Cordwood masonry is an old building technique whereby walls are constructed of short logs (called "log-ends") laid up widthwise in the wall within a special mortar matrix. The wall derives excellent insulation and thermal mass characteristics from insulation sandwiched between the inner and outer mortar joints.  Cordwood houses are low in cost, use indigenous materials, and are easy and fun to build.

    Cordwood masonry is also beautiful, combining the texture of stone masonry with the warmth of wood. "Earthwood" (image above) is our round two-story off-the-grid cordwood masonry earth shelter, with a 38'8" outside diameter, 16" thick walls and about 2800 square feet of living space.  Built mostly in 1981, a new sun room was added in 2004. In spite of the cold winters in northern New York, we heat Earthwood with only three and a half full cords of wood per year, thanks to our energy efficient masonry stove and the high insulative value of cordwood masonry walls. Solar energy (photovoltaic panels) provides electricity for our home and school year round without any connection to mass-produced and mass-distributed power.

    We are often asked if cordwood masonry is a green and sustainable building method.  We feel very strongly that, yes, cordwood is certainly a green building method. For Rob Roy's article on this subject, please go to

    We have ten other cordwood masonry outbuildings at the Earthwood Building School campus, including a sauna, office, bookstore/library, playhouse, garage, three guest houses, a mess hall, and a bath house. Some of these can be seen on our picture pages: Click on

     Album: Sauna (cordwood saunas)
     Album: ESH (earth-sheltered houses, usually combined with cordwood masonry)
     Album: Wksp (our cordwood workshops around the world, with construction images)
     Album: Cord (cordwood masonry pictures)
     Album: Effects (textures and special design features using cordwood masonry)
    If properly built, a cordwood structure provides natural, fire-retardant, mortgage-free shelter, is easy to build and will last at least one hundred years. Many new and older cordwood homes can be seen around the world, particularly in the United States, Canada, and Sweden. Wisconsin, New York, Colorado, Maine, Vermont, Michigan and Minnesota are states with a lot of cordwood masonry, but it can be found in all regions of the country. Earthwood has introduced cordwood masonry to Hawaii and South America, and conducted the first workshops in Australia and New Zealand. We've done North American workshops in more than 15 States and Provinces.

    The Earthwood Building School is close to many cordwood masonry homes and other buildings in northeastern New York State. Workshops offered by the school include tours of cordwood homes, lots of supervised  hands-on building practice, Power Point presentations and other demonstrations. For more workshop info, click on:
     Workshops (description of workshops and course schedules)
     Registration  (our registration form)
     Album: Wksp (images from our cordwood masonry and timber framing workshops)

    Earthwood director Rob Roy maintains a Q & A column on Kelly Hart's fine website, Green Home Building.  Under Rob Roy's picture, you can click on ten different categories of questions and answers, including topics like: Types of Wood to Use, Where to Find Cordwood, Debarking and Curing the Wood, Foundations for Cordwood Masonry, Cordwood Mortar, Structural Considerations, Code and Permit Issues, and much more. There is a tremendous amount of free information from Rob Roy at the Green Home Building website: hundreds of Q & A's, many thousands of words.  Another excellent cordwood website, including an interactive forum, is Alan Stankevitz's fine Daycreek site.

2010, Rob Roy, Earthwood Building School

   Earthwood, about the year 2000, before    
   new sun room was added to second story.
What is Cordwood
     2010 cordwood workshop at
  Mushwood, Chateaugay Lake, NY
     August 2010 workshop at
         ISLAND, Bellaire, MI