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Logs, Wind, and Sun, by Rex and LaVonne Ewing

Review by Kirby Perschbacher

Construction – March 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

Logs, Wind and Sun
by Rex A. Ewing and LaVonne Ewing
Published in 2002 by PixyJack Press
ISBN 0-9658098-3-8

IF YOU’RE PLANNING to build any type of home for yourself, Logs, Wind and Sun by Rex and LaVonne Ewing would be a good choice for getting started. Although they built with log — and much of the book deals with that type of construction — there are enough planning, building and general construction tips to make the book worthwhile reading for anyone who contemplates building, or even having a home built for them.

But don’t make this your only resource.

Warning: If you are still interested in building your own home after reading this book, read several more — because the authors have made the process sound far easier than it is. For instance, on page 176 there is a picture of Rex installing chinking. It shows a dark-haired man with a white T-shirt. It must have been taken at 8 a.m., because a 10 a.m. picture would have shown a white-haired man with a dark T-shirt.

Scattered throughout the book are little homilies by each of the authors — “LaVonne’s Verities” and “Rex’s Maxim’s” — which add a lot of flavor to the work described in that section.

Early on, LaVonne advises: “If you can do it yourself, then do it.” This came after they realized that the contractor they had lined up to do their foundation only planned to do their work if something better didn’t come along. Such no-shows are common; it is a reality for all homeowner/builders and most professional builders.

Another homily near the end of the book says: “If you are still happily married when you are ready to move into your home, you’ve married the right one.”

I felt that this should have been part of the introduction. Although I had contracted for 20 years when my wife and I built the home we live in, the enormity of the financial, physical, and mental pressure cannot be over stated. Before an amateur homebuilder attempts a project as substantial as the one described in this book, he might profit from a little more emphasis on the downside. To put it gently, a project like this is “challenging” for a relationship.

HERE AND THERE throughout the book, Rex shares “Egyptian” (as in “this is how they built the pyramids”) methods for moving material: a log-hauling trailer, a gin pole, a log ramp etc. After you read about each of these techniques, I recommend you immediately have a procedure to erase your memory.

Every time I use some contraption of this nature, I’m sure an OSHA inspector will see it and I will spend the rest of my life breaking rocks. They all work, but they are unforgiving if something goes wrong.

That said, I purchased a draw knife that the book recommended, and found it to be three times superior to what I had previously used. That single tip could be worth the combined cost of the book and the knife, just in the labor you can save during any significant log project.

Much of the book concerns making electricity at home, both with solar panels and a wind generator. Since I don’t have much experience with either, I can’t address the specifics, but the principles are covered, and if you’re going that route, this looks like a good introduction.

Logs, Wind and Sun is thorough enough to give you different ways of looking at a building project, and the book can enlighten the experienced as well as the inexperienced — without becoming too technical. The authors are also a lot less snooty about their work than I would be, because they provide pictures and descriptions of other projects in their neighborhood, which adds a lot of depth to their book that would otherwise be missing.

–Kirby Perschbacher