What to Bring
Megan Bendson carefully cuts
a kingpost with her Stihl 261 preparatory to installing
ridgelog, July, 2011.
Revised July 1, 2013. New recommendation
about drawknives, and another tool supplier. This list is updated periodically. Please call 218.365.2126 or email email@example.com if you have questions
or problems - or if you have any difficulty contacting
vendors. Although the safety gear list is fairly rigid, the tool list is somewhat flexible and negotiable, depending on your
financial and transport circumstances.
Special note: Since some of these tools have only a single
it is not recommended that students cast a wide net online
for tools looking for just the best price. This is sometimes a
recipe for bringing the worst stuff.
Common errors are bringing the wrong scriber, chisels, safety shirt, sander-backer, and chainsaw
chain - all of which can result in wasted time on the
course. If you're unsure about anything, Ron is available to
offer suggestions or answer questions anytime by phone or
Tamarack Log Building Tools 763.783.9773,
no website but some of the best tools at
this time - for the course.
||Schroeder Log Home Supply 800.359.6614, www.loghelp.com
||Log Home Store 800.827.1688, www.loghomestore.com
Timber Tools/Buffalo Forge 800.350.8176, the best
drawknife and some fine chisels and slicks.
They are exhibitors at our annual International Log
Builders Association conferences, and they make some
fine tools (and sheaths)
Any hardware store.
http://www.kingsbridgesupply.com. General log
building and logging tools. The sole source for
Magard Tools, Prince George, BC
250.962.9057. Full line of log and timber frame tools,
including Chambers and Mackie scribers.
* Please pay attention to the listed sources for these
very specialized tools. Some have
only one source.
Log Building Tools
(required for most attendees). Items
with an asterisk (*) at the end are absolutely required, even
if you're coming by airline. There is an appendix at the end of
this page showing images of some of the tools by their
- Wood chisel. Two Cherries brand 20 mm with #3 curve. T S
- Mortise or framing chisel. 1 or 2 inch. T S L
K or TT.
*Make your own mallet on the course from white birch.
- Drawknife. (new) The best available
is the 9" or 12" drawknife from Timber Tools/Buffalo
Forge at $155. 1.800.350.8176 or
TT. Please do not bring "Dixie" drawknives to the
course, but other kinds may do.
- Log cleats, 2 sets or pairs - one pair
consists of two cleats on a 30" rope. Get only from Tamarack
or Kingsbridge. Log dogs, 1 pr. T.
* Get these also from T or K.
Most other kinds are not as useful.
- Peavey or Canthook (either will do). "Peavey"
brand is superior. T K
- Log scriber. 9-inch Ely scriber from
T or K is best.
* Do not get the 12"
and do not bring another brand unless you already have
- Indelible pencils. 1 dozen Eberhard Faber, and 6 lumber crayons, red or blue. T K
* Red indelibles seem to run badly when wet and should
- Axe. Scandinavian Forest axe by Gransfors-Bruks. T
* or similar, less expensive, Wetterling 26" Forest axe
. Other small axes may do, but please do not bring a hatchet.
- Measuring tapes. 25-50 foot.
Also small pocket tape with both metric & English
(if possible) TH
- Flat Mill Bastard File and flat sharpening stone. TSLH
- Chalkline with black chalk, and a hank of mason's line with line level. TSLHK
- Any Empty spray bottle for enhancing scribe
pencil lines. H
- Small torpedo level. H A regular 24" level is
also necessary. An Empire 36" level with
graduations in English and metric and one flat edge
is good for truss building. K Bring all three if
- 4-5 inch Sander/Grinder with rubber/plastic sanding backer and #24 or
#36 grit discs. H *
Be certain that the rubber or plastic backer fits your machine.
Many students come with an incorrect backer, in which
case the sander is not useful.
- Heavy 50-100 foot extension cord - 12 gauge is
best (14 is ok). H *
1' ruler and an 8 1/2 by 11" pad of 1/4" graph paper for
an exercise on making house plans or trusses - about $15.00 total
at any art, drafting or stationery supply store. (#16 is
purely optional, but you will use them at some point.)
About your chainsaw
- Chainsaw and accompanying tools:
(screwdriver-wrench combo), files, 2 old toothbrushes
for cleaning. Saw should have a 3 cu. in. motor, 18
inch bar with .325 pitch. Chain must be chipper or
semi-chisel with rounded profile and must be an official
green-linked safety chain, which Stihl terms "guard-link
semi-chisel green chain." Saw must also have the mechanical chainbrake as well as the invisible inertial chainbrake
(all of the recommended saws below have this). Bring 2
or more gallons of ethanol-free (known as "unoxygenated"
in MN), high-octane gas, mixing
oil for 2 1/2 gallons of gas, 1 gallon bar oil, and your
owners' manual. Also extra clutch-cover nuts and a spark
- Stihl, Jonsereds, and Husqvarna, brands are recommended.
