Cabin Project Updates






The summer of 2023 finds us heavily into the project of chinking and daubing – filling the cracks between the first-story logs with a heavy mesh wire and special mortar for filling materials.  This will be done on both the outside, and the inside of the house.


We turned our intern program into a professional operation in 2022, completing the second story and the roof of the building before closing down for the winter.


May 21, 2022: We had an an Aslak Lie House Community Barn Raising!
Great progress was made by a crew of volunteers, erecting the timber framing for the second story.  We followed with a celebratory barn dance and some delicious kransekake.

From the Wisconsin State Journal – a lovely article on the Aslak Lie House, and on Folklore Village in general.  Thanks to Barry Adams, and photographer John Hart!

Old-school ways retained in multi-year reconstruction of 1848 cabin 


Volunteers worked last Saturday to remove the winter temporary roof from 1/2 the cabin, recycling the plywood roof to make a temporary floor to stand on while erecting the second floor!











End of Summer 2020: We bid adieu to our industrious interns and thank them for their hard work in getting us to the point where the rafters for the first floor/floor joists for the second floor are now in place!  Everything is currently covered with a temporary plywood “roof” and a heavy-duty tarp, which will hold until the spring when work at the site may continue again.










Summer 2020 Update

With three new interns this summer, progress is going well!  Welcome Zach Small, Ronan Restle, and welcome back to the team Lauren Newby.  They have been challenged by needing to wear masks or social distance, and have arisen to the occasion with grace and aplomb.





And with continued thanks to Mark and Sarah Weier for providing logs from their woods.  This house is truly a community project!






Winter 2020 Update

Nels and crew have stayed busy this winter, cleaning and repairing the timbers for the second story.  We anticipate a second floor, sometime in 2020!






Summer & Fall 2019

We enjoyed the help of three interns again this summer – Ian Decker, Peter Thurlow, and Max Schulte, who was followed by John Hertel – all of whom were stalwart in fending off the hordes of hungry gnats that harassed them the entire working season.  We also had several good builders join us during a folk school session in June.  Work on the all-log first floor is completed, and  building has commenced on the second floor – inside of the storage barn.  The idea is to completely assemble the second floor on the ground through the fall and winter, before hoisting it into place next year.  We were also able to purchase the cedar shakes for the roof.  Thanks to Sandy Wilson, who sponsored the interns, as well as the purchase of the roof materials!  And as always, thanks to Nels Diller, volunteer foreman for the project, and without whose vision, this project would have never progressed so far.

Spring 2019

As we prepare to embark upon another summer of building at the Aslak Lie site, we reflect back on the snowy winter, and all of the work that was accomplished in the realm of acquiring the needed oak logs for finishing the first story, and to create the boards needed for the second story.  Many tanks to Mark and Sarah Weier, who provided logs from their woods and workspace for the sawyer, and to Adam Helt-Baldwin for a donation of some very large oak logs!

Pulling logs out of the woods on a snowy winter’s day

The giant logs arrive!

Thanks, Adam!









Loading the logs onto a portable sawmill.







November 2018

The final log laid for the end of the 2018 season was the “summer beam,” a large log which spans the top beams of the house.  A crew gathered to hoist the beam into place, followed by a traditional kissing of the summer beam!










October 29, 2018

As we near the end of our 2018 building season, we celebrate the work that has been accomplished this year!  We are capping off the final rows of some of the walls, with only 4 more logs to be laid next season – then on to the second floor!





Some of these final logs have been from 600 – 730 pounds each!

August 17, 2018

We are celebrating how much work was accomplished on the Aslak Lie Cabin this summer – thanks to a generous donation from Sandy Wilson, who funded the hiring of our three wonderful interns.  We’re not finished for the season, as yet, for there are two more rounds of logs that will finish the lower log portion of the cabin.  Come help as a volunteer, or come work as a student at Sustainability Weekend! 

Thank you, Sandy – and we were so glad you were able to come for a visit!

l to r:  The interns hard at work on their last day; Nels Diller and Sandy Wilson survey the work done by the interns this summer; the cabin on August 15, 2018.











August 2, 2018: Our fabulous interns have helped us make significant progress on the Aslak Lie cabin this summer.  The south side of the cabin is all the way to the top plate, and they are now moving to another section of the cabin.  Take a look!







