Doors and Windows: Do-it-Yourself Log Home / Cabin

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There are several approaches to outfitting your log house with doors and windows, mostly depending upon the amount of time or the amount of cash that you want to spend. There is a tremendous variety of doors and windows commercially available from numerous manufacturers, and among them there are plenty of stock models suitable for a log house. Another possibility is to buy used units at secondhand shops, building wrecking yards, or anywhere else they might be expected to turn up. You can also build some of your own units, which isn’t as difficult as it might sound. And, of course, you can use some combination of all three methods.


A buck is just an empty frame, or sub-frame, into which a door or window unit will later be fitted, and is easy to make. The top is joined to the two sides with a simple rabbet joint (Fig. 9-1). If you wish, you can make a somewhat stronger joint by using a combined dado and rabbet, but this is not really essential. The bottom is made of the same stock (but often thicker) for window bucks, rabbet-jointed at each end but set at a 6-degree angle sloped downward to the outside for drainage. For an exterior door the bottom piece should be made of oak threshold stock. You can purchase thresholds already made up at a lumberyard, or you can fashion your own. Though oak is most commonly used, nearly any good hard wood will do. The buck sides are usually nailed directly to the threshold ends, without benefit of a joint. The threshold is set at a 12-degree angle sloping down and out.

The stock used for door buck tops and sides, and for all four of the window buck members, is open to choice. Because of the heavy, massive aspects of a log structure, thick stock seems to match up better than thin, and of course is stronger. Nominal 2-inch dimension stock or a width equal to the wall thickness works well. Construction-grade material is not the best to use if any part of the buck will be visible and uncovered by trimwork, unless you have some exceptionally good pieces of stock on hand. A clear, kiln-dried pine such as white or ponderosa is preferable in that case. Nail or screw the pieces together solidly and daub the joints with waterproof glue as you assemble them.

Interior door bucks are used infrequently in most constructions, but may be indicated in log partitions as a matter of convenience. Here again, the thick stock will probably look best, but kiln-dried, high-quality nominal i-inch stock is also satisfactory. Another possibility for either interior or exterior use is 5/4 (five quarter) stock, which measures an actual 1¼ inches thick and is available in various types of wood.

A buck can be used in either of two ways. First, you can install commercial or otherwise premade windows or pre-hung doors directly into the buck. Complete commercial window niuts already are fitted with outer frames as well as sash frames; that is, the glass is in stalled in a frame (the sash), which in turn is mounted in a larger and heavier frame consisting of head jamb, side jamb, and sill assembly. This is the way all openable windows are de livered (except for special orders and replacement sash), though fixed lights can be obtained without the jamb-and-sill frame. Likewise, pre hung doors are factory assembled with the door already hinged to a frame, and sometimes with a lockset installed. These frames consist of head and side jambs and sill for exterior doors, but are minus sills on interior models. These complete units can be installed directly in the bucks and anchored permanently to them. This means that the bucks must be perfectly squared and accurately sized for the specific model of doors and windows that will be installed. Alternatively, the bucks can be slightly oversized in all directions, and the units can be filled into place with shim wedges, aligned and secured, and the gaps closed by fitting molding or other trim all around both inside and outside.

In the second instance, the window and door bucks can be built right into the bucks, so that the bucks themselves become the head and side jambs, and sills if required. With doors, this is a matter of hinging the door to one side of the buck and installing the latch hardware on the other, then applying stop molding around the frame. Windows with glass already set in a sash frame are placed in the buck opening against a stop molding and trimmed out with a keeper molding. Or, stop strips and divider strips can be built right into the buck, panes of glass set in place, and keeper moldings applied to hold them. In this case, too, the buck becomes the jamb-and-sill assembly.

Fig. 9-1. A typical window buck assembly.


You can buy doors in infinite variety ranging from cheap hollow-core units to large and elaborate hand-carved types. But you can also build them yourself. There are certain types of exterior doors that are easy to make and lend themselves nicely to installation in a log house. Interior doors can be built in the same fashion, though you might prefer something a little more sophisticated, depending upon your decor. Some of the more complex doors, especially the paneled variety, require a consider able amount of skill, time, and equipment to build in a home shop. If you are a bit short on any of these, you will probably be better off buying instead of building.

