Types of Log Notches

Traditional log construction can be used to create structures ranging from simple cabins to large-scale homes and resorts.

Dovetail

Builders use log construction to give homes a rustic, natural appearance.Builders use log construction to give homes a rustic, natural appearance.
Builders join these logs together using special notches cut into the end of each unit, which help to lock the logs together and form a secure and stable design. Different types of log notches affect the appearance, durability and performance of these structures.

Dovetail joints represent one of the strongest and most durable types of notches used in log construction. They are also one of the most difficult to create requiring a high degree of skill. A full dovetail notch features a slanted cut on both the top and bottom of a log, while half dovetail notches are cut only along the top. These cuts are angled so water slopes away from the structure, which helps to reduce the risk of moisture damage over time.

Saddle

Saddle, also known as cope or round notches, consist of a rounded void cut into the bottom of each log. When used with round logs, this notch fits snugly over the perimeter of the log below, creating a very secure, long-lasting structure. Typically, the notch is cut several inches or even a foot away from the end of each log, allowing the edges of each unit to extend out past the corner to create a decorative effect. Saddle notches represent one of the most traditional and widely-used forms of log joining.

Square

Square, or quarter notches, share many characteristics with dovetail cuts but tend to require less skill to create. Builders cut the ends of each log so they end in a flat, square shape. By stacking the squared ends on top of one another, users can create a structure with clean, neat corners. This type of technique typically requires a nail or screw backup to enhance stability and strength.

V

V notches resemble saddle cuts, but feature a triangular shape instead of a round one. The triangle peaks upward to ensure adequate water drainage and must be cut into both the bottom and top of each log. Depending on where the X is placed, the corners may take on a clean, square shape or a more complex crisscross design.

Interlocking

Interlocking notches consist of square cuts made near the end of each log. These cuts are made into both the top and bottom of each log, allowing the units to interlock very securely. Because of the complexity involved in these cuts, they are generally made by machines in a manufacturing or industrial shop.

About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.