June 2018 Update:  This year, thanks to a generous donation, we were able to hire interns to work on the Aslak Lie house for the summer.  On June 4, we welcomed the three new interns – Dustin McKindsey, Lauren Newby, and Alyssa O’Connor!






Spring 2018 UpdateThe crew is back to work now that the snows have gone and the flowers are in bloom.  Thanks to Sandy Wilson for his support for the project in 2018!







Winter 2017/2018 

The crew worked in the woods this winter, felling more oak trees, due to the generous in-kind donation from Mark and Sarah Weier.  Thank you so much! 






October 2017 Update:

This cabin is really looking great!

Work continues in this unusually warm fall.  Last weekend, Nels Diller was joined by the 4 Lakes chapter of the Midwest Tool Collectors organization!













Sustainability Weekend Update (September 2017):

Four students joined instructor Nels Diller in learning traditional log cabin building at the Aslak Lie site!










July 26, 2017 Update

What happens when you are inspecting an historical log, and rot is discovered?  The part that contains the rot must be cut away, and the log spliced with fresh wood, carved to match the original.

May 18, 2017 Update


Yesterday, Folklore Village was happily surprised by a visit from a group of craftspeople who had traveled all the way from Norway. They knew about Aslak Lie, and had heard that we are rebuilding his home, so decided to come see what we were doing. Four of the visitors were carpenters, one was a joiner, and the other a ‘blacksmith” who also crafted very fine woodworking blades.  Here is a link to their traditional woodworking site in Norway:


And here is a blog posting about the visit, in English:

The northeast corner of the cabin is now completed, and work has moved to another corner of the building.


March 16, 2017 Update

The crew is preparing the site for the 2017 season of building.  Join this great team of volunteers, and ensure that the Aslak Lie House is preserved for posterity.

Left to right: Steve Sprain and Nels Diller prepare the site for the 2017 season; boards cut from the Weier Family Farm last year, stacked and ready for use.



So much progress was made on the Aslak Lie house this year, thanks to our many volunteers, and to our apprentice, Alex Aakre.  Special thanks to Nels Diller and Steve Sprain, who have been at the site week-in, week-out, making sure and steady progress.






Left to right::  All walls are now 4 – 5 rounds high; new logs, donated by the Weier Family  Farm, ready for building in the spring.

Ruth Lee, a direct descendent of Aslak Lie, sent us the following photos

Left to right:  Aslak Lie and members of his extended family; one of the houses Lie constructed in Norway (notice the similarity of design with his home in Wisconsin.  However, the second story is logs rather than staves, likely due to the fact that in Norway, his logs would have been a soft wood, such as fir, and in Wisconsin, the logs were oak); A table built by Aslak Lie, with intricate decorative elements.

August 16, 2016 Update:  Thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board, Folklore Village is pleased to welcome Nels Diller’s apprentice, Alex Aakre. As an Eagle Scout, Alex had built a stabbur for Norskedalen, after seeing Nels’ stabbur in Mount Horeb.  Now a student at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, Alex will be with us for three weeks to learn techniques of dove-tailing logs for construction in an historical context.  His arrival has spurred a flurry of activity, as he pledged to his academic institution and his advisor to work full weeks with Nels while he is here.









Left to Right:  Apprentice Alex Aakre observes a dovetail; 3 staples mark the height of the setting of a log; setting the south log to ensure proper height for the laying of the following east log; laying the        historic east log as it meets the south log; checking for level.

August 2, 2016 Update:  Great news – The volunteer crew of the Aslak Lie House has laid the first of the historic logs!!  Working since spring to bring the logs to the proper height, the structure is really beginning to look like a building now.





Left to right:  The Aslak Lie cabin in process, set amid the green rolling hills of Southwestern Wisconsin; the interior of the log structure with the first of the historical logs in place; the corner of the building, with a historical log being worked for a splice; Nels Diller fitting the splice to a historical log which had sustained some damage from rot.


November 30, 2015 update:  Construction of the Aslak Lie House continued through the fall, with students helping during our Fall Swedish event.  Progress was halted by the first snowfall of the season, and the project has been put to bed until next spring.  We felt that we accomplished a tremendous amount this first year – securing permits, building a temporary driveway, constructing the foundation, and carving and placing the first two rounds of logs.  We can accomplish even more next year with your help!  Sign up to volunteer your time and labor, learning the art of woodworking and historic log reconstruction in the process, or send donations to help us pay for a couple hundred feet more of replacement logs, and a roof when the time comes.  For now, the logs have been covered to protect them from the winter elements.  See you next spring!

