Building Green: Chapter 9 – Cordwood

Rendezvous Cordwood Tomahawk Cabin

October 15th, 2014 by

Eric & Beth  built their Rendezvous Cordwood Cabin in Wisconsin this year.  They use it during “gathering activities” on their land.  They hold Tomahawk and Bowie knife throwing contests, Muzzleloading target shoots and all manner of historical and woodsy/folksy activities. Eric & Beth 1

You may notice that the flag has 13 stars, the flag of the original 13 colonies.

Eric & Beth 2

There are so many wonderful cordwood accents to the cabin.  The 16′ x 24′ cabin has a telephone post on concrete pad foundation.

Eric & Beth 8

Like this mushroom, Lake Superior stones and bottles.

Eric & Beth 10

Mortared in strategic places.

Eric & Beth 17

Eric & Beth 23

This cabin has some of the neatest and most artistic cordwood we have ever witnessed.  It is a credit to Eric and Beth and the friends who helped them.  They kept the “build” consistently tasteful and attractive.  Not easy to do when the sunlight is fading, the mosquitoes are biting and there is still a foot of wall to finish:0) Time to fire up the “halogens!”

Eric & Beth 15

In order to keep themselves fresh and ready for rendezvous activities they practice throwing the tomahawks and Bowie knives.   I stuck this one after only 5 tries:0)

To learn how to build a cordwood cabin of your own you may want to consider reading the latest and best book on the subject: Cordwood Construction Best Practices (available in ebook and print edition.   Visit and go to the Online bookstore to see this and many other cordwood books and plans.

Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels 320 x 414

Questions?  Send an email to


Imagine Cordwood

August 26th, 2014 by

Imagine Cordwood

From time to time, I am asked to write articles for various newspapers, magazines and books.   Last year Die Zeitung requested an article for their eastern European readership.  The result was a fantastic collaboration with the reporter (Nina). Last month an international magazine asked for an article that would show the whimsical and ethereal side of cordwood.  Immediately three gals who had built gorgeous places with cordwood popped into my mind.  I contacted each one and “to a woman” they were overjoyed to help write a positively emotive article, showing more than construction details.     Click on each page to enlarge…then use Ctrl + to enlarge it 150%.

Faerie Mag page 1 high resolution

The article appears in the Summer edition of Faerie Magazine on pages 30-32.  It is a visual feast of cordwood eye candy, plus a 250 word beautiful flight of verbal fancy from each delightful author.

Faerie Mag page 2 high resolution

This article is used with permission of the editor.   If you wish to order this charming magazine go to and click on the 2014 summer issue #27.  To receive a 15% discount on anything, use the word Cordwood in the promo/discount box.

Faerie Mag page 3 high resolution

To learn how to build your own cordwood castle, go to and click on the Articles menu and What’s New?  Then if your interested is piqued, go to the Online Bookstore and take a gander at Cordwood Construction Best Practices, the latest and best book on cordwood building.

Cordwood + Cob = Cobwood

July 24th, 2014 by

Cordwood with Cob Mortar is Cobwood

We had the distinct good fortune to participate in a [B]Cordwood with Cob Mortar Workshop[/B] at  KinstonePermacultureAcademy.  Building a CobwoodEntranceCenter for the school was the order of the day.   A kidney-shaped grade beam had been put in place and the cobwood rises off a “gneiss” stone stem wall.

Cobwood workshop 14

The soil is first tested for clay content and the workability and firmness of the clay is determined by rolling a piece of clay for stiffness.  Note the sign which gives the cob mix proportions [B]2 sand, 1 clay, 1 sawdust, straw[/B]

Cobwood workshop 1

Cobwood workshop 13

Next the ingredients are mixed and stomped.  This can be a tedious process or a fun dance time:0)

Cobwood workshop 3

A loaf of the cob mixture is laid down like a regular cordwood mortar bead.  However the cob mortar beads are thicker.  Here we are using 5 inches of cob on the inside and outside, with a 6″ insulation cavity.

Cobwood workshop 12

The walls rise similar to cordwood, except the cob will slump sooner, so the wall must be built one or two rows at a time.

Cobwood workshop 7

Smiles are an integral part of natural building.