Standard thicknesses for doors are 1¾ inches for exterior doors and 1 inches for interior. There are numerous standard opening sizes. The most commonly used heights are 6 feet 8 inches or 7 feet for exterior, and 6 feet 8 inches for interior. Widths are 2 feet (closet);

2 feet 6 inches, 2 feet 8 inches, or 3 feet for interior doors; and 2 feet 8 inches or 3 feet for exterior doors. If you build your own doors and frames or bucks, you can alter this standard sizing to suit yourself. However, you will make life easier for yourself (and any subsequent occupants) by adopting a standard width of no less than 3 feet for all doors (except perhaps closets), whether interior or exterior.

Batten doors are the easiest to build, and can be made in a number of ways. A Z-brace style (Fig. 9-2) is a familiar one that can be used for either interior or exterior doors or storm doors. Nominal i-inch stock will work, but for heavy, massive doors, 2- x -8 tongue-and- groove, bevel-edge decking planks are better. Cut a series of planks to proper length to match the door opening height and snug them together with pipe clamps. If you wish, you can apply waterproof glue to all the joints. Then screw and glue the Z-brace to the door back, using lengths of high-quality, kiln-dried ¾ or even 2- x -4 or 2- x -6 stock. Leave enough clearance at the outer edges of the Z-brace so that it will clear the door jambs. A similar system uses a double Z-brace, with the three cross- braces spaced down the door and the two diagonals between (Fig. 9-3). As an alternative, you could dado or rout appropriate wide grooves in the door and inlay the Z-braces, perhaps of contrasting-color hardwood.

Fig. 9-2. A Z-brace plank door is easy to build.

Fig. 9-3. In a double Z-brace plank door, the upper diagonal can be eliminated and lights in stalled.

Fig. 9-4.

Fig. 9-5. A Dutch door con be mode solid, or with lights in the upper half.

Another type of plank door is made of three layers of nominal 1-inch tongue and groove stock. The inside and outside layers run vertically, with a middle layer set horizontally (Fig. 9-4). The whole assembly is screwed and glued together and the edges trimmed for a suitable fit. This makes an exceptionally strong door. You can also face the exterior with thin log slabs that have been squared at the edges.

An alternative method of building either style involves making the core or center layer from a piece of exterior-grade ¾-inch plywood. Cut the panel about an inch smaller all around than the door size, and apply a full filler strip of wood that matches the door faces, secured with nails and waterproof glue to protect and hide the plies. The door face planks, one or both sides, can be laid horizontally, vertically, diagonally or double-diagonally, in a single or a double V, herringbone, or whatever other pat terns strike your fancy, including inlay and carvings.

Fig. 9-6. Use a cross-lap joint at each X center in an X-braced door

Fig. 9-7. The meeting point of the upper and lower halves of a Dutch door is fashioned in a rabbet joint.

Most plank doors can also be made in Dutch style, where the upper half can be opened alone or the entire door can be opened solid, or lights (panes of glass) can be installed in the upper half. Dutch doors are usually made with a rectangular outer frame and an X-brace in the center. A cross-lap joint should be used at the center of the X-braces (Fig. 9-6). The horizontal meeting point of the two halves is a simple rabbet lapped down on the exterior side (Fig. 9-7). In cold climates, a deep lap with a carefully fitted length of weatherstripping cuts down drafts.


Door hardware is usually composed of two or three hinges and a latch or lockset. In addition, there might be separate lock assemblies, barrel bolt, quadrant latch, and perhaps an automatic door closer or mechanical threshold weatherstripping.

Hinges for plank doors are generally heavy-duty steel strap or T-hinges. These mount fully upon the surface with long, heavy screws and are attached to the side jamb and to the door face or braces. Many varieties of these hinges are available, either in plated steel or a black antiqued finish. For heavy plank doors, use large hinges of high quality.

