with a trigger protruding
from the lower part of the door, which is hinged to a wooden shaft, and
the shaft in turn is connected with the latch. The fastenings of the
trigger to the shaft and the shaft to the latch are made with hardwood
pegs or wire nails which move freely in their sockets. The latch is the
simplest form of a wooden bar fastened at one end with a screw or nail
which it can move up and down freely; the other end is allowed to drop
into the catch. The latch itself is similar to the one shown in Figs. 193
and 194. The trigger is also
fastened to a block on the outside of the
door by a nail or peg upon which it moves freely, so that when the
of the foot is placed upon the trigger outside the door that end is
down which pushed the end attached to the shaft up; this pushes the
up and the shaft pushes the latch up; thus the door is
diagram to the left in Fig. 200
shows the edge of the door with the
trigger on the outside, the shaft upon the inside. The diagram to the
right in Fig. 200 shows the
inside of the door, the end of the trigger,
the shaft, the latch, and the catch.
In the preceding locks and fastenings, no matter how generous
hospitable the owner may be, his latch-string never "hangs on the
outside," but in this one the latch-string literally hangs outside and
one may enter by pulling it (Figs. 193 and 194). But when the owner is in
and does not want to be interrupted he pulls the string in, which tells
the outsider that he must knock before he can be admitted. This
form of latch has been here put upon the simplest form of a door, a
with a wooden hinge made by nailing a round rod to the edge of the door
and allowing the ends of the rod to project above and below the door.
the sill log below the door a hole about two inches deep is bored to
receive the short end of the hinge rod; above a deeper hole is bored to
receive the long end of the hinge rod. To hang the door run the long
up in the top hole far enough to lift the door sufficiently to be able
drop the lower end of the hinge rod in the lower hole. Your door is
hung and may swing back and forth at your pleasure. Notwithstanding the
fact that such a door admits plenty of cold air, it is a very popular
for camps and is even used for log houses.
Fig. 193. Fig. 194. Fig. 195. Fig. 196.
Fig. 197. Fig. 198.
Fig. 199. Fig. 200.
and thumb door-latches.
A simple form of spring-latch is shown by Fig. 196, as you may see, A
a peg driven into the door-jamb. It has a notch in it's outer end so
that B, a piece of hickory, may be sprung into the notch; B
is fastened to
the door by a couple of screws. By pushing the door the latch will
out of the rounded notch and the door opens. When you pull the door to
close it the end of the spring strikes the rounded end of the A
sliding over it, drops naturally into the slot and holds the door
This form of latch is also a good one for gates.
Figs. 197 and 198 show more complicated
spring-latches but this latch is
not so difficult to make as it may appear in the diagram. A and
(197) show, respectively, the
wooden catch and the guard confining the
latch. C is another guard made, as you may observe, from a twig
branch upon it; the twig is split in half and fastened at the base with
two screws, and at the upper end, where the branch is bent down, is
fastened with one screw. A guard like the one shown by D (Fig. 197)
would answer the purpose, but I am taking the latch as it was made. The
lower diagram (Fig. 198)
shows a side view of the edge of the door with
two cotton spools fastened at each end of the stick which runs through
slot in the door. E is the cotton spool on the outside of the
door and F the cotton spool on the inside of the door. The
diagram (Fig. 198) shows the
slot in the door and the spool as it appears
from the outside. B (Fig.
197) is the spring-latch which is held in
place by the spool F. The stick or peg which runs through the
the slot also runs through a hole made for that purpose in the
spring-latch, as shown at F (Fig. 197). After the stick with
spool on it has been run through the slot from the outside of the door,
thence through the spring-latch B and into the spool F,
it is fastened
there by driving around its end some thin wedges of wood or by allowing
to protrude and running a small peg through the protruding end, as
by F, G (Fig. 197,
lower diagram). The thin, springy end of your latch
is now forced down by a peg or nail in the door at H (Fig. 197) and the
tail end of it forced up by a peg or nail at K. When this is
properly it will give considerable spring to the latch and impart a
decided tendency to force the latch into the wooden catch, a tendency
which can only be overcome by
lifting the spool up in the slot and thus
lifting the latch and allowing the door to open. Fig. 197 shows the inside
of the door with the spring-latch, catches and all complete; it also
details of the wooden catch A with guards D and C
and the fastening
of the stick in the spool by a peg driven through the end of the stick
at F, G. This last one is a good jack-knife latch to
make for your camp
Secret locks are more useful than
strong ones for a country house which is
left alone during the winter months, for it is not so much cupidity
causes such houses to be broken into as it is the curiosity of the
boys. But while these lads often do not hesitate to force or pick a
they will seldom go as far as to smash a door to effect an entrance;
hence, if your lock is concealed your house is safe from all but
professional thieves, and such gentry seldom waste their time to break
open a shack which contains nothing of value to them. The latches shown
Figs. 193, 200, and 201 may be made very heavy and
strong, and if the
trigger in Fig. 200, the
latch-string hole in Fig. 193,
and the peg hole
in Fig. 201 are adroitly
concealed they make the safest and most secure
locks for summer camps, shacks, and houses.
If a large bar (Fig. 201½
B) be made of one-by-four-inch plank, bolted
in the middle of the plank with an iron bolt through the centre of the
door and fastened on the inside by a nut screwed on to the bolt it will
allow the bar to revolve freely on the inside of the door and bar the
when resting in the A and C catches. But if a string is
one end it may be unfastened by pulling the string up through the
hole in the door.
To conceal this lock, draw the string through the gimlet hole
and fasten a
nail on the string. When it is undrawn
the door bar is horizontal and the
door consequently barred. Then push the nail in the gimlet hole so that
only the head appears on the outside and no one not in the secret will
ever suppose that the innocent-appearing nail is the key to unfasten
door. When you wish to open the door from the outside, pluck out the
pull the string, and walk in.
There are a thousand other simple contrivances which will
themselves to the camper, and he can find entertainment for rainy days
planning and enlarging on the ideas here given. In the real wilderness,
however, every camp is open to all comers—that is, the
outside the door, but the real woodsmen respect the hospitality of the
absent owner and replace whatever food they may use with fresh material
from their own packs, wash all dishes they may use, and sweep up and
the shack in "apple-pie" order after their uninvited visit, for this is
the law of the wilderness which even horse thieves and bandits respect.
The Tippecanoe latch is worked with a wooden spring and when
made, of well-seasoned wood, will probably outlast a metal one, for
will not rust and cannot rot unless subjected to moisture.
The position of the spring in Fig. 201 shows the latch with
sprung back. The fact that the bolt-hole in the catch is empty also
the same story. The drawing of the outside of the door (Fig. 203) shows by
the position of the peg that the door is fastened. To open the door,
back the bolt by sliding the peg to the opposite end of the slot. From
view of the edge of the door (Fig.
202) one may see how the peg protrudes
on the outside of the door.
Fig. 201. Fig. 201.½. Fig. 202. Fig. 203.
Tippecanoe. A jack door-latch.
Although the Tippecanoe latch is made of quite a number of parts, it is
really a very simple device, but in order to display the simplicity of
construction to the ambitious jack-knife latch maker I have drawn all
parts but the spring stick natural size (Figs. 204 to 207), but since the
original diagram is drawn too large for this page and was reduced by
engraver there is a scale of inches at the bottom to give the reader
There are no fixed dimensions for this or any other lock,
latch, or catch,
but the proportions here given are probably the ones that will fit your
door. The foundation block is shown by Fig. 204. Upon this the latch
and is securely nailed or screwed to the door. Figs. 205 and 206 are two
wooden clamps which are fastened to the door and also to the foundation
block (Fig. 204). These
clamps must be notched as in the diagrams to allow
for the movement of the bolt, but since the bolt (Fig. 207) is larger and
thicker at the butt the notch in Fig.
205 is made just a trifle larger
than the butt end of the bolt and in Fig. 206 the notch is made a
smaller than the opposite end of the bolt. The object of the offset on
bolt (Fig. 207) forward of
the peg is to make a shoulder to stop it from
shooting too far when the spring is loosened.
Fig. 204. Fig. 204.½. Fig. 205. Fig. 206. Fig. 207.
Detail parts of Tippecanoe door-latch.
Figs. 201 and 204½ show the catch
which is to be securely fastened to the
door-jamb. The spring, of course, must be made of well-seasoned,
wood. Hickory is the best. This stick may be quite long, say half again
long in proportion as the one shown in Fig. 201. It must be flattened
the upper end and secured by two nails and it must be flattened at
angles to the upper part and somewhat pointed at the lower end so as to
fit in a notch in the bolt (Fig.
201). A well-made lock of this sort is a
source of constant joy and pride to the maker and he will never tire of
springing it back and forth and extolling its virtues to his guests.
HOW TO MAKE THE BOW-ARROW CABIN DOOR AND LATCH AND THE DEMING
HALL, AND BILLY
209 shows the inside of the door with the wooden latch in
may use planks from the sawmill for the door in place of splitting them
from spruce logs, as the ones here are supposed to be.
The battens (A, B, C) are made of
birch, but you may use any
material at hand for them. The hinges (Figs. E, 211 D, 210) are made
of birch sticks whittled off at the top so as to leave a peg (Fig. E,
211) to work in a hole
in the flattened end of the horizontal battens (A
and C, Fig. 209).
The batten B is in two pieces. The top piece serves as
a brace for the
spring (Fig. G, 209)
and the bottom piece as a support for the bolt
(Fig. H, 209 and 212). The battens may be made
of a piece of board. The
bolt (Fig. H, 212)
works free upon a nail in the left-hand end and rests
in the catch (Fig. K, 215)
on the door-jamb.
The guard (Fig. J, 216) fits over the bolt and
keeps it in place. The
notch in the guard must be long enough to give the bolt free play up
The spring (Fig. G, 209) is fastened with a nail to
the door in such a
manner that its thin end rests upon the top of the bolt with sufficient
force to bend the spring and hold the bolt down in the catch (Fig. K,
The thumb-latch (Fig. L, 213)
is whittled out in the form shown, and
fastened in a slot cut in the door by a nail driven through the edge of
the door (Fig. M, 213)
and through a hole in the thumb-latch (Fig. L, 213). On this nail the
latch works up and down.
Fig. 217 shows the
outside of the door and you can see that by pressing
down the thumb-latch on the outside it will lift it up on the inside,
with it the bolt lifts up the free end of the latch and thus unfastens
The handle (Figs. 217
and 214 N) is used
in place of a door-knob. It is
made of yellow birch bent in hot water.
The Deming Twin Lock
E. W. Deming, the painter of Indian pictures, the mighty
fellow member of the Camp-Fire Club of America, is a great woodsman.
only is he a great woodsman but he is the father of twins, and
have thought that he possesses all the characteristics necessary to
entitle him to a place in this book, and after him and his twins we
named the twin bolts shown by Fig.
The lower or Hall bolt is shot into a hole in the door-sill,
and the upper
or Billy bolt is shot into a hole in the door-jamb above the door. The
holes should be protected upon the surface of the wood by pieces of tin
sheet iron with holes cut in them to admit the bolt. The tins may be
tacked over the bolt-hole in the sill for the Hall bolt and on the
bolt-hole overhead for the Billy bolt, and it will prevent the
away of the wood around the holes.
Two guards, A and B (Fig. 208), made as in Fig. 216, protect the bolts
and act as guides to keep them from swinging out of position; two
springs C and D (Fig.
208), made of well-seasoned hickory and attached to the
battens on the door by nails or screws, force the bolts down and up
the bolt-holes (Fig. 208). To
release the bolts, the spring must be drawn
back as shown by the dotted lines in Fig. 208. This may be done by
of a string or picture wire, which is fastened in the ends of the bolts
and runs through a hole in the ends of the spring and is attached to
lever E (Fig. 208).
When the end of this lever is pushed down into the
position shown by the dotted line and arrow-point, it lifts up the Hall
bolt at the bottom of the door and pulls down the Billy bolt overhead,
thus unfastening the door.
