HIDDEN TREASURE: Antique log cabin

It was Summer 2015 when Renaissance Man and I came upon this site . . .


We were looking at property, considering whether or not to purchase and restore its old farmhouse—to make it a NEW old house in the country.


Hidden in the trees was this small log cabin made of hand-hewn logs. This cabin—on the oldest farm in our East Tennessee valley. Could it be the original cabin from the 18th century?


We could tell it had been moved (and improperly rebuilt). It had also been used as a pig shed—and storage for junk—and the tin roof had caved in.


And yet, those antique logs called our names.



We didn’t buy the property. The farm we already owned just across the valley had much better views and was a more manageable size. And we really wanted to build our Finally Farmhouse—someday.


But the heirs of this property were trying to sell off what they could, and so we bought the old logs . . .


One by one . . . for hours.

Final log headed to the trailer

. . .  and moved them a mile and a half across the valley for safekeeping.


Back at our Wild Rose Farm—stacking the logs

Think of the man, centuries ago, who cut this notch . . . after first cutting down the tree, removing the bark, and turning the trunk into logs—100% by hand.

Hand-formed wooden pegs that held the cabin together


And then we began dreaming of how we could show off their beautiful notches and hew marks in a new-to-look-old farmhouse.


Farmhouse in the Fork (Liepers Fork, TN) This gorgeous property is available for vacation rental if you’re interested.

Via Houzz.com


But it’s now 2.5 years later, and we’re getting ready to build our Finally Farmhouse—and there’s work to be done!


While I work on restoring the antique windows I showed you in my last post, Renaissance Man is working on the logs.


Removing damage . . . pulling nails

Exposing original wooden pegs


The cleaning is where the real transformation occurs.


These centuries-old logs are dirty beyond filthy. Every tiny separation in the wood holds years of dust and dirt and cobwebs. So how do we get them clean enough to put into our house—our HOME?


We don’t want to power wash. Well, I want to, but it’s not the right answer. We can’t sand them because it would remove the hew and “character” marks. A soft-bristle brush would help, but it wouldn’t take care of everything.


To find our answer, we visited reclaimed wood shops from Nashville to North Carolina. We met the owners and workers. We asked questions. We listened. We watched.


And we learned.


And then we purchased a Makita brush sander. It’s what the experts use.  🙂


Think large round hairbrush with FAST-spinning nylon bristles! Notice how the action barely removes the weathered surface (grey) and brings out the original wood color underneath—all while leaving the character.

See the Roman numeral on the top log? Early log cabin builders used Roman numbers (or sometimes their own numbering system of lines) to determine where logs were to go. Now that’s the kind of discovery I love to make! And the kind I want to show off in our Finally Farmhouse.


By the way, that dilapidated log cabin-turned pig shed-turned junk storage held some less obvious treasures as well. We’ll use them in our new farmhouse, too . . . but those stories will have to wait until another day.


In the meantime, if you know anyone who

  • has always wanted to build a house
  • loves farmhouse design
  • appreciates the “new-to-look-old” style
  • enjoys saving/salvaging old treasures
  • likes DIY with antique tools


send them my way!


Be sure they (or you!) sign up to get future posts via email.


May the week ahead be kind to you, my friend. Thanks for stopping by! I love meeting you here.


  1. I know how hard you both are working, but I am loving everything you share,.♡♡♡

  2. Great find, Susan. It will be interesting to see how you use these. Love the roman numeral, and I agree that you must show it off. xo

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