Tuesday, July 31, 2007

frame complete

timber party

tiki ladder

we completed the timber frame last weekend with the lifting of the last section and the positioning of the rafters. here we are (well some of us) relaxing in the afternoon heat under the tarped frame. it's a nice spot to hang out! it's made me realize how important having enough windows is going to be. if this project were in a temperate climate it would be wonderful to simply screen it.

we lost a bit of time to my confusion about the final corner. first, the scarf joint was laid out upside down. that was okay in the end because it's a symmetrical joint and we simply flipped the beam and carved a new mortise. but that was the least of the issues. it turned out i'd confused the porch and the main roof framing in my plans and had laid out the top plate six feet too long. all of this was uncovered with the lifting crew watching and i had to eat crow and mea culpa. it felt remarkably good, actually, a perfect balm to the shock of realizing a major mistake. luckily, the beam was too long, as we simply cut the end off. but, i learned an important lesson about plans. i'd combined a bit too much information into a single framing plan and forgot that i'd made the combination. i was reminded of einstein's advice to make things as simple as possible but no simpler.

next we'll be setting the wall plates and putting on the roof deck.

saturday night, a fog rolled in and the near-full moon came up illuminating the meadow and timber frame with a beautiful diffuse light.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

gin pole rafter lift

sunday evening


riding the gin pole

preparing to lift


lifting a rafter

last weekend we got the gin pole up and secured and lifted the remaining rafters up onto the structure. once we got the hang of it, we moved along at a good clip, lifting and positioning 14 rafters in a bit under 3 hours.

we also secured the frame to the concrete slab using the first steel in the building. the rafters are also being secured with very long lag bolts. we're not being completely purist here at faerie camp. but, i do like the fact that we're using as much natural and local material as we possibly can.

we have one last section of the frame to lift. we hope to get it up next weekend during the coming gathering. come the first week of august, we will hopefully receive our roof decking and shortly thereafter the roof insulation and metal roof itself.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

angle iron

i picked up the 26 steel brackets (4 x 6 x 5/16 angle iron with four punched 3/4" holes for bolts) today from the steel yard. i also picked up lag bolts, lag anchors and washers to fit the angle iron to the posts. the angle iron and bolts will secure the posts to the concrete foundation and keep the frame from floating away, a serious problem in light buildings like ours. yes, despite all the huffing and puffing, in the realm of buildings, ours is a lightweight.

this weekend we will bow to the evil generator which we will have to run to power the hammer drill that will make the holes for lag anchors. we'll bore the posts by hand, however.

decking woes

after navigating a somewhat complicated process of getting some roof decking milled, and waiting a week for it to show up, and then going to the lumber yard to find out that they hadn't put the order in and it would be three weeks before it would be milled, i cancelled the order and spent the afternoon considering other options.

the kitchen building has a small budget--very small--around $30,000 give or take. we've spent about 1/2 of that on the foundation, rough plumbing and the frame. we're not in a position to spend freely. so, i'm thinking about using green lumber milled locally. it's about 1/3 the price of kiln-dried similar material, but does have the downside of shrinkage which could cause problems. however, buildings have been built with green lumber far longer than they have with kiln-dried. we could stack and air-dry the decking on site until fall when it would be substantially dry and we would then be able to apply the insulation layer immediately since by that time we surely will have received the insulation.

as far as the overall project goes, we can tarp the rafters as a temporary measure to protect work underneath. we've been working successfully and dryly under a tarped structure all last fall and this spring and summer. while it's not as secure as a deck roof with metal atop, i think it will do until fall, and whether or not we let the green lumber dry, we'll be about $2000 better off on the bottom line.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

good progress

lifting rafter
lifting rafters


a peg

from the circle
from the meadow

evidence of planing

timber frame
view from road

i finally remembered my camera and snapped some shots of the frame. after some trouble with the gin pole (mostly my fault for trying to make it into a jib crane, something it doesn't do very well), moss brought a couple come-alongs and rigged them to the end of the frame where we lifted, one-by-one, the 23-foot rafters up onto the frame and slid them down into position. michel, carl and moss dug a footing hole into which we set a concrete footing topped by a decorative pier formed from our own hemlock. it will support the outer-most post of the frame which stands clear of the building and welcomes people as the walk up to the front of the building. eventually, there will be a bench attached to it.

