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Course Outline

Log Building courses at the Pat Wolfe Log Building School are held every spring and fall. They are essentially hands-on courses in which about 75% of the students' time is spent "learning by doing". As far as possible, classroom-style instruction is confined to periods of rainy weather.

Three different lengths of courses - ONE WEEK, FOUR WEEK AND TEN WEEK - all begin on the same day and all run basically together.

  • WEEK ONE is of essential importance because it covers the fundamentals of scribed-fit log building. Students in all three courses therefore work together. Each student practices on a log "in the woodpile", progressing step-by-step through the basic skills and procedures.
    • MONDAY of  Week One is TOOL DAY. Students are introduced to all the main log-building tools. Demonstrations and explanations are given of proper tool use, maintenance and sharpening. In the afternoon a tool company visits the school. By the end of the day, all students are in possession of their tools (some are essential; others, optional), have properly sharpened all cutting edges, and are ready for work.
    • TUESDAY focuses on CHAINSAWS and on SCRIBING. Students learn chainsaw SAFETY and acquire basic chainsaw skills. They also acquire, through practice, the essential skill of accurately scribing an outline of the contours of one log onto the surface of a second log.
    • On WEDNESDAY students learn to carve a ROUND NOTCH with a chainsaw. Late in the day, each student will scribe, carve and test-fit his or her first complete round notch.
    • THURSDAY covers the laying out and cutting of (a) LATERAL GROOVES, (b) MORTISES and TENONS, (c) LINTELS and (d) SILL LOGS.
    • FRIDAY morning covers the laying out and cutting of FLOOR JOISTS. The afternoon is then devoted to the theory and practice of building ROOF SYSTEMS out of round logs. This is the final day for students in the One Week course.
  • In WEEKS TWO AND THREE, students in the Four Week and Ten Week courses begin BUILDING A LOG HOUSE with 1 1/2 stories, a second-story floor system and a decorative log porch. They prepare a temporary foundation of log piers, cut and lay the four sill logs and then begin cutting and setting the wall logs and porch logs.
  • In WEEK FOUR, the Ten Week students continue working on walls while the Four Week students build a single but complete ROOF TRUSS. This is the final week for the 4-week students.
  • In WEEKS FIVE, SIX, SEVEN and EIGHT, the Ten Week students are divided into two groups exchanging tasks every week. One group continues working on the WALLS, while the other works on the ROOF SYSTEM (log trusses, ridgepole, purlins and log-framed gable ends).
  • In WEEK NINE, all students work on the FLOOR-SYSTEM of the second story. By the end of the week, the building is ready to be moved to its permanent site.
  • In WEEK TEN, (Unforseeable circumstances notwithstanding) with the help of a crane, students dismantle the house, load all logs and roof-system components onto a truck, transport them to the final site, unload them and then reassemble the whole house on a permanent foundation. Lastly, all door and window openings are cut out. On the second last day of Week Ten a comprehensive written and practical test is given, and diplomas are presented. The final day is given over to a general cleanup, followed by farewells.

Evenings and weekends are free. Students are advised to spend some time every day sharpening tools and reviewing notes.

The house built during the course is sold at a reduced price, as a student-built building.

The ONTARIO SCHOOL SITE's quiet rural location and nearby lakes and rivers encourage fishing, swimming, canoeing and hiking. Further afield, the nation's capital is only a 50 minute drive away. And an hour from Ottawa, the largest log structure in the world can be visited in Montebello, Quebec.

  • The ONE WEEK course is essentially a hands-on introduction to log building.
  • The FOUR WEEK course is intended primarily for prospective owner-builders.
  • The TEN WEEK course is highly recommended for owner-builders, but in addition it is by far the most appropriate course for those seeking a career in log-building.
  • Many TEN WEEK graduates find employment in the log building industry.
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