Build Your Own Log Cabin

This tutorial is by Lana Hiemstra, owner and admin of the Small World discussion board. A great way to build yourself a dollhouse for just a few dollars! Click on the images for a larger view.

"Building log cabins the way I like to do it is easy and inexpensive. There are other ways to create mini log cabins, this is just one."

1. First you go to a lumber yard and ask for HALF-ROUND strips of molding used in real houses for trim. They usually come in 8 foot strips for under $5, and this will go a long way! The half-round "logs" are flat on one side and round on the other. The round side goes outside the cabin so that you have flat walls inside to hang items. You can, however, choose a full round dowel.

2. Next you must decide before you glue whether you want to stain the cabin, because glue doesn't allow for most stains to adhere. I understand there are special stains that do allow it though, in which case you could stain after assembly.

3. Next is cutting the lengths you want. You will have alternating lengths to create interlocking sides and back and to make it LOOK like a log cabin should. This also gives it great stability after it is all glued together.

The cutting takes longest to do but is not difficult. Be sure to get the edges straight, especially on the shortest strips that will form the inside wall. If there are gaps in the walls where the sides and back fit, they can be covered with miniature trim later, but getting the edges straight minimizes the gaps.

Here is a drawing of the sides, with the dimensions to cut:

The shortest lengths (9" in this case) will determine the inside dimensions of the cabin. The inside of this cabin will thus be 9" deep.

Next is the back:

To create doors and windows, you just cut those pieces shorter and align them.

4. You glue each side and back separately. You need a hard, flat surface to lay them on until they are dry so they don't get out of alignment. Glue the sticks edge to edge for each side and for the back, and leave to dry. I use tacky glue. It will appear quite flimsy at this point, but don't worry... when the sides and back are fitted and glued together, it is surprisingly strong.

5. After the parts are dry, assemble them and glue together with the flat sides on the interior.

Here's how it all fits together in an interlocking fashion:

6. Once the cabin is all put together and dry, you can add trim to hide the differences in length of the strips on the sides, and add other trim as needed.

7. Floors and roof can be made out of the same half-round strips, or you can use another material for them. If you make a two-story cabin, it will work better to make the cabin a little taller to allow workable space on the top story. You can determine the slant of the roof by the lengths of the pieces you cut...the less slant, the more workable space upstairs.

I don't like the looks of chinking material, so I don't use it, but some like the look of chinking better. There are many ways to achieve this, one easy way is to use twine. Cut to length and glue it into the chinks between your logs.

The possibilities are endless as to size and design. You can add room partitions, stairs, etc. at will. Here are a couple of finished examples:

A two-story cabin. This cabin cost less than $20 to make!

A smaller one-room sportsman's cabin.

Here's an example made by another member of the Small World group, using a flat style molding on the front (the type used for mounting screens on wooden frames.) The sides are made with the half-round molding.


mrsbanjoe said...

These are great instructions and give me an idea what we can make our daughter for her birthday! I am going to tag your blog so that I can add a link soon to the appropriate page on our site, - I think others will appreciate your clear and detailed directions as well. Thanks!

TreeFeathers said...

I'm so glad you like the tutorial - a girl couldn't ask for a better birthday gift than a dollhouse! Check back in a week or 2, I'll be posting a tutorial for making a fireplace.

Lana said...

That's great...I love the joy little kids and adults too get from minis, so you've made my day!
You can use any left-over "logs" to make some of the furniture too, as I did on the sofa, tables, and some shelves.
The cabins are again very strong once the glue dries, because of the interlocking ends.
If you get stuck, you can email me at, but it really is quite straight-forward, with lots of room for your own imagination.

Anonymous said...

This is excellent! Where do you find this stuff?

TreeFeathers said...

Glad you found it useful! :) Most of the tutorials I've posted so far were created by friends from various miniatures groups online. This one was done by Lana Hiemstra, Cabin Aficionado.


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