How to Build a Rustic Log Cabin

Updated January 11, 2018

A rustic log cabin differs from more elaborate log homes because of its simplicity and rough-hewn appearance. Usually only one story high and with only one room, these shelters can be fitted out with bunks and a wood stove. Though the design is simple, building a log cabin requires axe skills and strength. These instructions are for a 10 feet by 12 feet cabin. To build a smaller or larger cabin simply adjust the lengths of the logs used.

Stake out the outline of the cabin and clear out trees, brush and other obstructions. Level the ground.

Estimate how many logs you will need. Decide what the height of the cabin will be. Calculate the average girth of the logs and multiply that by the height and then by four.

Cut logs 2 feet longer than the interior dimension of the cabin. Don't remove the bark.

Lay a 14-foot log on the ground on two sides of the outline parallel to each other. Use an axe to cut notches in two 12-foot logs and lay them over the ends of the longer logs 1 foot from the ends, forming a rectangle.

Continue to notch and lay logs until you've reached the height of the tops of doors and windows. Cut out the openings, install jambs with lumber, and then continue to lay logs until you've reached the height of the roof. If you are not installing windows or a door, skip this step.

Build a simple flat roof by notching and laying logs over the top of the cabin. Fill gaps between the roof logs with clay and let dry. Finish the roof with thatching, or nail boards across the roof and shingle them.

Complete the cabin by tightly filling gaps between the logs with clay. Hang a door and install windows or shutters that can be closed in bad weather.


If you are installing a wooden floor, lay it after the first four logs are set.

Things You'll Need

  • Logs
  • Axe
  • Saw
  • Lumber
  • Clay
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About the Author

Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.