Cordwood Construction • Insteading

cordwood shed plans

Cordwood Construction

Cordwood sheds and cabins; sometimes known as Stackwall, Stovewood, Firewood or Cordwood Masonry.

How Cordwood Construction Works

Short lengths of debarked trees (cordwood) are laid with a mixture of mortar and insulating materials – such as sawdust or spray foam – in between the mortar. The longer the length of the logs, the better the insulation qualities. 12 inches to 18 inches is most common and wood species will also determine insulating value. On average, a 12 inch wide wall will have a 20-25 R value. Cabin by Rob Roy. Image by Pseu (Sioux) / Flickr.

A two to three foot overhang (eave) is often recommended when cob or lime putty mortar is used in place of a cement mortar. Typically the logs are not coated with a moisture barrier, but are allowed to breath naturally. By Tony Wrench at Green Hamlet in Pupki, Poland. More information is available at That Roundhouse.

Amazing Cordwood Construction Around The World: Cordwood Sheds

Thatched-Roof Shed

Cordwood Shed with a thatched roof. An overview by the builders is available on their website, roofthatch.com.

Cordwood On Decatur Island

Gail and Mark Dupar’s cordwood shed on Decatur Island in Washington’s San Juans. Image: John Granen, Kathleen Brenzel, drummondhouseplans.com

Stacked Cordwood

Piet Hein Eek for Hans Liberg, pietheineek.nl. Go to their website for more information.

Another view of this cordwood shed. This photograph shows how the designers have used cordwood on the window covers as well. Piet Hein Eek for Hans Liberg, pietheineek.nl.

Cordwood Queen

By Netonia Yalta, the Cordwood Queen of the Queen Charlotte Islands, BC, daycreek.com. Additional information about cordwood is available on Daycreek’s website.

A post shared by Daniel Baumgartner (@baumiel) on Jul 7, 2017 at 12:09am PDT

Cordwood is great for building a shed in the backyard. If you use cordwood, the smaller building pieces mean you have many customization options available.

Earthwood Building School

Stoneview at Earthwood Building School. Cordwoodmasonry.com has more information about building with cordwood.

Cordwood On The Appalachian Trail

Cordwood half timber on the Appalachian Trail. Image by Philip Shirk, originally provided at “picasaweb.google .com/lh/photo/0EqkiUqHyZEEq-6ydfCelg.”

The Pole Shed

Cordwood Pole Shed at Treehaven. The wood shingles compliment the overall rustic feel of this shed. Daycreek.com provides more information on their website.

Shed From Ireland

Irish Cottage Shed in a garden show. This photo, and more, can be found at daycreek.com.

Georgeson Botanical Garden

Cordwood shed at Georgeson Botanical Garden, Alaska.

Basic Shed

Cordwood shed by Dana. Workshops on how to make cordwood structures, along with this image, are available at daycreek.com.

Beginning Construction

Cordwood Shed by Tom Huber at Paul Smith’s College, NY. Visit daycreek.com for additional information on constructing a cordwood structure.

Cordwood Tiny Home

This tiny house owner used cordwood to build their home. Using the different shades of wood, they created a beautiful design around their home.

Cellulose Enhanced Mortar

Cordwood Shed by Tom Huber – CEM Cellulose Enhanced Mortar was used for this project. Go to daycreek.com for additional information.

Kentucky Cordwood Shed

Cordwood shed by Homegrown in Kentucky. This photo was originally found at “homegrownhideaways. org/naturalbuilding.aspx.”

Amazing Cordwood Construction Around The World: Cordwood Workshops

Workshop With A Living Roof

Straw bale and cordwood workshop in eastern France with (a gorgeous) living roof by Thierry Dronet. Image by Catherine Wanek, shelterpub.com.

Cordwood In Ontario

Cordwood workshop in Ontario built by John Ötvös in 1973. This photo was found at “greenerbuilding. ca.”

Cordwood workshop in Ontario built by John Ötvös in 1973. Originally, this photo was found at “greenerbuilding. ca.”

Amazing Cordwood Construction Around The World: Cordwood Saunas

Inside A Cordwood Sauna

Cordwood masonary sauna. West Chazy, NY. Additional information is available at cordwoodmasonry.com.

Small And Simple

The decorative cordwood pieces add a touch of class to this sauna.

