1. Welcome and How to Use This Course

Feb 08, 2021


Welcome to the Dovetail Essentials Log Building Online Course

If you’re working offline (in the forest), you can download the instructions here: Lesson 1 Introduction

The British Columbia School of Log Building is thrilled that you have chosen our program to help guide you on your log house building journey. We are grateful for the opportunity to share with you what we have learned from decades of log building experience and instructing log building courses. We are confident that the building processes in this program demonstrated to you through video, graphics, and photos and described in great written detail will give you the necessary skills and certainty to craft your own dovetail log cabin.


The Willowbank Cabin; the Build a Dovetail Log Home course cabin.


This Dovetail Log Building Essentials course contains the first 9 modules of our complete course including essential references and cheat sheets. The complete course is a direct representation of our popular onsite Learn to Build a Dovetail Log Building course taught at our school in Golden, BC, Canada. In the convenience of your chosen build location and on your own schedule, the Build a Dovetail course online version covers the same material as our onsite course. With all of our courses, including this one, you will have infinite online access to all of the instruction materials and there is no limit to the amount of review and practice that you choose to do before you build your log home. There are pdfs available of the written instructions included if you are working offline and in the woods. In fact, many students that have previously taken our onsite course, have asked for these instructions for their own review and building.


Meet Your Instructor

Dave Stonehouse is the founder of the British Columbia School of Log Building and the owner of Stonehouse Woodworks, a successful log building company in Golden, BC. With over 20 years of log building experience across North America, Dave is extremely passionate about the history, and the trade of log and timber building. His respect for the tradition and the craft is apparent through his teaching; he has inspired many students to build their own log homes.


Dave is passionate about teaching the trade of log building.


It is fair to say that with this course, you will truly be learning from a Master Log Builder! Teaching is an exciting and rewarding part of being a leader in any industry. Dave is an experienced professional and a well-respected specialist in the log and timber building community.


Dave Stonehouse; a master in the craft of log building.


How to Use this Course

One thing we have learned from teaching this course for years and to numerous students is that people learn in various ways. Some of you will prefer to watch the videos and follow the explanations visually. Others will find the detailed, step by step written instruction to be the most helpful. The videos, written instructions, and log-by-log graphics work simultaneously to convey the important steps and processes in the clearest way possible. The course is broken down into 25 Modules with video demonstrations, detailed written explanations of the main points contained in the video as well as log-by-log graphics to further assist in showing the concepts.

There is a certain amount of descriptive repetition of the key processes displayed in the videos and write up so that if you missed something in the video, you’ll read about it in the instructions or see it in the log graphics. The repetition is a key component to learning the processes and skills. Throughout the written instruction look for safety tips scattered in red, and professional tips next to the    symbol.


The dovetail notch.


In our experience, the best approach is to watch all of the videos and at least take a quick glance through all the lessons before starting your actual project. Modules 5 and 6 are core Modules and form the foundation of the dovetail system. There are several reminder lists and cheat sheets designed to be printed and posted at your work site, including our specific 10 Steps to Laying a Dovetail Log Guide.


In the Complete Course

As well as the distinct 25 Lessons and Modules, the Learn to Build a Dovetail Log Cabin course contains:

  • a set of plans for the Willowbank cabin (view in this Introduction Module and Module 25).
  • a sawmill cut list including instructions on how to create your own cut list for a different set of cabin plans (Module 4, and 25).
  • a log by log pdf package with illustrated graphics of all the logs from the first round of logs to the ridge beam of the Willowbank (available with each applicable Module and as a package in Module 25).

The Willowbank is a 16’ x 20’ dovetail log cabin named after the jagged mountain ridge that stands behand our log yard in Golden BC. Some of our more adventurous students have hiked to the top of this ridge!


The spiny mountain behind the BC School of Log Building log yard is call Willowbank Mountain.


The plans for the Willowbank are the standard plans that we use in our onsite courses, and it is the building that we will use in this course to demonstrate all of the log building techniques and strategies. The course has been created in such a way that if you prefer, you can learn the skills while building your own custom sized dovetail shell. The Willowbank Cabin contains the all of the necessary design features to introduce and practice the many facets of dovetail construction. It is a manageable size on which to hone your skills. Building codes and regulations can vary by jurisdiction so, be sure to have the Willowbank plans or your custom build plans inspected and certified by a local engineer or architect.


The anatomy of a dovetail log cabin.



The Willowbank cabin in the morning mist.


Always take proper safety precautions before using potentially dangerous tools and equipment or undertaking potentially dangerous activities.



 Mount Willowbank, Golden BC, Canada


If you’re working offline (in the forest), you can download the instructions here: Lesson 1 Introduction