Cobwood workshop 6

This cobwood entrance center is an experimental build for the northern Midwest, as there are only a few examples of cobwood homes in this large geographical area.  Since cob is not a good insulator,we are combining it with an insulation cavity to see if it can be adaptable to our very cold winters (-30 degrees below zero).  NOTE:  The Lund Cobwood Home in Ontonagon, Michigan is a fine example of cobwood and has been up and running happily for nine years.  You can find out more about the Lund family homestead at

Cobwood workshop 11

We will keep you apprised of our progress and how the building functions, winter and summer.

Cobwood workshop 5

The children make great cob mixers.

Cobwood workshop 4

Our plan is to keep track of the cob kiosk and see what we can offer/add to the increasing interest in cobwood construction.

Cobwood workshop 15

The stem wall is being laid with gneiss care:0)

Below, we laid down a lime bead to highlight the insulation cavity.  The sawdust insulation is mixed with lime to prevent insect infestation.

Cobwood workshop 8

Having the Kinstone Cordwood Chapel in the background is a valuable source of inspiration.

Cobwood workshop 9

For more information on cordwood construction using many different types of mortar go to  There is also an Online bookstore carrying the very latest information on building with cordwood.

Cordwood 320 x 414Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices


Cordwood Sauna and Framing Workshop, Wisconsin

June 18th, 2014 by

We had the profound pleasure of teaching a Post and Beam Framing Workshop followed by  a Cordwood Workshop at the Kinstone Permaculture Academy in Fountain City, Wisconsin on June 12-15, 2014.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014  framework of the sauna

The students were wonderful, energetic and full of ideas.   We used the first two days to frame the Cordwood Sauna.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 Big Rich cuts a post

This is a 12′ x 16′ sauna that is next to the camping facilities and solar showers at Kinstone. Here the students are learning to frame a building and keep it level and plumb.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 leveling the post

Damp proof rolled roofing is in place (to stop water migration) and the first post is being leveled and anchored.   Holes are drilled in the foundation and 3/8″ angle iron, anchor sleeves and lag screws are added to keep the building from going anywhere.

It is important to have “many hands on deck” to keep these large 8″ x 8″ girders in a secure place.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 final girder in place

Students had an opportunity to learn how to use power tools safely with instruction and supervision. Many students shared their expertise.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 cutting and sharing

Hurricane straps are important to secure the top rafters from wind shear.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 putting on hurricane ties

Discussing and learning to “problem solve” on a job site is one of the many advantages of taking a workshop.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 Jarad and Richard explain how its done

The framing is now ready for cordwood infill.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 some people work hard all the time

The first step in cordwooding, is learning how to prepare and use a proper mortar.  The bandana’s are fashionable dust masks.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 mixing a batch with bandanas

Many hands make light work:0)

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014 busy hands and focused intentions

The first row is the most important!

workshop kinstone june 2014 first row

Folks are happy when they learn the proper techniques.

Tuck pointing is a learned art.  Rubber gloves are important to keep the hands safe.

workshop kinstone june 2014 planning their work working their plan or mugging for the camera

Learning to install a recycled bottle for a “stained glass” effect.

Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014  bottle end

It was supposed to rain on the last day, but the rain held-off and we were able to get quite a bit of work completed.

workshop kinstone June 2014 group photo 3

Workshop Kinstone Karina and Solen


Even the children got to have fun.


Workshop kinstone Zac and his son share a moment

The building is now ready for the next workshop.   We will be teaching Cobwood Workshop  (cob and cordwood) on June 27-29, 2014 http://kinstonecircle at Kinstone.  Then we will do another Cordwood Workshop July 19-20, 2014.

If you are interested please go to and click on the Workshop links on the right side of the page.

For information, photos, articles and books Cordwood Construction if you are interested in books, ebooks, CD’s or videos check out the Online Bookstore

 Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels

If you have any questions please leave a comment or email me at

Going Bananas for Cordwood in Quebec

March 1st, 2014 by

Sebastien Demers built a beautiful two story cordwood home near Ste. Onesime, Quebec in 2009.   Here are some pictures and an explanation of “the build” from Sebastien himself.   The half round/half rectangle floor plan also has two interior gardens and a banana tree flourishes there and produced 30 pounds of bananas last year.