Either plank doors or other varieties are more commonly mounted with large, stout butt hinges. Surface-mount bull hinges can be used, but most often they are installed with one leaf mortised into the door edge and the other mortised into the side jamb. The ball-bearing variety is highly recommended for all exterior doors, especially heavy ones. Very heavy doors—particularly if they are of 7-foot height and/or frequently used—are best hung on three hinges rather than the usual pair. Dutch doors must be hung with two pairs.

Latches and locksets are available in incredible profusion and a wide range of prices, combinations, and quality levels. Different types are intended for different door functions, such as exterior, interior, passageway, privacy, closet, and soon. Consult your local hardware supplier for specific details.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about door hardware, especially locksets, is that the cheap stuff is just that, and the higher-quality and more expensive items are generally the best bet. They will last longer and perform better with minimal wear for many years. Installation varies considerably according to the particular hardware being used. However, most manufacturers supply complete instructions, often including marking templates, that are easy to follow and result in a trouble-free installation.


The easiest doors to install are the pre-hung variety. The door is already completely framed with head and side jambs for interior doors, plus a sill for exterior doors. The hinges are set and aligned, and sometimes the lockset is in stalled too. All that remains for the installer to do is set the complete assembly into the rough opening or buck, shim and secure it, remove the shipping braces, and apply the trim.

Separate doors are installed by first building the door frame of side and head jambs, with a sill for exterior doors and (usually) none for interior. The frame is then installed in the buck or rough opening. Or, the buck itself sometimes serves as the door frame. The door is trimmed to fit the door frame, allowing proper clearances, and the hinges are attached to the door and then to the side jamb. After checking the door swing for smoothness and proper closing, the lockset is installed, and door stop molding is applied around the head and side jambs. The final step is to apply the trim casing.

In most types of construction the door frame is nailed solidly into the wall opening frame, with shims set in at intervals all around the jambs for proper alignment. However, in log construction this method can lead to trouble. The shrinking and settling of the logs will soon tear things apart, so other methods must be used. The outermost framework of the door, whether that be a buck or a jamb assembly, must be installed with a slip joint. Several installation methods are possible. In all cases, however, there must be a substantial gap between the head jamb and the upper log course to allow for settling. This space may be as much as 6 inches, and if correctly calculated will reduce to no more than a crack after a couple of years.

One common installation method is to pro vide a wide slot down the centerline of the log ends at both sides of the door opening. This slot should be about 1½ inches wide and 1¼-inches deep. The slots can be cut in the individual logs as the courses are kid up, using a saw and chisel, or can be run freehand with a chainsaw after the walls are erected. However done, it is important that the sides of the slots be square and straight and that they align properly from log to log. A 1½-inch-square strip of wood is nailed to each side jamb of the door frame (Fig. 9-8). The complete frame can be slid into place into place after the walls have been erected to full door height but before the overhead log has been placed, or the frame can be set and braced and the courses built up around them. The latter system works particularly well where the frame stock is relatively thin, where foam weatherstripping is applied to the side jambs, or where a holding spline must be added to a commercial assembly that does not have pro vision for this kind of installation.

Fig. 9-8. Splined side jambs mote. With dodos in the Jog ends to form a slip joint.

Another common method is just the re verse of the above but involves more work and is applicable to frames made from nominal 2-inch stock. Here a dado is cut down the centerline of the side jambs, as deep as hail the thickness of the stock. A matching series of tenons is fashioned on the log ends to fit exactly into the jamb grooves (Fig. 9-9).

A third method makes use of a spline. A groove is cut down the centerline of the log ends, with a matching groove cut down the centerline of each side jamb. A barely snug- filling spline of hardboard or wood is then slipped into the grooves as the door assembly is set (Fig. 9-10).

Fig. 9-9. Dadoed side jambs mote with tenoned log ends to form a slip joint in this construction.

Fig. 9-10. Dadoed side jambs and matching dadoed log ends accept heavy splines to form a slip joint (sectional view from top).

