Sunday, June 21, 2020

Using every trick in the book

Let me just say, log cabin building is not for the faint of heart and when it comes to getting 150 pound 6x6 rafters up requires creativity and the use of every trick in the book.

The 6x6 timbers that I had cut a few years ago came in handy and will work nicely as the rafters for Cabin #6. The extension ladder made a nice ramp to pull the 150 pound rafters up and into place.

The birds mouth cuts in the rafters provide a good positive stop for the rafter. The layout for one of these is a bit tricky and requires some thinking. I used a 2x4 and made a full sized pattern. Then used the skill saw to make the cuts.

The requires a corresponding cut to be made in the top plate of the wall. Here you can see how the rafter and plate lock together. Making the installment of big heavy rafters like these easier as there is no chance that they will slip off the top plate while working on the top ends. A long screw will be used to anchor each rafters to the top plate.

The top ends of the rafters sit on the ridge beam. They were half lapped, drilled and will be pinned together. Here you can see the roofs large over hangs. 48" on the back side. 30" on the rake ends and 5 feet for the front porch. This will provide plenty of protection to the bottom logs from rain.

And here you have it.  June 21, 2020 Cabin #6 framed and topped out, ready for the next phase? Site preparation.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Brace factory for Ridge beam posts

Going with a 20" base on the 45 degree 4x4 braces was my choice. 18" seemed a bit small and 24 to large. The four on the left are to hold the ridge beam posts up and the two on the right will brace the top of the center post. 16 feet is to long of a span for the ridge and would allow it to sag under the load of the 6x6 rafters, 2x6 roof boards, foam insulation and sheet steel roofing. You can see the two different ways I cut the 2" tenons. I think the style on the left lends itself to cutting on the radial arm saw and getting the 2" tenon thickness when the 4x4's are rough and vary in thickness as much as 1/2".

After cutting the mortises for the post and braces it was time to make a test fit. The gable ends will be further framed in with 2x4's and insulated. Wanting to keep the braces and joinery visible inside I located the braces to allow them to be seen from the inside. Here you can also see the 6x6 beam that is at the edge of the loft. This will support the roof load, transferring that roof load to the cabin walls and not the loft floor joists.

With both ridge support posts in place I put a 2x4 across the tops to help locate the placement of the center post.

After locating the placement of the center post it was time to layout and cut the mortises for the five tenons the ridge beam would be sitting on. The ridge beam has about 1" of camber cut into it.

The middle post was then mounted in place. Grand daughter Ruby was my spotter.  3/4" square pegs were used in the 7/8" drilled peg holes. These work good as just the corners touch (square peg in a round hole trick) and can be removed easily for the dis-assembly and move and then replaced with 7/8" diameter oak pegs.

So with all the posts set in place and braced it was time raise the ridge beam. Notice the front wall has been modified to give it more bracing. Just stacking and screwing the top three 6x6's was not stable enough.

At 300 pounds lifting the ridge beam in place required some help from the Osterday Cabin crew. Five minutes and the job was done. Good 6 foot plus head room in the loft and a Perfect fit!

So on to the next part, cutting and fitting the ten 6x6 rafters.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Scarf joints, ugh!

As I begin this process I find myself asking why? The best answer I can give anyone is that I do not have any 6x6 timbers that are 22' long. I have made several of these scarf joints before and with a few variations and every time it become a new learning experience. So here goes blog followers.

Setting up a work surface that is level and sturdy is the first order of business. Because of my lack of confidence and that I do not have any extra 6x6's to waste I chose to put to 18 footers together like this. My thinking was that if I goof it up I will still have enough length to try again. After all I only need 22'

So the scarf is going to look like this. The ends are squinted so that when the wedge is driven in the middle the joint is locked together. I could go through all the layout but just let me tell you I spent the better part of the morning laying it out, sanding it off and trying it again until I got it.

After several fits and starts I had the first half cut and was pretty happy with the results. If you notice the cut on the left side requires a plunge cut and because the timber is 6" thick has to be made from both sides with the 7- 1/4 skill saw. Then you have to connect the two to remove the piece. No small task when working with rough sawn timber that is not square. Think about that.

After watching a video on this they said just to trace the profile of the first one on to the second piece. Easy Peasy, right? Well wheeling around two 18' 6x6"s weighing 150 pounds each is a hand full. But I got it. Even cut it so I had about a 1 - 1/2" of camber into the joint.

And there we have it. Getting the ends and surfaces even and tight like this is achieved by a process called "sawing up the kerf" and as you can see really does the job. The folding wedge in the middle is cut so that the outside surfaces are parallel when driven in. This is much better that a standard tapered single wedge. So one down and two to go. This was going to be easier than I thought. But you know what they say, "At the end of a perfect day, look out the day is not over yet!"

So here we go on to beam number two. Layed down one of the first pieces and traced the cut lines. Carefully marking with an "X" the material that was to be removed and a "V" to show which side of the line to make the saw kerf. Don't want to get confused and...

