Saturday 19 April 2014


Krystof returned from Poland with cabin shopping. A beautiful log burning stove, a third of the price of a similar one if bought in England, also a number of large bales of what looked like finely shredded straw or paper packing material. I wondered what the material was protecting, to discover that there was nothing inside the bales - this was the chinking.
Stove with chinking material

I thought that somehow this material would just be stuffed into the gaps and crevices  between the logs. Chinking methods vary a lot.  For example, The Finns use moss, and North Americans use bits of wood held in and smoothed over with a mud and cement mixture. It is also possible in the U.S to buy ready-made plastic chinking that is squeezed into the gaps, a bit like Polyfilla. Polish chinking is made from the fine inner bark of a particular pine tree, and there is only one manufacturer of it in Poland.

Nothing as crude as stuffing handfuls of it into the gaps though. Krystof demonstrated the authentic technique. Take a small handful of material in the right hand, run the long strands  between two fingers to even it out, while in your left hand take a small amount and roll it on your thigh until it coheres into a small ball. Fold over the top part of the material in your right hand, place the ball on top of that, fold over the top part again, and then twist as hard as you can until it resembles a small hammer, or perhaps an onion. Oh, and don't forget to keep your chinking material slightly damp. Easy!  Then, when you have assembled a reasonable amount you push these little 'onions' into the gaps and use a tool to pack them in as tightly as possible, both outside and inside the cabin. We had a go at making some, nowhere as easy as it looks.

I wondered if these onions could be purchased ready- made.  I imagined be-scarfed Polish ladies in the mountains sitting round a stove chatting companionably in the long snowy evenings, their hands flying and  sacks rapidly filling to be sold to log cabin builders.  If so, then I think our Krystof made rather a big mistake in electing to make them himself. It seems a monumental task, Kris and his two helpers are pretty fast but the onions mount up slowly. Five days so far, and the chinking is only a third done. It does look lovely though, like nothing I've seen before. Reminds me of neatly piped cream between two layers of sponge cake.
Everyone is busy chinking

This takes a long time

Bales of chinking material

Little 'onions' packed in firmly

The window wall is chinked - looks great!

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