Author Topic: Chinking Recipe?  (Read 3608 times)

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Offline DBO

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Chinking Recipe?
« on: April 22, 2012, 11:32:33 PM »
It has also always been a dream of mine to build a log cabin. My husband & I are fortunate to have an acre of land in the high elevations of the Sequoia Nat’l Forest in CA. We heard of someone who had a dovetail jig and could rough cut wood for us so to make a long story short, my husband and I have been building a 1 room log shed/ sleeping cabin that will be ‘off the grid'. We didn't have a plan and have been just building it and figuring it out as we go. Our place is not accessible in the winter so we can only work on it in the summer when we go up on weekends. Well it's going on 5 years now and we're still not finished although I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Although the hardest part is behind us now, we have been putting off the next step, which is the chinking, because we’re not exactly sure about how to go about it. Our logs are 6" x 10" thick and dovetailed at the ends. The logs were crudely cut so there is an inconsistent gap of about 3/4" to 1-1/2" between each log. I know I can buy 5 gallon buckets of chinking but there is a lot to chink and I am very frugal (we will probably only have about $4,000. into our shed/sleeping cabin by the time we are done, not counting the chinking). It is just at the square footage that does not require us to get a permit.

I had a bunch of old fiberglass insulation so I stuffed a couple inches into the middle of each 6" deep gap. Then I stuffed some chicken wire on both sides of the insulation so that whatever I chink it with will have something to bite onto and if/when the chinking cracked, it wouldn't fall out. What I am hoping to chink it with is some kind of concrete/mortar recipe. We have tons of decomposed granite all around us up there so that would be a free material if I can incorporate some of it. Does anyone in this group know of a recipe I can use or any tips on chinking? Like I said, this cabin is VERY crude so I do not intend to make it airtight and I will only be using it in the summer months. I was going to post a couple pictures but I can't figure out how.

Any help or suggestions will be appreciated.
Thanks!
Jennie

Offline Redoverfarm

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Re: Chinking Recipe?
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2012, 02:41:53 AM »
 w* Jennie

DBO  here is a recipe that I used on mine.  There is some good information both before and after this particular entry which might be helpful.  I used the rabbit wire because it was stiff and would not move like chicken wire( too flexible).  Make sure that it does not move or as you work and move down the line the chinking will fall out behind you. In addition I used rigid insulation in the middle of the logs as the mortar is wet and I didn't want the loose fiberglass to wick the water out of the mortar.  The biggest problem that you will have is it drying out before you are able to get it smooth so work in managable distances.  I don't particularly like pre-mixed mortars and preferred to mix my own buying bulk bagged mortar and yellow mason sand.  Use like containers when measuring each component. Sort of like coffee cans.  Your mix will be consistant and stay the same shade of color.

If when you move down the line and find  loose wire don't hammer any other nails to tighten it up.  Get yourself some drywall screws and a cordless drill.  If you hammer nails close to where you applied new chink it will either slip or fall out. I put all my wire in at one time on the wall I was working on.  You can test the tension of the wire by just lightly tapping to make sure it does not move.  You do not have to drive the roofing nails flush to the wire.  You can leave 1/4" or so sticking up which will help grip the chink near the edges where the wire will not be.   

Oh one more thing.  Your mortar should be at a slight angle in the chink joint.  Meaning the top should be inset 1/2" or so with the bottom coming out flush to the log.  This creates a drip edge.

http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=3613.msg41707#msg41707 

On the Photo's it is really easy once you get the hang of it.  Here is a tutorial from Mountain Don on how to do it.

http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=11663.msg149858#msg149858

If you need any help just PM me.

John
« Last Edit: April 23, 2012, 04:46:01 AM by Redoverfarm »

Offline DBO

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Re: Chinking Recipe?
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2012, 08:07:31 AM »
John, Your log cabin is beautiful!!!  I will read the thread in detail this evening.  Are those old hand hewn logs?  Do you have anymore pictures of it? ...I can't get enough!  What did you use to seal the wood?  It's been 5 years and we still haven't sealed the wood on ours and the snow is taking it's toll.  Chinking and sealing the cabin are our main priorities this season.
Thanks for your help with the recipe and pictures (I didn't know that all photos needed to be stored offsite).
Since you are the first person I have communicated with that actually built a log structure, I have a lot of questions that I may be asking you.
Here are a couple of pictures taken a couple years ago (I haven't been very good at documenting our progress with our camera).  We have finished the roof and enclosed the outside.  Once I finish the chinking and seal the outside, I will be able to relax a little.
Thanks again,
Jennie


Offline Redoverfarm

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Re: Chinking Recipe?
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2012, 10:52:55 AM »
Jennie I sent you a PM.