September 24, 2015 update:

Construction of the Aslak Lie Log Cabin was an integral part of our newest event, Sustainability Weekend, held September 11 – 13. Students and Norwegian visitors came to observe, and to participate in the building.  




Left to right:  Nels Diller, Peter Gorman, and John Van Orman prepare the “monster” log that will support the center of the cabin; Tools of the Trade; Adam Helt-Baldwin chisels out excess wood;  Nels Diller and John Van Orman heft the “monster” log into place, while Steve Sprain drives the Skid Steer.


September 3, 2015 update:

Approximately one entire day is required for two men to prepare a log for placement.  This process is being done with hand tools, which allows for slow and measured progress on hand-perfected logs.  Nels Diller has some beautiful and unusual hand tools expressly for the purpose of working logs.  Our new tarp allows log workers respite from the hot sun, or from a light rain.


Left to right:  Nels Diller shapes a log with one of his specialty hand tools; Steve Sprain smoothes the surface of a cut where two logs will intersect.


August 24, 2015 update:

Log work continues, as this is a slow process.  The goal is to have the new bottom row of logs in place before Sustainability Weekend September 11 – 13, when students will be on hand to learn first-hand the process of building with logs and stone.  The first log has been placed on its supports and a couple more are ready to be placed.  On Wednesday, another of the huge, red oak replacement logs was split in half using wedges, pry bars and sledge hammers.  Then one of the halves was transported to the saw horses, where it will undergo shaping with broad axes and draw knives.

Left:  Executive Director, Terri Van Orman, works a log with a draw knife.  Right:  Steve Sprain, John C. Van Orman, and Nels Diller splitting a huge red oak log into two smaller logs for the bottom row support logs.

August 17, 2015 update: 

With the foundation now in place, the wood work can begin!  Last weekend, volunteers Nels Diller and Steve Sprain worked diligently in the heat to hew and notch the first of the bottom row of foundation logs.  These “new” oak logs will form the base to which the floor joists will be attached.  This step is probably the most informative of the process, as the steps to historical log rebuilding are being executed, including the technique of Norwegian-style dove-tailing (different from American log-building techniques), using hand-tools whose style is contemporary to the Aslak Lie immigration period.






August 5, 2015 update:

Last Sunday, volunteers gathered to install the elaborate pier system fabricated by Greg Winz. The piers serve multiple functions – to lift the logs above the ground, to level the building, to enable bolting of the logs to the foundation, and to provide a stable core around which the stone piers will be built. Next step – laying the bottom course of logs. If you are interested in helping, we will have volunteer opportunities this month – call (608) 924-4000, and ask for Terri. Or come to Sustainability Weekend at Folklore Village September 11 – 13 for classes in Historical Norwegian Log Cabin Reconstruction, with Nels Diller.

Left:  Nels Diller, Greg Winz, Adam Helt-Baldwin, and Steve Sprain discuss placement strategies for the fabricated metal pier supports.  Right: Detail of the pier support. The long threaded rod  enables the bottom course of logs to bolt directly to the foundation pier.

July 9, 2015 Update: 

We continue to make progress on the Aslak Lie house!  The foundation perimeter has been staked out, then thirteen 4-foot deep pier foundation holes were dug, and filled with concrete.  Next week, steel rods will be embedded into the concrete, in preparation for building the stone piers.  Once the stone piers are completed, we will be ready to start laying logs.  We hope to have an educational opportunity available to you during Sustainability Weekend, September 11-13.  Have a hand in preserving this great historical legacy! 






Left to right:  Steve Sprain, Nels Diller, Greg Winz, and Wendy Frances lay out the foundation perimeter; Steve Sprain and Nels Diller assist Bill Dolan with the augur for the pier foundation holes; Wendy Frances and Greg Winz move and sort cabin building materials.

Our humble beginnings (2014)!

Left to right:  Some of the 170 year old logs; Planning meeting, with Greg Winz, Adam Helt-Baldwin, Nels Diller, John Ehle, and Steve Sprain; road access to the site, with thanks to Joe Thomas, and Ivey Construction for the help!