Fig. 208. Fig. 209. Fig. 210. Fig. 211.
Fig. 212. Fig. 213.
Fig. 214. Fig. 215. Fig. 216. Fig. 217.
Jack-knife latches suitable for Canada and America.
But, of course, if one is outside the door one cannot reach the lever E;
so, to overcome this difficulty, a hole is bored through the central
batten of the door and the latch-string is tied to the top end of the
lever and the other end is run through the hole bored in the door (Fig.
The end outside of the door is then tied to a nail; by pulling
you pull down the lever E, which undoes the bolts and opens the
When it is desired to leave the door locked, after it is
closed, push the
nail into the latch-string hole so that only the head will be visible
the outside. When the nail and string are arranged in this manner, a
stranger will see no means of opening the door, and, as there are many
nail-heads in all rough doors, the one to which the latch-string is
attached will not attract the attention of any one who is unacquainted
with the Deming twin bolt.
THE AURES LOCK LATCH
The Aures lock differs from the
preceding ones in the use of metal
springs, but wooden ones may be substituted; for instance, a wooden
like the one in Fig. 209 may
be put under the bolt or latch shown in Fig.
219, which is practically the same latch; that is, if you turn the
in Fig. 209 upside down it
will make the latch shown in Fig.
219; also, if
you take the bolt or lock B in Fig. 219 and make it of one
piece of wood
with a spring to it, like the one shown in Fig. 208 or Fig. 209, or make
it exactly like the one shown in Fig.
201, the Aures lock can be made
altogether of wood. But with this lock, as described below, metal
were used (Figs. 219, 220, and 221).
The door shows the two strings H and K coming
through gimlet holes
near the top. Fig. 218
represents the outside of the door. The strings may
be concealed by covering their ends with a board as shown in this
but even if they are not concealed, one unacquainted with the lock will
not know how to work them in order to open the door.
A in Figs. 219,
220, and 221 is the latch which is made
of a piece of
wood about eight or nine inches long by about one and one half inches
by an inch or three quarters of an inch thick. A hole is drilled near
centre of the latch and a screw
placed through which is screwed into the
door so that the latch will extend about two or three inches beyond the
end of the door.
D (Figs. 219,
220, and 221) is a catch or stop which
is fastened to the
door-jamb and keeps the end of the latch from flying too far up to lock
B (Fig. 219)
is the key which is made of the same sort of wood as the
latch; a hole is drilled in this also but it is here placed about one
from the top. A screw is run through this, as in the hole in the latch,
and screwed into the door (Fig.
Fig. C, 219
is a small block of wood on which a steel-band spring has
been screwed to keep the key in its proper place. The block is screwed
the door a short distance above the top of the key.
Fig. J, 219
is a nail or peg placed in the door close beside the key
when the key is vertical; this is intended to prevent the key from
shoved over too far by the force of the band spring F.
Fig. 219 L
is a steel wire spring (a window-shade spring will answer the
purpose), fastened to the door at one end and to the latch at the other
end, and serves to keep the latch down and in place when locked.
Fig. 219 K
is the latch-string, one end of which is fastened to one end
of the latch and the other end run through a hole near the top of the
and extending outside the same as the latch-string (Fig. 218).
Fig. 219 shows the
positions of the latch and key when the latch is
locked; to open the lock from the outside it is necessary to pull the
string first (H, Fig. 220),
which releases the key; then pull the
latch-string, thus lifting the latch while still holding the key
The key string is now let go; the spring forcing the key into the
shown in Fig. 221 will keep
the door unlocked.
When leaving the room, all that is necessary is to pull the
which lifts the key, then let go the latch-string, and the latch will
spring back to its locked position and the key will also fly back into
position as in Fig. 219. Any
one not knowing the combination will be
unable to open the door.
Fig. 218. Fig. 219. Fig. 220. Fig. 221.
Fig. 222. Fig. 223.
Fig. 224. Fig. 225. Fig. 226. Fig. 227.
The Compass Lock
This lock is made on the same principle as the combination
safe lock, but
it is a lock any bright boy can make for himself. In the first place,
instead of numbers, use compass divisions; that is, use a disk with the
points of the compass scratched on it and an ordinary door-knob with an
index mark filed on its base, as shown by Fig. 224 where the finger is
Hunt up three old door-knobs like those shown in Figs. 222, 224, and 225.
When you take one of the door-knobs off one end of the shaft you will
several small screw holes in the steel shaft (Fig. 222). Over this end you
set a block of hardwood which you fashion out of a square block (Fig. 223)
by first cutting off the corners as shown by the dotted lines, then
whittling the angles off until it becomes rounded like a compass face;
after which saw off an arc, that is, part of a circle, as shown in
Figs. 224, 226, and 227. Next make a square hole
through the centre of the
circle to fit the square end of the steel shaft of the door-knob. The
square hole is not the centre of the block as it is now cut, but it is
centre of the block as it was when it was round; that is, the centre of
the circle. Insert the square end of the steel shaft into the square
in the block, and, through a hole carefully drilled for the purpose,
screw down through the hole in the end of the steel shaft (Fig. 224); this
will firmly fix the block on the end of the knob. Of course, the knob
be inserted through the door before the block is permanently fastened
upon the end of the shaft. Fig.
225 shows the edge of the door with the
three knobs in place. If these knobs are so turned (Fig. 226) that their
flat edges are parallel with the crack of the door, there is nothing to
prevent you from opening the door; but if the knobs are so turned (Fig.
227) that the blocks overlap the crack of the door, the door cannot
opened without breaking the lock.
It is evident that we must have some sort of a mark to tell us
how to make
the proper combination so that the door may be opened. To do this, take
the metal washer of the door-knob (the upper figure in Fig. 228) or a
circular piece or disk of tin and divide it up like a compass (Fig. 228).
Fasten these disks securely on to the door with nails or screws; place
of the disks with the north point pointing to the top of the door and
line with each other. File in the circular base of each door-knob (Fig.
224) a little notch at the black mark where the finger is pointing,
put the door-knobs in place and fasten them there (Fig. 225) by screwing
the block on their ends (Fig. 224)
and securing the screws in the blocks
by running them through the shaft. Carefully turn the knobs so that the
block on the inside fits like those shown in Fig. 226. Jot down in your
notebook the position of the index on each knob (finger point, 224); one
may read northeast, another may read southwest, and another may read
south. When one wants to open the door one must turn the knobs so that
they will read according to the notes and the door may be opened; but
unless the indexes read as noted some of them will be turned as in Fig.
227, locking the door, and it may not be opened.
When the door is closed, twist the knobs around and it will
lock them so
that no one else can open the door unless they know the combination.
fact that there is a combination
will not be suggested to a stranger by
the compasses, although it might be suggested if there were figures in
place of compass points. But even supposing they did suspect a
it would take a long time for them to work it out, and no one would do
but a thief. A burglar, however, would not take the time; he would pry
open the door with his "jimmy" and, as I have said before, these locks
for the purpose of keeping out tramps, vagrants, and inquisitive boys.
We have no locks yet invented which will keep out a real,
burglar if he has reason to suppose there are valuables inside.
The safety of your log cabin depends principally upon the fact
valuables are not kept in such shacks, and real burglars know it.
THE AMERICAN LOG CABIN
Now that we know how to make doors
and door-latches, locks, bolts, and
bars, we may busy ourselves with building an American log cabin. It is
well enough to build our shacks and shanties and camps of logs with the
bark on them, but, when one wishes to build a log cabin, one wants a
that will last. Abraham Lincoln's log cabin is still in existence, but
was built of logs with no bark on them. There is a two-story log house
still standing in Dayton, O.; it is said to have been built before the
town was there; but there is no bark on the logs. Bark holds moisture
moisture creates decay by inviting fibrous and threadlike cousins of
toadstool to grow on the damp wood and work their way into its
The bark also shelters all sorts of boring insects and the boring
make holes through the logs which admit the rain and in the end cause
decay, so that the first thing to remember is to peel the logs of which
you propose to build the cabin. There is now, or was lately, a log
on Hempstead Plains, L. I., near the road leading from Mineola to
Manhassett; it is supposed to have been built when the first white
settlers began to arrive on Long Island, but this was what was known as
"blockhouse," a small fort. In 1906 Mr. I. P. Sapington said: "I think
that I am the only man now living who helped build General Grant's log
cabin." Grant's house was what is popularly known in the South as a
"saddle-bag" log house, or, as the old Southwestern settlers called it,
"two-pen," the pens being two enclosures with a wide passageway or
between them, one roof extending over both pens and the gallery.
General Grant was not afraid of work, and, like a good scout,
willing to help a neighbor. He had a team of big horses, a gray and a
and the loads of cord-wood he hauled to St. Louis were so big that they
are still talked of by the old settlers. In the summer of 1854 Grant
started his log cabin, and all his neighbors turned in to help him
American Log House
The American log house differs from the Canadian log house
the shape of the roof. Our old settlers made steep gambrel roofs to
"Gambrel! Gambrel? Let me beg
You'll look at a horse's hinder leg; First great angle above the hoof, That's
the gambrel, hence the gambrel roof."
The Canadians put very flat roofs on their log cabins, usually
logs laid over the rafters, making them strong enough to support the
weight of snow. The American log cabins, as a rule, are built in a
climate, and the flat sod roof is peculiar to our Northern boundary and
the hot, arid parts of our country. We build the chimneys outside of
log cabins because, as the old settlers would say, "thar's more room
thar" (see Figs. 271, 273).
Fig. 229 is a
one-pen cabin. To build it we first snake our logs to a skid
near the site of our proposed cabin (Fig. 167), from which we can
logs to our house as we need them. Lay out the corners and square them
(Fig. 180); notch the logs
with a rounded or U-shaped notch (Fig.
Remember that all the logs should be two or three feet longer than the
walls of the proposed building, but the notches must be the same
apart in order to make even walls. The protruding ends of the logs may
allowed to stick out as they happen to come, no matter how irregular
may be, until the cabin is erected; then with a two-handed saw and a
at each end they can be trimmed off evenly, thus giving a neat finish
Fig. 229. Fig. 230. Fig. 231. Fig. 232.
Fig. 233. Fig. 234.
Hints and suggestions in cabin construction.
The largest, straightest, and best logs should be saved for
foundations. If you are building a "mudsill," that is, a building upon
ground itself, the sill logs will be subject to dampness which will
them to rot unless they are protected by some wood preservative.
If the logs are painted with two or three coats of creosote
are laid upon the ground, it will protect them for an indefinite time
prevent decay. Hugh P. Baker, dean of the New York State College of
Forestry, writes me that—
two or three applications of warm oil with a brush will be
very helpful and will probably be all that the ordinary man
can do. Creosote is the best preservative because of its
penetrating power and the way it acts upon the fibres of
wood, and in the end is cheaper than a good many other
things which have been used to preserve timber. In fact,
various forms of creosote are best-known preservers of
organic matter. There is no advantage in using charcoal at
all and I presume suggestions have
been made for using it
because we know that charred wood is more durable.
Linseed-oil is good; ordinary white-lead paint will be
better, but neither of them is as effective as creosote, and
both are more expensive. You will find that carbolineum and
other patent preparations are recommended very highly; they
are good but expensive and the difference in price between
these patent preparations and ordinary creosote is much
larger than is justified by their increased value. Creosote
can be procured in large or small quantities from a number
of concerns. I think we have been getting it for about ten
dollars per barrel of fifty or fifty-three gallons.
may be purchased in large or small quantities from various
companies, such as the Barret Manufacturing Company, 17 Battery Place,
York City, and the Chattfield Manufacturing Company, Carthage, O.,
it in large quantities.
