Introduction

The 57 acres that comprise Cedar Ridge Farm are located in the beautiful rolling hills of South Central Kentucky. My wife, our four children, and I are on a homesteading adventure as we work toward increased self-sufficiency. We grow much of our own food and enjoy being in touch with the agrarian roots of our lives.

One of the major projects we have undertaken is the building of our own home. The house we're building has three major distinguishing features: 1. we're building it without incurring any debt; 2. it is a timber frame structure; and 3. the exterior walls will be plastered straw bales. We live debt and mortgage free, and building our house with that approach makes perfect sense. Large timbers in a home possess a beauty and project a sense of strength, stability, and warmth that we want in our home. Straw bale walls provide insulation and make ecological sense. This blog is a record of our home-building project.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Video walk through–January 16, 2016

I thought a short video showing the floors as they look with a coat of oil would be appropriate. So, here it is:

 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The floors on 1-16-2016

On Monday (1-11-2016) we put a second coat of oil on the upstairs floors, the stairway, the guest room floor, and the master bedroom floor, and we put the first coat of oil on the rest of the great room floor. On Tuesday morning, Malchiah and I wiped excess oil off of all the floors. Most of the oil had soaked in by then, but there was still some on the surface. We weren’t able to apply any more hemp seed oil during the rest of the week – I worked away from home Wednesday and Thursday and had other tasks to take care of on Friday.

I took a few photos of the floors this morning to share here in the blog. The oiling is not finished yet, but these photos should give you an idea of how things look right now. (Note: left-clicking on any photo will open a larger view of it.)

DSCN1444DSCN1453DSCN1456DSCN1459DSCN1460DSCN1468DSCN1469DSCN1462

Beginning to oil the floors

On Sunday (1-10-2016) we did some more cleaning in order to get as much dust as we could cleaned up. Then, we were excited to start oiling – we just couldn’t wait! So, beginning upstairs in one of the bedrooms, we started the process of treating all of the floors with hemp seed oil. It was a simple process, actually. We poured oil on the floor and spread it around. I had a pad attached to a broom handle, and the three younguns working with me used rags. We oiled the upstair’s floors and window sills and then oiled the guest room and master bedroom floors and their window sills. The next day, we applied a second coat of oil over the first. We then put a first coat on the rest of the floor that hadn’t yet been done.


We’ll be applying the other coats soon, but I wanted to share some photos of the process and how the floor looked with a fresh coat of hemp seed oil. The glossy look is because the oil was fresh on top of the floor and hadn’t soaked in yet.


100_4942100_4944100_4945100_4953100_4981100_4985100_4991100_4994

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Video: 1-9-2016 house walk through

I made a walk through video of the house yesterday. I thought that some of you would like to see it with painted walls and sanded hardwood floors.

I hope you enjoy it.

Pantry shelves

Across the hallway from the main bathroom is the pantry. This small room is intended for the storage of canned goods and other food items (including grains and beans stored in air-tight containers). The room is about 8 feet long by 6 feet wide.

Last spring, Malchiah and I built the shelves in the pantry. The design was for shelves on three walls, extending the length of the room from either side of the doorway and across the back wall. Anne and I determined the shelf heights based upon their intended uses, including a lower shelf capable of holding 5-gallon buckets and shelves for quart-sized canning jars. I had previously purchased several 2x10 boards for building the shelves, and we used these. I had to rip about 3 inches off of each one in order to make shelves 15 inches deep (a 2x10 is a little over 9 inches in width).

After we built the shelves, we oiled them with hemp seed oil. They came out looking great! (Never mind the dust on the shelves – that’s a result of sanding the floors and will be cleaned off soon.)

