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Notching The Logs

A notch is defined as a concave or V-shaped cut or indentation in an edge or across a surface. There were six basic methods of producing a true corner-timbered joint: saddle notching, V-notching, diamond notching, full dovetailing, half dovetailing, and square notching. Corner notching on log structures can be used to specify nationalities within a geographic perimeter.
  • Saddle notching is achieved by cutting a U-shaped groove in the top and/or bottom of a log such that they fit together like Lincoln logs. This notch takes minimal skill and logs are usually unhewn.
  • V-notching is created by cutting an inverted V whose ridge is parallel to the length of the log at the top end. A similar but perpendicular inverted V is notched into the underside.
  • Diamond notching, the least popular notch, is created by clipping the 'corners' off the log, leaving a diamond-shaped end.
  • Full dovetail, the tightest and most time-consuming notch, resembles the dovetail joints in furniture. The log's end is a splayed tenon.
  • Half dovetail is similar to the full dovetail except that only the top portion is splayed.
  • Square notching is created by merely removing a 90° chunk from the top and bottom of the log, thus forming a tenon.

With the exception of square notching, each log is fitted into the ones above and below it, eliminating the need for nails or pegs. Each of these notches can be broken down into subgroups. For example, logs employed in creating the saddle notch can be grooved on the top of the log, just the bottom, or both top and bottom. Distinct terminology exists to precisely label the features of corner-timbered joints.

Saddle notching, V-notching, and full dovetailing were the more popular notches. The philosophy behind these notches was that no water collected in the joints, thus preventing rot. V-notching was more prevalent than the full dovetail on house construction. Saddle notching was generally used on outbuildings where the logs remained unhewn, but only the bottom notch was employed.


 

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