Just like no two trees are alike, Andersen Log Homes Company makes each one of their log homes unique and different.
“No two log homes we have built are identical,” said Owner Jon Andersen.
Andersen Log Homes is based in the heart of Northern Minnesota and is known for building quality handcrafted log cabins, commercial structures, and homes. Andersen’s company uses a rare Scandinavian full scribe method, specializing in large timber and utilizing the interlocking “V-Joint” notch.
Based out of Walker, MN, Andersen started learning the logging trade when he was 19-years-old. He was looking for summer work, while attending Bemidji State. His boss at that time was originally from British Columbia and provided him with a wealth of knowledge.
“My boss asked me if I wanted to learn how to peel a log. Since my parents lived in a log cabin built in the 1920s, the whole idea fascinated me,” he said. “I learned quickly this was hard work and you had to love the outdoors.”
For seven years, Andersen worked hard learning the trade before going on his own.
“I literally had $300 in my pocket at that time. I went to the bank and they laughed at me,” Andersen shared. “I borrowed $3,000 from my father, bought an old tractor bucket and made a boom. We lifted the logs with those, and I have been busy ever since. I paid my dad back in six months.”
May 2021 starts the 41st year for Andersen as a handcrafted log home builder.
“Starting on my own in 1989, it has been quite the ride,” Andersen added. “We are just sending our 371st house, a big one out to Colorado.”
Andersen has built countless log homes throughout the Midwest, but also has sent log cabin kits close to the North Pole, at the top of a mountain in Wyoming and to California.
Selecting the Logs
Each log home Andersen Log Cabins builds is unique, with each log kit specially created and built to the homeowners’ specifications.
Andersen specifically hand picks out the logs for each home, whether he picks them within the forest or gets a call from a logger.
“I do a lot of picking myself, but I also have built relationships with loggers so they will call me if they have some that they know I will like,” Andersen described.
This hands-on process includes everything from choosing the logs, to cutting, and sanding the logs. Andersen selects logs mostly between a 14-16 midspan, which is the length at the log’s middle. He has built some large homes with a 30-midspan.
Andersen’s favorite type of trees are Eastern White Pine, which is native to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. He prefers to use trees that are native to the climate, but he has used wood from all over the country.
“I like the white pine because it is more energy efficient, but it can be harder to find,” he said. “It has a nice light color and there are some knots in it.”
For the roof, he prefers red pine which are easier to find and tend to be structurally stronger and longer.
Preparing the Logs
During the spring, once the selected trees arrive at Andersen’s workshop, he has a crew that begins debarking each one. Andersen has created his own tools for the process, and most is done by hand. After the bark peeling has been completed, the logs are set aside to dry.
“Everyone who starts here begins as a log peeler, which is incredibly hard physically. But you can’t appreciate the work until you do it,” Andersen said. “The crew needs to know how to do all of the jobs, whether it’s debarking or grinding. You work your way up and prove yourself. We will teach one thing at a time and once you get good at that you move onto other things.”
Andersen Log Cabins builds each specialized log kits at the workshop, log by log to craft the log shell. His dedicated experienced crew does all the crafting, inscribing, and log fitting. They inscribe a notch corner and lateral scribes in each one, fitting very tightly to the next log. The lateral is 46 inches and creates a cavity, which is then filled with insulation.
“We are the only ones I know that does this type of notches. My goal is to create a naturally beautiful energy efficient log home,” Andersen shared. “I’m thankful for my first boss who taught me so much about this process.”
Once the logs are all handcrafted, the logs are loaded onto semi-trailers and taken to the site. On average, a cabin uses between 65-70 logs, which includes floor joists, posts, roof logs, and entryway work. At the site, Andersen’s crew cuts all the door and window openings.
“To each site, I will go out with a crew of 5-6 people and a crane operator to unload the logs off the trailers,” he explained. “We then insulate each log with the Swedish Cope method.”
Each finished log cabin will be different and unique, just as each tree is different.
“I love this work! It’s really hard work and each job has a unique challenge, but I love seeing the homeowner’s face when the home is completed,” Andersen shared. “Many times, building a log cabin is a dream for these families and I take that very seriously. I want to make the process enjoyable. I also love working with all of the different general contractors and subcontractors, who also do such a great job.”
For more information on Andersen Log Homes Co., visit www.andersenloghomes.com.