No nails can be driven through the side jambs and into the logs, with one exception. If a door frame rests upon a solid foundation, or is notched down into a sill log or beam, the bottom ends of the side jambs can be nailed in place with no ill effects. Interior door frames set in stud walls can be shimmed and nailed in place in the usual way, but if set in log walls they should be installed in the same manner as exterior doors.

Exterior door sills are best not nailed down through the surf ace because the fasteners will eventually rust and become unsightly, and there is the added possibility of cracking and splitting around the fasteners and subsequent moisture entrance after a time, If there is access from below, however, you might be able to secure thresholds with log wood screws driven up through other framing members from beneath and inside.

Head jambs cannot be secured because there is nothing to attach them to the side. The door casings or framework must be nailed only to the side and head jambs, and not into the log surfaces except at the very bottom, otherwise they will eventually pull away. If there are gaps along the trim-work edges, you can stuff them full of fiberglass or mineral wool insulation. After the major amount of settling has taken place, seal exterior gaps with an elastic caulking compound.

The gap above the head jamb requires some special attention. In the case of an exterior door, a section of aluminum flashing is nailed into a kerf cut in the log above the jamb. This must be done before the log is set into position, when the job can be done easily. The flashing should ho bent outward and down ward to form a drip edge, and must be long enough to extend at least slightly past the outer edge of the head jamb. The space above the head jamb is filled with mineral wool or fiber glass thermal insulation. The insulation should not be crammed in, but snugly fitted with a natural loft. The flashing is bent down over the head jamb to minimize draft as much as possible, and a top casing is nailed to the upper interior edge of the head jamb to cover the opening and extend slightly above the bottom edge of the log.

Fig. 9-11. One method of providing a flashed head space above doors and windows.

Nail an exterior top casing to the upper edge of the head jamb, fitted up under the flashing. Neither piece should be nailed to the wall log (Fig. 9-11). As the wall settles, it will slip down past the window casing with no trouble, and the insulation will be compressed between the head jamb and the top log until it is tightly packed. Alter settling has about finished, it is a good idea to trim off a portion of the aluminum flashing so that it doesn’t hang down quite so far. Or, it can be lipped neatly over the edge of the casing and a small wood secondary drip cap attached and caulked in just above the window to aid in both appearance and moisture shedding.

Another method that works out quite satisfactorily where exterior casement trim is in stalled around the door, involves nailing a secondary header of nominal 1-inch stock to the underside of the log directly above the door head jamb and parallel with it. The outer edge of this piece should be flush with the extreme outer surface of the log. The space left between the log and the door head jamb is filled with insulation. The side pieces of the exterior door casing are nailed to the door frame only, not to the logs. The top door casing piece is nailed to the door head jamb (Fig. 9-12). If the door is exposed directly to the weather, a piece of flashing or a wood drip shield can be attached to the log above, keeping clearance for settling.

The installation of the door itself into its frame is not a difficult job, but does require patience and careful fitting. First, of course, the frame or jamb set has to be installed with both side jambs perfectly plumb and straight, and the head jamb perfectly level across the top. The corners must be squared to 90 degrees. Once that is done, install the trim casing on both sides of the frame. Trim the door to the size of the opening, less a clearance allowance of 1/16 to /32 inch on the lockset or latch side, 1/32 to 1/16 inch on the hinge side, and 1/16 to 1/32 inch at the top. The bottom clearance depends upon what the finish flooring will be and whether or not a threshold or weatherstripping will be installed. Exterior doors are usually trimmed to fit as closely as possible, while interior doors might clear the floor by a half inch or more.

Where butt hinges are used, they can be installed next, on the door edge. Most butt hinges can be taken apart into two halves or leaves, so the single leaves can be mounted with the barrels headed to the inside face of the door. The top hinge is usually mounted about 7 inches down from the top of the door, and the lower hinge 11 inches up from the bottom. If a third hinge is used, it is placed midway between the other two. Mortise the hinge leaf into the door edge so that the surfaces are flush, drill pilot holes, and drive the screws. Make sure that the screws are centered exactly in the hinge leaf screw holes and that the screws drive down perfectly straight. Otherwise, the hinge leaf will cock off in one direction or another by the force of the screw.

