Tuesday, June 20, 2006


operator's perspective

loading a log






the blade

faerie power was out in force last weekend. through sudden downpours and sweltering afternoon heat, we transformed our log pile into stacks of beautiful timbers.

here are some pictures and a movie! i'm very happy with the timber we sawed out. the quality is very good to excellent, only one bad log. we cut all the kitchen posts, a lot of 4x6 stock for braces, a good number of 5-1/2 x 8 purlins, lots of one-inch boards for various uses, lots of 2x4s for general purpose use. since our logs were mostly 12 feet in length, we only cut one longer timber for the porch, a 6 x 12 x 14'. the remaining timbers we'll order from a local sawmill.

the sawyer, mckim mitchell, did a great job working with us. with a crew of about six on average we rolled the logs down to the mill from the top of the parking lot, got them onto the mill's lifting arms, then mckim operated the mill sawing out timbers from a list i gave him. we then offloaded the timbers into my pickup and drove them up to the kitchen site where they're now stacked. i'm guessing we got about 3500 board feet, or about 300 cubic feet of timber. your average fridge is about 20 cubit feet. i had mckim saw some of the curved logs into 4 inch slabs for naturally curved braces and i had him slab one short, large diameter log into 3" thick bench seats with natural edges. we produced an six-foot high pile of edge waste in the parking lot much of which could probably be used for projects.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

act 250 granted

good news! we received our act 250 permit last week. this means we can move ahead to get construction permits.

the bad news, lately, is that it keeps raining. the ground is saturated and our excavator cannot start work until the ground dries out. the land drains slowly. most recent guesses are that excavation will begin in two to three weeks, if it doesn't rain much. in the mean time, we'll be plotting out how to proceed given that our foundation work is delayed. there is work that we can do before the excavator shows up, such as sawing timbers (we're doing this this coming weekend), starting construction of the bathhouse (which it seems will not have a foundation), perhaps working on the privy building by hand. i've sent out word to the communities around destiny, through a variety of networks, that we're looking for used/free building materials. i've received a number of responses offering lumber, windows and other building materials. this is promising!

pictured is the latest rendering of the entrance to the kitchen.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Bryant House

mockbee 2

a friend stopped by and turned me onto the architecture of samuel mockbee. the picture here is of a gorgeous porch somewhat like the one we'll have at destiny. the building is "hay bale". believe it or not, this is affordable housing in alabama. i love the immensity of this porch. it's definitely a porch! the columns enoble the space, marking it as important. the bases of the columns offer nice places to sit. there is ample room for chairs. unlike most porches, this one calls out the heavens above with the beautifully slatted steep clear roof.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

timber sizing

i've spent the last few days sizing the timbers for the timber frame. i've not done structural work since architecture school, so a good day was spent reviewing old notes and books to refresh my memory. i also had to find the current allowable stresses for timber since they've changed from when i was in school.

i actually enjoy doing structural calculations. i feel good understanding what's actually happening in a piece of wood and why it needs to be a certain shape in order to work. it helps inform design.

my friend andrea, a timber frame designer who has been helping me with this project, sent a spreadsheet with the sizing calculations nicely programmed which saves a great deal of time. doing the calculations by hand is interesting, too, and helped me understand the theory behind the sizing, but it is time consuming.

the upshot of my structural work has been an adjustment to the design. what i had planned for originally required timbers i felt were too large for us to handle. i'd prefer not to have to hire a crane to lift our work. so, i spaced the elements of frame closer so that each was carrying less load and could be made smaller. we will have to carve more joints as a result. other factors contributed too: the recommended values for snow loads (the major load on our building) have increased about 40%. so, while my house built in the 1830s has 7x7 beams spanning 13 feet (the cat makes the floor bounce), our building will have 8x14 beams spanning about the same distance (and you could probably drive a truck onto the roof with barely a jiggle).

portable sawmilling

gabriel and i drove down to destiny yesterday to meet mckim mitchell, a sawyer from new hampshire. he's also a former new hampshire state representative as well as family. mckim read the destiny star and noticed that we were planning on sawing some of our own lumber and let us know he'd be happy to do it with his equipment. in the rain, we all took a look at the log pil. mckim confirmed the logger's estimate that the pile contains about 3000-4000 board feet. mckim noticed some center rot and what's called shake, a condition where the rings of the tree seperate. this will limit the quality of wood coming from those logs. overall, however, the logs look good. if you're wondering, a board foot is 12" x 12" x 1" of lumber. it's a common volumetric standard by which lumber is quantified. imagine one square foot of shelving board and you've imagined roughly a board foot. our project will likely take eight to ten thousand board feet, so not all of it will come from our land, but probably 1/3 to 1/2. since we needed to clear the land anyway for our building and septic sites, the logs were essentially a bonus which means we're getting the timber we saw on-site at about 1/2 the cost of buying it from a mill.

mckim has another job he's finishing, but he estimates he will be able to start work at destiny around june 13. he's going to try to work over the weekend of the 16-18 so that folks can come up and help stack and move the wood. if you're interested please sign up on our work email list by contacting bambi at info#faeriecampdestiny.org (replace the # with @).

Thursday, June 01, 2006


the price of fuel is going up. a new thought: we might think about running our generator on bio-diesel or even waste veggie oil rather than propane, as we had previously thought we would. a propane generator will make our fuel supply simpler, but propane is not renewable. veggie oil is. at this point, veggie oil can be had for free from restaurants. in the future, if using it catches on, that may not be the case, but there is a lot of waste veggie oil out there. i've found a web site that details how to take a used diesel engine of lawnmower size (6-10 horsepower, $150-$200 and attach a DC alternator ($165) to that for operating pumps, charging batteries and inversion for operating 120v devices. this might be a great way for destiny to lower operating costs and be a bit greener.