The Art of Hand Hewing
by Claudia Johnson, Honest Abe Log Homes, Log Home Living, Spring 2015
Hand hewn logs add richness to a home. These logs evoke a feeling of the past by capturing a skill that was necessary for early settlers and is now an art. Honest Abe Log Homes offers customers the option of real hand-hewn logs, and a real person – not a machine – performs the labor intensive, yet artful job of hewing the wood. Jeff Hume is that person and has been for almost 20 years. Customers frequently ask Jeff to sign his work, and the finished timbers become centerpieces of their dream houses.
Jeff uses a vintage adze, an ax-like tool for dressing timbers roughly, with a curved chisel-like steel head mounted at a right angle to the handle. For nearly 20 years, Jeff has been using the same large timber to elevate the log on which he currently works.
Visitors to the Honest Abe manufacturing plant and attendees of the quarterly Log Home Raisings often ask to purchase the seasoned timber, but Jeff refuses to part with it. He says the timber is the perfect height and length to aide him in the backbreaking task of hewing. Regardless of the physical intensity of hand hewing, Jeff takes pride in his results. Many machine-molded logs attempt to replicate a hand hewn look, but the machine actually creates a repeating pattern that is easily discernible as manufactured, not hand created. This authenticity and attention to detail sets Honest Abe’s hand-hewn timbers apart.
Honest Abe’s designers can incorporate one hand hewn log into a design or create an entire plan to showcase multiple hand hewn components. They’ve even designed homes with full exterior hand hewn logs that could have easily fooled a traveler from the past.