Posts Tagged With: J. M. Log Craftsman

what a difference a year makes…..

So hard to believe a full year has passed since Mr. Lipham and his logging crew, J. M. Log Craftsman, arrived and in 28 days had our cabin completely dried in! We were sure at that time that we would have finished the inside by now. We’re definitely getting close, and a lot has happened since I last posted, but we’re still not there yet.

A year ago:

I believe I left off Labor Day weekend with us having finally finished putting up the tongue and groove walls. The next several weekends were spent sanding, cleaning, staining and putting the finish coat on the entire inside of the place.¬† For one reason or another, I ended up not being able to go down to help Dave out as he completed these ever so tedious tasks. I confess, I would be lying if I said that I was sorry to have missed out on all that excitement! ūüėú

 The completed walls upstairs, before the finish coat-

The walls only look slightly different after the stain and finish coat were applied. We went with a natural stain and clear satin finish coat which added only a slight warm tone, a dull sheen and ultraviolet protection to prevent the wood from yellowing over the years.

Just a word of advice to anyone attempting to spray on a finish coat over such a large area- wear long sleeves! Once dry, it is not easily removed. Dave ended up shaving his arms…. yep, I’m still not hating the fact I missed out on all that fun.

About this time, Dave’s folks came down for a visit and were anxious to check out our progress in person. We had just received the new light for the half bath so Dave jumped on the opportunity to finally get in a little father son project as he had Frank help him install the new light over the sink.

With the finish coat finally done, we were then able to put up the kitchen cabinets that had been delivered months ago and had since been lying in boxes waiting to be hung.

With the cabinets in place, next on the agenda was to hang the ceiling fan in the great room while we still had use of the scaffolding that Dave had rented to used for spraying the finish coat.

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finishing the dormers, closing in the chimney, putting in the basement windows and starting the roof

Okay, so I got a little behind with my bloggin’ over the holidays…bear with me, a lot has been happening so this is going to be a long one!

When the JM Logcraftsman crew left on Thanksgiving Day, there were still a few things left unfinished.  They had run out of log siding for the second time so were unable to finish one of the dormers and, therefore, unable to stain them as well. In addition, the original basement windows that had been delivered with the rest of the kit ended up being the wrong size so new windows had to be ordered but had not yet arrived before the crew left. The wiring on the second floor was also incomplete and that which had been done was done incorrectly as, once Andy left, it had been left to be completed by one of the crew members who was unfamiliar with wiring. The original plan was for Mr. Lipham, Andy and one other crew member to return the first week in December to finish these three things, as well as to finish staining the outside of the cabin. The first week turned into the second week, which then turned into no communication from anyone as to when they might be back.

Granted, this was all during the holiday season and Mr. Lipham had also taken on building another cabin in Arkansas so I have no doubt that he and Andy both were being pulled in all different directions.  Having said that, regardless of what is happening on their end, the fact of the matter is that our place is still unfinished and we need to move forward.  Our local contractor, Todd Hawkes, had lined up people to start the plumbing, the HVAC and the roof and they were all ready to get started. Unfortunately, the dormers in particular had to be completed before the roof could be put on so, still hearing no date for Mr. Lipham to return, Dave arranged with Battle Creek to have the log siding and basement windows to be delivered directly to us so we could move forward.

Finishing the dormers

Although the log siding had yet to arrive, we went down the weekend before Christmas to start staining the dormers in the front so that the roofers could at least start on that side.  Dave also wanted to change out the trim on the arched window over the entrance as, on closer inspection, we realized it was less than spectacular to say the least.  By the time we finished the front dormers and had stained what we could in the back, the siding arrived so the following weekend we were able to get that up and finish staining the last dormer so the roofers could begin.

Putting in the basement windows

Meanwhile, the new basement windows had also arrived.  Thankfully, they proved to be relatively simple to put in and made a huge difference in the amount of light in the basement once they were in.

Putting in the fireplace/chimney insert

One of our next goals is to get the fireplace in working order so we can warm up the inside of the cabin to make working on the inside a little more pleasant during these coming winter months. Over the past few weekends we’ve been making progress and were finally successful this past weekend in getting the last of the chimney inserts in place and closing up the chimney.

