Cabin restoration project – A cabin is (re)born!

“Another cabin post? Hey Weekend Woodsman, why don’t you just change the name of your blog to ‘The Cabin Restoration Project Blog’?” I know, I know. The simple truth is that I haven’t been doing any bushcraft, camping etc. since earlier this year because I’ve been spending my free time working on the old farm property. Now that the sauna building repairs are finished for the year and a professional has begun work on restoring the cabin, I can spend more of my free time on outdoor pursuits (e.g. Alex and I are planning an upcoming camping trip). But for now, here’s another installment of the cabin restoration project!

Last time around, I mentioned that any restoration of the old farm house has been put on the back burner due to cost and time constraints, and that for the time being the project will revolve around the restoration of one of the farm’s outbuildings instead. The building I speak of is called an “aitta” in Finnish, and the English translation for this word is usually something like “shed” or “grainery”, but I don’t really think either of these words are a good match. An aitta is a log building usually made up of two or three conjoined rooms, each with its own door to the outside. The rooms are unheated and can be furnished as living quarters or used for storage. I think one of the rooms in the aitta at the old farm may have been used to house animals, because it contains what looks like three animal stalls (this particular room will NOT be reused in this project).

The current phase of the project involves the dismantling, reconstruction and conversion of the other two aitta rooms into a  two-room cabin with a loft. The aitta in question:

Here’s what’s left of the building at its original site:

After choosing a new site for the building, the contractor broke ground:

In the ground around the concrete block and timber foundation, he constructed what’s called a “salaoja”, or “hidden channel” covered over with gravel, which allows rain and snow-melt to drain away from the building area quickly. This prevents the moisture-related problems which plague so many old log buildings in the north country. Following this, the contractor removed the tin roof from the aitta and carefully dismantled the building, log by log. Before he did this, though, he numbered each individual log to make it easier to put the big jigsaw puzzle back together again later. Then began the process of reconstructing the building on its new foundation. For insulation between the logs, the contractor used some sort of natural-looking fibrous material (I’ll have to ask him about this). In the old days, sphagnum moss and old clothing were used instead! The pictures below show the current state of affairs. The contractor is jumping back and forth between different projects at the moment, so the work will not be continuous. He put a tarp over the whole shebang to keep rain and snow out until he puts a new roof on, which is the next step in the process.

Needless to say, I am very pleased with the work so far. A cabin is really beginning to take shape. Before long, this century-old homestead building will be brought back to life, its latest incarnation being a 30.5 m2 (330 sq ft) recreational cabin!

Interested in seeing how log buildings like this were constructed? Check this out:

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14 comments on “Cabin restoration project – A cabin is (re)born!

  1. Rocky says:

    How delightful to see how it’s done! The drainage system is basic and yet so many forget it. I watched the video on building a cabin and the workmanship and tools was fascinating as well as informative. I couldn’t understand a word of the narrative but still found it interesting to watch. The axes used appear to be incredibly sharp! I’m still not sure of the purpose of the fill used in the video for the flooring and wonder if the drainage is long lasting? They’ve been doing it longer than I’ve been alive so it must work. With luck, someday I’ll get to make a visit to Finland. BTW, I’ve become the USA dealer for the SKRAMA!!

    • My guess for the fill under the flooring would be for insulation, but I don’t know too much about building (especially traditional building).

      Let me know if you every make it here. I’d be glad to show you around. 🙂

      Congrats on becoming the US dealer for the Skrama!

  2. Wade says:

    Looks awesome ! I love it ! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Nice work there!
    Good to see those old buildings being fixed and put to use again.
    Looking forward to the tripreport. It’s been far to quiet on both your blogs! 😉

    • Thanks for the comments, Ron! Alex was working out of town a lot this past summer and didn’t have too much time for outdoors stuff, and as you know I was working on the sauna building and other stuff. Now both those situations have changed, so I think we’ll be taking trips a lot more often. 🙂

  4. I’m really enjoying the cabin posts. It’s homesteadish. I think that homesteading and bushcraft go hand in hand.

  5. Skaukraft says:

    Good to see you are makin progress.
    The timber in the building seems to be in bery good condition.
    Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks for the comment, buddy. 🙂 That old storage building was at least 100 years old, if not older (the farmhouse next to it is 135 years old), so I’m very happy the timber is in such great condition. Of course there are a few small spots on the most weathered side that need to be repaired, but nothing major. I hope the building contractor has time to continue working on the project soon. He is mainly concentrating on larger jobs at the moment.

  6. OutdoorEnvy says:

    This will be a very rewarding project when it’s done. Looking good so far.

  7. The sauna is truly an amazing addition. Every bushcrafter’s dream, that cabin…

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