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.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Full Frame Fit-Up Has Begun

Last week, I was able to begin the full frame fit-up. We moved the beams and posts to a pile near the house site, organizing them for easy access. It became apparent that I would need to replace some of them because they twisted beyond the point of usability. Two 8x8 twisted and four 6x8s. I also discovered that I had cut one post 4 inches too short. I guess I forgot to measure twice and cut once on that one.

Since I needed to replace these timbers, I called Cub Run Hardwoods and had them cut me some replacements. I also had them cut 20 more 12' 4"x6"s for my floor joists and purlins. I'll need about 100 of them, which I have, but some of them will need to be culled because of various factors, including twisting while drying over the last two years. We hauled all of these timbers home on the trailer last Thursday. Being all green oak, the load weighed about 6,000 pounds. I forgot to take a picture of them stacked on the trailer to share here.

We (we is myself and the intern we have here this summer -- he's learning about homesteading in exchange for labor) worked two days on fitting-up last week. We started with the front wall of the house, making sure the braces and girts fit in the posts and that they are square. It went pretty well, actually.

This photo shows the front wall of the frame as we laid it out, minus the first post which you can't see in the picture. we laid things out on the foundation piers for the house, using 2x6s with support in the middle between them. I have to replace the two bottom girts for bays 1 and 3. That's why they are not present in the photo. I'll fit them up in their respective places this week after I remake them. There are two cedar girts in the middle bay, but only one will be visible from inside the house. The girts at the bottom of the posts will be below floor level.

Here's another view looking at the third post (counting from the left in the pictures). The lower portion of the posts from the mortises on down will not be visible from inside the house. So, they aren't planed. In the background you can see part of our garden.

We drilled the holes for pegging the frame as part of the fit-up process. I'll be draw-boring the joints.

The next day we fit-up the posts and girts for the center of the house. Tomorrow or the next day, we'll do the fit-up for the back wall of the frame. I want to complete the girt that needs to be replaced for that wall first. I'll take some more pictures and share them here.

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