3. Detailed Instructions – The Log Builder’s Tool Chest

Feb 08, 2021


The Log Builder’s Tool Chest

If you’re working offline (in the forest), you can download the instructions here: Lesson 3 The Log Builder’s Tool Chest

Some people are very much tool people; they are drawn to the engineering, the design and the polished steel. They take great comfort in knowing that they have a complete collection of tools lined up on their shelves ready for any task. They enjoy the time spent maintaining, sharpening and fine tuning their tools to ensure that they are cutting, drilling or shaping square and clean. Others are not tool people in that sense; they appreciate the benefit of a well functioning and properly suited tool, but they are happy to only purchase and maintain a select few tools that are necessary do the job.

Log building can be done well with a fairly basic tool chest. There are a couple of specialized tools that are required, but many of the tools on the lists below can already be found in our basic carpentry tool kit. The log builder’s required tools can be broken into three main purpose groups: tools for handling logs, tools for marking logs and tools for shaping logs.


Tools for Log Handling

  • The Peavy (with the pointed tip) and The Cant Hook (with the blunt tip) – used for rolling logs while laying out.
  • Log Frogs – used to lock logs in place to prevent from unwanted movement during scribing.
  • Lifting Straps – used for lifting logs.
  • Sledge Hammer- used for persuading heavy timbers to move as well as “seating” the completed dovetail. A short handle is best for swinging while standing on logs.



Tools for Log Handling.

Tools for Marking, Preparing, and Measuring Logs

  • Chalk Line – used to snap straight lines for cutting and or reference measurements.
  • Tape Measures – both a 25’ and 100’.
  • Levels – both a 2’ and 4’ – used for layout, measuring heights and checking for level.
  • Square – used for laying out and marking the dovetails.
  • Scribes – used to transfer accurate shapes and measurements when marking out the corner notches.


Tools for marking, preparing, and measuring logs.


Tools for Shaping and Cutting the Logs

  • Chainsaw – should be big enough to have the necessary power for efficient cutting but not to large to be uncomfortable and unsafe. A 50-60cc with an 18” bar is a good log building chainsaw combination.
  • 4 ½” Angle Grinder fitted with wood disc – used to clean up the face of the dovetails.
  • 7” Grinder fitted with wood disc – used to clean up long flats and grind end of tails once trimmed.
  • 1 ½” Framing Chisel – can be used to clean up the tight corners on the dovetails where the faces meet the shoulders.
  • Draw Knife – used to remove bark from the logs as well as to shape a chamfer for the chinking to nest into along the length of the timber. This is the log builders exercise program.
  • ½” Corded Drill – used to drive timber screws through the tails, drill for peg holes, as well as holes for electrical wiring.
  • Cordless Driver – used to drive screws.
  • Cordless Drill – used to make a countersink hole for the head of the timber screws and help aid in removal of wood when chopping mortises.



Tools for shaping and cutting the logs.


  • A 50-60cc sized chainsaw fitted with an 18” bar is ideal for log building.

Safety Equipment

  • Hard hat
  • Saw pants or chaps
  • Steel toe boots
  • Glasses and/or face shield
  • Ear Muffs
  • Gloves


Log builder’s safety gear.

If you’re working offline (in the forest), you can download the instructions here: Lesson 3 The Log Builder’s Tool Chest