Because of our background as handcrafted log home builders and the many successful projects we have completed, we still get calls for log homes. The two types we still construct are dovetail and piece-en-piece. These both have a strong historical background in Canada and their tradition, blended with modern materials, yield responsible buildings with all the advantages of a log structure but very few, if any, of the pitfalls. They both rely on chinking to render the project airtight. Modern chinking materials are latex based, adhere very well to the logs and remain quite flexible indefinitely.
Dovetail buildings settle very little (approximately 2" for an 8'-9' wall) because the actual dovetail is normally cut using the heartwood of the tree. The sapwood (which has higher moisture content and exhibits the most dimensional change over time) is virtually eliminated from the notches. When properly installed, the chinking expands (literally stretches) to accommodate the increasing gap between logs and requires no maintenance. At one time, this construction was very popular in rural Ontario and it is the first image many people have when "log home" is mentioned.
Piece-en-piece log buildings are, in essence, a timber frame where the logs are used as in-fill between wood columns. No settling occurs in these structures as they are held by upright columns. This type has its roots in the province of Quebec. Shrinkage of the in-fill logs is handled by locking each log in its initial position via a spline let into the columns. This allows the chinking to expand and fill the increasing gap between logs.
In the photos, you can see an accurately cut log panel being handled in our yard and the procedure for its installation at a project site.