Polish Cordwood Sauna

Cordwood sauna by Organica, Poland. Feel free to visit organica.net.pl for more inspiration.

Cordwood Masonry

Cordwood masonary sauna. West Chazy, NY. More examples are available at cordwoodmasonry.com.

Earthen Design

Sauna by Rena Upitas, Ontario, renaupitis.com. Visit their website for additional information on this project.

Shed From Cordwood

Cordwood shed by Camaria. Daycreek.com provides more examples on their website.

Covered Addition

Maple Sugar Shack Shed built at a Richard & Becky Flatau workshop. The workshops are available at daycreek.com.

Sauna With A Bench

The wooden bench is a great addition to this cordwood sauna.

Green Roof

Green Roof by Wildwood Landscapes, www.wildroof.co.uk. Their website provides a deeper look into other projects.

Italian Shed

Cordwood Shed. Pellizzano, Val di Sole, Trentino, Italy. Photo: Marvin 345. Via: Avantgardens.org.

Amazing Cordwood Construction Around The World: Cordwood Cabins and Houses

Cordwood Hobbit House

Hobbit House with living roof by Rena Upitas, Ontario. The living roof provides insulation to the house, which is used by guests. Additional work can be seen at renaupitis.com.

Rustic Cabin

John Meilahn’s cabin, Copper Harbor, Michigan. The flowers soften the sterile appearance of the mortar used in constructing this cordwood cabin. Cordwood Construction / Facebook.

Modern Cordwood

The uniformity of the cordwood makes this cabin look like it’s made from brick, rather than wood.

Sojourn Cabin

Sojourn Cabin from sojourningboston.blogspot.com. More cabins can be seen on their website.

Using Large Cordwood

Cordwood Cabin by Rob Roy from his ‘The Sauna, A Complete Guide’: books.google.com.

Writer’s Getaway

Olle Hagman built this writer’s cabin in Sweden as a get away from his teaching job. He wrote two articles for the Cordwood Conference Papers 2011: A Social History of Cordwood Houses in Sweden and Norwegian Cordwood Wall Technique. For more information and more pictures see: Cordwood Construction.

Backside of above cabin. Ole Hagman has documented 150 cordwood homes that have been built in Sweden since the 1850s. Ole built this cabin while he was learning and researching cordwood. Cordwood Construction has more examples available on their website.

Cabin From Colorado

A post shared by Edison & Luna Doodles (@rob7689) on Aug 8, 2017 at 5:24pm PDT

Cordwood is a great material for building. This rustic looking cordwood cabin is a perfect get away.

Cordwood In Brazil

Ecocentro IPEC, Brazil, ecocentro.org. The EcoCentro IPEC has more information about living a greener life on their website. Photo: Felipe Gil / Flickr.

Cordwood Construction Around the World: Cordwood Everything

Decorative Shed

Garden shed/chicken coop by Netonia Yalta in British Columbia, Canada. Cordwood Construction / Facebook.

Cordwood Flooring

A post shared by Sway & Co. Interior Design (@swayandcompany) on Jan 7, 2017 at 1:50pm PST

A cordwood project doesn’t have to include a wall. This floor is a great example of using cordwood for other parts of the home.

Classroom In The Forest

Woodland classroom with fireplace wall by Ben Law. Cordwood masonry is easy, economical, aesthetically striking, energy-efficient, and environmentally sound. Originally, this photo was found at “permaculturemagazineeditorial.blogspot. com/2010_09_01_archive.html.”

Glass And Cordwood

Special Effects at Mushwood by Rob Roy. The light shines through the glass, illuminating the wall in brilliant colors. More designs can be found at daycreek.com.

This creation is part of Rob Roy’s “Easter Island Wall.” He uses glass, wood, and mortar to bring this wall to life.

Cordwood Owl

A post shared by Matt Cox (@ranc >Apr 21, 2017 at 11:58pm PDT

Don’t forget to have fun building your cordwood structure, unique wood pieces can be transformed into a work of art.

Solar Springs Lodge

Solar Springs Lodge, permacultureglobal.com. Visit their website for more information about this project.