Echo is also acceptable as long as it is not an arborist
saw with top right handle.
Arborist saws are neither useful nor allowed for log construction.
For safety reasons, your saw must be no more than 15
years old, i.e.,
post 1997. Possibly the
best saw for this course and your future log building - in terms of reliability, safety, noise, vibration reduction, parts/service availability, general usefulness and long life - is the Stihl
261, which is a medium sized professional-level saw.
If you have access to a spare
qualifying saw in case you have problems,
by all means bring it along. Unless you are uninterested in future service to your saw, stay clear of Menards, Home Depot, Lowes, and such. Purchase your saw from a bona fide chainsaw dealer in your home area
(or locally at Joe's Marine in Ely 218.365.6264). If you contact
them in advance with your information. Ron can fetch it
for you prior to the course). For safety,
noise, and reliability reasons, McCulloch, Homelite, Remington, Craftsman,
and Poulan are not allowed at the school.
ps. A new development in some Stihl saws, including the
MS250-C, is called Easy2Start and is an entirely different
kind of starter that requires little arm & shoulder
strength. Ron purchased one because of a shoulder
rotator-cuff operation in late 2007. He recommends it for
anyone with insufficient arm-pulling strength - for whatever
reason. After he recovered from surgery and therapy, he went
back to his 260, which he much prefers and which is a much
better saw, similar to its successor, the 261.
Log Building Tools
but recommended if you are arriving by motor
vehicle, have room, and can afford them. Otherwise, you'll
likely acquire them in the future when you set to work on
your log projects, e.g. eventually you will get both a
peavey and canthook for your own building.
- Tool box or pail with toolbucket attachment. H
- Timber carrier TSL (strongly recommended)
- Claw hammer H
- Framing square H
- Handlebar gouge K- a big favorite &
only one current source, Todd Williams (K), 1004 Marion Ct.
Montgomery, MN 56069. ph. 952.913.3762. $125. plus MN
- Curved adz with 18 inch handle. T or
K have the only useful kind,
do not bring others if you can help it.
- Old axe or splitting maul for firewood. H
- Picaroon (hookaroon) T H K
Safety Apparel (required)
- Hardhat preferably with eye and ear protection. T S
K or any saw dealer. Warm liner for November,
March, or April courses.
- Leather gloves for all tool use and sharpening. Several pair. Also a pair of heavy rubber gloves for wet weather. H
- First aid kit T H
- Safety glasses or the face screen above. H. Disposable dust masks. H
- Chainsaw-protective chaps or safety pants. T,
L, K or saw dealer.
- Stabilicer boot-caulk slip-on (optional)
winter courses only. T
- Chainsaw-protective steel-toed Kevlar-lined boots.
Steel-toes barely protect 1/6 of the
foot from an axe or chainsaw, so the boots must be
chainsaw-resistant and Kevlar-lined as well as having a
steel-toe. Husqvarna or Labonville are recommended, either rubber or leather. Labonville (
www.Labonville.com ) has extremely comfortable US made logging boots known as BOOTLAB9 KEVLAR SAFETY BOX TOE. Ser. no. is 24127 or 24128 (high or low heel). Husqvarna
rubber or leather Kevlar-lined boots from a dealer are also acceptable. Ben Meadows Co. 800.241.6401 has the rubber type for $100.
The Log Home Store also has good rubber protective boots
for $90+ Do not bring calked (spiked) boots to the course.
- Chainsaw-protective shirt. Special item made especially for our courses by Gransfors-Bruks (in Sweden & So. Carolina) to provide arm, shoulder, and frontal trunk protection. Washable blue denim. Available only at
T L K Caution: do not buy Stihl's
orange shirt. It is not protective. Wash your Gransfors-Bruks chainsaw shirt twice (for extra comfort)
prior to the course.
- Kneepads. Any kind. H.
Reminder: shorts, leggings, or athletic/sweat pants are prohibited on all log building and stonework courses.
Suggested Textbooks for the Course - in order
Robert Chambers, Log Construction Manual,
Vic Janzen, Your Log House, 4th
edition, Allan Mackie, The Owner-Built Log House,
Dan Milne, Handbook of Canadian Log Building,
Allan Mackie, Notches of All Kinds,
Log Span Tables,
Tom Walker's, Building the Alaska Log Home.
(Note: Mackie's "Notches" is out of print and hard to
locate, but there seem to be many in existence.)
If possible, bring at least the first four books with you to the class.
One more to purchase: the
bound hard-cover, freshly
published (and two years in progress) International Log
Effective Practices and Methods for Handcrafted Log
(amply illustrated in color, 71 pages). The ILBA
www.logassociation.org will show you how to purchase it
through Amazon for less than $30. We will be referencing this
document repeatedly during the courses. It's also available
as a download for a few dollars less, but then you've got a
whole bunch of paper that you have to figure out how to keep
On the other hand, it's not bad having a downloaded copy on
your I-Phone or I-Pad for quick reference.