Build the pen as if it were to have no openings, either doors,
fireplaces. When you reach the point where the top of the door, window,
fireplace is to be (Fig. 229)
saw out a section of the log to mark the
place and admit a saw when it is desired to finish the opening as shown
the diagram and continue building until you have enough logs in place
tack on cleats like those shown in Figs. 229, 230, and 231, after which
the openings may be sawed out. The cleats will hold the ends of the
in place until the boards U (Fig. 232) for the door-jambs,
window-frames, or the framework over the fireplace can be nailed to the
ends of the logs and thus hold them permanently in place. If your house
a "mudsill," wet the floor until it becomes spongy, then with the butt
end of a log ram the dirt down hard until you have an even, hard
floor—such a floor as some of the greatest men of this nation
over when they were babies. But if you want a board floor, you must
necessarily have floor-joists; these are easily made of milled lumber
you may use the rustic material of which your house is built and select
some straight logs for your joists. Of course, these joists must have
even top surface, which may be made by flattening the logs by scoring
hewing them as illustrated by Figs. 123, 124, and 125 and previously
described. It will then be necessary to cut the ends of the joist
and smaller than the rest of the log (Fig. A, 229); the square ends must
be made to fit easily into the notches made in the sill logs (B,
229) so that they will all be even and ready for the flooring (C,
229). For a house ten feet wide the joists should be half a foot in
diameter, that is, half a foot through from one side to the other; for
larger spans use larger logs for the joists.
If your house is not a "mudsill" you may rest your sill logs
upon posts or
stone piles; in either case, in the Northern States, they should extend
three feet below the ground, so as to be below frost-line and prevent
upheaval of the spring thaw from throwing your house "out of plumb."
All the old-time log cabins were roofed with shakes, splits,
or hand-rived shingles as already described and illustrated by Figs. 126, 128, 129, and 130; but to-day they are
usually shingled with the
machine-sawed shingle of commerce. You may, however, cover the roof
planks as shown by Fig. 233
or with bark weighted down with poles
shown by Fig. 234. In
covering it with board or plank nail the latter on
as you would on a floor, then lay another course of boards over the
which show between the boards on the first course.
The gable ends of the cabin should be built up of logs with
the rafters of
the roof running between the logs as they are in Figs. 229 and 233, but
the roof may be built, as it frequently is nowadays, of mill lumber, in
which case it may be framed as shown by Figs. 49, 51, and the gable end
above the logs filled in with upright poles as shown in Figs. 173 and 247,
or planked up as shown in the Southern saddle-bag (Fig. 241), or the ends
may be boarded up and covered with tar paper as shown in Fig. 248, or the
gable end may be shingled with ordinary shingles (Fig. 79).
Remember that the steeper the roof is the longer the shingles
because the water will run off readily and quickly on a steep surface
the shingles have an opportunity to dry quickly; besides which the snow
slides off a steep roof and the driving rains do not beat under the
shingles. If you are using milled lumber for the roof, erect the
at the gable end first, with the ridge board as shown in Fig. 263 and in
greater detail in Fig. 49.
Put the other rafters two or three feet apart.
Let your roof overhang the walls by at least seven or eight
inches so as
to keep the drip from the rain free of the wall. It is much easier for
architect to draw a log house than it is for a builder to erect one,
the simple reason that the draughtsman can make his logs as straight as
chooses, also that he can put the uneven
places where they fit best; but
except in well-forested countries the tree trunks do not grow as
as the logs in my pictures and you must pick out the logs which will
together. Run them alternately butt and head; that is, if you put the
thick end of the log at the right-hand end of your house, with the
end at the left, put the next log with the small end at the right and
thick end at the left; otherwise, if all the thick ends are put at one
side and the small ends at the other, your house will be taller at one
than at the other as is the case with some of our previous shacks and
camps (Figs. 190, 191, and 192) which are purposely built
If it is planned to have glass window lights, make your window
the proper size to fit the window-frames which come with the sashes
the factory. In any case, if the cabin is to be left unoccupied you
have heavy shutters to fit in the window opening so as to keep out
If your logs are uneven and leave large spaces between them,
they may be
chinked up by filling the spaces with mud plaster or cement, and then
forcing in quartered pieces of small logs and nailing them or spiking
in position. If your logs are straight spruce logs and fit snugly, the
cracks may be calked up with swamp moss (Sphagnum), or like a boat,
oakum, or the larger spaces may be filled with flat stones and covered
with mud. This mud will last from one to seven or eight years; I have
on my own log cabin that has been there even a longer time.
A HUNTER'S OR FISHERMAN'S CABIN
In all the hilly and mountainous
States there are tracts of forest lands
and waste lands of no use to the farmer and of no use to settlers, but
such places offer ideal spots for summer camps for boys and
for fishermen and sportsmen, and here they may erect their cabins (see
enjoy themselves in a healthy, natural manner. These
cabins will vary according to the wants of the owners, according to the
material at hand and the land upon which they are built. By extending
rafters of the roof, the latter may be extended (see Frontispiece) to
protect the front and make a sort of piazza which may be floored with
The logs forming the sides of the house may be allowed to
extend so as to
make a wall or fence, as they do on the right-hand side of the
Frontispiece, thus preventing the danger of falling over the cliff upon
which this cabin is perched and receiving injury or an unlooked-for
ducking in the lake. They may also be extended as they are on the left,
make a shield behind which a wood-yard is concealed, or to protect an
enclosure for the storage of the larger camp utensils.
In fact, this drawing is made as a suggestion and not to be
exactly, because every spot differs from every other spot, and one
to make one's house conform to the requirements of its location; for
instance, the logs upon the right-hand side
might be allowed to extend
all the way up to the roof, as they do at the bottom, and thus make a
cosey corner protected from the wind and storm.
The windows in such a cabin may be made very small, for all
supposed to be done outdoors, and when more light is needed on the
the door may be left open. In a black-fly country or a mosquito
however, when you are out of reach of screen doors, mosquito-netting
be tacked over the windows and a portière of mosquito-netting
HOW TO MAKE A WYOMING OLEBO, A HOKO RIVER OLEBO, A SHAKE
CABIN, A CANADIAN
MOSSBACK, AND A TWO-PEN OR SOUTHERN SADDLE-BAG HOUSE
One of the charms of a log-cabin
building is the many possibilities of
novelties suggested by the logs themselves. In the hunter's cabin (see
have seen how the ends of the logs were allowed to stick
out in front and form a rail for the front stoop; the builders of the
olebos have followed this idea still further.
The Wyoming Olebo
In Fig. 236 we see
that the side walls of the pen are allowed to extend on
each side so as to enclose a roofed-over open-air room, or, if you
to so call it, a front porch, veranda, stoop, piazza, or gallery,
according to the section of the country in which you live.
So as to better understand this cabin the plan is drawn in
with the cabin above and made to appear as if some one had lifted the
cabin to show the ground-floor plan underneath. The olebo roof is built
upon the same plan as the Kanuck (Fig.
244), with this exception, that in Fig. 244 the rooftree
or ridge-log is supported by cross logs which are a
continuation of the side of the house (A, A, Figs. 242, 244, and 245),
but in the olebo the ridge
pole or log is supported by uprights (Figs.
236 and 237). To build the
olebo lay the two side sill logs first (A, B, and C,
D, Fig. 236),
then the two end
logs E, F, and D, B
and proceed to build the cabin as already described, allowing the
irregular ends of the logs to extend beyond the cabin until the pen is
completed and all is ready for the roof, after which the protruding
of the logs excepting the two top ones may be sawed off to suit
taste and convenience of the builder. The olebo may be made of any size
that the logs will permit and one's taste dictate. After the walls are
built, erect the log columns at A and C (Fig. 236), cut their tops
wedge shape to fit in notches in the ends of the projecting side-plates
(Fig. 144, A and B);
next lay the end plate (G, Fig.
236) over the
two top logs on the sides of your house which correspond to the
side-plates of an ordinary house. The end plate G is notched to
top of the side-plates, and the tops of the side-plates have been
and hewn and flattened, thus making a General Putnam joint like the one
shown above (G, Fig. 236);
but when the ends of the side logs of the
cabin were trimmed off the side-plates or top side logs were allowed to
protrude a foot or more beyond the others; this was to give room for
supporting upright log columns at A and C (see view of
cabin, Fig. 236
and the front view, Fig. 237).
H and J (Fig.
237) are two more upright
columns supporting the end plate which, in turn, supports the short
uprights upon which the two purlins L and M rest; the
other purlins K and N rest directly upon the end plate (Fig. 237). The rear end of
the cabin can have the gable logged up as the front of the house is in
Fig. 240, or filled in with
uprights as in Fig. 247. The
roof of the olebo
is composed of logs, but if one is building an olebo where it will not
subjected during the winter to a great weight of snow, one may make the
roof of any material handy.
Fig. 236. Fig. 237. Fig. 238. Fig. 239.
Fig. 240. Fig. 241.
native American log houses.
Hoko River Olebo
The Hoko River olebo has logs only up to the ceiling of the
(Fig. 238), or the half story
as the case may be; this part, as you see,
is covered with shakes previously illustrated and described (Figs. 127, 128, 129, and 130). The logs supporting the
front of the second story
serve their purpose as pillars or supports only during the winter-time,
when the heavy load of snow might break off the unsupported front of
olebo. In the summer-time they are taken away and set to one side,
the overhang unsupported in front. The shakes on the side are put on
same as shingles, overlapping each other and breaking joints as shown
the illustration. They are nailed to the side poles, the ends of which
may see protruding in the sketch (Fig.
The Mossback Cabin
In the north country, where the lumbermen are at work, the
settlers are looked down upon by the lumberjacks much in the same
as the civilians in a military government are looked down upon by the
soldiers, and hence the lumberjacks have, in derision, dubbed the
Fig. 239 shows a
mossback's house or cabin in the lake lands of Canada.
The same type of house I have seen in northern Michigan. This one is a
two-pen house, but the second pen is made like the front to the olebo,
allowing the logs of the walls of the house itself to extend sufficient
distance beyond to make another room, pen, or division. In this
case the settler has
put a shed roof of boards upon the division, but the
main roof is made of logs in the form of tiles. In Canada these are
called les auges (pronounced ōge), a name given to them by the
The back of this house has a steeper roof than the front, which roof,
you see, extends above the ends of les auges to keep the rain
beating in at the ends of the wooden troughs. Above the logs on the
side of the small room, pen, or addition the front is covered with
shakes. Fig. 240 shows a
in the Olympic mountains, but it is only the
ordinary American log cabin with a shake roof and no windows. A
cooking-stove inside answers for heating apparatus and the stovepipe
protrudes above the roof.
The Southern Saddle-Bag or Two-Pen Cabin
Now we come to the most delightful of all forms of a log
house. The one
shown in Fig. 241 is a very
simple one, such as might be built by any
group of boys, but I have lived in such houses down South that were
much more elaborate. Frequently they have a second story which extends
like the roof over the open gallery between the pens; the chimneys are
the gable ends, that is, on the outside of the house, and since we will
have quite a space devoted to fireplaces and chimneys, it is only
necessary to say here that in many portions of the South the
while broad, are often quite shallow and not nearly so deep as some
in the old houses on Long Island, in New York, and the Eastern States.
open gallery makes a delightful, cool lounging place, also a place for
ladies to sit and sew, and serves as an open-air dining-room during the
warm weather; this sort of house is inappropriate and ill fitted for
climate which produced the olebo, the mossback, and the Kanuck, but
exactly suited for our Southern States and
very pleasant even as far
north as Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. I have lived in one part of every
summer for the last twenty-two years in the mountains of northern
Pennsylvania. The saddle-bag may be built by boys with the two rooms
by ten and a gallery six feet wide, or the two rooms six by six and a
gallery five feet wide; the plan may be seen on the sketch below the
Where you only expect to use the house in the summer months, a
saddle-bag can be used with comfort even in the Northern States, but in
the winter-time in such States as Michigan and part of New York, the
gallery would be filled up with drifting snow.
NATIVE NAMES FOR THE PARTS OF A KANUCK LOG CABIN, AND HOW TO
If the writer forgets himself once
in a while and uses words not familiar
to his boy readers, he hopes they will forgive him and put all such
down as the result of leaving boys' company once in a while and
associating with men. The reader knows that men dearly love big,
words and that just as soon as boys do something worth while the men
busy hunting up some top-heavy name for it.
