Chapter V - The Roof and the Floor
YOU should make a miter
box now, so that the rafters may be all cut to a true and proper bevel
for the ridge board.
Now build a staging down
the center of the camp, high enough so that the rafters can be nailed
easily. Then put the ridge board in place, after marking the positions
for the rafters; this may be a board of the proper length of about
seven-eighths or inch stuff, and slightly wider than the diameter of the
beveled ends of the rafters.
The end logs may be
continued to the peak, spiking them to the two rafters laid in place.
With an ax, hew the ends of the logs down to the pitch.
the rafters with their bevel and put one temporarily in place while the
place for the notch to fit over the top log is marked, leaving a proper
length to project for the eaves. The rafter is then taken down to cut
the notch, after which it is once more put in place, where, if it is
found to fit properly, two spikes are driven through the rafter into the
top log and the upper end is made fast with three tenpenny wire nails.
When the last rafter is
put in place it is time to cut your doors and windows. Snap a chalkline
and nail a piece of inch stuff to the logs as a guide to the saw. A
piece of two-by-six is spiked in place perpendicularly against the ends
of the logs, and about two spikes should be driven in each log. You are
ready for the roof.
Begin at the bottom to
board up the roof, forcing the boards as close together as possible by
driving a heavy chisel or other implement into the rafter close to the
board, and pulling on the handle until the joint is tight.
Nail each board well at
every rafter. When you have laid the boards nearly as far up as you can
conveniently reach, fit in a board which do not nail. After nailing one
board above this in place, remove the loose one and put it aside where
it can be readily found when again needed. A mark will make certain of
getting the right one in the right place. This open space left will
afford a convenient foothold while laying the next series of boards,
which proceed with as before. When the last board at the peak is laid
then the open spaces may be fitted, as you come down, with the boards
put aside for the purpose.
There will be a small
space left between the top log and the roof, which should be filled in
with a round stick, fitted between the rafters and spiked in place and
the roof board nailed down to this.
Your shingles will be
what are known as extra 1. They are a medium grade of cedar shingle, and
the best for your purpose. Shingles may also be had in spruce, fir, or
pine. These are cheaper grades and useful mainly for sidewalls, etc.
They warp badly, split easily with the weather, and rot quickly. They
are unfitted for roofing. One thousand shingles, laid five inches to the
weather, will cover one hundred and thirty square feet of surface.
The life of a shingle may
be very greatly prolonged if it be soaked in one of the many
preparations of creosote stain on the market before laying. This,
besides, will give your roof the tone which you have decided upon.
Staining the shingles
after they are in place involves considerable hard work, and while the
color is achieved no particular benefit of longevity is imparted to the
The creosote mixture may
be put in a bucket or other vessel and the shingles dipped for about
half of their length and thrown in a loose pile to dry.
For the sake of greater
warmth, the lessening of draughts and the discouragement of insects,
building paper should be tacked on the roof before laying the shingles.
Paper strips should always lap over about three inches.
Commence to lay these at
the eaves, leaving about two or two and a half inches to project. At the
sides of the roof the shingles should project about half an inch.
After the first course is
down another course of shingles is to be laid directly on top of them,
remembering to break the joints fairly so that no joint comes within an
inch and a half or two inches of each other. Two shingle nails, driven
six or seven inches from the lower edge of the shingle, will hold it
For the sake of
facilitating the matter of laying shingles, nail two or three boards
together that will be the length of your roof; these should be five
inches wide. If you have been careful to get your first two courses of
shingles on parallel with the eaves, this five-inch strip can now be put
in place, its lower edge flush with the bottom of the shingles at the
eaves. A few nails driven lightly through the five-inch strip at
intervals will hold it in place. The next course of shingles may be
quickly laid in place, breaking joints carefully as before. Now go back
and nail them, then move the guide-board up for the next course, and so
on to the top, sawing off the projecting ends of the shingles at the
ridge. Leave a space of about eighteen inches unshingled around the
chimney hole until the leading is completed.
Of course, it is a simple
matter to snap a chalk line on the shingles as a guide in laying
succeeding courses, should you not desire to make the guide-board, but
if the roof is of any size I would not advise the chalk method.
To complete the roof, a
saddle board on the ridge is necessary, and this may be made of boards
nailed together like a trough, after getting the proper bevel; a far
better method, and more thoroughly in keeping with your log cabin,
however, is to hew out a log for the saddle board. Do not fasten this in
place, however, until the leading around the chimney (spoken of in the
chapter on fireplaces) has been put in place.