100_4921

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sanded hardwood floor

I keep working on the house as time allows. In September, I borrowed a friend's old flooring drum sander. It needed new foam on the drum. I bought some off of Ebay with its own adhesive, cut it to size, and adhered it after scraping/sanding off all the remains of the old foam. It seemed to work fine. I used 3/8” foam, but 1/2” would have been better (it ends up requiring the sanding sheets to be have about 1/2” cut off their length – not a big deal). When removing the drum in order to install a belt for the vacuum system, one side of the aluminum frame that holds the drum broke off. I had to repair it using a thin metal plate bolted to the side to hold the broken piece in place. The repair worked fine.

The flooring boards had some variation in height because the level of the tongues and groves was not consistent between all the boards. I’m not complaining – a friend milled the flooring for me, and I know how hard it can be to get everything consistent without an actual flooring mill machine. Because of the variations, I had to do some extra sanding to get the floor surface level.
I started with 24-grit sand paper, moved to 36-grit, 60-grit, 80-grit, and then 100-grit. The sander itself is not as strong and aggressive as I imagine a new machine would be. That was a good thing – less chance of creating divots and hollows in my floor. Doing the edge sanding was more of a job. I used a belt sander, mainly. This worked well.

In all, I spent about two weeks worth of work sanding the floors, but they are now done. Once we get things all cleaned up in the house, we’ll finish them with hemp seed oil. I don’t want to put a plastic finish on my natural wood floors. So, polyurethane is not an option. Besides, if you get a scratch in a traditional poly finish, you have a scratch in your finish that cannot be simply repaired. With an oiled finish, you can repair such things with a little sanding and more oil. An oil finish is not glossy/shiny, of course, but that’s not the look I desire. An oil finish is warm, soft, and durable. Hemp seed oil (and tung oil) is a drying oil – it will harden when it dries (it takes about two weeks to dry).


I’ll update after we get the floors oiled. In the meantime, here are few photos of the sanded floor.







Friday, December 26, 2014

Beech hardwood floor in the guest room

At the beginning of December, we put down the first of the hardwood floor in our house. We worked to get one room painted and ready for the floor. We chose the guest room because it’s out of the way (not a traffic area).

Painting involves mixing our own paint (based upon a recipe I came up with after several experiments and trials). It’s basically a clay-based paint. The first coat has a lot of silica sand added to give texture to the walls. Technically, you would call this an Alis. It’s actually a thin plaster. We brush it on with paintbrushes, trying to get it even. It not only provides a nice texture for the walls, it helps cover up imperfections in the finish coat of plaster. The second coat of paint is the same recipe but without the sand added. This brushes over the first coat, brightening the walls (white) and making sure the texture is locked into place (the sand can be rubbed off the walls before the final coat).

Once we painted all of the walls and the ceiling in the guest room, we installed the hardwood floor in the room. 100_3386The wood we have is from some trees we cut and which a friend milled, planed, and tongue-and-grooved for us. It’s been sitting in the house for a couple of years waiting.

In the fall of 2013, I bought a flooring nailer. It was a good deal, although it was a refurbished unit. I never tried it out until it was time to install the floor. Well, it didn’t work right. I wouldn’t drive the nails or staples in all the way, leaving them about 1/16” above the tongue. I tried everything I could think of to get it replaced or repaired, but there was no honest way. At that point, I spent five minutes with a file modifying the base plate, and now the nailer works fine.100_3387

We spent two or three days laying the floor, and it turned out quite nice. We used American Beech in this room. Some of the logs sat waiting to be milled longer than ideal which resulted in some spalting of the wood. Spalting is wood coloration caused by fungi. If left long enough, the wood will rot, but spalting does not mean the wood is rotten. It adds additional character to the floor. Some people pay extra money for spalted wood.

100_3384After we installed the floor, I made some templates for finishing the window seat. Then, I cut the necessary curves in some Maple hardwood flooring that I bought and which is slated for the window seats/sills. I nailed these boards in place except for the last one at the outside edge. I need to rip it to the proper width, curve the two ends, and then round the top edge a little. I will also install a board along the wall underneath the outside edge board.

I’m pleased with how the floor and window seat turned out. It will be nice when we have all of the floors and window seats done.