When one is talking of foreign things, however, it is well to
foreign names for those things, and, since the next house to be
is not a real American one but a native of Canada, the Canadian names
given for its parts. While in northern Quebec, making notes for the
Kanuck, the writer enlisted the interest of a fellow member of the
Camp-Fire Club of America, Doctor Alexander Lambert, and through him
secured the names of all parts of the Canadian shack.
The author is not a French-Canadian, and, although, like most
readers, he studied French at school, what he learned of that great
language is now securely locked up in one of the safe-deposit vaults of
his brain and the key lost.
He owns up to his ignorance because he is a scout and would
not try to
deceive his readers, also because if the reader's knowledge of French
enables him to find some error, the writer can sidestep the mistake and
say, "'Tain't mine." But,
joking aside, these names are the ones used in
the Province of Quebec and are here given not because they are good
but because they are the names used by the builders among the natives
known by the Indians as les habitants
Local Names of Parts of Cabin
||boucher, Figs. 113 and 122
||les bois or les billots, A, A,
A, Figs. 242,
245, also 119, 126, etc.
||porte, Figs. 242, 243
||châssis, Fig. 243
||les vitres, 242
|the joist on which the floor is laid
||les traverses, Fig. 49, B, B, B,
B, Fig. 244
|the floor itself
|the purlins, that is, the two big logs
used to support the roof
||les poudres, C, C, Fig. 244
||couverture, Fig. 242
|the poles put on a birch-bark roof to keep
the bark flat
||les péches, Figs. 41, 234, 242
|the hollow half-logs sometimes used like
tiling on a roof
||les auges, Fig. 246
|piazza, porch, front stoop, veranda
||galerie, Figs. 236, 237, and 241
The only thing that needs explanation is the squaring of the
round logs of
the cabin. For instance, instead of leaving the logs absolutely round
untouched inside the camp, after the logs are placed, they are squared
so as to leave a flat surface (Fig.
125). They call this the carréage. I
do not know whether this is a local name or whether it is an expression
peculiar to that Quebec section of Canada or whether it is simply a
corruption of better French. It is derived from the word carrer,
Fig. 242. Fig. 243. Fig. 244. Fig. 245.
Fig. 246. Fig. 247.
Fig. 248. Fig. 249.
Showing construction of the common Canadian log house.
The perspective drawings (Figs. 242
and 243) show views of the
call the Kanuck. The pen is built exactly as it is built in the houses
already described. The windows are placed where the builder desires, as
also the doorway, but when the side-plate logs, that is
or top side logs, are put in place, then the traverses logs (B,
B, B, B, Fig.
244) are laid across the pen from one side-plate to the
other, their ends resting on top of the side-plates over the traverses
logs, the two purlins
(C, C, Fig.
244) are notched and fitted, and over their ends the two
pieces D, D are fitted, and, resting on the centres of
the D logs,
the ridge log (E, Fig. 244)
The roof is made of small logs flattened on the under-side or
their rounded form (Fig. 242)
and laid from the ridge logs down, extending
over the eaves six or more inches.
The roof logs are then held in place by poles pegged with
wooden pegs to
the roof (F, G, Fig.
The roof is now covered with a thick layer of browse, hay,
leaves, or dry grass, and on top of this moist blue clay, yellow clay,
hard-pan, or simple mud is spread and trampled down hard, forcing the
thatch underneath into all the cracks and crannies and forming a firm
covering of clay several inches thick.
The fireplace and chimney may be built inside or outside the
cabin, or the
house may be heated by a stove and the stovepipe allowed to protrude
through a hole in the roof large enough to separate the pipe a safe
distance from the wood and straw and amply protected by a piece of
iron or tin. Then, after you have stored your butin (luggage),
sit and sing:
You may pull the sourdine
out You may push the rabat-joie in
But the boucan goes up the cheminée
just the same Just the same, just the same,
But the boucan goes up the cheminée
just the same.
When "l'habitant" hears you sing this verse he will not know
song is about, but he will slap you on the back, laugh, and call you Bon
Homme chez nous, but do not get mad at this; it is a compliment and
A clay roof should be as flat as possible with only pitch
enough to shed
the water; a shingle roof should have a rise of at least one foot high
four feet wide and a thatched
roof should have a rise of 45°, that is,
the rise of a line drawn from corner to corner of a square.
Fig. 247 shows a
gable filled with upright logs and Fig. 248 shows a tar
paper roof and a gable covered with tar paper.
Since Kanucks are cold-climate houses, they frequently have
novel means of
keeping them warm; one way that I have frequently seen used is to
them with a log fence shown in Fig.
249, and pack the space between with
stable manure or dirt and rotten leaves.
HOW TO MAKE A POLE HOUSE AND HOW TO MAKE A UNIQUE BUT
TOTEM LOG HOUSE
A pole house is a log house with
the logs set upright. We call it a pole
house because, usually, the logs are smaller than those used for a log
house. The pole house (Fig. 250)
is built in the manner shown by Figs. 171, 172, and 173, but in the present
instance the ridge-pole is a log
which is allowed to extend some distance beyond the house both in front
and rear, and the front end of the ridge-pole is carved in the shape of
grotesque or comical animal's head like those we see on totem-poles.
roof is made of shakes (see Figs. 126
to 130) and the shakes are
place by poles pegged onto the roof in much the same manner as we have
described and called les péches for the Kanuck. This
pole cabin may have
an old-fashioned Dutch door which will add to its quaintness and may
but one room which will answer the many purposes of a living-room,
sleeping-room, and dining-room. A lean-to at the back can be used for a
American Totem Log House
But if you really want something unique, build a log house on
plan shown by Figs. 251 and 252; then carve the ends of all
logs to represent the heads of reptiles, beasts, or birds; also carve
posts which support the end logs on the front gallery, porch, or
in the form of totem-poles. You may add further
to the quaint effect by
placing small totem-posts where your steps begin on the walk (Fig. 253)
and adding a tall totem-pole (Fig.
255) for your family totem or the totem
of your clan. Fig. 252 shows
how to arrange and cut your logs for the
pens. The dining-room is supposed to be behind the half partition next
the kitchen; the other half of this room being open, with the front
it makes a large living-room. The stairs lead up to the sleeping-rooms
overhead; the latter are made by dividing the space with partitions to
suit your convenience.
Take your jack-knife and a number of little sticks to
represent the logs
of your cabin; call an inch a foot or a half inch a foot as will suit
convenience and measure all the sticks on this scale, using inches or
parts of inches for feet. Then sit down on the ground or on the floor
experiment in building a toy house or miniature model until you make
which is satisfactory. Next glue the little logs of the pen together;
make the roof so that it may be taken off and put on like the lid to a
box; keep your model to use in place of an architect's drawing; the
backwoods workmen will understand it better than they will a set of
and sections on paper. Fig. 251
is a very simple plan and only put here as
a suggestion. You can put the kitchen at the back of the house instead
on one side of it or make any changes which suit your fancy; the pen of
the house may be ten by twelve or twenty by thirty feet, a camp or a
dwelling; the main point is to finish your house up with totems as
by Fig. 253, and then tell
the other fellows where you got the idea.
Fig. 250. Fig. 251. Fig. 252. Fig. 253.
Fig. 254. Fig. 255.
A totem motif. An artistic and novel
treatment for a log house.
For any structure which is intended to be permanent never use
with bark on them; use peeled logs. When your house is finished
look very fresh and new without bark, but one season of exposure to the
weather will tone it down so that it will be sufficiently rustic to
your fancy, but if you leave the bark on the logs, a few seasons will
your house down, making it too rustic to suit any one's fancy.
Lay up the pen of this house as already described and
illustrated by Figs. 229, 233, etc., and when the sides
and front walls have reached the
desired height, frame your roof after the manner shown by Fig. 49 or any
of the other methods described which may suit your fancy or
but in this case we use the Susitna form for the end plates, which are
made by first severing the root of a tree and leaving an elbow or bend
the end of the trunk (Fig. 264).
This is flattened by scoring and hewing
as is described and illustrated under the heading of the Susitna house.
The elbows at the terminals of the end plate are carved to represent
grotesque heads (Fig. 253).
The house when built is something like the
Wyoming olebo (Fig. 236), but
with the difference which will appear after
careful inspection of the diagram. The Wyoming olebo is a one-story
this is a two-story house. The Wyoming olebo has a roof built upon a
modified plan of a Kanuck; this roof is built on the American log-cabin
plan, with the logs continued up to the top of the gable, as are those
the Olympic (Fig. 240). But
the present house is supposed to be very
carefully built; to be sure, it is made of rude material but
handled in a
very neat and workmanlike manner. Great care must be used in notching
joining the logs, and only the straightest logs which can be had should
used for the walls of the
house. The piazza may need some additional
supports if there is a wide front to the house, but with a narrow front
half, log puncheons will be sufficiently stiff to support themselves.
The most difficult part about these descriptions, for the
writer, is where
he attempts to tell you how to make your totems; but remember that a
totem, in order to have a real totem look, must be very crude
amateurish, a quality that the reader should be able to give it without
much instruction. The next important thing is that when you make one
of a head, be it a snake's, a man's, a beast's, or a bird's, make the
other side like it. Do not make the head lopsided; make both sides of
same proportions. Flatten the sides of the end of the log enough to
you a smooth surface, then sketch the profile on each side of the log
charcoal or chalk, carve out the head with a chisel, drawing-knife, and
jack-knife, and gouge until you have fashioned it into the shape
In order to do this the end of the log should be free from the ground
a convenient distance above it. The carving is best done after the
is practically finished; but the two end plates had better be carved
before they are hoisted into place.
When you carve out the totem-poles (Fig. 256 or 262), the log had better
be put on an elongated sawbuck arrangement which will hold it free from
the ground and allow one to turn it over as the work may require. Fig. 259
represents a peeled log. On this log one may sketch, with chalk, the
various figures here represented, then begin by notching the log (Fig.
258) according to the
notches which are necessary to carve out the totem.
Figs. 260, 261, and 262 show different views of the
same totem figures. Fig. 257
shows how to
make a variation of the totem-pole. Paint your totem
heads and figures red, blue, and yellow, and to suit your fancy; the
startling they are the better will they imitate the Indian totems. The
weather will eventually tone them down to the harmonious colors of a
In "The Boy Pioneers" I have told how to make various other
totems, all of which have since been built by boys and men in different
parts of the country. Mr. Stewart Edward White, a member of the
Club of America, woodsman, plainsman, mountaineer, and African hunter
explorer, built himself a totem in the form of a huge bird twelve feet
high from the plans published in "The Boy Pioneers," and I anticipate
great difficulty will be encountered by those who try to totemize a log
cabin after the manner shown by Fig.
258. It will not, however, be a small
boy's work, but the small boys who started at the beginning of this
are older and more experienced now, and, even if they cannot handle the
big logs themselves, they are perfectly competent to teach their
and uncles and their big brothers how to do it, so they may act as boss
builders and architects and let the older men do the heavy work. But
however you proceed to build this house, when it is finished you will
a typically native building, and at the same time different from all
others, as quaint as any bungling bungalow, and in better taste,
it will fit in the landscape and become part of it and look as if it belonged
there, in place of appearing as if it had been
blown by a
tornado from some box factory and deposited in an unsuitable landscape.
Fig. 256. Fig. 257. Fig. 258. Fig. 259.
Fig. 260. Fig. 261.
and how to make them.
You must understand by this that unsuitable refers to the fact that a
bungalow does not belong in the American landscape, although
many of the
cottages and shacks, miscalled bungalows, may be thoroughly American
appropriate to the American surroundings despite the exotic name by
some people humble them.
HOW TO BUILD A SUSITNA LOG CABIN AND HOW TO CUT TREES FOR THE
Standing on a hill overlooking the
salt meadows at Hunter's Point, L. I.,
there was an old farmhouse the roof of which projected over both sides
the house four or five feet. The hill on which it stood has been cut
the meadows which it overlooked have been filled up with the dirt from
hill, and only a surveyor with his transit and the old property-lines
before him could ever find the former location of this house, but it is
somewhere among the tracks of the Long Island Railroad.
