A Guided Tour of Blue Bird Log Cabin

The Logs, Beams, and Barn Siding

All the logs, beans, and barn siding used in the cabin have come from old barns and log cabins that were dismantled in southern Indiana. You can see that each log and each beam was hand cut and hand hewn by its original builder dating back 100-200 years ago. If you consider the age of the trees that these logs and beams came from, they will date back to the 1700’s to some of the Indiana’s virgin forests. So, you are looking at a cabin whose materials date back to the earliest years of America becoming an Independent nation. These logs and beams come from long ago lived in and used daily by our Indiana ancestors.

The Kitchen

The light over the sink was custom made with an old one-gallon Mason jar. The Mason Jar was named after John Landis Mason who first invented and patented it in 1858. It is a molded glass jar used in home canning to preserve food. The jar’s mouth has a screw thread on its outer perimeter to accept a metal ring or band. Bird custom built all the cabinet doors and drawers from floorboards that were not in good enough condition to be used as flooring. We didn’t waste anything! You will see the built-in cookbook case at the end of the island. Three of our favorite cookbooks are there for your reading and cooking enjoyment.

The Great Room

If you go into the bump out area, you will see the oldest barn siding in the cabin dating back to the 1850s. If you look closely, you can still see the faint red, barn paint color on the wood. The barn siding was used on the interior, the exterior, ant the ceiling of the bump out.

The ceiling in the bump out is Bird’s architectural masterpiece. It is constructed entirely of reclaimed, antique barn beams and barn siding. The number and variety of angles needed to be cut to create the ceiling structure makes it truly a work of art.

The barn siding under the stairway is the scrap barn siding left over from the bump out. However, this siding has been lightly planed and then finished, giving it a totally different look from the natural, unfinished siding in the bump out. The old nail holes are everywhere.

The Lofts and the Stairway

The hand railing on the stairway and the two lofts were planed from antique white oak barn rafters from an 1800s barn. If you look closely, you can see many holes where knots have fallen out and stained holes where nails have been driven.

The stairway itself was custom built from local, poplar trees harvested and sawn at the local Helmsburg Sawmill just a few miles away.

The bottom part of the stairway as well as the posts in the small loft are some great examples of mortise joints with the holes for where the pegs were inserted to lock mortise into a tendon joint together.

The Dining Area

The eight-foot walnut table and two benches were custom built by Bird from a local 200-year-old walnut tree that he personally cut down and sawed into boards using his own sawmill. The table legs and supports are made from reclaimed barn beams.

The butchers block island countertop was custom built out of solid red oak.

The footrest on the kitchen island is an old, antique pipe rescued from a salvage yard in Columbus, IN.

The Porch

Bird built the entire porch using all locally harvested and sawn poplar lumber. Bird hand-crafted all the King Posts, Collar ties, and Korbles. The arches are hand carved. The entire front porch, deck, and screened porch are all built using mortise, tenon, and peg construction. There is not a screw or nail in the entire porch structure except to bolt it to the cabin.
This ancient construction method dates back 7,000 years. In Germany, archeologists discovered the oldest wood-frame structure in the world built with mortise and tenon. Later, the Romans made heavy use of this technique. You will notice on many of the beams inside the cabin, several old tenon joints that were part of the original barn construction. 

The Bedroom

The bedroom furniture (bed, wardrobe, and side tables) were all built from antique barn beams and siding reclaimed from a barn west of Indianapolis by Evan Divine of Divine Heritage Barns. http://www.divineheritagebarns.com

The stained glass in the door came from an antique fire screen found at Michael’s Flowers and Antiques in Nashville, IN. http://www.michaelsflowersandantiques.com

The Stone Chimney

The cabin’s massive chimney is 6’ thick by 10’ wide by 25’ high using 60,000 pounds/30 tons stone. The mantle on the inside of the cabin is an 1840s barn beam. Bird hand carved the mantel supports from another antique log.

The Master Bathroom

The red paint on the ceiling barn siding is still visible. The grain bin door on the wall was salvaged from an 1800s barn. The bathroom sink was handmade by Larry Spears in Nashville. The mirror was handmade by Bird.

The Roof and the Ceiling

The interior ceiling is 100+ year old, rusty barn tin reclaimed from an old barn south of Nashville, IN. The rusty tin was power-washed and then clear coated to prevent any further rusting of the tin. You should notice the variation of the patina (color) in the tin.
The exposed rafters and purlins are all from the same antique barn beams used to make the loft and stairway handrails. The tin, rafters, and purlins are all decorative and provide no structural support for the roof. There is a fully insulated roof structure behind it.

The Flooring

The tongue and groove floorings were milled from late 1800s and early 1900s barn beams from several reclaimed, Kentucky barns. They were planed to keep the rustic exterior of the beams intact. There are twelve different species of wood (all common in IN) in the flooring: Walnut, Chestnut, Poplar, Beech, Oak, Cherry, Sycamore, Pine, Hickory, Cottonwood, Maple, and Ash.

The Hardware

All the hooks and handles throughout the house including the toilet paper holders in the bathrooms are all custom made from long ago abandoned railroad spikes.
The locks on the two-bathroom doors were hooks taken from one if the reclaimed barns.
The Doors
The four interior doors and the outside utility door were all custom built by Bird using reclaimed materials.