Cordwood sheds and cabins; sometimes known as Stackwall, Stovewood, Firewood or Cordwood Masonry.
How Cordwood Construction Works
Short lengths of debarked trees (cordwood) are laid with a mixture of mortar and insulating materials – such as sawdust or spray foam – in between the mortar. The longer the length of the logs, the better the insulation qualities. 12 inches to 18 inches is most common and wood species will also determine insulating value. On average, a 12 inch wide wall will have a 20-25 R value. Cabin by Rob Roy. Image by Pseu (Sioux) / Flickr.
A two to three foot overhang (eave) is often recommended when cob or lime putty mortar is used in place of a cement mortar. Typically the logs are not coated with a moisture barrier, but are allowed to breath naturally. By Tony Wrench at Green Hamlet in Pupki, Poland. More information is available at That Roundhouse.
Amazing Cordwood Construction Around The World: Cordwood Sheds
Cordwood Shed with a thatched roof. An overview by the builders is available on their website, roofthatch.com.
Cordwood On Decatur Island
Gail and Mark Dupar’s cordwood shed on Decatur Island in Washington’s San Juans. Image: John Granen, Kathleen Brenzel, drummondhouseplans.com
Piet Hein Eek for Hans Liberg, pietheineek.nl. Go to their website for more information.
Another view of this cordwood shed. This photograph shows how the designers have used cordwood on the window covers as well. Piet Hein Eek for Hans Liberg, pietheineek.nl.
Cordwood is great for building a shed in the backyard. If you use cordwood, the smaller building pieces mean you have many customization options available.
Earthwood Building School
Stoneview at Earthwood Building School. Cordwoodmasonry.com has more information about building with cordwood.
Cordwood On The Appalachian Trail
Cordwood half timber on the Appalachian Trail. Image by Philip Shirk, originally provided at “picasaweb.google .com/lh/photo/0EqkiUqHyZEEq-6ydfCelg.”
The Pole Shed
Cordwood Pole Shed at Treehaven. The wood shingles compliment the overall rustic feel of this shed. Daycreek.com provides more information on their website.
Shed From Ireland
Irish Cottage Shed in a garden show. This photo, and more, can be found at daycreek.com.
Georgeson Botanical Garden
Cordwood shed at Georgeson Botanical Garden, Alaska.
Cordwood shed by Dana. Workshops on how to make cordwood structures, along with this image, are available at daycreek.com.
Cordwood Shed by Tom Huber at Paul Smith’s College, NY. Visit daycreek.com for additional information on constructing a cordwood structure.
Cordwood Tiny Home
This tiny house owner used cordwood to build their home. Using the different shades of wood, they created a beautiful design around their home.
Cellulose Enhanced Mortar
Cordwood Shed by Tom Huber – CEM Cellulose Enhanced Mortar was used for this project. Go to daycreek.com for additional information.
Kentucky Cordwood Shed
Cordwood shed by Homegrown in Kentucky. This photo was originally found at “homegrownhideaways. org/naturalbuilding.aspx.”
Amazing Cordwood Construction Around The World: Cordwood Workshops
Workshop With A Living Roof
Straw bale and cordwood workshop in eastern France with (a gorgeous) living roof by Thierry Dronet. Image by Catherine Wanek, shelterpub.com.
Cordwood In Ontario
Cordwood workshop in Ontario built by John Ötvös in 1973. This photo was found at “greenerbuilding. ca.”
Cordwood workshop in Ontario built by John Ötvös in 1973. Originally, this photo was found at “greenerbuilding. ca.”
Amazing Cordwood Construction Around The World: Cordwood Saunas
Inside A Cordwood Sauna
Cordwood masonary sauna. West Chazy, NY. Additional information is available at cordwoodmasonry.com.
Small And Simple
The decorative cordwood pieces add a touch of class to this sauna.
Polish Cordwood Sauna
Cordwood sauna by Organica, Poland. Feel free to visit organica.net.pl for more inspiration.
Cordwood masonary sauna. West Chazy, NY. More examples are available at cordwoodmasonry.com.
Sauna by Rena Upitas, Ontario, renaupitis.com. Visit their website for additional information on this project.
Shed From Cordwood
Cordwood shed by Camaria. Daycreek.com provides more examples on their website.
Maple Sugar Shack Shed built at a Richard & Becky Flatau workshop. The workshops are available at daycreek.com.
Sauna With A Bench
The wooden bench is a great addition to this cordwood sauna.
Green Roof by Wildwood Landscapes, www.wildroof.co.uk. Their website provides a deeper look into other projects.
Cordwood Shed. Pellizzano, Val di Sole, Trentino, Italy. Photo: Marvin 345. Via: Avantgardens.org.
Amazing Cordwood Construction Around The World: Cordwood Cabins and Houses
Cordwood Hobbit House
Hobbit House with living roof by Rena Upitas, Ontario. The living roof provides insulation to the house, which is used by guests. Additional work can be seen at renaupitis.com.
John Meilahn’s cabin, Copper Harbor, Michigan. The flowers soften the sterile appearance of the mortar used in constructing this cordwood cabin. Cordwood Construction / Facebook.