The building may now be
calked with cotton waste, moss, or excelsior, their relative value being
in the order given. Cotton waste, however, is by long odds the best,
being cleaner, easier to use, and not given to swelling up and working
out with the dampness and frost, as are the last two. A good calking
tool may be made of any hard wood stick, shaping it somewhat like a cold
chisel. It may be an inch or more in diameter, and the flat edge should
be about two inches wide; with this and a mallet or hammer the waste may
easily be driven firmly between the logs. With a crosscut saw trim off
the projecting ends of the logs to about eight inches.
In the smaller camps it
is sometimes desirable to have the rafters run the length of the cabin
rather than from the eaves to the ridge. To accomplish this, the logs in
the peak should be put in place, spiked, and cut to the pitch. Then the
ridgepole is put in place and spiked, resting on the two opposite top
logs. At intervals of about three feet down the pitch a notch is cut for
the other rafters at the very end of the logs, making sure, as you lay
them, that their outer edges are on a fair line with your pitch.
The roof boards in this
instance are then cut to the proper length and laid across the
raftersof course, with the pitch of the roof.
While a single floor may
answer the requirements, after a fashion, you should make your plans for
a double floor, with at least one thickness of building paper in
between; thus you are insured of warmth and dryness and freedom from
mice and many strange and wandering insects. The second floor is not to
be laid, however, until the masonry and other heavy work is completed;
then lay your floor of "hard pine," and at once put whatever finish you
may contemplate using on it.
Soft woods will not do at
all for the floor. They soon show wear, and if any care has been taken
to make them attractive, they will quickly part with their early
promise, and no amount of work will make them right again.
Hard pine or North
Carolina pine makes the best floor- for the purpose, with boards not
over two and a half inches wide, hammered up close and blind-nailed.
This may seem somewhat extravagant, but the economy will become quickly
The smaller camps are
sometimes left unfloored, and while a camp built this way may be kept
quite clean, there are many who object to bare ground. A good floor may
be made of poles with the upper surface squared. This flooring is
perfectly solid and good, but vermin of various sorts will soon find the
cosy home provided beneath the floor, unless the cracks are kept well
calked with moss, etc.
Do not permit yourself to
be drawn into considering thatched roofs, etc., and bark roofs are
generally a delusion and a snare. If shingles are not available, used
tarred paper. This is by no means long-lived, but is tight while it
lasts, is easily put on and equally easy to renew when the occasion
requires. For many reasons a camp in the wilderness has a tendency to
attract and hold the dampness. Therefore, avoid the causes as far as
possible. A leaky roof is an abomination.
Birch bark, of course,
makes the best roof of all the barks, but it has a tendency to warp and
crack that requires you to be very careful in laying it. Of course, it
must be peeled in the spring, and should be "shingled" on the roof
carefully, else you will find that the winter snows and ice have made a
sad job of your work. The little camp shown on page 114 was roofed with
birch bark some seven years ago, but my memory of its warmth and dryness
was sadly shattered when I revisited it last summer for the purpose of
making the photographs.
Should your plans call
for a "hip" roof, the construction is the same as that given for a
straight roof, with this difference: the ridgeboard ends at the point of
the new slant, and two rafters are run up from the corners of the
building, meeting at the point in the roof. Then other rafters are
fitted to these, ending at the eaves as before.
If you are wise you will
purchase your windows with their finish, casings, etc., and thus have a
tight and satisfactory job. They are easily set in place and the method
of procedure will be at once apparent when you see them.
Steps to the porch may be
constructed very simply. If you need three steps, determine the width of
each tread, say ten inches. Cut two logs thirty inches long, about seven
or eight inches in diameter, and face the top of the logs. Then cut two
more logs the width of two steps combined, or twenty inches. After
facing these, lay them on top of the first two logs, keeping the back
ends of all the logs even. Now, two more logs of the width of one step,
or ten inches, faced and laid as before, gives you a solid base on which
to nail the treads.
Should your plans call
for a sheet-iron pipe for a smokestack, care must be taken that the
woodwork be kept well out of the way. Cut a circular hole in the roof at
least six inches wider in diameter than the stovepipe. Have a large
piece of galvanized tin with a tube three inches long set in it. This is
to be fastened to the roof and then the shingles put down on it, keeping
them well away from the smokestack. At the bottom the tin will lay on
top of the shingle course, while the upper edge will be pushed under the
In the hunting lodges it
may not be practicable to "carry in" such an arrangement. A substitute
may be made from a section of stovepipe, opened at the seam . and
flattened out. Mark with another section of pipe the size, and cut this
out without attempting the turned-up part. When the sheet is fastened in
place the pipe may be simply shoved through. This is not, of course,
absolutely water-tight, but it will do.
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.