How to Cut Log Joints

Updated July 20, 2017

Wood has long been a natural source of building material. Timber logs assemble into one of the most basic examples of a wooden structure. Log cabins represent a rustic kind of living which is harder to find in the modern age. For some, a log cabin brings back memories of a childhood toy, while for others it is an escape from noisy city life. Log joints, like those used on cabin walls, are fairly simple to cut, though you may need help lifting the logs.

Sit two logs parallel on flat ground, so they do not roll, and place the log to be cut across the two. Make sure this log is level on the other two.

Mark the top log with the shape of the lower log using a protractor compass and pencil or crayon. The mark should be in the location you want to cut the joint, usually about 12 to 18 inches from the end of the log, depending on the length of the log. The top log should have a half-circle shape drawn on it to mark where the cut will be.

Roll the top log over and cut a "V" groove with a chain saw, using the draw half-circle as a guide. Make the cut on the inside of the marking, as it is always better to cut too little than too much.

Remove the remaining wood from the cut using a wood chisel or gouge and a mallet. Try to make the cut as smooth and round as possible.

Turn the log over and sit the joint onto the bottom log. If it does not fit, lift it up about one foot off of the lower log and allow the joint to drop down onto the bottom log. This will form a depression into the cut showing any other wood which should be removed. Repeat Step 4 and 5 as needed to finish the joint.


Use caution and proper safety gear when using a chain saw. Logs can be extremely heavy, so be careful not to drop one on your hand or foot.

Things You'll Need

  • Log
  • Protractor compass
  • Pencil
  • Chain saw
  • Wood chisel
  • Mallet
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About the Author

A.J. Hawkins began writing professionally as a U.S. Army journalist in 2006. His writing has appeared in numerous military publications, including "Soldiers" magazine, the official publication of the Army. He is pursing a Bachelor of Science in biology from Kennesaw State University.