The door portion of the lockset assembly can also be installed now. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Standard knob height is generally considered as 38 inches above the floor, but this can be varied; logical positioning might be determined by the design of the door. Separate locks or latches are usually located a few inches below the knob, occasion ally above.

The next step is to mount the remaining hinge leaves to the side jamb, exactly matched to those on the door edge. Mortise and mount them the same way as on the door, keeping the centerline of the hinges exactly lined up with the edge of the jamb. Any misalignment will result in problems like rapidly wearing hinge pins, warped doors, mounting screws pulling loose, or a binding door. Remember the top clearance, too, and set these hinge leaves to allow for it. Then the door can be hung by mating the hinge barrel segments and slipping the pins in place. Complete the lockset or latch installation by mounting the striker plate on the latch-side jamb. If all of your measurements have been correct, the door should swing freely and be well aligned within the jambs. If not, however, you will have to do a bit of trimming with a plane or some finagling with the hinge positions.

Once the door is set and aligned, the last step is to install door stop molding up both side jambs and across the head jamb. This molding prevents the door from trying to swing back through the opening. Fit the molding with miter joints at the corners, and nail it up with 1½-inch brads or 3d finish nails. The squared edge of the stop should come just shy of touching the door surface when the door is in its correct closed position, and should not interfere with the closing action.

Fig. 9-12. This method of installing exterior doors provides head space and slip joints.

If surface-mounted hinges are used, the situation is a bit different. Here it is easiest to in stall the stop molding first. It is set back from the inside edge of the door jambs, and equal to the thickness of the door plus about Y64 inch for clearance. Trim the door to fit the opening, including the operating clearances, and install the latch or lockset. Prop the door in the opening. It is held up off the floor with blocks and wedged in place along the sides and tops with thin shims. Position the hinges, drill pilot holes as necessary—exactly centered through the hinge mounting holes, and drive the screws home. When the shims and block are removed the door should fit and swing true, and you can complete the latch or lockset installation.

Note that some carpenters prefer to only tack the door stop molding in place so that it can easily be adjusted for clearance after the door is hung; others put a few strips of thin cardboard or doubled-over paper between the door and the stop molding to “build in” the operating clearance. This clearance between door and stop is especially important if the woodwork will later receive two or three coats of paint or varnish.


The decisions you have to make in selecting windows will seem to be endless. First there is the style. One common choice for log houses is the double-hung style, where the bottom half slides upward to open and the top half slides downward. Each half of the sash can have any where from 1 to 12 individual panes of glass in it. Also popular is the casement style, which swings outward to open, either to the right or left. Most of these are fitted with one light. Awning windows, which swing outward and upward to open, and hopper windows, which swing outward and downward, are also widely used, usually as part of a larger combination window unit that might include fixed lights as well. Then there are the sliding windows, where one or more of the sashes slides to left or right; these are often fitted with one fixed and one movable sash. And, of course, there are fixed-light units that do not open, and various combinations of fixed and openable sash in the same unit. In addition, many commercial units are stackable, so that they can be joined to make up various combinations.

No one type is necessarily better than another, and each has advantages and disadvantages. The fixed type is the most weatherproof and easiest to seal, but of course can’t be opened. The double-hung and sliding windows are hard to seal off and most prone to air infiltration, but take up no extra room when they are opened. The awning and hopper types will seal well, but sometimes have to be positioned so that when they are open they don’t become a hazard for someone walking by on a deck, for instance. The hopper window will collect rain if inadvertently left open, the awning type won’t. Casement windows seal well, but when open can direct a gale of wind and dust into the house. What this all comes down to is that you have to weigh the factors, then make your own choice according to what seems best for your own particular installation needs.

Framing material must be considered, too. Standard wood framing is probably still the most popular. Though somewhat prone to warping and requiring periodic maintenance, the frames are thermally efficient. They can be given a natural finish that complements log construction very well, or they can be stained or painted.

Vinyl-clad wood frames have become very popular over the past few years. This system keeps the thermal efficiency of wood while requiring no maintenance. However, the color choice is limited to brown or white, and the vinyl cannot be successfully painted or stained. Also, some vinyls might crack after a few years of weathering and baking in the hot sun. Solid vinyl is being used more these days, and it has good thermal efficiency and stability. Metal frames—mostly aluminum for residential applications—are another possibility. They are long-lived but not necessarily thermally efficient, depending upon how they are made. Some types, in fact, can freeze tightly shut (or open) in cold weather. And many people do not care for the thin, narrow sash lines and the lack of wide trim that many models have. Again, your choice must be made by weighing the pros and cons as they affect your own building situation.

Consideration must also be given to the energy efficiency of the window units. This is something that was of little concern just a few years ago; not even the manufacturers paid much attention to it. Today, that has changed. The energy efficiency of window units is comprised of two basic elements: air infiltration rates, and radiation/conduction losses. The first has to do with how well the window frame and sash is constructed and weatherstripped, and how much air can seep in (or out) through the cracks and joints. The second depends upon the thickness and type of glazing materials used in the sash, and is intentionally varied to suit different purposes and conditions. The major window manufacturers now test their products and rate them for both factors. Thus, you an compare different brands, styles, and constructions of windows according to the manufacturers’ test results, weigh them against the other factors involved—such as style, size, cost, and appearance—and select the ones most suitable for your needs.

Then there is the all-important glazing to consider. Glass will most likely be your general choice, because plastics are seldom suitable for residential purposes. But what kind? There is plain window glass in single- or double- strength weights, or heavy sheet glass, the thickest of which is 7/32 inch. Many windows are glazed with this material. You can also opt for regular float (plate) glass, or heavy float glass, ranging from 3/32 inch thick to 7/8 inch thick; the ¼-inch regular float glass is a common choice for big windows. There are various kinds of tinted or coated glass products that work to admit light but keep out radiant energy, or are reflective, or act almost as one- way mirrors. There is low-iron glass, which lets both light and solar heat in, and keeps it there. Some glazings, such as patio doors, must be safety glass. Another kind of safety glass, more like the kind your automobile windshield is made of, is now available for residential glazing. This security glass a burglar would find virtually impossible to smash in order to gain entrance. And there are various kinds of frosted, opalescent, patterned, and decorative glasses that have their uses, too.

Each of these different glasses, and there are many within each category, has its different properties. There are various colors and tints, to begin with. The closer to water-clear and the thinner the glass, the greater the amount of available light will be transmitted through it. Window glass ¼ inch thick, for ex ample, has a light transmission factor of 91 per cent, while that factor for ¼-inch float glass is 88 percent, and for ¼-inch gray tinted float glass only 42 percent. The percentages of solar transmission likewise vary with different kinds of glass.

To make all this more interesting, windows can be obtained with single, double, or triple layers of glazing. The space between the glazing might be air, or gas, or under vacuum, or not. The layers of glazing can be of different types and thicknesses, which leads to all sorts of combinations, and which changes all the window characteristics. But it also means that you can “engineer” your windows to suit practically any imaginable situation. The way to do this is to gather up several manufacturer’s catalogs to see just what is offered, study the characteristics of the units, find out what special-order items might be available, and then tailor your selection to your needs. Above all, try to install the most energy-efficient units you can if you are building in a hot or cold climate, because the extra cost will be made up many times over in comfort, lack of problems, and fuel costs.


There is no question that outfitting an entire house, especially a big one, with factory-made window units is an expensive proposition. On the other hand, making openable windows is often a difficult chore for a do-it-yourselfer, requiring experience in woodworking and a very well-equipped shop, plus lots of time. There are many kinds of windows that can really only be made in a factory, using specialized equipment as well as materials not readily available to the ordinary consumer.

There are times, however, when making one’s own windows does make sense, and there are certain possibilities well within the capabilities of a do-it-yourselfer. Fixed windows can be made without much trouble, as can some openable windows. In locales where the winter weather is not very severe, or in cabins or camps that see only occasional or seasonal use, such installations serve well and are not costly. And one added benefit is that you can build windows in shapes and sizes that are not commercially available.