This is the front of the half round, the rectangle is in the back.

A whole bunch of bananas!  30 pounds!

The masonry heater, tile floor and indoor garden areas.

The post and beam framework cross-braced with roof applied and ready for cordwood infill.


Sebastien suggests building a 3D scale model first.  Note the two indoor garden plots.  Genius!

Sebastien built his own doors.   What a beautiful looking entrance.  Note the shelves on the outside for keeping keys or packages up off the snow.  This is Quebec remember:0)

The masonry heater supplies warmth for 24 hours at a time.

Sebastien offers advice on what to do when building your cordwood home:

1.  Read everything on the subject.

2.  Take a workshop.

3.  Build a practice building.

4.  Make a 3D scale model of your building.

Here are a few facts and figures from Sebastien:

Sebastien Demers Ste Onesime, Quebec.

“My best suggestions would be to take the time to do it, by : – reading; – visiting houses: – Workshops; – Experimenting, idealy with a test building; – Alot of planning and asking questions – Making a model of the house. It takes alot of time, but this time is so much worth it when it comes to the real construction!

And some details

  • I used 16″ logs, cedar.
  • Insulation is sawdust with a bit of lime.
  • Next to the kitchen, there is à root celar whitch is 3´ underground and it communicantes from the inside. It is 12′x12′
  • The house is a half circle (40′ in diameter) annexed to à 15′x40′ rectangle. All of it is on a flaoting slab, Heater by water.
  • The structure is made from beams that come from an old barn I recycled.
  • There is also à living roof.
  • Let me know if you need anymore details.
  • Almost forgot… There are 2 inside gardens in the circular part of the house. They are simply holes (about 10′x20′ x 3′deep) in whitch i did not pour concrete.
  • I have a banana tree that gave me 30 pounds of bananas, 2 years ago

As you can see a very beautiful and very functional cordwood home was built with patience, research and planning.

For additional information on Cordwood Construction and to read articles and visit the Online Bookstore go to

Or email me, Richard Flatau, at

To read the most uptodate book on cordwood go to the Online Bookstore at and you will find Cordwood Construction Best Practices in ebook, print and CD/DVD format.




Cordwood in California

November 24th, 2013 by

What good fortune to find an excellent timber framer who infills with cordwood.  Nick Kautzer is that framer/builder and is located in Tuolumne, CA.

Nick Kautzer is a fine craftsman and cordwood mason. He has a wonderful “eye” for detail and his buildings flow into their surroundings.
Nick’s website lists the following:  ”We specialize in timber framing, custom furniture, and stone masonry to cultivate timeless, naturally beautiful craftsmanship.  We  are dedicated to utilizing sustainable and locally sourced materials to create long-lasting quality products.”


Interior corner with framing, bottle ends and red cedar.
This is also from Nick’s website.  ”Hello, I am Nick Kautzer, designer and builder of timber framing, stone masonry, furniture, rock walls, patios and doors. I also create cordwood structures such as Cupolas, green houses and additions to existing structures. Custom designs for furniture to homes are always welcome. Talk to me about your ideas or share some pictures with me to explore the possibilities. My passion for building with natural materials stems back to my father who is a master of fine cabinetry.”

As you can see Nick is an artist with his framing, window placement and cordwood.

Cordwood when done properly, is such a visual feast.

The door sends a warm and inviting message.
If this appeals to you and you want to use Nick’s services, please contact him at:



“If you have a project in mind that is not listed above you are welcome to contact me.  I am happy to collaborate on unique projects.”  -Nick
For more information on Cordwood Construction go to

Cordwood Construction Best Practices is the latest book on cordwood construction and has over 259 color photos, diagrams and drawings to lead an owner/builder from floor plans to occupancy.

Cordwood Construction Facebook Page

Cordwood in the Mountains: Idaho Base Camp

October 20th, 2013 by

I received a delightful email from Whitney about her cordwood project at Idaho Base Camp. Whitney said, “I’d like to invite you to check out our cordwood cottage progress here in the Big Lost mountain range 26 miles east of Sun Valley Idaho…”

Here’s a video of our foundation being built :)

Thanks for your constant inspiration on facebook!!

