Pre-Conference Workshops


Preceding the main conference, the ILBA will be offering Hands-on Workshops taught by ILBA members, experts with decades of experience.  Participants will learn advanced skills in specific aspects of the industry. Spaces are LIMITED so register early!


Instructors: David Rogers and Doug Reed

Heritage Cabin Workshop

March 9-11, 2020

  • At this workshop we will be re-assembling a hewn half-dovetail log structure known as the “Chestnut Bluff Cabin” built in the 1800’s and salvaged for re-use. It is a dog-trot style, two individual cabins with a common roof and breezeway between.
  • We will be utilizing scoring axes, broad axes, adzes, chisels and other hand tools to repair/replace ‘in-kind’ the damaged and missing portions of this historic cabin. New Plate logs and Tie beams will be hewn and fitted. New Rafters will be ‘paired’ and ‘seated’ to the Plate logs. Other traditional joinery including wedged scarf joints will be incorporated into the work.
  • ‘Historic Preservation Standards and Guidelines’ will be extensively referred to, which we hope will initiate many conversations and begin a deeper appreciation for these heritage structures.
David Rogers

In 1972, David started his relationship with the Forest in Northern California, setting chokers for the logging industry. In 1983, he attended the B. Allan Mackie School of Log Building and Environmental Centre and began working for Log home building companies. In the early 1990’s, a US Forest Service Team hired him as an instructor to teach traditional log building methods for the purpose of repairing and restoring 1930’s WPA and CCC era log structures. It was during this period that ‘Historic Preservation’ became a topic of interest and fascination. Since then, David has contracted with Federal, State, County, and City Parks in an effort to preserve the old log structures. Many private clients have utilized his services to repair and rehabilitate their properties. Teaching the ‘old ways’ to the interested next generation is the purpose of this workshop.

Doug Reed

In 1972, Doug began his work as a Housewright, repairing and restoring traditional log houses. By 1977, he had expanded into a full range of services, including National Register nominations, preservation consulting, condition assessments and preparing Historic Structure reports. Doug has 47 years of experience as an Architectural historian, craftsman, and technical consultant. He has taught at the Chautauqua Institute, Universities and several European locations.

He is just getting started!

Workshop 2: DOVETAIL LOG JOINERY, March 9-11

Instructors: Matt Davidson and Higgs Murphy

Dovetail log construction is a method of building log homes that goes back hundreds of years.  At this workshop you will learn:

  • the math behind the compound dovetail, and why we select the logs we do.
  • to set up a log and scribe perfect dovetails in 7 minutes that fit the first
  • Cutting techniques with chainsaw, axe, and slick
  • adzing
  • two additional methods including the use of jigs.
Matt Davidson

After 4 years of standard home construction and 1 year of Cabinet Making, Matt pursued Log home building in 1994 when he and his wife built their first home, a French-Canadian style called Piece-en-Piece.

He worked under veteran Hand crafters until 2000 which took him or his work as far away as Alberta, S.Korea, and State Side. In 2000, Matt and his wife Alison started Davidson Log & Timber Artisans.

Davidson Log Homes became known for their own unique style, and have handcrafted log homes and Timber-frames from Colorado, to Nova Scotia. Most of their work is in their home province of Ontario.

Matt’s enthusiasm and skill for the craft of log construction is inspirational, and contagious. He inspires people to be the best at what they do.

Higgs Murphy

Higgs attended the B.Allen Mackie School of Log Building in 1978. Besides working for himself as a log home builder and Sawyer, Higgs has worked for many notable log home companies across Canada for almost 40 years.

In between his vast log home construction experience, he has shared his knowledge here and abroad, instructing at Centennial College, College of the Rockies, Coast College Terrace, and the Blue Quills First Nation College.

He has also participated in workshops in the US , Scandinavia, UK, and western EU. A Craftsman in every sense of the word with an infectious sense of humour, he enjoys building, sharing his knowledge, building Jigs and continually looking for the next good laugh!


