Friday, March 25, 2016

The Difference Between Chinking and Caulking

All log homes need sealant to close the gaps between log courses. Because even machine milled logs won’t lie perfectly flush against one another, these sealants are necessary to prevent water intrusion and provide insulation. These sealants typically fall into one of two categories – chinking and caulking. Today we’ll compare the applications for both of these sealant types.


This is the type of sealant that has been traditionally used in log homes for centuries. It forms the characteristic white bands between the courses in older log homes. Whereas chinking was originally a Portland cement-based mortar, today it is an acrylic compound designed for extra elasticity and adhesion. Before chinking can be applied, a backer rod must be placed in the space between the log courses. This ensures a firm seal between the joints. Next, Chinking is applied over the backer rod, filling in the remaining gaps between the logs. The width of the chinking in a given log home will depend on its construction and the aesthetic preferences of the owners.


This type of sealant is only used in modern, machine-milled log homes. It’s very similar to the caulk you’ve probably used in your bathroom or kitchen. Whereas chinking is designed to fill broad gaps between courses, caulk is used to seal narrow gaps. Likewise, it doesn’t require backer rods. The caulking in a machine-milled home is more or less invisible from a distance. Caulk is also more elastic than chinking.

Whatever type of sealant you need for your, Schroeder Log Home Supply, Inc. can help. Browse our inventory online, or give us a call today for more information!  

Monday, March 21, 2016

Choosing a Tenon Cutter

Rustic log furniture is increasing in popularity, and many people are opting to build DIY log furniture and railings at their own cabin or home. There are a number of options available when choosing a tenon cutter. There may be other brands available on the market, but this comparison will focus on E-Z Tenon Cutter, Lumberjack Tenon Cutters, and Northwest Manufacturing Tenon Cutters. Scope, Style, and Size are three considerations you may use to help choose the right tool:

The first consideration is the scope of work or project. If there is a plan to make log railings or furniture as a business venture, then purchasing a higher quality but more expensive tool may be the right choice. If this is just a weekend project at home and the tool may seldom be used again, then a minimal investment would be preferable.

Weekend project:
Lumberjack Home Series, Lumberjack Commercial Series, or E-Z Tenon Cutter

Mid-range value:
Lumberjack Industrial Series or Lumberjack Pro-Series

In it for the long haul:
Northwest Manufacturing Tenon Cutter

Important to note is that all the tenon cutters have blades that can be both sharpened and replaced. So regardless of which brand is chose and how much wear-and-tear the tools actually get, it's possible to keep the cutting edge sharp with blade honing and eventual blade replacement.

The profile style a tenon cutter leaves on the wood stock can vary by brand and series. Some people prefer to see the two logs butt directly against one another, while others prefer to see the taper from the full stock down to the tenon peg inserted into the other log.

90º: E-Z Tenon Cutter 90
60º: Lumberjack Commercial Series, Lumberjack Industrial Series
45º: E-Z Tenon Cutter 45
Radius/Radius Shoulder: Lumberjack Home Series, Lumberjack Pro-Series

90-degree shoulder (E-Z 90 shown)
60-degree taper (Industrial Series shown)
Radius Shoulder (Home Series shown)

It should be noted that while many people leave the 60º or 45º taper visible for aesthetic purposes, some prefer to use a countersink. Tenon Cutter Countersinks are used to cut the funnel shaped impression into the post after drilling with a self-feed bit, to accept the taper of the log rail. This permits the ability to obtain tighter fits on furniture or to give a stronger shoulder fit on rails.

The size of the wood stock and the desired size of the tenon are two considerations when choosing a cutter. If one was to pick just one size of tenon cutter, 1-1/2” is probably most versatile. For most furniture having a 1” and a 2” tenon cutter would be preferable. Some projects with larger or smaller logs might require larger or smaller tenon cutters.
The E-Z Tenon Cutter gives an adjustable option to get a variety of sizes out of one tool. With other tenon models, you would want one, two, three, or more tenon cutters to use for cutting different components of the log project.

Most of the tenon cutters on the market will have options of size to fit the project. The three considerations listed above, plus a summary of each tenon cutter brand listed below may help to narrow your choice:

90º or 45º E-Z Tenon Cutter: Steel and aluminum construction.
Pros: Adjustable tool that can cut a variety of sizes (1” – 2-1/2”). Dual blade for 90º model. Comparatively inexpensive.
Cons: Requires an extra step of drilling a 3/8” pilot hole. The final product may be a rougher cut and require some sanding. Single blade on 45º model.

Lumberjack Commercial Series & Home Series: Die cast from A380 aluminum with powder coated finish.
Pros: Inexpensive option. Self-centering design. Dual blades that cut twice as fast as ordinary tenon cutters and generate less heat for long lasting service. Blades of hardened steel. 1/2 inch steel shank is threaded for easy replacement. Lifetime warranty for body and shank. Blades are covered for 90 days from the date of purchase for breakage under normal working conditions.
Cons: No IN-SIGHT measurement system (viewing slot on side) to monitor length of tenon or to insert quick-stop bolt. Fewer size options.

Lumberjack Industrial Series & Pro-Series: CNC machined from solid 6061 aircraft aluminum.
Pros: Self-centering design. Dual blades that cut twice as fast as ordinary tenon cutters and generate less heat for long lasting service. Blades of hardened steel. 1/2" steel shank is threaded for easy replacement. Patent pending IN-SIGHT measurement system of slots and radial grooves at 1/2" intervals for measurement of tenon length during cutting. Lifetime warranty for body and shank. Blades are covered for 90 days from the date of purchase for breakage under normal working conditions.
Cons: Higher cost than Commercial Series or Home Series.

Pros: High quality construction, long lasting. Adjustable shaft to allow custom sizing of the length of the tenons. Two high carbon steel blades.
Cons: Higher cost. Larger drill (3/4") required for some sizes.

The details given should help to make a choice when selecting the right tenon cutter for the work being done. If there are any other questions about choosing or using a tenon cutter, give us a call at 1-800-359-6614, or contact us through our website here.

Schroeder Log Home Supply, Inc

Friday, March 11, 2016

Which Packing Cup is best?

When using an Albion caulk gun for bulk caulking or chinking application, leather is a one-type-fits-all material for packing cups and is included with the gun. The packing cups are the plunger-type component that pulls the sealant into the barrel of the gun and pushes it back out. In some situations one may choose to replace the leather packing cups with a different type of material. Here is a general guide for when to use which cup:

#21-1 Leather:  Low friction, tough and durable, excellent chemical resistance.  Soak in motor oil to maintain.  May swell then break down when used with water based materials.  Oil more frequently or choose another packing cup for acrylics. 

#21-7 Impregnated Leather:  Similar to soft leather cups but stiffened with wax to reduce water absorption and blow-by.

#21-16 Nitrile Rubber:  Good seal, elastic, moderate friction.  Excellent for water-based materials.  Preferred by chinkers.  Not recommended for use with solvent-based materials.       

#21-26 Nylon:  (Not shown in image) Springy, moderate friction.  Better chemical resistance than Hytrel.

#21-24 Teflon:   Very low friction, excellent chemical resistance.  Be careful not to nick or bend out of shape.  Expensive.  Excellent for bulk or sausage packes.

#21-24 Hytrel:  (Stiff "H") Higher friction, good chemical resistance.  Sharp edge makes it excellent for sausages.

Using a Froe

By Paul VanKeuren, Customer Service   Everybody knows what an axe is. Many people know what an adze is. Who knows what a froe is? A fro...