A single light (Fig. 9-13) can be installed as follows. First install a slip-jointed buck or frame in the rough opening, plumb on both sides, and level across top and bottom, and squared at the corners. Next, fit a rim of stop molding all around the inside of the frame at whatever distance from the front or back of the frame you want the glazing to be; this will be the exterior molding. If you want a deep-set window effect when viewed from the outside, put the molding close to the inside edge of the frame. For broad interior windowsills to hold plants or knick-knacks, place the molding close to the outside edge. The molding can be a standard pattern of your choice, a custom shape, or just squared sticks ripped out on the table saw. Mitered corners look nice, but aren’t really essential; the bottom piece must be cut at an angle to match that of the window frame sill (which should slope out and down). Install these pieces with waterproof glue and finish nails. If you choose not to use glue, a thin layer of construction adhesive will work, or you can run a small bead of caulk around the outside joint.

Have a piece of glass cut just slightly smaller than the frame opening. There are several kinds of glass that could be used, such as ordinary single- or double-strength window glass (the cheapest), float glass, or tinted glass.

Fig. 9-13. A simple method of building a window unit with stop and trim molding set into a door or a framed opening in a wall. The glass can be caulked or glazed into place and can also be doubled, depending upon local weather conditions.

Discuss the installation with your glass sup plier and follow his recommendations for which glass would work best. Your supplier might also be able to fix you up with some used float glass, which is often available as salvage from broken store-front windows.

Run a bead of glazing caulk around the in side of the stop molding and press the glass into place evenly against the molding, using sufficient pressure to flatten the caulk bead into a fairly thick film seal. Finish the job off by applying a second rim of stop molding around the inside of the glass, nailed to the window frame and also caulked in place. Don’t use glue on the interior molding, because it might have to be removed at some future time for glass replacement.

A multiple-light window unit is installed in the same way, except that divider strips are built into the frame first. These strips may be the same width as the outside frame, or thinner if you wish, so long as they are sturdy enough to give plenty of support to the glazing. The divider strips can be individually in stalled inside the frame, or built up as a subassembly—like a grid—and then set into the frame. The latter course is sometimes easier, but much depends upon the window design and size. The individual lights are then set against stop moldings as previously discussed.

Making your own openable windows means going back to some of the arrangements that were commonly seen in houses several decades ago. By far the easiest starting point is commercial window sash units, using just the sash and glass, not, a whole assembly. These can be new units that are sold by numerous manufacturers as replacement parts, or new fixed-light units without the outer frames, but a common choice is the sash from old window units that have been taken out. These are often available at building wrecking yards, second hand shops, and auctions. Another possibility is discarded wood-frame storm windows. The key is to find sash units of a size and configuration that suits your needs and that are well made, with sturdy wood components. You can also make your own sash by assembling a frame of ¾, 4/4, or ¾ stock—depending On window size—with splined and mitered corners, and inset with a sheet of glass.

Once you have the sash dimensions, then you can build bucks to suit them. There should be enough clearance on all sides to allow the window to operate; the exact amount depends on the thickness of the sash, the direction of swing, and the kind of hardware and weather stripping used. A stop molding must be built into the buck—to the outside of the sash position for in swinging sash and to the inside of the sash position for out-swinging sash (the most common arrangement).

Once the buck is installed in the rough opening in the wall, the next chore is to hinge the sash to the buck. You can set the hinges on either side, to swing the sash either in or out to right or left; at the top to swing the sash out awning-style; or at the bottom to swing the sash either in or out hopper-style. The choice is yours. Ordinary butt-type utility hinges, which are available in a range of sizes and several styles, work fine; mortise them in for a snug-fitting sash. In some instances, surface-mount hinges could be appropriate. On larger windows, full-length strips of piano hinge might be in order.

