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, July 29, 2007

Building the first bent

On Thursday of last week (7/26), Mark and I laid out the rafter set for the fourth bent and fit it together. We took our time, making sure that the mortises and tenons were properly sized and drilling holes for the pegs. We also needed to chisel the mortises on the tie beam for the rafter posts and the brace. I also needed to cut the birds mouth for the rafter foot on the front of the tie beam (I forgot to cut these when I completed the tie beams nearly 2.5 years ago). I didn't take any pictures, unfortunately.

Since my previous post in which I shared my raising ideas, I've changed my mind. We will not be raising the bents completely assembled to the rafters. I thought it would be simpler and safer to raise each bent completed to the tie beam. Then, after they are raised and attached together with connecting girts and braces, we can assemble and raise the rafter sets on top. I'll still use a gin pole, just not a 30' one. The raising may take longer, but safer and simpler is better.

On Friday morning (7/27), we began assembling the first bent. We laid out the three posts with their feet on the piers and the other ends supported on blocks (scraps from cutting the timbers to size). Things went pretty well. We made sure the mortises and tenons were properly sized. I've been amazed at how the mortises have shrunk over time. I expected they would enlarge.

I've been intending to draw bore all of the joints, but not all are to be done that way. We used a come-along to pull together the posts and some of the beams and then pegged. I decided to do it that way because of how tightly some of the joints fit together, and I didn't relish pulling it apart to drill the tenon. This photo is of the first pegs I've ever driven into a timber frame.

After the bottom beams were pegged, the front post had a pretty good twist visible at the top. It straightened out when we pulled the tie beam onto the tenon at the top of the post. It was pretty neat to watch it straighten out. The other end of the scarfed tie beam over the back post was twisted. It wouldn't straighten out. So, there's a bit of a gap between it and the post on one side. I don't think it'll matter any though.

Here are some photos of the assembled bent.

It was neat to see this piece of the house come together. We'll tackle the next bent tomorrow morning.

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