A diary of the projects, hurdles, rewards and family life at we recorded at Wise Acres, our former homestead in Horsefly, BC. (Careers and teenagers have forced us back into the city, at least for a little while.)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Cabin - Part 4: Posts and Beams

We woke to a foggy but beautiful morning.

Today Damon came back and we were joined by my friend Florian. We set the final logs up, placed the porch posts and put up the roof beams.

While Damon finished up the logs, Florian and I braced the posts after setting them onto threaded rods. These allow me to adjust their height later, as they are perpendicular to the logs, and though logs will shrink across the grain over time (and drop my walls as much as a few inches) the post won't shorten.

Getting that last beam up onto the posts was a little tricky, but we were successful the first try (after measuring many many times on the ground first). You can see a bit of the cut-out detail on the ends of the beams.

The posts are fastened to the beams with pegs that run through the mortise and tenon.

Next - the rafters...

Location:Wiseacres, Horsefly, BC

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The cabin - part 3.5: The Trench

It's been a few weeks since we could do more on the cabin project, but we made come great headway today.

My friend Matt came over with his farm-size Kubota and used the backhoe to dig an 18"-wide by 30"-inch deep trench from the house to the cabin. It was amazing to watch the skill needed for what might seem to be a simple job... And it brought out way more dirt than I'd expected.

According to Jim, our local electrician, Telus recommends a foot between their communications lines and any power lines. The 18 inches leaves us some room to play.

I plan to run phone, Ethernet and a satellite cable through a conduit.

Location:Wiseacres, Horsefly, BC

Monday, October 10, 2011

The cabin - part 3: Deck and more Walls

Sunday morning we started up again, with Bobbi and Tim laying the boards on the deck, and Damon and I continuing on the walls.

The deck looks great, with the reddish fir being a nice contrast to the pale pine.

The tarp went back up to keep any rain out.

Today G and I fastened the 3/4-inch subfloor, and that was pretty much all we could do without help.

I'm not sure when we'll tackle the rest - there's still so much to do, but we can't start a lot without the roof on, and sometimes life gets in the way. But that's the way it goes.

Location:Horsefly, BC

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The cabin - part 2: Partial Walls and Floor

It was a great day, and we are so lucky to have friends and family willing to be a part of this.

We started pretty early , but let me show you what the foundation looks like. These are pressure treated posts set about 2.5 feet deep on a 3"x10"x18" board to spread the weight. (Did you know wood needs water and air to rot? Since the wood here is buried snugly, air will not access it.) Damon helped me start digging and setting these, and I've finished them over the past few weeks.

We cut the posts level (with a line level, chainsaw and grinder) and set our first row in place so we could square it. You see my uncle David eyeing something. The front porch is cantilevered, but that will be more obvious later.

While some of us leveled and squared, others unloaded the truck and started cutting floor joists.

The floor joists were hung on metal hangers, and we screwed 1"x4" to their lower sides - the lip being a support for inlaid plywood. This was easier than trying to attach full plywood sheets from underneath. The crawlspace has as little as 10 inches of clearance in one corner. Before installing the fiberglass and vapor barrier, we tuck-taped all the seams.

We finished with the floor (3/4 inch tongue-and-groove plywood) laid but not yet fastened, and about 6 rows of logs up.

It looked like it might rain, so before going in and having Joanne's most excellent turkey, we covered it all with a tarp.

Tim, Bobbi, Matt, Damon, and Uncle David deserve a huge amounts of thanks for helping today, and some of them are coming back tomorrow.

Location:Horsefly, BC

Friday, October 7, 2011

The cabin - part 1: Plans and Tools

This weekend we are raising the majority of what will be my new office - a square log cabin.

With much help from my cousins at Zirnhelt Timberframes, who formalized my design and milled the logs, we are finally at the build phase of the project.

But to get here...

It took us a while to settle on a design and a building technology. It was too easy to add a little here and there, and blow our meager budget.

After much advice was sought from many sources, we settled on a small (10'x14') square log (6"x8") cabin. This meant a fairly straightforward assembly with a close-to-completed interior. I was afraid I'd spend a year looking at fiberglass behind vapor barrier otherwise!

Though my cousin Damon did most of the milling, I went out to help last weekend. Here's a view of one of their workshops, with three bays. Incidentally, I built (under skilled guidance) the majority of the right bay a few years ago when I spent a week with them to learn about timber framing.

Most of the timber work could be done with tools I have already, but with far less ease and precision. Here are some of what I got to use...

This is what I call a portable drill press. Because the electrical wires have to be run through the logs, we need to make the holes before assembling, and they have to line up perfectly. This tool ensures a plumb hole.

The next part is making the boxes for outlets and switches, and for this we use a mortise tool - imagine a blending of a drill press and a chainsaw. The four rows of spinning teeth are pressed into the wood, and create a nice, clean, square hole.

I then used a chisel to clean out some of the wood between the box and the hole I drilled for the cable - this gives the electrician some room to work.

One of my favorite tools is the electric chamfering plane - it removes wood from corners at a 45-degree angle, and really gives it a finished look. We actually did this to make room for the chinking later.

I went back tonight to help load the logs onto the trailer for tomorrow's delivery. It doesn't seem like much, but it's all there.

The chainsaw was to cut off the excess lengths on the spacers.

I'll share more as we progress.

Location:Horsefly, BC