Self-Reliance Handbook/Cordwood Masonry

Cordwood Masonry

This construction method can be used as a survival technique or to create a long-term home. The practice differs from creating a log cabin in that the logs are typically cut to 12 or 16 inch lengths and instead of being placed end to end are placed much the same as stacking wood to burn. The improvement comes when one uses a type of mortar to create a seal around the wood and acts as though the wood was a brick.

Increasing the length of wood can increase the thermal mass of the wall. However in cold climates the greatest concern would be the ceiling and roof. This is not an improvised shelter. While the home can be built for next to nothing, proper construction will require a good saw for extended use. If the only tool you had was a hatchet you may be better off building a cabin or hogan.

A good combination of clay soil and some type of dried grass can make a great mortar. This may sound like a poor quality home for people living in "modern housing" but don't be fooled. If built as to keep water away from the home especially these homes can last hundreds of years. They have the same failing as all other homes made of wood. Once the wood is wet termites can infest it. Wet wood will also draw carpenter ants.

Structurally, this type of home can be very resilient to bad weather and debris hitting the home. The outside walls on these homes is very thick. If you have the time this home can be built for almost no out of pocket expense and can be fitted at some expense with any modern convenience.