Idaho BaseCamp is an Environmental Eco-Retreat Center 26 miles outside of Sun Valley, Idaho, dedicated to education, creative expression and the development of a sustainable relationship with nature. Our aim is to expand the understanding and create a working consciousness for the environment, community and Self. .  Part of our master plan is to have several examples of sustainable building.  This cordwood cottage is our first permanent structure to go up on the land, where up to now, we have only had yurts.

We broke ground on this project on May 7, 2013 and since then have been learning the process along the way, and building from below the ground up with the help of MANY friends, the Cordwood Construction facebook page, and BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS.  This has proven to be an incredible community building process and are so grateful for everyone who has helped, from lending their truck to fill with shale, to cutting wood and hauling it to the site, laying logs and mortar, taping bottles together, framing windows and doors, and so much more.

Sawdust was donated by the local sawmill.  All of our wood came from Stanley, 60 miles away.  Our tongue and groove roof was recycled from a house in Ketchum.  The logs have all been bucked up on our very own land.  Our doors were recycled from the Sun Valley Center for the Arts.  The windows from a house in Ketchum.  The tin for the room came off of a house in Ketchum.  Our beams were recycled from a recreational Mud Run in Hailey Idaho.  Shale was gathered from the hillside across from Basecamp.  Plywood was recycled from a landscaping job site in Ketchum.  Even our concrete mix came from Idaho-a little town called Paul about 120 miles away.  Our hard foam insulation for the roof came from a poolhouse re-model in Ketchum.  The tires the make up the bottom half of our North wall were donated by the Sun Valley Auto Club.  All of the bottles came from local bars and restaurants in Ketchum and Hailey.

If you like this kind of posting on my blog, please go to my Facebook page like and share.

This helps to get the word out about alternative building.  If you are interested in books, books, books (including ebooks) got You might enjoy the latest book on cordwood “Cordwood Construction Best Practices” which will steer you in the right direction and help you make informed decisions.

The latest and most comprehensive book on All Things Cordwood

Or you can send me an email at


Idaho City Cordwood 22 acres

September 28th, 2013 by

Here is a 22 acre mountain parcel near Idaho City, Idaho that has two cordwood cabins, a yurt-sized, timber-framed cabin with built-ins, 2 tepees, a spacious and luxurious wall tent with wood stove and great southern mountain views. [Thanks to friend Geoff Jordan for telling me about this parcel.]<a I don’t really know anything about the property, so please don’t consider this an endorsement.   The reason I am showing it, is because of the visual attractiveness of the cordwood buildings.

There are many more pictures and information at the Real Estate link

For additional information about books and articles on cordwood construction go to

Or email me at

Kinstone Chapel July 13-14, 2013; Cordwood walls continue their ascent

July 18th, 2013 by

Kinstone Chapel July 13-14, 2013; Cordwood walls continue their ascent

Kinstone Chapel

Kinstone Chapel

Another group of talented, interesting and wonderful folks attended the Cordwood Workshop at the Kinstone Chapel near Fountain City, Wisconsin on July 13-14, 2013 to continue the building of the chapel’s cordwood walls.  As you may know, this Chapel is being built using the symbols/motifs from the Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon.

Here are a slew of pictures of mixing mud, screening sawdust, building walls, tuck pointing, covering walls, conversing, concentrating, eating and generally having a grand ol’ time.

Mixing a good cordwood mud...chop, chop, chop went the hoe.

Mixing a good cordwood mud…chop, chop, chop went the hoe.

Some people are all smiles and giggles when they are cordwooding!


Some people are all smiles and giggles when they are cordwooding!

Even certified organic farmer's get a kick out of tuck pointing.


Even certified organic farmer’s get a kick out of tuck pointing.

Folks got serious about building a best practices cordwood wall.


Folks got serious about building a best practices cordwood wall.

A time for learning...

A time for learning…

Screening the sawdust to weed out the big pieces.  This will be for insulation and the mortar mix.


Screening the sawdust to weed out the big pieces. This will be for insulation and the mortar mix.


A time for demonstrating...


A time for demonstrating…


A good perspective of a cordwood wall under construction.


A good perspective of a cordwood wall under construction.

Some folks take to mortar mixing like ducks to water!