HVAC & Plumbing & roof

While we’ve been busy with our projects on the weekends, there has been much going on during the week as well.

putting in the knee walls

Initially, we wanted to keep the tongue and groove of the roof exposed on the front side of the upstairs bedrooms and build knee walls on the back for storage. However, once the air vents and pipes were placed, we had to rethink which walls we were going to keep exposed on the second floor.

A visit from Dave’s folks

Although Dave’s parents have been avid blog followers, they haven’t had a chance to get down here to check the place out since construction began. ¬†Fortunately, they were able to come down and spend Christmas with us and we brought them down on Boxing day to take a look around.

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day 26-29….and they’re done…

Day 26

It was not even remotely a surprise to Dave and I when, at the end of the day last Monday, the crew was still not finished. However, they had completed the stairs to the second second floor (excellent job José!), attached the front porch rails, put in the fixed widows in the great room, as well as the heavy detail on the roof trim. Dave stayed long after the sun had set and they were still working on laying the last layer of roof felt, in the dark, using their iPhones for light!  Heavy rain was due to set in the following day so it was imperative that they get the felt down before they quit for the night.

Day 27

I drove down Tuesday morning, expecting the crew to be finishing up and leaving that afternoon, and I wanted the opportunity to say goodbye and to thank everyone for all their hard work. ¬†The rain had already begun and there was a bustle of activity inside and outside when I arrived. It seemed clear to me as soon as I arrived that there was still way too much left undone for them to really be leaving that afternoon. However, I knew that even if Jos√© and his crew didn’t leave, Mr. Lipham still needed to leave by the end of the day in order to get home to his family in Tennessee in time for Thanksgiving. Shortly after I arrived, it was discovered that they were 150′ short of roof flashing and asked if I’d run up to Home Depot to pick some up. ¬†Not a huge deal, but the closest Home Depot is thirty minutes back in the direction I’d just driven from. By the time I drove up there, bought the flashing and drove back to the work sight, I knew I’d have to turn around and leave as I had to get home to start prepping for our own Thanksgiving festivities. So much for my thoughts of hanging out to get a group shot of the guys and to say a formal farewell before they wrapped things up and pulled away. There was such a storm of activity inside when I got back, as the crew worked to get things finished, that I felt I was in the way, so, I just snapped a couple of photos, expressed my thanks to Mr. Lipham, wished him a Happy Thanksgiving and off I went in the rain.

Dave went down later that afternoon, after I left,¬†and was able to get the guys to pause for a moment to snap a group shot of the guys on the front porch with his iPhone shortly after he arrived. (You can see in the photo that the rain was pretty heavy at this point.)¬†Regrettably, I had chosen not to leave my camera down there for him to use when I left, so the photo was not the great shot I had hoped for. Still, I’m glad he took it as it was better that not having taken one at all.


The Coleman Cabin building crew! From left to right- Mateo, Raymond, Mr. Lipham, José, Talon, Carlos, Nelson and Miguel

As he left Tuesday evening, they were still working on putting up the railing on the deck, again in the dark, this time using a flashlight that he had happened to bring along. Mr. Lipham did go ahead and take off so he could get home in time for the holiday leaving José and his J. M. Log Craftsman crew behind to finish.

Day 28-29

Dave went back down for a short time Wednesday to find them working away diligently in the heavy, cold rain, pausing every now and then to try and dry their coats by the fire.  They worked through the day Wednesday and finally finished on Thanksgiving day.  Needless to say we were not there to witness them wrap things up and to wish them well as they drove away. Such an anticlimactic ending to the dry in phase of this building process.  Mr. Lipham and Andy will be back in a few weeks to finish up the wiring and staining and to put in the basement windows that had to be reordered as the ones that had been sent did not fit properly.

We went down after Thanksgiving to check things out and, as we walked through the place taking in all of the details, we¬†couldn’t have been more pleased. ¬†It was such a great experience dealing with Mr. Lipham, Jos√© and the rest of the J. M. Log Craftsman team (¬†¬†)¬†and we can’t even begin to express our gratitude and appreciation for all of the effort that they put in to building our home.

