Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Design, design, design

The second part of this project is the building, beyond the little barnini, of a house, a building that will look out on the barn.  This is the first post on the second project.  My goal will be to photograph and catalogue the design and building process.

Over the past five years, house design has been pushing its way into my little brain.  And what has emerged through all of the various plans is the following.  First, make it small, not tiny house movement small, but within the 900-1200 square foot range.  Second, build simple: nothing fancy in the roof lines, and no massive spans.  Third, build out of how you live: my wife and I spend the bulk of our time sitting in some extra chairs in our dining area. This needs to be replicated.  Fourth, build a simple guest house that can be shut down when there are no visitors. Fifth, live outside when you can: plenty of porches.

Out of this has come literally thousands of iterations of house plans.  At this point in time, this is the one.  It's a 20 x 22 box with some shed roofs off the side to create a little more space. The two sheds allow for the dining area and the living room.  It's 1052 square feet, and it should be able to be heated, as the saying goes, with a hair dryer.  What is not outlined on the plan are the porches, of which there are many.

It has 1.5 baths and one bedroom.  A full basement will allow for an extra bedroom and bath downstairs if needed.

The upstairs is built with 54 inch knee walls, enough height to allow for access to the edges of the rooms, but still give a sense of a cottage.  It has a large bathroom, two walk-in closets, and a laundry room at the top of the stairs.

We are waiting for our current house to sell before we get started.  The design is still in the works, but it continues to get closer.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Moving Inside

The dark spots are thin layers of ice from outside storage.
Today, the interior started.  It was 16 degrees outside when the work began, a temperature that undermines the longevity of the trustee battery saw, so I reserved the saw use to 45 degree angle cuts and used a hand saw for the right angles.

The first step was to make sure the necessary nailers were in place, and for the first time, I used a new 2 X 4 on the building.  This felt a little sacrilegious even though it would be fully encased and invisible, but it was available wood and so I went for it.  16 degree weather also helps prioritize convenience.  The photos depict the work completed in four hours. The good news is that the timbers will still be exposed, but this also creates a ton of extra cuts to work around the angle bracing.

I also made a few decorative pieces for the one exterior wall that has some uninterrupted mass.  Originally, the wood used to make these was going to be for a piece of furniture.  I thought it was walnut, but as I milled it from its original three by seven stock, it quickly became apparent that it was heart pine impregnated with creosote.  Again, this piece came from the train station and was milled in the 1890's, so it had been sitting, absorbing the creosote all the way through its girth for 123 years.  Creosote is nasty stuff; clearly the furniture option was out, so I quickly banged out some shapes to break up the wall.

All in all, a good start to what will be a lengthy process.  The wood interior will be nice for creating tool storage inside the barn.  I'll need to think carefully about interior layout to maximize the small space.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sliding into the Future

The barn needed a sliding door, and so a little research revealed some high end prices and searches on ebay and other sites revealed some really high pricing on the used versions.  Apparently, sliding doors are hot in the hipster community or something, and the rusty old items have been moved from the category of used into the category of vintage.  So two hundred bucks for sliding mechanism emerged as the established price.  The ones at places like Tractor Supply cost well upwards of two hundred, so I looked for another solution.

At this point, I have 418 dollars in the building. (Mr. Money Mustache would be proud)  The sliding door added approximately two dollars.  I say approximately because I had a few large hooks around, and I must have paid for them at some point.  My neighbor Fred gave me a 7/8 inch steel bar.  It was a tensioning mechanism on an old barn that had fallen down on his property years ago.  So I cut the bar to length, which gave me the added benefit of a workout as I had to use a relatively dull hacksaw on the thing.  I mounted the bar 2 and 3/4 inches off the wall with some wooden mounts (see Will I Never Learn ) .  I used two hooks on the top of the door and checked if it worked.  It slid with ease, but it produced a "nails on the blackboard" screech that would assure that I'd never want to open it.  This was solved, no problem, with a little grease, and now I have a quiet slider for two bucks and some labor of love. I assume I'll have to grease it once a year or so, but I can live with that.  The open hooks allow me to remove the door if ever needed. ( It only weighs about 50 pounds.)  This will be nice when I go to paint it next year.

The one engineering trick that worked was to support the bar in the middle while allowing the door to slide completely open.  I did this by mounting the hooks at the ends of the door.  One hook is on one side of the center, the other is on the other.  When it slides, the center support acts as a stopper.  This eliminated the half inch or so of sag that was generated by the weight of the door.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

So close!

 Today I finished almost all of the exterior.  There are a few tidbits left, including the bottom six inches if each corner, but the bulk of it is done.  Now is time to get to the inside.

I also am working on a design for some lighting using some one inch deck lights that are charged by a little solar panel.  I have a few old burls around that will make some nice housings.

Will I never learn? POS Repair

So there are many times in my life when I'm pressed for time and want to get things done. The frequent outcome is some piece of shoddy work that I will feel bad about every time I look at it.  This was the case with the sliding door for the little beasty building. I had limited time to work, and I was so focused on functionality that aesthetics simply vanished.

So the outcome was a rough cut, ugly structure that worked, but just kept getting uglier with every glance.  Even my "cabin goggles" wouldn't work.  I tried to envision it as a utilitarian statement, but no go.  So I took today to try a different tact and had fun creating something that I like.

I had some 5" X 7" beams gathered from a friend's discard pile..  Free stuff and a little time goes a long way.

I had to thaw the beams in the kitchen sink to remove the snow and ice that had built up on them, and then I went to work with a circular saw, a grinder with a chain saw blade on it, and some patience.And ultimately I came up with some sculpted wood that has some character to it.  It's still unrefined, replete with tools marks, but it is more fitting for the building.

The next step was heading to the building site to put them in.  And I was quickly rewarded by the new look of the supports for the steel rod that carries the sliding door.
The cap that covers the sliding mechanism is temporary.  Still looking for a rough cut two by ten to take its place.