The Spinning Wheel

Cordwood siding depicting a spinning wheel by Bob Gormley, Starwood Store, Backus, MN. Bob painted the back plywood with a durable exterior grade paint. He then marked the 1.5 inch thick cordwood discs in place, then drilled 2 or 3 small holes in the plywood. Then he would hold the disc back in place and have someone screw it from the inside. Other inspirational works of art can be found at daycreek.com.

Solar Flare

Cordwood wall in British Columbia. Additional information and photographs of cordwood pieces can be found on daycreek.com.

Mermaid Cottage

Mermaid Cordwood Cottage in Del Norte, Colorado. Go to Cordwood Construction’s website for additional information.

How To Do Cordwood Construction

  • Cabin in Tasmania theownerbuilder.com
    White Earth Reservation Cordwood House: daycreek.com
    Lot’s of detailed how to here – Build a Cordwood Sauna: books.google.com

Mortar Mix Possibilities For Cordwood Construction

  • Lime putty mortar—lime makes the mix plastic—dates back to 400 BC: Pure lime and sand; or 9 parts sand; 3 soaked sawdust; 2 Portland; and 3 hydrated lime –
  • Papercrete (paper enhanced mortar)
  • Cob mix (1 part clay, 4 parts sand mixed with straw and more…)

Insulation For Cordwood Construction

  • Sawdust has an insulative value of about R-3 per inch (add hydrated lime as a preservative).
  • Vermiculite and Perlite are also good insulators.

Wood Types for Cordwood Construction

  • Softwoods are best. Cedar has a good R-value (1.5 per inch) and is naturally decay resistant. The best softwoods: white cedar, white pine, cottonwood, poplar, red cedar, spruce or larch followed by hemlock and poplar.
  • Hardwoods have a tendency to swell and crack mortar joints. If all you have is hardwood, you must split the wood and let it dry for only months instead of years, otherwise it will expand in the wall.
  • For a 32′ x 36′ one story structure, you need approx 5 cords of cedar wood.

Cordwood Construction Resources

  • Earthwood Building School’s full length how-to videos. cordwoodmasonry.com
  • Best Practices with Cordwood Construction By Richard Flatau thenauhaus.com
  • Yahoo cordwood forum: www.groups.yahoo.com
  • Info on spray foam and double walls: daycreek.com
  • More photos: daycreek.com
  • Table of Insulation R Values – inspectapedia.com

Cordwood Construction Workshops

  • Earthwood Building School. North Chazy, NY. cordwoodmasonry.com

The Best Cordwood Construction Books

Cordwood Building: The State of the Art, Rob Roy (Editor)
Collects the wisdom of more than 25 of the world’s best practitioners, detailing the long history of the method, and demonstrating how to build a cordwood home using the latest and most up-to-date techniques, with a special focus on building code issues. Author/editor Rob Roy has been building, researching, and teaching about cordwood masonry for 25 years: and, with his wife, started Earthwood Building School in 1981. Information about what species of wood are best, how to select, prepare and store the wood.

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Written by Keiren

Keiren is an artist who lives in New York City. A lover of animals, nature, science & green building. Keiren originally founded Inspiration Green in 2007, which merged with Insteading in 2016.

18 Comments

Ok guys sorry for the raw comments. In my oiinpon depending on where you live the best cord wood to use for your structure would surely be what is native around you and available free or for the work of getting it. If you live in Florida cypress wood is best or long leaf yellow heart pine. If you are from the north locust is best. if you are from the west say northern california redwood. All of these woods resist rot and fungus naturally. If you have to use soft woods you can treat it with non toxic anti freeze,borax and boric acid mixture and saturate the wood with it once a year and prevent fungus and dry rot and as a bonus it will kill termites as well. To make the solution you will use one gallon of nontoxic RV antifreeze, one pound of borax (20 mule team type) and one pound of boric acid. I have found that walmart has this roach pruf stuff for killing roaches(99% pure boric acid)for 3 bucks a bottle, powder form. In a bucket mix it all together till disolved and spray on wood till it runs off I usually go over the area twice..This stuff works..Do the research for your self if you like..Big Al

Shortly after my husband & I were married & visiting his ma in the northwoods (WI) he took me to a cordwood house. I’ve loved it then, & love it now.

Thinking it would be great for lower area of the barn I’m hoping to build.

I assume weaving some conduit into the walls while building would add electricity

I live in georgia and I am intersteded in building a cob house!

The thing that wories me is legalalty of building one.

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