i visited the farm from which we'll get our straw. it's ready to go. we just need to figure out how to transport it. a friend has a big old chevy 6-ton truck that i hope we can use to shuttle the bales.

i also visited a company that supplies clay for pond linings. i've got a sample and am going to play with it to see if it behaves well for straw application. it doesn't seem as sticky as it ought to be, but it does look a lot like the clay that we used on the house in new hampshire last year. i've got a good sample from that project and will do some comparison.

the roof decking has been ordered and will arrive, hopefully, this week. with the rafters in place, we can proceed to roof the building. at first, we'll simply tarp it to keep water out, and so that we can proceed with bringing the straw in. after we choose a roof panel system, we'll remove the tarps and install the panels and cover with metal roofing of some sort, also to be determined.

Friday, July 13, 2007

frame raising pic from michel

timber frame raising

here's one picture! there are more at michel's flickr site.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


i'll be visiting the farm where our straw has been grown tomorrow afternoon to inspect the bales and chat with the farmer about delivery. the farm is about 19 miles from destiny. i'm not quite sure how we're going to transport 500 bales of straw from there to destiny, but we'll figure it out. ideally, a nice big flatbed would be fabulous. but, we may have to resort to a rental truck or moving van. the bales are about 18 inches wide, 30 inches long and 14 inches tall.

i'm hoping we can take delivery of the straw in the next couple weeks so that once the roof deck is on we can move immediately stacking the straw and plastering.


i've found a local source for clay, just down the road a bit and up the connecticut river. it took the better part of an afternoon to find it. the search reminded me a bit of a job i had 20 years ago writing software that needed a computer mouse. back then, mice were little animals and calling companies asking if they made mice was led to some humorous interactions. it was much the same this afternoon cold calling people asking if they knew where i could find a bunch of clay. i resorted to trying people on roads named "clay pit road" and also calling town clerks to see if they knew of any clay pits.

i finally called an excavator whom we've used in the past and they directed me to a company in charlestown, new hampshire, about 18 miles from camp (local). i asked if their clay was local and he told me they dig it up out of the "back yard." had we not been able to find clay, lime would have been our option, and we will likely still final coat with lime because it has superior weather resistance properties in our climate, but the undercoats can be clay which is fun and safe to apply by hand.

roof deck ordered

the roof decking material is on order, hopefully arriving next week or early the week after. i ended up ordering milled 2x6 stock from our local lumber company. it turned out to be just about the same price for kiln dried and green material! we're having the 2x6s tongue and grooved and v-jointed. this will make a nice looking wood ceiling. tongue and grooving meshes the individual roof deck pieces into a well connected structure that resists racking of the structure along the roof plane. i ordered lengths that will join at the center of rafters so that joints are well supported and not visible.

frame is up

and no pictures to show for it. well, i didn't take any pictures because i forgot my camera. but, there are some coming and i'm taking my camera down this weekend to shoot some pix and raise some rafters.

the frame went up quickly on last saturday, with only a single hitch, a small but correctable measuring mistake (mine). i'm impressed with the stature of the frame, not only its proportions which feel majestic but also it's muscularity. looking at it i realized that the beefiness of timber frame is one of the things that attracts me to it.

we have one lift remaining that we didn't raise because we haven't installed a footing. we're hoping to get that in this weekend.

Friday, July 06, 2007


This coming weekend we'll be raising the rest of the frame. All week we've been cutting rafters that sit upon the frame. As of Wednesday, we had all but eight completed. I haven't been at the camp for the past two days but hopefully those eight are finished and ready to go.

If you're considering visiting the camp, this would be a good weekend to see faerie power in action!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

timber frame goes up

a bit ahead of schedule, last weekend we raised a portion of the timber frame. with a few minor glitches (forgotten braces, shallow mortises) it went together as planned! we plan to raise the rest of the frame this coming weekend.