SECOND CUT. Good grief. The one in the middle. I had a 50/50 chance of getting this right and blew it. All I'll say is that I had a brief moment of prayer and moved on after I cut this piece off and started over. Did I mention this was going to be a "new" learning experience. Nothing new about making mistakes like this for me. Just having a hard time blaming it on one of the Big 3 - Poor Material - Bad Equipment or Someone Else and since I was by myself that option was out.

Two down one to go.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Cabin #6 Phase 1 complete

PHASE 1 - Log Work

The log work for the cabin walls is complete! Eleven rounds of logs for an 8 foot cabin ceiling height. Window and door openings rough framed. Loft floor and opening for stairs roughed in.

A temporary floor has been put in place to make a work surface for the next phase.

Just how many phases are there to building this hand hewed log cabin you ask? Lets see...

Phase 1 - The log work, building the walls. - Getting the logs, racking, pealing, hewing, notching.

Phase 2 - The roof framing.  - Top plates, ridge beam, rafters and porch framing.

Phase 3 - Cabin site work. - Driveway, leveling, gravel, concrete slab, electric and gas service lines.

Phase 4 - Move Cabin to site. - Dis-assembly, transport, finish coatings, re-assemble, stairs, floor and
                loft railing.
Phase 5 - Roof - finish roof boards, install, insulation and roof tin.

Phase 6 - Electrical and gas lines inside cabin. - Wall and ceiling outlets.

Phase 7 - Trim out cabin. - Install door, windows, floor insulation and finish floor. Gas fireplace.

Phase 8 - Chink logs. - Inside and outside after one year of log drying time.

So on and off for the next year I will be posting my work and progress on Phases 2 thru 8. Let's get started.

PHASE 2 - The Roof Framing

Building with "green" timber requires some consideration for the fact that wood shrinks as it dries out. Wood has a grain and the wood shrinks along the width and thickness. For round logs we look at the diameter. For example, in the green (wet) state the log may be 12" in diameter. After the log has air dried (3 to 6 months) it will shrink. If the new dry diameter is now  11 and 3/4" that's 1/4" per foot shrinkage. You can calculate that an 8 foot tall stack of "green" cabin wall logs is going to shrink down 2" when they are dry. It must be noted that wood does not shrink lengthwise (an 8 foot long log will forever be 8 foot long wet or dry).  Knowing all this, allowances must be made for this shrinkage or all kinds of nasty problems will visit your work (window and door frames with vertical pieces) in the future. Crushed windows and doors that will not open!

The roof framing (in blue) for this cabin will be sitting on a 10 foot tall stack of green logs (in yellow) that will be shrinking down to somewhere around 9' - 9" when dry in a year or so. The roof frame is being made from dry 6x6 timbers so there will be little or no shrinkage. But what the roof frame sits on WILL SHRINK! Now this would not be a problem if there was no porch because the tail end of the roof rafters (in red) would just end up 3" closer to the ground when the cabin logs dried. However there will be a porch (in orange) on Cabin #6 and it will have to be adjustable to allow for the 3" movement of the roof rafter tails downward. One solution might be to wait and build the porch after the cabin has dried. Something to consider, but either way a method of adjustment will be needed. Either to lower or raise the porch framing to meet the tail ends (in red) of the roof rafters. I am going to build the porch now and adjust it downward as the cabin log wall shrink.

The sketch above shows the framing design I have chosen. Ten  6x6 rafters (four shown in red 12' - 6" long in the front and 14' - 3" long in the back) spaced 48" O.C. They will sit on a 16' long 6x6 top plate in front over the door and 20' - 8" long 6x6 top plate on the back side. The back top plate is longer to provide a 30" overhang on the rake ends of the cabin. This will help protect the bottom logs from the weather.

The height adjustable porch will also be built from dried 6 x 6's. It will be fastened to the cabin wall with screws using a slotted 2 x 6. The screws will go through the slots into the cabin logs. As the cabin wall logs shrink the slots will allow the screws to slide down. The front posts holding up the 6 x  6 porch beam will have adjuster screws at the bottoms. As the wall shrinks the screws will be adjusted to lower the top beam.  

One of my concerns is the span I am making with the 6 x 6 rafters on the back side (about 11 feet from ridge to top plate) expecting them to support the roof load. HEY, it just dawned on me that the span will not be 16 feet as I was thinking. This is good news. The span of the ridge will be another issue. So I will get some test data to work with. Here goes...

So I took an 18 foot long 6 x 6 and spaced it at 16 feet with 2 x 4's over another 6 x 6. Then I marked the center at 8 feet. I stretched a line from end to end.

I placed a screw at the 16 foot midpoint on the bottom side of the string.

