Ned Thilo built and then wrote this article about his “twisted chimney” and his suggestions for improving cordwood construction. He is a regular mason and has some good tips about working with his “mix.”
“My name is Ned Thilo I am a mason from Lancaster Pennsylvania, I built this as a prototype for my ongoing cottage project and as an example of green building for a home and garden show, I built it in a day and a half using recycled materials, and temporary mortar made from sand, lime, and fire clay, I learned that cordwood is a fast and easy building system though I believe it should be used as infill and not play a structural role as expansion and contraction will place fatigue on the structure, a mistake I’ve changed in my cottage.”
I am a traditional mason I have a few suggestions to the cordwood community that I think may be beneficial, a mud use 1/3 lime 1/3 clay 1/3 sand add straw if your like “It’s what we use for chinking old log homes”. to help with shrinkage cover the wall with damp burlap “It’s what we do in repointing.” tight is right lay your pieces in thin mortar beds no need for all that mud it’s only gonna crack. avoid running joint’s best way to deal with this is to cut some of your wood into flat halves and thirds. Have fun! it’s easy and you can split the wood quickly to make nearly any shape or image you can imagine.”
My folk’s place burned down at the end of 2021, I’d never have gotten this thing done had it not happened they paid me to wrap it up, the masonry sat for years I think I had the logs peeled and waiting for 10 nearly done now
The masonry mix is clay, sand, and hot lime The bark comes right off of standing dead ash on account of the beetle, this is mostly junky Maples. I’m gonna whitewash all the logs with some borax to keep the bugs away
Should you get interested and want to build one that is warm and energy-efficient? Want to learn from other’s mistakes and not have to repeat them? Then you should get a copy of Cordwood Construction Best Practices.