Some folks take to mortar mixing like ducks to water!

"It's getting to the point..."


“It’s getting to the point…”

A thousand designs are rolling around in that pretty little head:0)


A thousand designs are rolling around in that pretty, curly little head:0)

Discussions over excellent meals lead to plan improvements.


Discussions over excellent meals lead to plan improvements.


John brought his solar telescope so we could see sun spots and his evening telescope so we could view Saturn and the craters on the moon.  Amazing!  Thank you John.


John brought his solar telescope so we could see sun spots and his evening telescope so we could view Saturn and the craters on the moon. Amazing! Thank you John.

Mixing mortar, adding the right amount of water is critical.


Mixing mortar, adding the right amount of water is critical.


Every one has a choice of a dust mask or a bandana  when mixing lime insulation and mortaring, most choose the bandana.  I feel like the Lone Ranger when I wear mind:0)


Every one has a choice of a dust mask or a bandana when mixing lime insulation and mortaring, most choose the bandana. I feel like the Lone Ranger when I wear mine:0)


We even had snacks on site!  Here Cook 'Par Excellence' Dorothy receives a hug from instructoress Becky for a delicious piece of Mona's fresh baked bread with Joerg's home harvested honey!  Ummm Good!


We even had snacks on site! Here Cook ‘Par Excellence’ Dorothy receives a hug from ‘instructoress’ Becky for a delicious piece of Mona’s fresh baked bread with Joerg’s home harvested honey! Ummm Good!


This is the bottle and log end wall that will surround the entrance way to the Chapel.  Our two cordwood wood mason's are very pleased with their work (and so are we!)


This is the bottle and log end wall that will surround the entrance way door to the Chapel. Our two cordwood wood mason’s are very pleased with their work (and so are we!)


A dragonfly...takes a bit of forethought. A dragonfly…takes a bit of forethought.Brother Fire is one of the design motifs.


Brother Fire is one of the design motifs.


Covering the walls at day's end is a very important practice to ensure a slow set and cure of the mortar.


Covering the walls at day’s end is a very important practice to ensure a slow set and cure of the mortar.

For information on natural building workshop and permaculture design courses go to

For information on Cordwood Construction books, workshops, consultations and literature go to

Or contact Richard Flatau, author of Cordwood Construction Best Practices at or

Cordwood Flooring: Walk on…

June 21st, 2013 by

Cordwood Flooring
My neighbor Steve called up the other day and asked if I’d like to come over to see his new floor. Steve is a contractor by trade, he does beautiful work, so I jumped at the chance. When I walked in the door my mouth fell open. He had built a cordwood floor! It was beautiful, warm and artistic. The colors were tan and brown and the floor was polished to a shine.

Steve is a master craftsman.

Steve the craftsman proudly stands on his cordwood floor.

I asked Steve how he built this floor. He said he had bought some old hardwood barn beams at an auction and decided to use them for flooring. First he cut hundreds of 5/8″ “log end” slices on a bandsaw. Then he placed the slices onto a plywood subfloor. He kept them in place by using Construction Adhesive. Then he used regular flooring grout, mixed with sawdust in an 80/20 ratio (80% grout/20% sawdust). After the grout had set, he came back with a heavy duty floor sander, smoothed the whole floor and blasted the grout off the faces of the log end slices.

The Russian Masonry heater starts in the basement and works its way upward. It keeps the house warm with one firing a day.

Finally he sealed the floor with a commercial grade sealer. Steve says that if he had it to do over again, he would first seal the log end slices before attaching them to the sub-floor. He figures this would cut down on the amount of sealer he used. The hardwood sawdust would probably change to softwood sawdust next time to slow the set and cure of the grout.

Each log has a unique pattern. Steve talks about the growth rings in the wood and how tight they are, meaning that the wood grew slowly over many years.

All in all his floor is durable, stunning to look at and adds quite a nice touch to the Russian Masonry Stove Heater in the middle of the house. Steve and Sharon have a wonderful homestead complete with horses, chickens, cows, dogs, cats and children.

For information on how to do cordwood walls why not take a peek at:

Cordwood Construction Website

While you are there, check out the Photos, News, Workshops, Links, Articles and the Cordwood Eye Candy.

If you have a question: