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How to Cut Pine for Log Home

By Dave P. Fisher
Logs need to be cut into wall lengths, barked, and left to dry before building
logs . image by Yuri Bizgaimer from Fotolia.com

Preparing pine trees for home building can take up to a year. Once the logs are cut, trimmed, and barked they must be left lying straight and allowed to dry which can take several months depending on the time of year they are cut and the temperature. Green logs will shrink as they dry decreasing the overall circumference of the log. The building must be done with dry logs; building with green logs will result in cracks and gaps opening up between the logs on the walls as they dry.

Locate live pine trees for the wall structure. Choose trees that are straight with no bends in the trunk and 12 to 14 inches in diameter.

Select a tree to cut and determine if the tree leans in any particular direction, you want to cut the tree so it will fall in the direction of the lean. Decide on the escape route you will use to get away from the tree when it begins to fall and clear all trip hazards out of the path.

Clear all brush and debris away from the tree and start the chainsaw. Make a horizontal cut half way through the tree on the side of the tree that it leans toward. Start a second cut 12 inches above the first cut on an angle cutting down toward the center of the tree where the first cut ended meeting the first cut to form a wedge.

Use the ax to knock the wedge of wood loose and out of the tree leaving a flat bottomed 45 degree gap cut out of the tree. Move to the opposite side of the tree and begin cutting a horizontal cut 2 to 3 inches above the apex of the wedge cut. Cut toward the center of the tree until the tree begins to crack and fall toward the undercut.

Shut off the chainsaw and quickly hurry down the prepared path to escape the falling tree. Stay clear of the tree until it lands on the ground.

Cut all the limbs off the tree flush with the trunk. Use the chainsaw to cut the heavy limbs and the ax to knock off the small limbs and twigs.

Stretch the tape measure along the limbed trunk and mark off the lengths you want for the walls of the house. Cut through the tree on the marks to make the logs for the walls.

Roll the cut logs apart and use the draw knife to peel the bark off the trunk. Completely bark the entire log. Do this with each log and leave them in place to dry.

Repeat this procedure until all the logs needed for the house are cut and drying.


Things You Will Need

  • Chainsaw
  • Ax
  • Steel measuring tape
  • Draw knife -- two handled


  • Do not cut down dead trees for building as they are weak and rotted.
  • Always cut with a sharp chain on the saw, a dull chain will make the work harder and dangerous. A sharp chain will kick out wood chips; a dull chain will kick out sawdust.
  • It is easier to bark the logs while they are green and wet. Once they are dry the bark sticks tightly to the log.


  • When cutting with a chainsaw wear eye and ear protection, leather gloves, chainsaw chaps, long pants and boots.
  • Watch the tree as you near the apex of the wedge with the third cut, at this point a falling tree could twist on the uncut portion and fall back toward you. A weakness or crack in the interior of the tree could cause the tree to split straight up the trunk and instantly kick back at you.
  • Do not have children or pets in the cutting and felling area.

About the Author


Dave P. Fisher is an internationally published and award-winning Western novelist and short-story writer. His work has appeared in several anthologies and his nonfiction articles in outdoor magazines. An avid outdoorsman, Fisher has more than 40 years of experience as a hunter, trapper, fisherman, taxidermist, professional fly-tyer, horsepacker and guide.