Opposite the house, on the other side of the railroad track,
section known as Dutch Kills of Long Island City, two other houses of
same style of architecture stood; they had double doors—that is,
which were cut in two half-way up so that you might open the top or
half or both halves to suit your fancy. The upper panels of these doors
had two drop-lights of glass set in on the bias, and between them,
half-way down the upper half, was a great brass knocker with a grip big
enough to accommodate both hands in case you really wanted to make a
There was another house of this same description in the
Hoboken, and I often wondered what the origin of that peculiar roof
be. I found this type of house as far north toward the Hudson Bay as
settlements go, and still farther north the Susitna house explains the
origin of the overhanging eaves (Fig.
268). Of course the Susitna,
here drawn, is not exactly the same as that built by the natives on the
Susitna River, but the end plates (Fig.
263) are the same as those used in
the primitive houses of the Northwest.
How to Cut the Tree
Fig. 264 shows a
standing fir-tree and also shows what cuts to make in
order to get the right-shaped log for an end plate. Fig. 265 shows the
method of scoring and hewing necessary in order to flatten the end of
log as it is in Fig. 266. Fig. 267 shows the style in
which the natives
roof their Susitnas with logs. The elbows at the end of the plates (Fig.
266) serve to keep the logs of the roof (Fig. 267) from rolling off, but
the Susitna log cabin which we are building is expected to have a roof
(Fig. 268) of thatch or a
roof of shingles, because we have passed the
rude shacks, sheds, and shelters used for camps and are now building
houses in which we may live. The Susitna may be built of round logs or
flattened logs (le carréage), in which case we can use
Putnam square notch (Fig. 263)
for joining the ends of our logs. In
raising the roof, erect the ridge-pole first. The ridge-pole may be set
on two uprights to which it is temporarily nailed, and the upright
may be held in place by the two diagonal props or braces, as shown in Fig.
263. If the logs are squared, cut a small bird's-mouth notch in the
where it extends over the side-plate logs of the pen and bevel the top
of your gable rafters to fit against the ridge-pole as in the diagrams.
The other rafters are now easily put in place, but if the logs are
you must notch the rafters and side-plates as shown by the diagram
Figs. 263 and 267; the dotted lines show
where the rafter and the logs
come together. Nail your rafters to your ridge-pole and fasten them to
side-plate with wooden pegs or spikes. The ridge-pole may be allowed to
extend, as in Fig. 268, on
each side of the cabin or the elbows (Fig. 266)
may be attached to each end of the ridge-pole with noses turned up and
painted or carved into a fanciful head as in Fig. 268. If the roof is to
be shingled, collect a lot of poles about four inches in diameter,
them on both sides, and nail them to the rafters not more than two
apart, allowing the ends of the sticks to extend beyond the walls of
house at least six inches.
Fig. 263. Fig. 264. Fig. 265. Fig. 266.
Fig. 267. Fig. 268.
The Susitna log house.
If you desire to make your own shingles, saw up a hemlock, pine, or
log into billets of one foot four inches long, then with a froe and a
(Fig. 179) split the shingles
from the billets of wood, or use a broadaxe
for the same purpose. Broadaxes are dangerous weapons in the hands of
amateur, but the writer split shingles with a broadaxe upon the shores
Lake Erie when he was but seven years old and, as near as he can count,
still has ten toes and ten fingers. If you intend to thatch the roof
need not flatten the poles which you fasten across the rafters, because
the thatch will hide all unevenness of the underpinning. The poles may
laid at right angles to the rafters between six and eight inches apart
the roof thatched as described and illustrated by Fig. 66. The Susitna
form of house is the one from which the old Long Island farmhouses were
evolved, although the old Long Islanders copied theirs from the homes
left in Holland, but we must remember that even the effete civilization
Europe once had a backwoods country a long, long time ago, and then
built their houses from the timbers hewn in the forests as our own
ancestors did in this country; consequently, many of the
of present-day houses which seem to us useless and unnecessary are
survivals of the necessary characteristics of houses made of crude
HOW TO MAKE A FIREPLACE AND CHIMNEY FOR A SIMPLE LOG CABIN
269 shows a simple form of fireplace which is practically
granddaddy of all the other fireplaces. It consists of three walls for
windbreaks, laid up in stone or sod against some stakes driven in the
ground for the purpose of supporting them. The four-cornered stakes are
notched or forked and small logs are laid horizontally in these forks
on top of this a pyramidal form of a log pen is built of small logs and
billets, and this answers the purpose of a chimney. This style of
fireplace is adapted to use in camps and rude shacks like those shown
Figs. 187, 189, 191, and 192; also for the most
primitive log cabins, but
when we make a real log house we usually plan to have a more elaborate
more finished fireplace and chimney. The ground-plan of Fig. 269 is shown
by Fig. 270.
Here you see there is a mud hearth, a wall of clay plastered
stones of the fireplace. This will prevent the fire from cracking and
chipping the stones, but clay is not absolutely necessary in this
fireplace. When, however, you build the walls of your fireplace of logs
and your chimney of sticks the clay is necessary to prevent the
from igniting the woodwork and consuming
it. For a log-framed fireplace,
make a large opening in the wall of your house and against the ends of
logs where you sawed out the opening, erect jamb pieces of planks two
three inches thick running up to the log over the fireplace and spiked
the round ends of the logs (see plan, Fig. 272). Next, lay your
of sill logs on the fireplace, first two side logs and then a back log,
neatly notched so as to look like the logs in the walls of the cabin.
Build your fireplace walls as shown by Fig. 271, after which take your
or clay and make the hearth by hammering the clay down hard until you
a firm, smooth foundation. The front hearth may be made, as shown in
diagram, of stones of any size from pebbles to flagstones, with the
surfaces levelled by sinking the under-part down into the clay until a
uniform level is reached on top. The fireplace may be built with bricks
moist clay and wet clay used for mortar. Make the clay walls of the
fireplace at least one foot thick and pack it down hard and tight as
build it. If you choose you may make a temporary inside wall of plank
they do when they make cement walls, and then between the temporary
wall and the logs put in your moist clay and ram it down hard until the
top of the fireplace is reached, after which the boards may be removed
the inside of the fireplace smoothed off by wiping it with a wet cloth.
After the walls of logs and clay are built to top of the
split some sticks and make them about one inch wide by one and one half
inch thick, or use the round sticks in the form in which they grow, but
peel off the bark to render them less combustible; then lay them up as
shown by Fig. 261, log-cabin
style. With the chimney we have four sides to
the wall in place of three sides as in the fireplace. The logs of the
fireplace, where they run next to the cabin, may have to be chinked up
as to keep them level, but the chimney should be built level as it has
four sides to balance it. Leave a space between the chimney and the
outside wall and plaster the sticks thickly with clay upon the outside
much thicker with clay upon the inside, as shown by Fig. 271 A, which is
supposed to be a section of the chimney.
Fig. 269. Fig. 270. Fig. 271. Fig. 272.
for fireplaces and flues.
All through the mountains of East Tennessee and Kentucky I
have seen these
stick chimneys, some of them many, many years old. In these mountain
countries the fireplaces are lined with stones, but in Illinois, in the
olden times, stones were scarce and mud was plenty and the fireplaces
made like those just described and illustrated by Fig. 272.
The stone chimney is an advance and improvement upon the log
I doubt if it requires any more skill to build.
Dig your foundation for your fireplace and chimney at least
deep; then fill the hole up with small cobblestones or broken bluestone
until you have reached nearly the level of the ground; upon this you
begin to lay your hearth and chimney foundation. If you fail to dig
foundation the frost will work the ground under your chimney and the
chimney will work with the ground, causing it either to upset or to
to one side or the other and spoil the looks of your house, even if it
does not put your fireplace out of commission.
In laying up the stones for your chimney, remember that it
difference how rough and uneven it is upon the outside. The more uneven
the outside is the more picturesque it will appear, but the smoother
more even the inside is the less will it collect soot and the less will
the danger of chimney fires. Lay your stones in mortar or cement. See
each stone fits firmly in the bed and does not rock and that it breaks
joints with the other stone below it. By breaking joints I mean that
crack between the two stones on the upper tier should fit over the
of the stone on the lower tier; this, with the aid of the cement, locks
the stones and prevents any accidental cracks which may open from
extending any further than the two stones between which it started. If,
however, you do not break joints, a crack might run from the top to the
bottom of the chimney causing it to fall apart. Above the fireplace
four walls to your chimney, as you did with your stick chimney (Fig. 271),
and let the top of the chimney extend above the roof at least three
this will not only help the draught but it will also lessen the danger
HEARTHSTONES AND FIREPLACES
In erecting the fireplace for your
cabin the stone work should extend into
the cabin itself, thus protecting the ends of the logs from the fire.
stone over the top of the fireplace (A, B, Fig. 274) rests upon two
iron bars; these iron bars are necessary for safety because, although
stone A, B may bridge the fireplace successfully, the
settling of the
chimney or the heat of the fire is liable to crack the stone, in which
case, unless it is supported by two flat iron bars, it will fall down
wreck your fireplace. The stone A, B in Fig. 275, has been cracked for
fifteen years but, as it rests upon the flat iron bars beneath, the
does no harm.
Fig. 274. Fig. 275.
Fireplace in author's cabin, and
suggestion for stone and wood mantel.
In Fig. 274 (the ends of the
fireplace) the two wing walls of it are built
up inside the cabin to support a plank for a mantelpiece. Another plank
C, D is nailed under the mantelpiece against the
log before the stone
work is built up. This is only for the purpose of giving a finish to
mantelpiece. The hearth in Fig.
274 is made of odd bits of flat stones
laid in cement, but the hearth in Fig.
275 is one big slab of bluestone
just as it came from the quarry, and the fireplace in Fig. 275 is lined
with fire-brick. The two three-legged stools which you see on each side
were made by the woodsmen who built the cabin to use in their camp
the cabin was being erected. The stools have occupied the position of
honor on each side of the fireplace now for twenty-seven years. The
mantelpiece in this drawing is made of puncheons with the rounded side
on the two supports and the flat side against the wall; of course, for
mantel itself, the rounded side must be down and the flat side up. This
fireplace has been used for cooking purposes and the crane is still
hanging over the flames, while up over the mantel you may see, roughly
indicated, a wrought-iron broiler, a toaster, and a brazier. The flat
shovel hanging to the left of the fireplace is what is known as a
used in olden times to slip under the pies or cakes in the
ovens in order to remove them without burning one's fingers.
MORE HEARTHS AND FIREPLACES
Sometimes it is desired to have a
fireplace in the middle of the room.
Personally, such a fireplace does not appeal to me, but there are other
people who like the novelty of such a fireplace, and Fig. 276 shows one
constructed of rough stones. The fireplace is high so that one tending
does not have to stoop and get a backache. The foundation should be
in the ground underneath the cabin and up through the floor. A flat
covers the top of the fireplace, as in the other drawings. Fig. 277 shows
a fireplace with a puncheon support for a plank mantel.
Fig. 276. Fig. 277. Fig. 278. Fig. 279.
Fireplace and mantel of half logs. Also
centre fireplaces for cabin.
A Plank Mantel
A and B are two half logs, or puncheons, which
run from the floor to
the ceiling on each side of the fireplace. S, S, S
are the logs of
the cabin walls. C is the puncheon supporting the mantel and D
mantel. Fig. 279 shows a
section or a view of the mantel looking down on
it from the top, a topographical view of it. Fig. 278 is the same sort of
a view showing the puncheon A at the other end of the mantel
mantel is put in place between the two puncheons A and B.