Offline Don_P

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Re: Chinking Recipe?
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2012, 01:22:08 PM »
I went stiffer yet, expanded metal lath, lath wire. We applied a scratch coat first and then a finish coat later. When the finish coat is thumbprint hard I like to take a damp sponge and lightly remove the "cream" from the surface, exposing more of the aggregate. Everything else sounds like Redover's method.
Quote
Your mortar should be at a slight angle in the chink joint.  Meaning the top should be inset 1/2" or so with the bottom coming out flush to the log.  This creates a drip edge.
That should be written on your shirts front and back  ;D

It's been awhile but from memory (and everyone has a different one);
1 part white portland
2.5 parts sharp white sand
1/4 part lime
And repeating John again, mark your buckets, keep your sand covered and mix the same way every batch.

You can try a grout bag, a grout bag with the annoying cone cut out, drywall pan and trowels, whatever gets it on the wall to be tooled. I have no mercy on trowel tools, buy several and shape them as needed with a grinder.

Just for a blast from the past, these are some chink and daub methods from yesteryear.
Corn cob chinking with mud. The rot on these logs was largely caused by the 2 successive coats of lime cement mortar and then a portland chink over this, they had done a bad job tucking the mortar under the edge at the top. This invited water into the middle of the chink joints wetting and rotting the logs. This is the house that had a civil war sword hidden in the chinking.


This one is flakes of stone from the foundation and chimney work, parged with a sand-lime mortar. I like the head trim. You can see a flat split of chestnut driven into the next joint above as a chink and some of the yellowish mortar remaining. The notch would have held a joist.


This one is splits and chips from hewing the logs wedged in the gap and parged over with the same lime-sand mix. Lime whitewash on the logs, nice typical beaded floor joists that had been just as typically been lathed and plastered in some remuddling. The owner of this house remembered using confederate scrip as play money while playing in this house as a girl. All I ever find is the empty mason jars  d*


Offline Redoverfarm

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Re: Chinking Recipe?
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2012, 04:47:37 PM »
Jennie to try to answer your questions.  Yes they are " hand hewed" from about 1870 circ. In fact there are two different cabins placed together with a board & batten addition.  I had my logs treated commercially to prevent insect infestation with just the shell before doing any other work.  Once it had dried I used a waterproof sealer.  My thoughts were to trap the insecticide within the logs to prolong it's effect on mainly "powder post beetles".  Now that several years have passed I can see a few places (dust trails)  where they have returned.  I am going to try a different approach being that I am going to use Solubor which Don_P recommended. This is just one location that he talks about the mix ration and benefits. He mentions using anti-freeze to slow up the drying process to allow the solubor to pentrate further.  But I probably will not use it as I already have the chinking and I am afraid it will discolor it.  So I will basicly just mix with water. Do a search for it by him on the forum and there are other results.

http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=6997.msg90308#msg90308

I have several photographs of different stages in the construction which started in May 2006. Some or most are in my builders thread.  Here is the site they are contained in.  The earlier stages are contained on page 30 and the most recent on Page 1.  Excuse the drift occassionally but it is all me or mine and somehow related I think. ;D

 http://s220.photobucket.com/albums/dd161/redoverfarm/hightop/

Offline DBO

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Re: Chinking Recipe?
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2012, 07:38:28 PM »
Sorry I’ve been ‘off the air’.  Somehow I missed seeing the additional posts to this thread.  I thought I was suppose to be notified when a new post was added but I will check to see if that is not an option or if I need to change a setting or something.  I am in total awe over the projects I have seen on this site.

I just heard that the forest service expects to open the road to my cabin in a week or two so I need to get my game plan ready.  First of all, I haven’t sealed the wood yet.  Am I correct in assuming that I need to seal the wood before I chink it?  As soon as I can get in, that is the first thing I will do.  The logs are either pine or fir.  Can you recommend a good sealer?  Also, can I just brush it on or do you recommend I spray it on?  Do I need to let the sealed logs dry for a long time before I can start the chinking?

I am getting very excited to know that I am so close to finishing my cabin.  Thank you so much for the recipes too.  Looking at my cabin, can you ‘guesstimate’ about how many bags of cement, sand & lime I might need to finish the outside?  Is it ok to do the inside a couple of weeks later or is there an advantage to doing it all at the same time?

Thanks again for all the advice… I’d be lost without it!
Jennie

Offline Redoverfarm

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Re: Chinking Recipe?
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2012, 02:41:52 AM »
Sorry I’ve been ‘off the air’.  Somehow I missed seeing the additional posts to this thread.  I thought I was suppose to be notified when a new post was added but I will check to see if that is not an option or if I need to change a setting or something.  I am in total awe over the projects I have seen on this site.

I just heard that the forest service expects to open the road to my cabin in a week or two so I need to get my game plan ready.  First of all, I haven’t sealed the wood yet.  Am I correct in assuming that I need to seal the wood before I chink it?  As soon as I can get in, that is the first thing I will do.  The logs are either pine or fir.  Can you recommend a good sealer?  Also, can I just brush it on or do you recommend I spray it on?  Do I need to let the sealed logs dry for a long time before I can start the chinking?

I am getting very excited to know that I am so close to finishing my cabin.  Thank you so much for the recipes too.  Looking at my cabin, can you ‘guesstimate’ about how many bags of cement, sand & lime I might need to finish the outside?  Is it ok to do the inside a couple of weeks later or is there an advantage to doing it all at the same time?

Thanks again for all the advice… I’d be lost without it!
Jennie

I would be more interested in treating the logs with a Borate product first.  Not real sure of the dry time but I would imagine it should dry within 5-7 days sufficently enough to seal.  As for the sealer I would not skimp on this.  I am not a big fan of Thompsons at least the lower grade.  Maybe Don_P will chime in and give his recommendation.  These typically dry in 24-48 hours.  Yes I just added a couple weeks to your build time but in my opinion it is a neccessary evil.  You have invested alot into your project and you need these extra insurances. 

The coverage is hard to estimate.  I did have my coverage rate written down but it would not benefit you very much as my chink joints were much wider.  You will not be able to get it all done at one time anyway so I would start with a modest amount and then pick up additional mortar/sand as you progress.  Here sand is sold by the ton or 1/2 ton amounts.  You will need at least 1/2 ton and probably 4-6 bags of mortar (type S) to get you started.  Don't over buy the mortar as it has a tendency to get damp when not used up quickly.  DON'T mix up more than you can use in one sitting.  In fact I probably made 3-4 mixes from one bag. I used a Mortar Box to mix it was easier than a wheelborrow.  A mortar mixer was too much trouble and you can't use up the mortar fast enough before it sets up.  Should be able to use your trowel as a guide to the right consistancy.  After you mix take your trowel point down and drag through your mix. Once it pretty well stands alone or does not slump back together it is about right.  Yes it may occassionally fall out as you are applying but once you get the hang of it you will make it stay put.  Just don't apply too much pressure and shove the mortar all the way through the wire. 

The inside can wait. I would concentrate on the outside first and then move to the inside.  I would however install the lathe/rabbit wire to all (in/out) so that you will not be hammering and damage the outside finished product later.

Oh one more IMPORTANT thing.  Start in the back someplace where it is not noticable until you get the hang of it. ;)
« Last Edit: May 10, 2012, 03:02:24 AM by Redoverfarm »

Offline Don_P

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Re: Chinking Recipe?
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2012, 06:04:08 PM »
I do like to borate wood that is likely to get attacked by bugs or rot. You can do searches here and online and read up on it. It cannot penetrate a finish so goes on first.

Do not use a film forming finish on timbers outdoors, paint, varnish, poly. Multiple coats of about any finish can form a film. Large timbers check and the checks admit liquid water. Vapor, the way moisture leaves is many many times the volume of liquid water and if the logs cannot readily dry the moisture is driven into the logs and trapped behind that composting bag of a film. I've hollowed out logs by reaching inside and scooping out with my finger after this. If you form a film, and we've all seen a few old painted cabins to make a liar out of me, that film needs to be perfect, no bulk water can get in. To my mind the finish needs to be water repellant yet breathable. People smarter than me can recommend finishes or even not to finish, I'm generally disappointed when they don't last forever.

My preference would be to finish before chinking and seal the chinking with a silane/siloxane clear coat. But again you'll probably get a different opinion from everyone you ask.