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day 24 and 25…they’re still heeere

We had been back and forth as to whether we should have a full masonry fireplace built or put in a more efficient wood burning insert. ¬†After much research on Dave’s part, we decided on an insert, as long as we could find one that would still give us the look of a massive wood burning fireplace that we feel every log cabin needs. ¬†After finding just the right one, Dave, after more research, decided he would be able to install it himself and went ahead and placed the order. Expecting it to arrive after the crew had left, he had it delivered it to our Midlothian residence, hoping it would be in smaller pieces as the total weight would be 600lbs. ¬†We were rather surprised when in showed up two days later, on two separate pallets, one of which we were able to break into smaller sections to get into my van, the other, the insert itself, in one complete piece and impossible for Dave and Max to lift even with a hand truck. ¬†I’d like to give a shout out to our awesome neighbors, Brian and Jason Astroth, and Bill Durow, who came over to lend Dave a hand in hoisting the massive thing onto our trailer so we could haul it down the the cabin…thanks guys we owe you one!!! Once down at the site, it took all six crew members plus Mr. Lipham and Dave, to heave it up the four feet onto the front porch and then bring it into the great room. ¬†Thank goodness they were still here when it arrived! Unfortunately, I was sick that day so there are no photos of the whole production. ūüė¶

It came as no surprise to Dave and I when the end of today arrived and our Battle Creek crew had yet to wrap things up as we had thought it incredibly optimistic of Mr. Lipham when he set today as the new finish date. ¬†They had ended up losing two crew members durning the course of the time that they have been here which has slowed down the progress somewhat and, in addition, there was a discrepancy between what the Battle Creek rep had agreed to have completed for us and what Mr. Lipham and his crew had been expecting to complete. Fortunately for us, Mr. Lipham and crew have been great to work with and, despite running way over their expected finish date, they’ve been knocking out much of the finish work on the outside that they were not expecting to have to do.

They have spent the past two days working on the roof and porch trim, running more electric, starting the steps between the first and second floor and figuring out where all the railings need to be placed.

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day 19 – 23…framing the second floor, sealing the log ends and building the roof system

By Monday of this week the tongue and groove had been replaced on the second floor.  Thankfully, the crew had been able to pull it up and put it back down without damaging the boards!

Once the floor was put back into place, they moved onto framing the bedrooms and guest bath on the second floor.

Much of the week was spent working on the five layered roof system. ¬†First to go down was the tongue and groove that makes up the ceilings of the second floor and great room, over which was placed the first layer of roofing felt. ¬†That was followed by the layer of super thick insulation, followed by a layer of OSB and finally another layer of roofing felt. We’ll eventually have a tin roof placed on top of all of that.

With much of the major building complete, they began to work on smaller details.

We had heard from a few different sources, one of which was the Perma Chink rep at the Log and Home show, that log sealant should be used on the log ends…Mr. Lipham had never heard of such a thing nor seen anyone else seal their log ends in the 14 years that he’s been building log homes. Pretty sure he thought we were crazy for doing it, but we did it non the less. The log sealant turned out to be the consistency of Elmer’s glue and smelled remarkably like it as well. ¬†Actually, it ended up drying somewhat like Elmer’s as well. ¬†We’re now pretty well convinced that’s all it is.

Though Dave had stayed down at the work site till dusk several times, I had yet to be down there long enough to see what the sunset would look like from our deck.  We had arrived so late the day we went down to seal the logs that I finally had my chance as we were just finishing when the sun began to set.

We are still completely amazed that in just over three weeks we’ve gone from having just a foundation to being almost completely dried in! Although the first estimate was to be done in 16 days, Mr. Lipman’s new goal is to be finished tomorrow which will be 25 days…only 9 day over….stay tuned to see if they meet that goal. ¬†ūüėČ

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day 17…Dave discovers that the wiring hasn’t been completely covered with protective metal plates…up comes the recently placed tongue and groove of the second floor

Dave’s BFFs, Dan and Steve, along with Dan’s son Matthew, met us for lunch at our local haunt, El Caporal, then drove out with us to check out the progress of the cabin as neither one had been down since we’d started the log construction.

Dan, Steve and Matthew took off to the other side of the property to do a little target practice while Dave went up to the second floor to check things out. ¬†He soon discovers that the the tongue and groove flooring has been nailed down directly on top of the wiring that runs between the t & g and the first floor rafters without first putting down the protective metal plates. ¬†The purpose of these plates is to keep the wires from being damaged by nails when the flooring is placed. ¬†Without them, not only is there danger of one of the wires being damaged, but we also won’t pass inspection without them. ¬†Dave calls attention to this error to Mr. Lipham, who promptly has the crew remove all the flooring and put the plates down over the wires. ¬†And there’s another day lost.