In Fig. 279
the reader may see that it will be necessary to cut the corners out of
mantel-board in order to fit it around the puncheons A and B;
since A and B have rounded surfaces, it will be
necessary to so bevel
the ends of the puncheon (C, Fig. 277) that they will fit on
surfaces of A and B. Fig. 280 shows the end of C
bevelled in a
perspective view, and also a profile view of it, with the puncheon A
indicating the manner in which C must be cut to fit upon the
surface. This makes a simple mantelpiece but a very appropriate one for
FIREPLACES AND THE ART OF TENDING THE FIRE
One of my readers has written to me
asking what to do about a fireplace
that smokes. Not knowing the fireplace in question, I cannot prescribe
that particular invalid, but I have a long acquaintance with many
fireplaces that smoke and fireplaces that do not—in other words,
fireplaces with a good digestion and diseased fireplaces functionally
wrong with poor digestion—so perhaps the easiest way to answer
questions is to describe a few of my acquaintances among the fireplaces
which I have studied.
There is an old fireplace in Small Acres, Binghamton, N. Y.,
of which I
made sketches and took measurements which furnished me data by which I
built the fireplaces in my own houses.
In Binghamton fireplaces the side walls are on an angle and
toward the back of the fireplace, as in Fig. 274. The back also pitches
forward, as in Fig. 282. The
great advantage of this is the reflecting of
more heat into the room.
Fig. 281 shows the
fireplace before which I am now working. The fire was
started in last November and is now (April 1) still burning, although
has not been rekindled since it was first lighted. This fireplace is
constructed, and on very cold days I have the fire burning out on the
hearth fully a foot beyond the line of the mantel without any smoke
into my studio.
Fig. 282 shows a
diagram with the dimensions of my
studio fireplace and
represents the vertical section of it. I give these for the benefit of
people who want to know how to build a fireplace which will not smoke.
But, of course, even the best of fireplaces will smoke if the fire is
properly arranged. With smoke the angle of reflection would be equal to
the angle of incidence did not the constant tendency of smoke to ascend
modify this rule.
Throw a rubber ball against the wall and the direction from
your hand to
where it strikes the wall makes the angle of incidence; when the ball
bounces away from the wall it makes the angle of reflection.
Management of the Fire
But, before we enter into the question regarding the structure
of the flue
we will take up the management of the fire itself. In the first place,
there is but one person who can manage a fire, and that is yourself.
Servants never did and never will learn the art, and, as I am writing
men, and the ladies are not supposed to read this article, I will state
that the fair sex show a like deficiency in this line. The first thing
woman wants to do with a fire is to make the logs roost on the
the next thing is to remove every speck of ashes from the hearth, and
she wonders why the fire won't burn.
The ashes have not been removed from my studio fire since it
lighted last fall. Ashes are absolutely essential to control a
and to keep the embers burning overnight. Fig. 288 shows the present
of the ashes in my studio fire. You will see by this diagram that the
are not resting on the andirons. I only use the andirons as a safeguard
keep the logs from rolling out on the hearth. If the fire has been
replenished late in the evening with a fresh log, before retiring I pull
the front or the ornamental parts of the andirons to the hearth and
lay the shovel and poker across them horizontally. When the burning log
covered with ashes and the andirons arranged in this manner you can
at night with a feeling of security and the knowledge that if your
catches afire it will not be caused by the embers in your fireplace.
in the morning all you have to do is to shovel out the ashes from the
of the fireplace, put in a new backlog, and bed it in with ashes, as
in Fig. 286. Put your
glowing embers next to the backlog and your fresh
wood on top of that and sit down to your breakfast with the certainty
your fire will be blazing before you get up from the table.
Don't make the mistake of poking a wood-fire, with the idea,
means, of making it burn more briskly, or boosting up the logs to get a
draught under them.
Two logs placed edge to edge, like those in Fig. 288, with hot coals
between them, will make their own draught, which comes in at each end
the log, and, what is essential in fire building, they keep the heat
between themselves, constantly increasing it by reflecting it back from
one to the other. If you happen to be in great haste to make the flames
start, don't disturb the logs but use a pair of bellows.
Fig. 287 shows a set
of the logs which will make the best-constructed
fireplace smoke. The arrow-point shows the line of incidence or the
natural direction which the smoke would take did not the heat carry it
Fig. 285 shows the
same logs arranged so that the angle of incidence
strikes the back of the chimney and the smoke ascends in the full and
orderly manner. But both Figs. 285
and 287 are clumsily
arranged. The B
logs in each case should be the backlog and the small logs A
should be in front of B.
Fig. 281. Fig. 282. Fig. 283. Fig. 284.
Fig. 285. Fig. 286.
Fig. 287. Fig. 288.
Proper and improper ways to build a
fireplace and make a fire.
In all of the fireplaces which we have described you will note that the
top front of the fireplace under the mantel extends down several inches
below the angle of the chimney.
Fig. 283 shows a
fireplace that is improperly built. This is from a
fireplace in a palatial residence in New York City, enclosed in an
Italian marble mantel, yellow with age, which cost a small fortune. The
fireplace was designed and built by a firm of the best architects,
composed of men famed throughout the whole of the United States and
Europe, but the fireplace smoked because the angle of the
below the opening of the fireplace and, consequently, sent the smoke
into the room. This had to be remedied by setting a piece of thick
glass over the top of the fireplace, thus making the opening smaller
extending it below the angle of the chimney.
Fig. 284 shows the
most primitive form of fireplace and chimney. One that
a child may see will smoke unless the fire is kept in the extreme back
The advantages of ashes in your fireplace are manifold. They
heat, keep the hot coals glowing overnight, and when the fire is too
may be used to cover the logs and subdue the heat. But, of course, if
want a clean hearthstone and the logs roosting upon the andirons, and
devoid of all the camp-fire sentiment, have some asbestos gas-logs.
will be no dust or dirt, no covering up at night with ashes, no bill
cord-wood, and it will look as stiff and prim as any New England old
and be as devoid of sentiment and art as a department-store bargain
THE BUILDING OF THE LOG HOUSE
How a Forty-Foot-Front, Two-Story Pioneer Log House Was Put
Up with the
Help of "Backwoods Farmers"—Making Plans with a Pocket Knife.
Our log house on the shore of Big
Tink Pond, Pike County, Pa., was built
long before the general public had been educated to enjoy the subtle
charms of wild nature, at a time when nature-study was confined to
scientists and children, and long before it was fashionable to have
fowl on one's lawn and wild flowers in one's garden. At that time only
few unconventional souls spent their vacations out of sight of summer
hotels, camping on the mountain or forest trails. The present state of
public mind in regard to outdoor life has only been developed within
last few years, and when I first announced my intention of hunting up
accessible wild corner and there erecting a log house for a summer
and home I found only unsympathetic listeners. But I was young and rash
that time, and without any previous experience in building or the aid
books to guide me and with only such help as I could find among
farmers I built a forty-foot-front, two-story log house that is
the pioneer among log houses erected by city men for summer homes. It
Mr. Charles Wingate the suggestions from which he evolved Twilight Park
the Catskills. Twilight Park,
being the resort of literary people and
their friends, did much to popularize log houses with city people.
The deserted farms of New England offer charming possibilities
whose taste is for nature with a shave, hair cut, and store clothes,
for lovers of untamed nature the waste lands offer stronger inducements
for summer-vacation days, and there is no building which fits so
in a wild landscape as a good, old-fashioned log cabin. It looks as if
really belonged there and not like a windfall from some passing
When I make the claim that any ordinary man can build himself
home, I do not mean to say that he will not make blunders and plenty of
them; only fools never make mistakes, wise men profit by them, and the
reader may profit by mine, for there is no lack of them in our log
at Big Tink. But the house still stands on the bank overlooking the
and is practically as sound as it was when the last spike was driven,
twenty-seven years ago.
Almost all of the original log cabins that were once sprinkled
eastern part of our country disappeared with the advent of the
and the few which still exist in the northern part of the country east
the Alleghany Mountains would not be recognized as log houses by the
casual observer, for the picturesque log exteriors have been concealed
a covering of clapboards.
To my surprise I discovered that even among the old
mountaineers I could
find none who had ever attended a log-rolling frolic or participated in
the erection of a real log house. Most of these old fellows, however,
could remember living in such houses in their youth, but they could not
understand why any sane man of to-day wanted "to waste so much good
lumber," and in the quaint old American dialect still preserved in
regions they explained the wastefulness of my plans and pointed out to
the number of good planks which might be sawed from each log.
Wildlands, the author's log house in Pike County, Pa.
 Fig. 290, B,
shows the plans of the house, which will be seen to be a
modification of the Southern "saddle-bag" cabin—two houses under
roof. By referring to Fig. 289
it will be seen that above the gallery
there is a portico, which we called the "afterthought" because it did
appear upon the original plans. We got the hint, as "Jimmy" called it,
when it was noticed that chance had ordained that the two "A"
should protrude much farther than the others. "Don't saw them off," I
exclaimed; "we will have a balcony"; and so the two "A" logs
and this gave us room for a balcony over the gallery, back of which is
ten-by-ten bedroom, while the two large bedrooms on each side have
opening on the six-foot passageway, which is made still broader by the
addition of the balcony.
It will be seen that there is a stairway marked out on the
but there was none on the original plan, for, to tell the honest truth,
did not know where to put the stairs until the logs were in place.
However, it is just such problems that lend charm to the work of
your own house. An architect or a professional builder would have the
thing all cut and dried beforehand and leave nothing to chance and
inspiration; this takes the whole charm out of the work when one is
building for recreation and the pleasure to be derived from the
When our house was finished we had no shutters to the windows
and no way
of closing up the open ends of the gallery, and my helpers told me that
must not leave the house that way because stray cattle would use the
for a stable and break the windows with their horns as they swung their
heads to drive away the flies. So we nailed boards over these openings
when we closed the house for the winter. Later we invented some
(see C, Fig. 290)
which can be put up with little trouble and in a few
moments. Fig. 290, C,
shows how these shutters are put in place and
locked on the inside by a movable sill that is slid up against the
of the shutters and fastened in place by iron pins let into holes bored
for the purpose.
Details of author's log house, Wildlands.
Of course, this forms no bar to a professional burglar, but there is
nothing inside to tempt cracksmen, and these professional men seldom
into the woods. The shutters serve to keep out cattle, small boys, and
stray fishermen whose idle curiosity might tempt them to meddle with
contents of a house less securely fastened.
A house is never really finished until one loses interest in
it and stops
tinkering and planning homely improvements. This sort of work is a
healthy, wholesome occupation and just the kind necessary to people of
sedentary occupations or those whose misfortune it is to be engaged in
some of the nerve-racking business peculiar to life in big cities.
Dwellers in our big cities do not seem to realize that there
is any other
life possible for them than a continuous nightmare existence amid
monstrous buildings, noisy traffic, and the tainted air of unsanitary
streets. They seem to have forgotten that the same sun that in summer
scorches the towering masonry and paved sidewalks until the canyon-like
streets become unbearable also shines on green woods, tumbling waters,
mirror-like lakes; or, if they are dimly conscious of this fact, they
think such places are so far distant as to be practically out of their
reach in every sense. Yet in reality the wilderness is almost knocking
our doors, for within one hundred miles of New York bears, spotted
wildcats, and timid
deer live unconfined in their primitive wild
condition. Fish caught in the streams can be cooked for dinner in New
the same day.
In 1887, when the writer was himself a bachelor, he went out
wilderness on the shores of Big Tink Pond, upon which he built the log
house shown in the sketch. At first he kept bachelor hall there with
choice spirits, not the kind you find in bottles on the bar-room shelf,
but the human kind who love the outdoor world and nature, or he took
parents and near relatives with him for a vacation in the woods. Like
sensible men, in course of time he married, and then he took his bride
to the cabin in the woods. At length the time came when he found it
necessary to shoulder his axe and go to the woods to secure material
new piece of furniture. He cut the young chestnut-trees, peeled
and with them constructed a crib; and every year for the last eight
that crib has been occupied part of the season. Thus, you see, a camp
this kind becomes hallowed with the most sacred of human memories and
becomes a joy not only to the builder thereof but also to the coming
generation. At the big, open fire in the grill-room, with the
old-fashioned cooking utensils gathered from farmhouses on Long Island,
have cooked venison steaks, tenderloin of the great northern hare, the
plump, white breasts of the ruffed grouse, all broiled over the hot
with slices of bacon, and when done to a turn, placed in a big platter
with fresh butter and served to a crowd who watched the operation and
sniffed the delicious odor until they literally drooled at the corners
their mouths. As the house was built on a deer runway, all these things
were products of the surrounding country, and on several occasions they
have all been served at one meal.