Then I loaded'er up. At 700 pounds the gap was 1". At 878 pounds as shown here the gap was 1 and 1/2 ". If I get some time on my hands I could set this up and test for a span of just 11 feet.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Main Cabin Walls Up

Getting logs to the top of the walls now requires a bit more effort. The ramp had to be lengthened and I even had to use my new rope come-along to make this happen.

With all the walls above the door and windows it is now time to switch gears and plan for the logs that will go from the front to rear wall and support the floor of the loft. Note in this picture you can see the 2 - 1/2" gap that has been cut above the door header. This is to allow for the shrinkage that will occur as the logs dry and shrink over the next year.

Here is a look of the cabin from the back side. Again in each case you can see the gaps that have been cut to allow for future shrinkage as the logs dry. The floor beam logs will be flattened on the top sides and notched into the top front and back logs seen in this picture.

Hey, want to share a picture of the finished pole shed workshop project. Walls and ceiling are insulated with 2" of spray foam. Then I painted the walls and floor. After some "work experience" with the machines and lighting in place I will wire everything up to eliminate any need for extension cords. An infrared  heating system for the cold months is in the works as well as an exhaust system for the welding area.

And here is the latest. Have a new wind tunnel that will be used by the KidWind teams to test and analyze their blade airfoil designs when we start working again.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Back to Log Cabin Work

Let the chips fly! Five rounds of logs up here, but have made steady progress and round six is also done. Will have to do some THINKING now and plan for the rounds at the top of the door and windows.

Lots of ax work makes lots of chips.

So I did a little clean up. Three piles, one for the bark and shavings that will be burned. The other two are for the chips from the half dovetails and the other is for the slabs that are split off. The slabs will for the wood stove next winter after they dry out. All this was helpful in the early spring as it kept down the mud as the ground thawed out, but then it became a pain to walk over and had to go.

Scaffolding is working nicely. I am looking forward to reaching the top of the door and windows. Then I will be back to using full length logs that will tie the walls together and I will be able the take off the inside braces that hold the door and window frames in place.

The full cabin will be nine rounds of logs. A few weeks ago I selected the 8 logs that will be used for the rounds above the door and windows. These had to be the full length of the cabin walls and I did not want to get confused and cut one of them for a short piece. This gets confusing when you have to think through the logs as each round has a start  (made up of 3 logs of different lengths) and a finish (made of four logs of different lengths) to it when you are working around the walls that have a door and windows.  Also the beams that will make the floor for the loft have to be placed in the round that is at the right height and need to run the narrow way (13' side) of the cabin.

The drawing helped but I think it best to model up the last rounds and label the logs with their numbers for the best results. We will see in the next few weeks.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Shed Workshop Part 4 Picture Day

So in with the windows. Four nice basement units that open and with screens! One in three to go. Thanks to my friend Jerry for the suggestion and lead on these from Menards. I was going with just some ol' unframed thermo panes. These will open and let in some air as well as the light. Simple 2x4 frame and then some aluminum trim. Will flash the top with steel that matches the shed color when it gets here

View from the outside of the shed. The windows face the south so the flashing will have a 8 inch overhang to cut down on the direct rays of the sun heating up the workshop in the summer. I hope.

Three inches of fiberglass insulation on the two interior walls.

Then cover the insulation with 1/2" OSB. This will be painted and make a nice place to hang tools.
Notice the clean space. This workshop will never look like this after today as I start the process of placing the machines and tools.

One more set of shelves to add and then can start the process of moving tools and machines into the area. Plan to spray foam the two outside walls and the ceiling. Then after I decide on the machine placement I will wire up the outlets.

Will be going back to work on Cabin #6 now and post a picture or two of the finished workshop after the machinery is in.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Shed Workshop Part 3

So with the post and beam system up it was time to stud in the 40 foot wall. I like the look of the braces so I will use 2x4's for the wall and this way the post and beams will stick out 3 inches after the 3/4" sheathing is nailed on.

The 10 foot sliding doors for this wall are made out of insulated garage door panels. The Amish around here use them around the perimeter of their green houses to stop the frost. At $.95 a square foot pretty good price and make a nice looking door. With the rail system I got I had to cut out a pocket on the inside of the door and put in a 2x6 piece to hold the adjusting screws coming down from the rollers. I assembled the doors on sawhorses but lifting them up by myself was going to be a challenge.

Nice door! My new continuous rope come along did the trick again. Once I had it up and off the sawhorses I could roll it into place on a couple of broom sticks.

Getting the rail attached and level was the next problem to solve and went quite well. The corner area and framing for the door made a perfect place for a time capsule and I took full advantage of the space. I just put screws in to hold the cover piece and will note that so maybe in 10 or 15 years it can be opened to read about what was going on in April of 2020 and more can be added. Like a  living time capsule.

Last but not least the passageway door for the workshop. This will be used only in the heating season otherwise the door and two 10 foot sliding doors will be open to keep the air flowing and make the space more open and usable.

And as an added bonus I got 600 square feet of new storage space above the workshop.
Next up will be the wiring, lights and four windows in the South outside wall.