Cabin Project Updates

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:


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.



October 20, 2016 Update

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!

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