Top 10 Tools you will need to build a log cabin kit

All our log cabins & garden offices/studios and many of our summerhouses are available as self-build kits delivered to your door, and for the DIY enthusiast, this can make a really enjoyable project over a weekend with friends & family.  

If you are considering building your own log cabin or garden office/studio from one of our kits, first you will want to consider if you have the right tools. This can make all the difference between a success and what teenage kids call an “epic fail”.

Obviously your level of skill and time available are important considerations, but as part of your decision we would encourage you to think about the tools you'll need, (if you don’t have them already).  Not that every tool of our trade is expensive and high-tech:

Log Cabin
Here’s a run down of our top ten essentials for installing a log cabin

  1. A good set of ladders
  2. A portable circular saw
  3. Cordless drill / screwdriver
  4. Hand saw
  5. Hammer
  6. Tape measure (longer than the building)
  7. Chalk line
  8. A retractable knife
  9. Pencil
  10. White soft rubber mallet

1. A good set of ladders : safety is paramount. Saving a few quid is not worth spending the next few weeks in hospital. Building a log cabin will require working at multiple heights and there’s just no substitute for a solid ladder which is tall enough for the height of your building. Multiway step ladders are a good choice, allowing safer access to awkward spots. Think about the ground surface they will be resting on, too, and if necessary get hold of level boards or similar to keep them upright and stable.

2. A portable circular saw: circular saws (often called Skilsaws after their original manufacturer, a bit like all vacuum cleaners being called Hoovers) are great for ripping down timber and trimming the ends of timber for your log cabin. These are safest when used with a fixed workbench, and cordless versions are available which can be handy when working at a distance from a power supply. Choose a saw with a rip guide, a metal attachment which keeps you sawing straight, and always be sure to follow the safety instructions.

 3. A cordless drill / screwdriver: from the point of view of a timber building installer - undoubtedly the greatest invention of the 20th century. They take the hassle out of drilling holesand fitting screws, especially in awkward locations, and really speed up the whole installation process. If you’re buying new, check the power rating – this is expressed in volts for cordless drills, ranging from 7.2v to 36v. A higher voltage has more oomph and gets the job done faster, but it will also be more expensive, heavier, and a bigger battery does not necessarily last for longer between recharges. If you already have a drill, it’s wise to check you have new, sharp drill bits in the right sizes before you start work on installing your garden office or hobby room.

4.  A handsaw: a sharp hand saw will give you a clean cut for more detailed work on your log cabin. It can also be used to make neat 90 and 45 degree angles, though a simple mitre box available for under £10 is a good addition if you need to do this.


5.  A Hammer: a good quality hammer is essential for installing the roof and floor boards and for fixing the shingles of your elegant new garden room. A clawhammer allows you to remove nails readily. Choose a comfortable size and grip for your hand.

6.  A tape measure: it may sound obvious, but your tape measure should be of a good quality and longer than the garden building you are installing. Measure twice, cut once…

7.  A chalk line: here’s an example of a tool which is really low tech – they were in use in ancient Egypt – but which does the job of marking a long, straight line perfectly. A string impregnated with chalk is stretched taut across the relevant area, checked with a spirit level and ‘twanged’ to mark a chalky line. Most kits are under a tenner and include a weight to use it as a plumb line for perfect verticals. Our installation teams use a chalk line to mark level straight lines where we need to attach roof tiles.

8.  A retractable knife: a good quality retractable knife, such as a Stanley knife, is so useful for any project that the main problem you will encounter is that they keep disappearing from the toolbox! In installing a log cabin, it’s useful for everything from opening packaging to cutting flooring to size. Have some spare blades to hand to keep things sharp. Hooked blades, which look a bit like an eagle’s beak, are great for cutting roofing felt and shingles.

carpenter's pencil

9.  A pencil: we're getting really low-tech here. Remember the story about the American astronauts who invested millions in zero gravity ballpoint pens and the Russian astronauts who took pencils? Apparently it’s apocryphal but let’s not miss the point.....  Pencils are a perfectly adapted piece of equipment for the log cabin installer. Take from behind ear. Make mark. Erase mark afterwards. Job done. If you really want to look the part, a carpenter’s pencil has a flat lead which ensures your line is drawn right up against your edge and is easy to sharpen with your Stanley knife. 

10.  A white rubber mallet: this piece of kit is ideal for knocking timbers into place as you assemble your summer house or hobby room. They are less likely to damage the wood than a harder hammer. And here's the real piece of insider knowledge, which is pretty obvious when you think about it but nobody does till they learn the hard way: a white mallet will not leave unsightly marks on the timber.


So, to install a log cabin, posh shed or summerhouse, you need a high-quality log cabin kit from a reputable supplier (obviously we are going to recommend Garden Affairs) and the right tools to keep you safe and keep you sane. As you can see, some may be expensive, but others not at all.

It can be a satisfying and creative project to build your very own warm, secure garden den, whether you end up using it for work or play. And if it all seems a bit much, there’s always the option of getting the our expert fitters in to do it for you in just a day or two. Just remember to buy more teabags!

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