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, September 9, 2007

Purlins and floor joists

My goal for last week was to complete the frame by the weekend. So, after all of the great help on Sunday and Monday, there were two major things to complete: purlins and first-floor floor joists. We had already put in the second-floor floor joists because we needed them to put down a temporary floor for assembling the rafter sets. Mark and I had spent a few days cutting one end on each of the floor joists and the purlins. Once the frame was raised, we only had to measure for each one and cut the other end.

After squaring and leveling the frame on Wednesday (we did some other work on Tuesday), we made sure the rafters and upstairs posts were plumb. We used 2x6s to brace them in place, and then we measured for the purlins to go in bay one (the west side of the house). My dad, Mark the intern, and I set up an assembly line to cut the ends of the purlins. Once they were cut, Mark and I hefted them up and put them in their mortises. Dad stayed on the ground to hook the purlins on the ropes we used to lift them up the second floor level.

Once we completed the purlins in the first bay, we moved to bay three at the east end of the house. The procedure remained the same. Lifting with the ropes worked well. We didn't have a lot of room at the edge of the frame, but there was enough to set them down, unhook the rope, and then set them in place.

Here's how the frame looked with the purlins in bays one and three:

On Thursday morning, Dad, Mark, and I began on the middle bay purlins. We measured their needed lengths and cut the dove tail tenons and curves on the ends.
Inserting them into their mortises was a much more nerve-wracking job than the other two bays. There is no second floor in the middle bay. So, we had to work from the outside edges on top of the other purlins. We took an hour and a half to just put these 13 purlins in.

Mark and Dad began cutting the floor joists for the the first floor in bay one while I climbed drove wedges into the dovetail joints on the purlins. We purposely cut the dovetail tenons smaller than the mortises. This allowed us to use wedges driven in on the sides of the tenons to draw the joists and purlins tight. It worked well.

By the end of Thursday, we had all of the purlins in and wedged and the first-floor floor joists in bay one. Friday morning we started with the floor joists for bay two (the middle bay). We completed these and the joists for bay three before lunch. Then, while Dad and Mark drove wedges in to tighten up the first-floor joists, I drove pegs through the knee braces that we hadn't previously pegged. So, by lunch time on Friday, September 7, 2007, the frame was completely assembled and pegged!

After taking a few pictures, we put a tarp over the frame on Friday afternoon, in order to keep some of the rain that we hope to receive off of the frame (it's been very dry here, with no appreciable rainfall for the last six weeks).

1 comment:

Sam and Dad said...

The frame looks great! You should be proud of your accomplishment.