Instructor: Doug Reed

Historian Marc Bloch once said, Misunderstanding of the present is the inevitable consequence of ignorance of the past.”

In Nashville, TN is the 1807 James Buchanan log manor home which was added to in 1810. The Buchanan log house was once a finely finished upscale manor house with plaster walls and ceilings, exterior siding, trims, fine hardware and carpeting. Today the Buchanan manor log house has been stripped on the exterior and interior, the dog trot feature has been eliminated and almost all of the original fixtures and fittings of the finished 19th century have been lost. There are three other log buildings on the same site one of which is a later Buchanan family small, vernacular log house dated 1847. Plain and simple, the small unadorned log house was built for a bachelor son. The Buchanan Historical Society who owns and operates the property as a historic house museum and an event centre for weddings and other types of gatherings to learn more about the original appearance of both houses. The Society now understands that the difference between these two houses is a story they should present to its visiting public.

A five-hour, two session workshop with a catered lunch on site is planned. The two-hour morning session will consist of a narrated walking tour that will focus on analyzing both the exterior and interior of the two houses. Care will be taken to identify the appearance at different periods in time. We will discuss what to look for and how to read the many clues that may remain of the different work campaigns, pinpointing if possible, the highest period of development achieved in each of the two buildings. After lunch, the group will reconvene in a sit-down lecture format for a two-hour discussion on how to achieve the best interpretation for the two houses. The two sessions will be offered at an introductory to moderate experience level with the following stated goals:

  1. At the end of the analysis session, participants will have an understanding of an effective way to unravel the different construction periods that have been identified.
  2. During the analysis review, the overall condition of the buildings will be addressed.
  3. The goal of the afternoon session will be how to select the period best suited to an accurate interpretation for each house.
  4. Terminology of many meaningful words such as preservation, restoration and renovation will be defined and explained as they are used throughout the professional level of the industry.


This workshop will begin at 10 AM and finish no later than 3 PM. Light beverages will be provided in the morning and early afternoon. A sit-down lunch which includes a selection of gluten free sandwiches and other tasty treats and necessary amenities will be provided. Participants are required to have their own means of transportation to and from the site. Please come properly dressed for cold weather during the morning session as March can be very cold. Professional participants needing credits for this workshop will need to sign in and out for record keeping purposes of their attendance. If they remain for both programs, they are entitled to receive a certificate of attendance at the conclusion of the workshop event. Attendance is limited so please sign up early to insure a spot in the workshop.


The presenter of the workshop is Doug Reed, a housewright from Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. Beginning in July 1972, he has spent nearly 50 years working, studying, restoring and consulting on historic log (brick, stone and timber frame) structures all over Europe, Canada and the United States. Reed learned his trade at the door step of on the job training as an apprentice to a man born in 1903. He also attended George Washington University up through most of a PhD degree stopping just short of the dissertation. He is now writing the book that would have been that dissertation. Reed has written dozens of historic structure reports on historic structures and enjoys seeing log structures wherever they may be found. Still working, he continues to research his subject being the first to admit he has a lot to learn about log cabins and houses. Despite his own self-assessment, Reed has few peers who can match his knowledge and experience in nearly all aspects of the historic American log house and cabin. In 1999, the Andrew Jackson Foundation that owns The Hermitage hired him to prove the west cabin known as the first Hermitage was indeed Andrew and Rachel Jackson’s home from 1803 until they moved two plus decades later into the “big house.” Reed found eleven pieces of evidence that, as a body, proved the Jacksons did indeed inhabit what remains of the west cabin and that it was a two-story house during their time of residence.

The James Buchanan log manor house two story section dates to 1807 and the near one-story section dates to 1810.

This photo is of the 1847 Buchanan family log house built for a single son who never married.

This photo shows the gutted interior of the main house.

This is a view of the small house at right front and the manor house at rear left.