How to Scribe Logs for a Cabin

Written by marlene affeld
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How to Scribe Logs for a Cabin
New log construction (corner piece of log home under construction image by Scott Patterson from

Scribing logs means that logs are cut and formed in such a manner that two adjoining logs fix together as tightly fitted pieces of a puzzle. The natural shape of the log is followed so that two logs fit together seamlessly. Full-scribe log joinery is the oldest form of log home construction, utilising centuries-old techniques that have remained virtually unchanged. Scribing is an art that requires time, great patience and knowledge-based experience.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • House logs
  • Log-scriber tool

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  1. 1

    Research and purchase a quality log-scribing tool. Choose a well-balanced tool with a comfortable ergonomic grip. Select a scribing tool that is non-slip, good in all weather and all seasons. Select the easiest-to-hold tool that fits your hand. Choose a padded, insulated grip, warm to hold in winter. An aluminium scribe draws the heat out of your hands in cold weather. Select a tool with a textured grip that is comfortable to hold even when wet. Purchase a scribing tool manufactured from non-rusting material, with firm balanced pens and levelling bubble. When building a log home, your scribing tool will be one of the most valued tools you will require. Do not compromise on quality and workmanship.

    How to Scribe Logs for a Cabin
    Log end (log image by Atovot from
  2. 2

    Use your log scribe for transferring the contours of one shape onto another. Practice on several test pieces of log prior to attempting to cut house logs for the construction of your log home. Your technique will improve with repeated attempts. Pay attention to detail and work with precision.

    How to Scribe Logs for a Cabin
    Log construction (log home manufacturing image by Scott Patterson from
  3. 3

    Stack round, peeled logs horizontally as the structure is erected. Use a log scribe to trace the contour of the top of the bottom log to the bottom of the top log. (When constructing a chink-style house, just the notch area is scribed. In a scribe-fit house, both the lateral and the notch are scribed.) After scribing, roll the top log over. The lines that were drawn with the scriber on the underside of the upper log become the outside edge of the cuts to be made.

    How to Scribe Logs for a Cabin
    Read instructions (reading instruction manual image by Leticia Wilson from
  4. 4

    Use a chainsaw to carefully cut along the scribe line.

    How to Scribe Logs for a Cabin
    Chain saw (cutting with chainsaw image by KtD from
  5. 5

    Employ a hand axe or sharp chisel and hammer to remove any excess material along the scribe line so as to achieve a tight, weatherproof fit.

    How to Scribe Logs for a Cabin
    Hand axe (Axe in the wood image by yokulla from
  6. 6
    How to Scribe Logs for a Cabin
    (cutting with chainsaw image by KtD from
  7. 7
    How to Scribe Logs for a Cabin
    (Axe in the wood image by yokulla from

Tips and warnings

  • Use well-sharpened tools to achieve clean cuts.
  • Always use ear and eye protection when using a chain saw. Observe all safety precautions carefully.

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