While all that craziness was going on, I took my camera for a walk. ¬†It’s been a full year since we first set eyes on this place and it’s beauty still astounds me. I find myself taking pictures of the same spots over and over, but with each season the colors and the lighting changes and I just can’t resist trying to catch each different setting on film. I particularly love the bright green moss that grows along the rock ridge and between the gnarled roots of the old beech trees.

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day 15 and 16….t & g ceilings and…this is why wiring a log home is different than your average house

We both missed going down last Thursday to check out the progress on the cabin and were completely astounded when we arrived Friday at the site of the great room ceiling! We’d seen countless photos of the interior of many a two story great room in our Log Home magazines but were still unprepared for what we walked into that morning…it was simply breathtaking.

Most of the crew worked outside putting up more log siding, finishing off dormers and laying down more roofing felt. They’d been working particularly hard so we thought we’d bring in pizza for lunch.

Although some of the first floor wiring had been done, we hadn’t witnessed first hand just quite how difficult some of the wiring would be. As I had mentioned in a previous post, all of the wire has to be hidden in window and door frames, across the first floor rafters and under the second floor t & g, and also up over the roof for the second floor ceiling lights and fans . ¬†This requires drilling through the heavy 12″¬†timbers and running over half a mile of wire, all to be connected down in the basement.(I’d somehow turned off the autofocus on my camera so some of the photos are slightly out of focus. Boo.)

Andy had to leave at the end of the day to drive back to Alabama and I must admit, we were sad to see him go. ¬†He has added such a positive energy to the work site, constantly laughing, helping everyone out and keeping the entire atmosphere upbeat. ¬†Before he left, he told us not to hesitate to call if we need help while we’re finishing the inside of the cabin…we may just have to “create” a problem so we can call him to come help us out! ¬†;-D

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day 14…closing in the front dormers, framing windows and placing more t & g on the roof

Another unusually chilly and windy November morning on Colemans Lake. I spent most of my time sitting by one of the two fires we had going!

The crew continued to put down the tongue and groove on the roof and to close in the front dormers today.

While most of the crew worked up on the roof, foreman, José, and our multi-talented electrician, Andy, worked on building the frames for the wall of windows in the great room while Dave and Mr. Lipham discussed our ideas for our fireplace.

After helping with the window framing, Andy does a little more wiring while Carlos, Nelson and Mateo start placing the tongue and groove roof around back.



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day 13…building the front dormers and laying the first layer of roof felt

We were very happy to have both Andy and José rejoin our team today! Despite a few snow flurries and crazy cold wind blowing off the lake, the crew started on schedule and began to close in the second floor dormers on the front of the cabin and to lay the first layer of felting on the roof.


While around back, the fireplace box was being closed in, inside Dave discussed with Andy and Jos√© whether or not we could remove one of the off center rafters in the great room ceiling. ¬†In the end we decided to keep it even though structurally it would have been fine with out it, taking it out would be more of a hassle than it was worth. ¬†Andy pointed out that once the tongue and groove ceiling was in and the cross ties up, there would be so much going on up there that we wouldn’t notice it.


view of the back of the cabin today

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day 12…staining the outside of the cabin

Unfortunately, Max was sick the day the crew started staining the outside of the cabin so I missed the big event.  On top of that, Dave forgot to bring my camera with him so what few pictures he took were with his iPhone, which leave a bit to be desired. Better than nothing though and he did get a little video footage:

Getting them to stain the outside for us was definitely a great decision…it would have taken us weeks to do what they did in a day! ¬†The process looks pretty simple, one person sprays the stain on the logs while another follows behind with a brush to make sure it goes on smoothly…however, they’ve done it a million times so I think they made it look a lot easier that it would have been.

While half of the crew worked on staining, the other men were on the roof putting on the tongue and groove that will make up the ceiling of the cabin.

Our concern in choosing the Oak stain was that it looked much lighter than what we wanted and was also had a little more of a yellow tint to it than what we had in mind. ¬†The Cedar, on the other hand, was too red and too dark but there was no color choice in between the two. So we went with the Oak stain and decided to put on two coats to make it darker…thank goodness we didn’t go for the Cedar because even the Oak initially looked much darker that we wanted! ¬†Thankfully though, it didn’t have the yellow tint that it had in the sample and as it dried it has lightened up a good bit so we’re really happy with our choice. ¬†Good thing ’cause there’s no going back!

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