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The uniformity of the cordwood makes this cabin look like it’s made from brick, rather than wood.
Sojourn Cabin from sojourningboston.blogspot.com. More cabins can be seen on their website.
Using Large Cordwood
Cordwood Cabin by Rob Roy from his ‘The Sauna, A Complete Guide’: books.google.com.
Olle Hagman built this writer’s cabin in Sweden as a get away from his teaching job. He wrote two articles for the Cordwood Conference Papers 2011: A Social History of Cordwood Houses in Sweden and Norwegian Cordwood Wall Technique. For more information and more pictures see: Cordwood Construction.
Backside of above cabin. Ole Hagman has documented 150 cordwood homes that have been built in Sweden since the 1850s. Ole built this cabin while he was learning and researching cordwood. Cordwood Construction has more examples available on their website.
Cabin From Colorado
Cordwood is a great material for building. This rustic looking cordwood cabin is a perfect get away.
Cordwood In Brazil
Cordwood Construction Around the World: Cordwood Everything
Garden shed/chicken coop by Netonia Yalta in British Columbia, Canada. Cordwood Construction / Facebook.
A cordwood project doesn’t have to include a wall. This floor is a great example of using cordwood for other parts of the home.
Classroom In The Forest
Woodland classroom with fireplace wall by Ben Law. Cordwood masonry is easy, economical, aesthetically striking, energy-efficient, and environmentally sound. Originally, this photo was found at “permaculturemagazineeditorial.blogspot. com/2010_09_01_archive.html.”
Glass And Cordwood
Special Effects at Mushwood by Rob Roy. The light shines through the glass, illuminating the wall in brilliant colors. More designs can be found at daycreek.com.
This creation is part of Rob Roy’s “Easter Island Wall.” He uses glass, wood, and mortar to bring this wall to life.
Don’t forget to have fun building your cordwood structure, unique wood pieces can be transformed into a work of art.
Solar Springs Lodge
Solar Springs Lodge, permacultureglobal.com. Visit their website for more information about this project.
The Spinning Wheel
Cordwood siding depicting a spinning wheel by Bob Gormley, Starwood Store, Backus, MN. Bob painted the back plywood with a durable exterior grade paint. He then marked the 1.5 inch thick cordwood discs in place, then drilled 2 or 3 small holes in the plywood. Then he would hold the disc back in place and have someone screw it from the inside. Other inspirational works of art can be found at daycreek.com.
Cordwood wall in British Columbia. Additional information and photographs of cordwood pieces can be found on daycreek.com.
Mermaid Cordwood Cottage in Del Norte, Colorado. Go to Cordwood Construction’s website for additional information.
How To Do Cordwood Construction
- Cabin in Tasmania theownerbuilder.com
White Earth Reservation Cordwood House: daycreek.com
Lot’s of detailed how to here – Build a Cordwood Sauna: books.google.com
Mortar Mix Possibilities For Cordwood Construction
- Lime putty mortar—lime makes the mix plastic—dates back to 400 BC: Pure lime and sand; or 9 parts sand; 3 soaked sawdust; 2 Portland; and 3 hydrated lime –
- Papercrete (paper enhanced mortar)
- Cob mix (1 part clay, 4 parts sand mixed with straw and more…)
Insulation For Cordwood Construction
- Sawdust has an insulative value of about R-3 per inch (add hydrated lime as a preservative).
- Vermiculite and Perlite are also good insulators.
Wood Types for Cordwood Construction
- Softwoods are best. Cedar has a good R-value (1.5 per inch) and is naturally decay resistant. The best softwoods: white cedar, white pine, cottonwood, poplar, red cedar, spruce or larch followed by hemlock and poplar.
- Hardwoods have a tendency to swell and crack mortar joints. If all you have is hardwood, you must split the wood and let it dry for only months instead of years, otherwise it will expand in the wall.
- For a 32′ x 36′ one story structure, you need approx 5 cords of cedar wood.
Cordwood Construction Resources
- Earthwood Building School’s full length how-to videos. cordwoodmasonry.com
- Best Practices with Cordwood Construction By Richard Flatau thenauhaus.com
- Yahoo cordwood forum: www.groups.yahoo.com
- Info on spray foam and double walls: daycreek.com
- More photos: daycreek.com
- Table of Insulation R Values – inspectapedia.com
Cordwood Construction Workshops
- Earthwood Building School. North Chazy, NY. cordwoodmasonry.com
The Best Cordwood Construction Books
Cordwood Building: The State of the Art, Rob Roy (Editor)
Collects the wisdom of more than 25 of the world’s best practitioners, detailing the long history of the method, and demonstrating how to build a cordwood home using the latest and most up-to-date techniques, with a special focus on building code issues. Author/editor Rob Roy has been building, researching, and teaching about cordwood masonry for 25 years: and, with his wife, started Earthwood Building School in 1981. Information about what species of wood are best, how to select, prepare and store the wood.
Cordwood Construction Best Practices by Richard Flatau