Required Personal Gear
- Raincoat or rainsuit. No long raincoats or ponchos.
- Old clothes. Bring plenty. Insulated coveralls are good for
early spring or late fall. Denim trousers or Carharrt double-knee pants are good for any seasons. Long underwear is in fashion here Sept. to May. Athletic/sweat- pants, leggings, sweatpants, tights or shorts are not allowed on the worksite.
- Leather gloves must be worn when using all tools except the scriber. Bring several pair of insulated work gloves for winter. A pair of rubberized work gloves is required for all log and stone courses.
- Soap, towels (extra for sauna), toothbrush.
- One headlamp (that will fit over cap or hardhat) and two flashlights, supply of batteries, strike-on-box matches. Farmer matches
(independently strikable on any surface) are not allowed for safety reasons.
- Large plastic bags for garbage.
- Scrub pads (3) and paper towel rolls (8) for drying
- Food. Easy-to-prepare items are best. Nothing for
which a regular oven is needed, since there aren't any.
Microwaves are provided. Outdoor barbecues are for
evening use only. Bring charcoal if you plan to use.
- Dishware utensils, and pots & pans are furnished if you are lodging in the cabins. Paper plates, bowls and cups are still handy, however. If you are tenting, bring your own cookware
and dishware. In any case, a good, durable, insulated coffee cup is handy. The cabin cups etc. are not for
using out on the worksite.
- Toilet paper. 4 rolls.
- Alarm clock. Windup or battery. Lectures are scheduled for specific times,
so don't leave your watch at home.
- Pocket knife for sharpening pencils.
- Notebooks and pens. Carry them with you all of the time. Good notes, sketches and photos will be invaluable later when you begin your log buildings.
- Camera (regular or digital) with plenty of film or
cards. Throwaway cameras work well also. However, no video or movie cameras or
sound tape recorders are permitted during courses.
- Sleeping bag, blankets (bring extras), pillow. Mattresses are on the beds.
- Cooler for extra beverages. Refrigerators are small and intended mainly for food, juice & milk. Ice and groceries are available in Ely and Two Harbors.
- There are no tools or safety gear for sale at the school or in nearby towns. If it is more convenient for you to ship items to and from the school, or have a tool source ship directly to the school before the course, that's ok. However,
UPS is the only carrier that comes here daily and with any degree of promptness. Please do not use FedEx, Speedy, or US Post Office for any parcels coming here
before, during, or after the course.
- Note that there is no regular telephone service here for student use. If you wish to stay in touch, bring your cellular phone and charger. All cabins have electricity. Verizon
and AT&T are the main brands that get reception, with
AT&T the best. You may, of course,
leave the school number with relatives, so that, in case
of emergency, they will be able to leave a message. If
you have wireless capability on your laptop computer, we
have a free wireless internet hotspot available for use in
- If you have difficulty with your chainsaw dealer in
regard to correct chain, pitch and files, have them call
the school for clarification. A tiny minority of dealers
(like some loggers) have a
contrarian attitude about safety stuff, and some aren't
aware of the special cutting needs of log builders. For safety and easier learning, it is extremely important to have the correct kind of chain, as outlined in the tool list.
- Take another look at the tool and safety gear lists. The tools in the first list and all of the safety gear are required of nearly everyone. Things that are best not shared with a partner are scriber, all safety gear, drawknife, measuring tapes, and the Two-Cherries chisel. Sharing a saw with a partner works out sometimes. That, of course, is up to you.
Neither a chainsaw nor a
sander-grinder will be used by anyone under the age of
- The Camp Rules, which you have received a copy of, spells out things that are not allowed here, such as drinking any alcohol
before or during working hours, on field trips, or while driving or riding in a vehicle anywhere. And the whole place is smoke-free, except within your vehicle in the parking lot. Be sure to check this information over, along with the Safety Rules for the Worksite.
Appendix - some of the tools on
the lists above pictured according to their numbers
1. Two Cherries curved chisel
2. Mortise/framing chisel
3. Drawknives: Gransfors-Bruks & Barr (or Timber
4. Log cleats
6. Ely Scriber
8. Gransfors-Bruks Scandinavian forest axe
9. Logger tape & carpenter's tape
10. Curved stone/flat mill bastard file/flat stone
11. Chalkline & chalk bottle
Hank of dry line
13. Empire 2' level & small torpedo level
14. 4-5 inch sander-grinder
Optional tool list:
1. Tool pail
2. Timber carrier/lifting tongs
4. Framing square
5. Handlebar gouge
Great Lakes School of Log Building
1350 Snowshoe Trail, Isabella, MN 55607