When people ask me what I do for a living my answer is a simple one if I think they are just making conversation. “I am a carpenter,” I answer and leave it at that. If I feel that they are really interested, I risk misunderstanding and say, “I restore log homes.” Invariably they respond with, “Oh – you build log homes.” “No, though Edmunds & Company has done some new construction on existing log buildings, mainly what we do is repair and maintain log homes, not build new ones. We sometimes wash, or sandblast old finish, and apply new stain to the building. Often, before the finishing process, we remove rotten logs and crowns, install new ones, then chink and stain. Unlike many smaller log home restoration companies, we are equipped and capable of doing the whole process of reviving and maintaining a log building from beginning to end. I don’t want to sound like I am bragging, but I can say with some surety that we are “the big guys/gals on the block”.
A few weeks back we were working on a log home on Hungry Jack Lake on the edge of the Minnesota Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Adjacent to the house was Hungry Jack Outfitters and their rental cabins. I was staying in one of the small cabins during the course of the job. One morning I overheard one of their lodgers from another cabin say to the proprietor, “It seemed quieter next door yesterday, but the day before it was very loud. I could hear the chainsaws but what struck me were sounds that reminded me of dental work.” “It is what it is,” answered the proprietor diplomatically.
I have often thought of our work as similar to dental work. My daughter-in-law is a dentist, and my wife worked as a dental assistant in her younger years. Log home restoration and dentistry only share some terminology but the processes are similar and the results much needed.
The sounds reminiscent of dental work are the air guns holding chisel bits that we use to remove rot [read cavities]. Before using the guns we make numerous vertical cuts with chainsaws for easier removal. When you are inside the house, this sound – the revolution of the saw blade repetitively grinding into the wood – sounds almost identical to a dentist’s drill. Unfortunately, when having dental work done you cannot vacate your head. When someone is working on your log home, I recommend leaving your house while we do the work. The sound can be maddening, even when wearing ear plugs.
So we remove rot as the dentist does. Like a dentist, we prefer to leave the good parts and then install a “cap” over the material we remove. In other words, we would rather leave half the log and save the integrity of the wall by leaving the interior log intact, just as a dentist will cap a tooth rather than puling the the whole tooth (which in our case would be the whole log. In effect, we do crowns and bridges. Much of our work is preventative, like washing or sandblasting, staining and chinking. Just as going to the dental hygienist regularly can prevent the need for expensive repairs, doing routine maintenance on your log home might save you from more extensive and expensive work later on.
Whether it is going to the dentist or repairing your log home, a certain anxiety level is understandable. It is not only the cost, but also the impact of such radical work that can be unsettling. It is unarguably more important to maintain a healthy mouth than it is to keep your log home ship shape. Yet to ignore problems in either case, tempting as it is, spells disaster. Our homes are investments and more importantly they are shelters from the elements. As difficult and unpleasant as it is to keep them in good repair, the results are worth it.
Submitted by Jesse Sopiwnik