Add a knob or a small drawer pull to the window sash to operate it with, and one or two latch assemblies to keep the sash pulled tight against the stop when it is closed. Then you will have to devise some means of keeping the window in place when it is open. This depends largely on your ingenuity and what you might be able to find in the way of hardware in your area. The time-tested old arrangement for hop per windows is to attach a length of bead or small-link chain to the sash and the side jamb; the window can be let down to various positions by catching the chain on a smell hook. Traditionally, awning windows were simply propped open with sticks. However, both awning and side-swinging windows can be fitted with locking supports, much like card table leg braces (which also could be used), and it is also possible to purchase replacement-type window-crank and slide-rod hardware. These items can be adapted to about any kind of window, but a better idea is to build up the window unit to suit the hardware requirements if possible, because trying to graft in the hard ware after the window is all put together can lead to difficulties.


As mentioned earlier, installing commercially made window units in bucks is merely a matter of slipping them into place in the bucks and securing and sealing them. Some of the vinyl- clad window units are made with mounting flanges that are designed to be nailed directly to the outside surface of the walls. This will only work where the flanges can be nailed to the bucks and not to the log walls, and where exterior window casing trim can be installed to hide the flanges. A fixed or movable sash that is built up on the job site is handled as previously discussed.

In no case, however, should the side jambs of either bucks or commercial window units be anchored directly to the wall logs. The situation here is exactly the same as for door installations. Some sort of slip joint must be provided to allow for wall settling. The methods discussed earlier for doors work equally well for windows, the only difference being in the angle of the sill. The sill itself can be fastened to the log upon which it rests, the side jambs are fitted with a slip joint, and an appropriate gap is left above the head jamb. The frames of commercial window units in stalled directly into an opening in the logs and not into a previously fitted buck will probably have to be modified with slip rails, dados, or spline grooves on the side jambs. Caulk all seams and joints wherever possible or install foam or other weatherstripping, but in such a way as not to interfere with the slip joints. After two or three years when the settling is finally done, permanent caulking can be applied.


In areas where winter weather is severe, the addition of storm sash and doors helps to keep down heating costs and also reduces drafts. Various kinds of storm doors can be made in much the same way as the plank doors discussed earlier. They can be made of heavy planking, but usually are built from nominal 1-inch, tongue-and-groove stock. An alternative is to buy commercial storm doors that are either pre-hung or not, made of wood, aluminum, or steel, either single-purpose or combi nation storm / screen types. These doors are easy to install and are available in numerous styles for all standard door size openings. The pre hung variety, however, should be attached only along the sides to the exterior door frame or casing, and not to the logs or anything that might settle. Allowance must be made for the slip joint arrangement.

The storm sash situation can be handled in any of several ways. Some homeowners prefer to install permanent double glazing, or in areas of severe winter weather, permanent triple glazing. Houses designed for solar heating often use special glazing units that are not fitted with storm sash. However, separate storm sash can be fitted over any type of window, regardless of its glazing components.

Window manufacturers usually offer separate storm sash sized exactly to their own units. Separate storm sash can also be bought for standard sizes of double-hung windows, and in the metropolitan areas there are companies that will manufacture storm windows for nearly any applications. You can also build your own units, using either wood frames and glass, or purchase any of the several kit-type options currently on the market that employ aluminum rail frames and either plastic or glass for glazing.

Though most storm sash is mounted on the exterior of the window units, some is designed to fit on the inside. Either position works equally well, provided the sash fits snugly and is well weatherstripped and sealed to reduce air infiltration.

The usual criteria for deciding whether or not to install storm sash is the cost/benefit comparison, or payout period. By calculating the heat loss through the windows themselves, then recalculating the heat loss through the same windows fitted with storm sash, you can determine how much of a reduction in heat loss can be achieved. This can then be translated into the approximate dollar savings in heating cost for an average heating season effected by the addition of storm sash. This figure divided into the total cost of the storm window installation will tell you how many years it will take to recover the cost of the windows in heating savings. From a strictly economic standpoint, sometimes the installation is worthwhile, sometimes not. Other considerations include the work involved in taking the sash down in the spring and putting it up again every fall, extra glass to keep clean, and storage for the units when not in use. Among the benefits are increased comfort because of less air infiltration, and reduction or perhaps elimination of condensation and frost on the windows. When making your initial window choices, it is good to balance these considerations against the possibilities of installing double instead of single glazing, or triple instead of double.

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