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, October 22, 2007

The cathedral ceiling, part one

For various projects during the last few years, I've purchased bundles of cull lumber from Cub Run Hardwoods in Cub Run, KY. These bundles consist of 600 to 800 board feet of 1 inch thick lumber in various widths that they cull out for various reasons while operating the mill. It's great lumber and a good deal ($100/bundle) for barns and other buildings. Some of the boards are not usable, but usually most of the bundle is nice lumber, maybe with a blemish or a couple of knots. The bundles are made up of whatever species of wood they are milling at the time. Often, there is a mix of woods.

I purchased several bundles last summer and sorted through them, separating the ones that were potentially acceptable for use in the house. One of the uses I had in mind was the cathedral ceiling. After drying about 800 board feet in my greenhouse using a couple of box fans to circulate the air, my dad helped me to plane them to the same thickness (7/8"). We primarily planed only one side (some were thicker and were planed on both sides) since only one side is to be seen -- that inside of the house. We stacked these planed boards on the shed side of my garage where they waited until a little over a week ago.

I cut these boards to 4 foot and 5 foot lengths (they varied in length from 8 to 13 feet). These shorter lengths fit what I need for the ceiling, and they are a lot easier to work with than longer lengths. I set up a 9 foot fence on the table saw and squared the edges, trying to remove as little wood as possible in the process. After squaring the edges, I put a stacked dado head blade in the table saw in order to cut a rabbet on the edges. After about two full days of work, this is what I had:

The boards stacked on my trailer.

Stacked in the frame ready to be tarped.

I alternated the boards to calculate their total square footage.

I had almost half of the boards I need completed. I need to plane more that are dry for the rest of them. That job is waiting for either my new planer knives to arrive or the ones I sent off to be sharpened to return (they were quite dull).

I decided that I would put the boards I had completed on the back section of the ceiling on Friday. I used a framing nailer with 2" nails to attach them to the frame purlins. The boards' length allowed them to span across three purlins. They butt up against one another for each row on the purlins. This worked well since they are of various widths. Here's how it turned out:

There are several different species in this ceiling. As near as I could tell, there is oak, maple, hickory, and locust. The different colors and shades of the wood work well together with their random placement.

This is the view from on top looking toward the west. You can see the joints between the rows of boards. This side of the boards was unplaned except on a few of them.

This is the view off of the other corner toward the east. I thought it was pretty, so I'm sharing it.

It really didn't take long to nail the boards down. Yesterday, I put some 30# felt on the top of the boards to help keep rain water from staining them. I hope to have the front slope of the roof put on within the next two weeks. It'll depend upon when I have sharp knives for the planer.

1 comment:

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The idea of building a house debt free is definitely commendable. This blog is an inspiration for people like me who give up the idea of making their own home due to the fear of getting indebted. I great read for sure.