HOW TO LAY A TAR PAPER, BIRCH BARK, OR PATENT ROOFING
Preparing the Roofing for Laying
Birch bark and patent roofing are
more pliable than tin or shingles,
consequently taking less time to lay and making it easier work. In very
cold weather put your patent roofing in a warm room a few hours before
using it. Never try to cut birch bark, tar paper, or patent roofing
No matter what sort of roofing material is used, do not forget
importance of the roofing foundation (Figs. 296 and 298). If the
foundation is poor or uneven the roofing will be poor and uneven, even
only the best roofing material is used. The sheathing boards should be
matched if possible and of uniform thickness, laid close, and free from
nails, protruding knots, and sharp edges. Do not use green lumber; the
is almost certain to shrink and warp it. Sometimes it will even break
roofing material. On very particular work, where the rafters are wide
apart, the best builders recommend laying a course of boards over the
planking at right angles to it.
If there are valleys in the roof (Fig. 298) use a long strip of
and lay it up and down in the direction of the valleys. Press the strip
into the hollow so that it takes the shape of the valley itself. Allow
edges of the roofing to overlap the strip in the valley an equal
on both sides of the valley (Fig.
How to Lay the Roofing
Begin at the eaves to lay the roofing (Fig. 299). Always lay the roll
patent roofing with the inside surface to the weather and in the same
direction that the boards run—not at right angles to them. Begin
at the centre of the edges of the strips and work both ways to the
ends—never the reverse, as the roofing may become wrinkled,
crooked. Always set caps even with the edge of the laps about two
apart between their centres.
To finish gutters, fasten and carefully cement with the pitch
or tar or
prepared composition the edge of the strip about half-way to the
Bring the other edge onto the roof, then lay the next strip over this
strip so that it will overlap at least two inches. Proceed to lay the
balance of the roofing in the same way. Never nail the middle of the
strips; nail only along the edges. The end strips should always be
over the edges of the roof and fastened (Figs. 297 and 299).
Before fastening laps paint a two-inch strip with the tar or
which comes with all patent roofing in order to stick it to the lower
strip of roofing and to make a tight joint when put in place.
Do not drive nails carelessly or with too much force and be sure the
fits snugly against the roofing. If nails go into holes or open cracks,
not remove them but thoroughly cement around them. Allow six inches for
overlaps for joints where one strip joins another (Fig. 299, B). Be sure
that two strips of roofing never meet at the ridge leaving a joint to
invite a leak over the ridge-pole. Examine the diagrams if you fail to
understand the description.
How to Patch a Shingle Roof
The reader must not suppose that the roof of my camp was made
because it shrank, for the whole house, which was made of logs,
in size as the wood became seasoned; so that now each log averages a
quarter of an inch less in width than it did when the house was built
twenty odd years ago. There are just one hundred logs in the house,
makes the house twenty-five inches smaller than it was when it was
but I cannot point out the exact spot where the two feet and one inch
missing. Neither do I know that this had anything to do with the
in the roof about the chimney; but I do know that the opening gradually
became wider and wider until it not only admitted the entrance of
flying squirrels and other varmints but also let in the rain and snow
consequently it had to be remedied. Neither the flying squirrels nor
elements can now enter at that point.
The Connecticut Yankees stop the leaks around the big chimneys
of the old
farmhouses with mortar or concrete, but at permanent camps cement is
always handy, and even if one is living in a farmhouse it will probably
necessitate quite a long drive to procure it. If, however, there
to be on hand some strips of the various tar roofing compounds, some
tin, or even a good piece of oilcloth—by which I mean a piece
that may be
so worn as to have been cast aside and yet not so perforated with holes
that it will admit the rain—it may be used to stop the leak.
Fig. 291. Fig. 292. Fig. 293. Fig. 294.
Fig. 296. Fig. 297. Fig. 298.
How to lay a composition roof and how
to cover space around flue. (Fig.
295 is on next plate.)
Fixtures for Applying Roofing
The complete roofing kit consists of cement, caps, and nails.
galvanized caps and nails are the best to use; they won't rust. Square
caps have more binding surface than the ordinary round ones; but we can
mend "with any old thing."
Fig. 291 shows a
chimney from which the roof of the house is parted,
leaving a good-sized opening around the smoke-stack. To cover this,
piece of roofing compound, tin, oilcloth, tar paper, or paroid and cut
is shown in the upper diagram (Fig.
292). Make the slits in the two ends
of the material of such a length that when the upper ends are bent
as in the lower diagram (Fig. 292),
they will fit snugly around the
chimney. You will need one piece like this for each side of the
Where the ends of the chimney butt against the ridge of the roof you
require pieces slit in the same manner as the first but bent
differently. The upper lobe in this case is bent on the bias to fit
chimney, while the lower one is bent over the ridge of the roof (Figs.
To better illustrate how this is done, Fig. 293 is supposed to show
chimney with the roof removed. Fig.
294 is the same view of the chimney
with the two pieces in place. You will need four pieces, two at each
of the chimney, to cover the ridge of the roof.
With all the many varieties of tar paper and composition
come tacks or wire nails supplied with round tin disks perforated in
centre, which are used as
washers to prevent the nail from pulling
through the roofing.
Fig. 295 shows the
chimney with the patches around it tacked in place, and
the protruding ends of the parts trimmed off according to the dotted
lines. Fig. 297 shows the
way the roofing people put flashing on; but I
like my own way, as illustrated by Figs. 291, 292, 293, 294, and 295. It
must not be taken for granted that every camp or farmhouse has a supply
tin washers, but we know that every camp and farmhouse does have a
of tin cans, and the washers may be made from these, as shown by Figs. 300
and 301. Knock the cans
apart at their seams and cut the tin up into
pieces like the rectangular one shown under the hand in Fig. 301. Bend
these pieces in their centres so as to make them into squares, then
them on a piece of soft wood and punch holes in them by driving a wire
nail through the tin and you will have better washers than those you
buy although they may not be so handsome.
Patched Roofs and New Shingles
Any decent shingled roof should last fifteen years without
many of them last nearly twice that time. But there comes a time when
roof begins to leak and needs mending; when that time comes, with your
jack-knife whittle a number of little wooden pegs or splints each about
six inches long and a little thicker than a pipe-stem with which to
Mark the Holes
Go up in the attic and wherever you see daylight through the
through the hole a wooden peg to mark the spot. Then, when you have
finished and are ready to climb on the
roof, take off your shoes, put on
a pair of woollen socks, and there will be little danger of your
New india rubber shoes with corrugated soles are also good to wear when
climbing on the roof.
In Fig. 295½
you will see two of the pegs sticking through the roof
marking the holes, and below is a larger view of one of these pegs
connected with the upper ones by dotted lines.
To mend simple cracks or holes like these it is only necessary
to bend up
bits of tin or sheet iron (Fig.
300) and drive the metal shingle up
underneath the shingle above the hole so that the "weather" part of the
tin covers the leak, or drive it under the leaking shingle itself, or
drive a new shingle up under or over the damaged one. Where there is a
place in the roof it may be necessary to make a patch of a number of
shingles like the one shown in the right-hand corner of Fig. 295½, but
even then it is not necessary to remove the old shingles unless the
is very large.
These patches of old tin or new shingles do not look handsome
on an old
roof, but they serve their purpose in keeping out the rain and snow and
preventing moisture from rotting the timbers. The weather will soon
down the color of the new shingles so that they will not be noticeable
you will have the satisfaction of having a dry roof over your head.
is only one thing worse than a leaky roof and that is a leaky boat.
In these days when everybody with a few hundred dollars in
pocket is very
sensibly using it to buy a farm and farmhouse so as to be able for a
of the year to return to the simple life of our ancestors it is very
necessary that we should also know something of the simple economies of
those days, for when one finds oneself out on a farm there is no
around the corner and no tinsmith on the next block whom one may call
to repair breaks and the damage done by time and weather on an old
farmhouse. The ordinary man under these conditions is helpless, but
are inspired by novel ideas, as, for instance, the man who mended the
leaking roof with porous plasters.
Fig. 295. Fig. 295.½. Fig. 300. Fig. 301. Fig. 302.
Fig. 303. Fig. 304.
Fig. 305. Fig. 306.
How to mend a shingle or tin roof.
But for the benefit of those who are not supplied with a stock of
plasters I will tell how to do the plumbing and how to mend the tin
with old bits of tin, rags, and white lead; and to begin with I want to
impress upon the reader's mind that this will be no bungling, unsightly
piece of work, but much more durable and just as neat as any piece of
which the professionals would do for him. In the first place, if you
an old tin roof on one of the extensions of your house or on your house
itself, do not be in haste to replace it with a new one. Remember that
most of the modern sheet tin is made by modern methods and its life is
an extended one. The sheet steel they often use in place of
rapidly disintegrates and such a roof will not last you half the time
a properly patched old one will.
The roof of the house in which I am writing this article is
made of tin
and was made about sixty years ago; it has been patched and mended but
no great extent, and it bids fair to outlive me. Had it been made of
steel it would have been necessary to renew it many times since that
period. So, if you find that the tin roof to your farmhouse, bungalow,
camp leaks in consequence of some splits at the seams and a few rust
patch them yourself. Fig. 301
shows the only material necessary for that
purpose. You do not even need a pair of
shears to cut your tin, for it is
much better folded over and hammered into shape, as shown by Fig. 301.
Fig. 302 shows a crack and
some rust holes in the tin roof. Take your
carpet-tacks and hammer and neatly tack down the edges of the opening,
shown by Fig. 303. If there
is any difficulty in driving tacks through the
tin roof, use a small wire nail and hammer to first punch the holes.
the tacks close together. With your paint-brush thickly coat the mended
parts with white lead, as shown by Fig. 304. Cut a strip of a rag
over the holes and tack it at its four corners, as shown by Fig. 305. Now,
then, cover the rag with a thick coat (Fig. 306) of the white lead.
tack the tin over the wounded spots, putting the tacks close together,
shown by Fig. 306. Afterward
coat the tin with a covering of white lead
and the patchwork is done. The roof will not leak again at those spots
the next twenty years. This will leave white, unsightly blotches on the
roof, but after the white lead is dry a few dabs with the red roof
will make the white patches the same color as the surrounding tin and
effectually conceal them.
Do not forget the importance of carefully going over your roof
after it is
mended and make sure that every joint is properly covered, tacked, and
thoroughly coated with white lead. Cover all joints, nails, and caps
a coat of white lead. Water will not run through the tin roofing, but
will find its way through nail holes, rust holes, and open seams if
are not made absolutely tight.
After I had finished doctoring up the kitchen roof of my
discovered that the drain-pipe from the kitchen sink had a nasty leak
where the pipe ran through
the cellar. Of course, there was no plumber
handy—plumbers do not live in farming districts—so it was
"up to" me and
my helper to stop the leak as best we could. A few blows on the lead
the hammer, carefully administered, almost closed the hole. I then had
recourse to the white lead which I had been using on the kitchen roof,
I daubed the pipe with paint; still the water oozed through; but after
had applied a strip of linen to the leak and then neatly wrapped it
and painted the whole of it with white lead the leak was effectually
stopped, and the pipe is apparently as good now, six years after the
mending, as it was when it was new.
In this sort of work it must be remembered that it is the
white lead we
depend upon, and the other material which we use—the tin and the
rags—are only for the purpose of protecting and holding the white
place. Of course, a roof may be mended with tar, but that is always
unsightly and insists upon running when heated by a hot sun; besides,
is most difficult to conceal and does not come ready for use like white
If the leak happens to be around the chimney it can be mended
pieces of tin up against the chimney according to the diagram shown for
the tar paper and patent roofings (Figs. 295 and 297).
Flashings, Chimneys, Walls, Etc.
Lead or copper is best for flashings, but in case metal is not
you will find that various patent roofing materials are good
Run the strips of roofing to the angle formed by the object to be
and extend the same up the object three or four inches. Fasten these
strips to the roof in the usual way or by nailing cleats of wood over
Leaks in tubs, barrels, and tanks used about the farm can be mended with
rags, tin, and white lead in the manner described for the roof and
Also leaks in the leaders running from the roof may be treated in the
manner, but if you must get new leaders for your house by no means
the old ones with galvanized-steel tubes. You can tell the
between galvanized steel and galvanized iron by its appearance. The
is brighter and more silvery than the iron, but my experience is that
steel will last only two or three years; sometimes one season puts
pipes out of commission, whereas galvanized iron will last
After having three sets of galvanized-steel leaders on my town house, I
had them replaced with copper leaders; for, although the expense is
greater, I have found it more economical in the end. For people having
plenty of money to spend on their country houses I would advise the use
copper leaders, but folks of limited means will save money patching up
old tin ones or old galvanized ones instead of replacing them with
galvanized steel, which is of little service for outdoor wear. There
I believe, only a few firms who now manufacture galvanized iron, but
architect can find them if you insist upon it.
HOW TO MAKE A CONCEALED LOG CABIN INSIDE OF A MODERN HOUSE
It was because the writer knew that
a great many men and all the boys
rebelled against the conventionalities and restrictions of a modern
that he first invented and suggested the surprise den and told how to
one years ago in the Outing magazine. Since that article
idea has been adopted by a number of people. There is a beautiful one
Toledo, O., where the writer was entertained during the floods, and
Root, of Hartford, Conn., has even a better one in his home in that
city. Fig. 308 shows a rough
sketch of a corner of Doctor Root's surprise
den which he calls his "loggery."
From the outside of the house there is no indication of
anything upon the
inside that may not be found in any conventional dwelling, which is the
proper way to build the surprise den.
Figs. 307, 309, and 310 are sketches made as
suggestions to those wishing
to add the surprise den to their dwelling.
To fathers and mothers having sons anywhere from twelve to
thirty years of
age, it is almost a necessity nowadays to give these boys a room of
own, popularly known as the "den," a retreat where they can go and sit
a chair without having fancy embroidered tidies adhere to their coat
collars, where they can lean back in their chairs, if they choose, with
danger of ruining the valuable Hepplewhite or breaking the claw feet
rare Chippendale—a place where they can relax. The greater the
between this room and the rest of the house, the greater will be the
enjoyment derived by the boys to whom it belongs. The only two surprise
dens which I have personally visited are the pride of the lives of two
gentlemen who are both long past the years generally accorded to youth,
but both of them are still boys in their hearts. The truth is a
den appeals to any man with romance in his soul; and the more grand,
stately, and formal his house may be, the greater will the contrast be
the greater the surprise of this den. It is a unique idea and makes a
delightful smoking-room for the gentlemen of the house as well as a den
for the boys of the house.
Fig. 307. Fig. 308. Fig. 309. Fig. 310.
Suggestions for interiors of surprise
dens and sketch of
Dr. Root's surprise den.
If the reader's house is already built, the surprise den may be erected
an addition; it may be built as a log cabin after the manner of any of
those previously described in this book, or it may be made an imitation
log cabin by using slabs and nailing them on the walls in place of real
whole logs. Doctor Root's surprise den, or "loggery," is made of whole
logs and chinked with moss. Fig.
310 is supposed to be made of slabs, half
logs, or puncheons nailed to the walls and ceiling and so arranged that
the visitor cannot detect the deception. Personally, however, I do not
like deception of any sort and would recommend that the house be made,
possible, of whole logs; but whatever way you build it, remember that
must have a generous, wide fireplace, a crane, and a good hearthstone,
that your furniture must either be made of the material to be found in
woods or selected from the antique furniture of some old farmhouse, not
mahogany furniture, but Windsor chairs, three-legged stools, and
tables—such furniture as might be found in an old pioneer's home.
Fig. 311. Fig. 312. Fig. 313. Fig. 314.
Fig. 315. Fig. 316. Fig. 317.
Fig. 318. Fig. 319. Fig. 320.
Details of combined door-knob and wooden latch.
The principal thing to the surprise den, however, is the doorway. The
outside of the door—that is, the side seen from the main part of
house—should be as formal as its surroundings and give no
what might be on the other side. If it opens from the most formal room
the house, so much the better. Fig.
321 shows the outside of the door of
the surprise den; I do not mean by this outside of the house but a
facing the dining-room, library, drawing-room, or parlor. Fig. 321 shows
one side of the door and Fig. 322
the other side of the same door. In this
instance one side of the door is supposed to have a bronze escutcheon
a glass knob (Figs. 315 and 316). Of course, any other sort
of a knob
(Fig. 313) will answer our
purpose, but the inside, or the surprise-den
side, of the door must have
A Wooden Latch
After some experiments I discovered that this could be easily
cutting a half-round piece of hardwood (F, Fig. 312) to fit upon the
square end G of the knob (Figs. 311 and 313) and be held in place with
small screw (Fig. 314). When
this arrangement is made for the door and the
knob put in place as it is in Figs. 315 and 316, a simple wooden latch
(Fig. 317) with the catch K
(Fig. 319) and the guard (Fig. 320) may be
fastened upon the den side of the door as shown by K, L,
When the door is latched the wooden piece F fits underneath the
shown by Fig. 317. When the
knob is turned, it turns the half disk and
lifts the latch H as shown in Fig. 318; this, of course,
opens the door,
and the visitor is struck with amazement upon being ushered into a
backwoods log cabin, where after-dinner coffee may be served, where the
gentlemen may retire to smoke their cigars, where the master of the
may retire, free from the noise of the children, to go over his
write his private letters, or simply sit before the fire and rest his
tired brain by watching the smoke go up the chimney.
Fig. 321. Fig. 322.
The "surprise den." A log house inside a modern
Here also, over the open fire, fish, game, and chickens may be cooked,
our grandams and granddaddies cooked them, and quaint, old-fashioned
luncheons and suppers served on earthenware or tin dishes, camp style.
truth, the surprise den possesses so many charming possibilities that
is destined to be an adjunct to almost every modern home. It can be
enclosed within the walls of a city house, a suburban house, or added
wing to a country house, but in all cases the outside of the surprise
should conform in material used and general appearance to the rest of
house so as not to betray the secret.
HOW TO BUILD APPROPRIATE GATEWAYS FOR GROUNDS ENCLOSING LOG
PRESERVES, RANCHES, BIG COUNTRY ESTATES, AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST BOY
SCOUTS' CAMP GROUNDS
The great danger with rustic work
is the temptation, to which most
builders yield, to make it too fancy and intricate in place of
and simple. Figs. 323, 324, 325, and 326 are as ornamental as one
them without incurring the danger of being overdone, too ornate, too
to be really appropriate.
Fig. 323. Fig. 324. Fig. 325. Fig. 326.
Which would you rather do or go
fishing? Suggestions for log gates.
Which Would You Rather Do or Go Fishing?
Fig. 328 is a gate
made of upright logs with bevelled tops protected by
plank acting as a roof, and a flattened log fitting across the top. The
gate and fence, you may see, are of simple construction; horizontal
for the lower part keep out small animals, upright posts and rails for
upper part keep out larger animals and at the same time do not shut out
the view from the outside or the inside of the enclosure. Fig. 324 shows a
roof gateway designed and made for the purpose of supplying building
for barn swallows or other useful birds. The fence for this one is a
different arrangement of logs, practical and not too fancy. Fig. 325 shows
a modification of the gate shown by Fig. 323; in this one, however,
place of a plank protecting bevelled edges of the upright logs, two
flattened logs are spiked on like rafters to a roof, the apex being
surmounted by a bird-house. Fig.
326 shows another gateway composed of two
upright logs with a cross log overhead in which holes have been
for the use of white-breasted swallows, bluebirds, woodpeckers, or
flickers. Fig. 327 is
another simple but picturesque form of gateway,
where the cross log at the top has its two ends carved after the
of totem-poles. In place of a wooden fence a stone wall is shown. The
of the logs (Fig. 327), which
are embedded in the earth, should first be
treated with two or three coats of creosote to prevent decay; but since
is the moisture of the ground that causes the decay, if you arrange
gate-posts like those shown in the vertical section (Fig. 328), they will
last practically forever. Note that the short gate-post rests upon
small stones with air spaces between them, and pointed ends of the
logs rest upon one big stone. The gate-post is fastened to the logs by
crosspieces of board running horizontally from log to the post, and
are enclosed inside the stone pier so that they are concealed from
This arrangement allows all the water to drain from the wood, leaving
dry and thus preventing decay. Fig.
329 shows another form of gate-post of
more elaborate structure, surmounted by the forked trunk of a tree;
parts are supposed to be spiked together or secured in place by
Never forget to add the bird-house or bird shelter to every
make; it is more important than the gate itself. In my other books I
described and told how to make various forms of bird-houses, including
invention of the woodpecker's house now being manufactured by many
including one in Germany, but the reader should make his own
I am glad the manufacturers have taken up these ideas for the good they
will do the birds, but the ideas were published first solely
for the use
of the boys in the hopes of educating them both in the conservation of
bird life and in the manual training necessary to construct bird-houses.
Fig. 327. Fig. 328. Fig. 329.
Gateways for game preserves, camps, etc.
Fig. 330. Fig. 331. Fig. 332.
gate and details of same.
The reader must have, no doubt, noticed that the problems in this book
have become more and more difficult as we approach the end, but this is
because everything grows; as we acquire skill we naturally seek more
more difficult work on which to exercise our skill. These gateways,
however, are none of them too difficult for the boys to build
The main problem to overcome in building the picturesque log gateway
by Fig. 331 is not in laying
up the logs or constructing the roof—the
reader has already learned how to do both in the forepart of this
book—but it is in so laying the logs that the slant or incline on
outsides will be exactly the same, also in so building the sides that
you reach the top of the open way and place your first overhead log,
log will be exactly horizontal, exactly level, as it must be to carry
the plan in a workmanlike manner. Fig.
330 shows you the framework of the
roof, the ridge-pole of which is a plank cut "sway-backed," that is,
in the centre than at either end. The frame should be roofed with
hand-rived shingles, or at least hand-trimmed shingles, if you use the
manufactured article of commerce. This gateway is appropriate for a
post-and-rail fence or any of the log fences illustrated in the
diagrams. Fig. 332 shows how
the fence here shown is constructed: the A
logs are bevelled to fit in diagonally, the B and C
logs are set in as
shown by the dotted line in Fig.
332. A gateway like the one shown here
would make a splendid and imposing one for a permanent camp, whether it
a Boy Scout, a Girl Pioneer, a private camp for boys, or simply the
entrance to a large private estate.
The writer has made these diagrams so that they may be used by men or
boys; the last one shows a gateway large enough to admit a
stage-coach or an automobile, but the boys may build it in miniature so
that the opening is only large enough to admit a pedestrian.
THE BEARD BOOKS FOR BOYS
By DAN C. BEARD
Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties
Illustrated by the Author
He gives easily workable directions, accompanied by very full
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the most primitive shelter to a fully equipped log cabin. Boys will
it an invaluable guide in constructing temporary or permanent shelters
their hikes or encampments.
Boat-Building and Boating
A Handy Book for Beginners
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The directions for making boats are practical and illustrated
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The Boy Pioneers
Sons of Daniel Boone
Illustrated by the Author
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CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
THE BEARD BOOKS FOR GIRLS
By LINA BEARD and ADELIA B. BEARD
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With over 700 illustrations by the Authors
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In this book Lina and Adelia Beard, the authors, tell
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CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
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