Tuesday, April 29, 2008

starting to get them to stand up...

As the day went on, we started getting past the 45 degree mark, and things started to seem to 'fall into place' - no pun intended. We were still working hard, but we were able to take breaks for photos of people under the frame:

There is no way we could have done this without Art. He continues to be a huge help on really important days.

We finally got it vertical, and after playing around with the posts and getting things lined up, we were feeling pretty good:

and then we went to work putting in the temporary bracing by screwing the ends into the posts and the bottoms into driven stakes. Charlie the supervisor dog did a good job too.

Holy Cow- big big day. Got the 'north bent' up

First of all, once again Melissa's dad Art came up to be a huge part of our success on getting the first third of the timber frame standing up.

First, we made a tripod to hold a pulley that would have a cable on it attached to the truck:

The tripod stood in the living room and bedroom of the foundation, and the truck went downhill from the front door...

As we hooked everything together, we also jacked it up on supports, inch by inch, moving from post to post, up and down the whole beam.

After a while, we were scrambling to find stuff that was tall enough to hold the weight of the beam while we were working on another section. This is a picture of a milk crate on top of a sawhorse. it got a lot weirder than that as the day went on.

Slowly, the beam went up, increasing the angle of the posts.. we built different sorts of 'blocks' to hold the bottom the posts in place, so they wouldn't slide off the concrete footings. they all broke once, and then we (Melissa) rebuilt them, and they worked.

In the photo below, you can see the ropes that went to the cable attached to the truck (over the tripod)... those didn't actually work all that well. it was mostly the farm jack that did the work.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Putting it together:

While this photo of me working on the littlest one makes it look not-too-hard, believe me, it's hard.

it took me all day to get these three posts, with their knee braces, into the beam. After this, I'll have to put the posts down on the ground, and work horizontally, as the posts are getting too big for me to pick up and move into position by hand.
Starting moving stuff into position

This wasn't as hard as it looks, but it wasn't easy. We had to move the beams and posts from where we were working on them inside the foundation, to up on the ground where we'll put them together before standing them up.

Luckily, I'm learning a lot about moving heavy stuff easily. In the picture below, Melissa is standing in the same spot as the above photo, so it gives you an idea of how we had to move these things (that are too heavy for me to lift one end off the ground)
Kuk Sool space floored

One side project I've been doing slowly is to create a platform where Melissa and I can practice martial arts. I put this down in the valley to the north of our house spot (it's about a 200 yard walk down to it from the bathroom).

On top of the redwood beams, I put a lot of different (scrounged) 2x4s, then two layers of half inch plywood. it ended up being 20x20. Now I'm going to start looking for some sort of padding... carpet, or astroturf or something. Someday I'll build a fancy roof for the thing.

a while back we were given a batch of hay bales, and since they're always useful, of course I wanted them... and I put them under a blue tarp to try and protect them over the winter. Well, that didn't work.

Rotten hay is still great for what we probably would have used it for anyway -garden mulch-- but it's funny that my hillbilly hayloft thing stores the hay so much better than a store bought tarp. (well, I got the tarp free too)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Harvest (?) Day: Amaranth

Last summer we tried to grow a batch of amaranth (you can see the purple stuff behind Melissa in this photo from last July)

here in the garden, and also up closer to the house... the deer got the stuff closer to the house. By the time we picked it, we only had about a dozen flower heads, which we hung up to dry under the yurt and forgot about.

This week, we got them down, bashed them up in a bucket, and started the 'winnowing' process. Here's my attempts at getting the little sticks and stuff out of the bucket.

Melissa then did some of the classic 'winnowing', using the wind, she'd drop the seeds into the bucket below, and the chaf (seed shells) would blow away in the wind. You can't see it in this picture, but it's working.

Unfortunately, because of having only 12 flowers (and maybe because the mice got some of it over the winter) we basically got one meal's worth.

Still, a fun experiment, and makes me want to grow a big crop soon.

Friday, April 18, 2008

More tool work

So, two chisels broke this week; the regular hardware store plastic handled 3/4 inch broke right in two, and my fancy corner chisel (well, $42) wooden handle split from the metal cup being pushed too much. I may have not set that in properly to begin with.

So, I went to work, and about 20 minutes later, I had my new handles.

not too bad for a first try, huh? Oak on the corner chisel, madrone on the small one. That one was harder, as it's got a shaft for the handle instead of a cup.

Wooden pegs

Another part of the timber frame for the house is that we're going to be using hardwood pegs instead of nails. I was going to use Oak, but the oak that I have has grain that's much too twisted, so I'm going with another really hard (and plentiful) wood around here, Madrone.

I make these by putting a small piece of madrone that I've split with the axe into my vice, and then shave it down with the two handled draw knife that you see in the picture. I can do one in about 15 minutes or so. I think I figured out that I'm going to need 120 of them.
Springtime all over

Have I mentioned how much I like the way the grass looks in our main meadow?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Further 'green' attempts.

So, I've been thinking a lot about brush piles, and how to deal with them. Burning is a standard, and chipping is another. Leaving them to decompose has been my standard, as it's the easiest. It's been brought to my attention that this lazy man practice leaves potential wildfire fuel laying about... so I've decided to go to the 'elbow grease green' process. Self chipping.

I took two small trees down today, for more knee braces for the house, and let me tell you, cutting down a tree is not simply starting the chainsaw and getting out of the way of a falling tree. There's a bunch of clean up.

Here's my small brush pile after I've taken a hefty machete like thing to every branch that came off these two small trees. I cut the branches up into about 6 inch pieces. You can see my 'chopping block' stump in the middle of that pile... it's about knee high.

I remove the 'useful' branches from the pile, which might be used for garden stakes, rake handles, or simply kindling once they dry.

some were already made into arches for the snap peas to climb on.
What we continue to be up to:


Here's the two halves of the (northern) beams sitting side by side as we make the notches for the posts and knee braces.

When making a knee brace notch, I use a forstner drill bit to drill down to the right depth, and since the notch has a slope to one side, I go more and more shallow as I go. You can see Melissa's markings on the log. She's doing the math, I'm doing the wood removal.

This is the middle of the northern beam; a scarf joint. The two halves of the beam will slip together, and the center post will then lock them in place. That's the theory anyway.

Friday, April 11, 2008

More Energy Smarts

We made the lovely discovery that our new (used) italian washing machine can be powered by our solar trailer, now that the sun is good and strong for the spring. That means no more burning gas to run the generator to power the washing machine, which also means no more big project to coordinate other power-hungry projects to do at the same time. No pollution, no cost, no noise. excellent.

Here you can see our clothes dryer is also solar powered.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Still Notching...

There's going to be tons of notching going on for a while... Here I'm working on the knee brace tenon, which will go into the post, and the knee braces will end up creating a "Y" that will help with stability.

yes, my pants really are always that dirty.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wood Folly; lesson learned.

Some readers may remember last February when a giant madrone tree fell down in our meadow. I milled some of it into planks, and a bunch went to firewood. Here's the fresh stuff on the sawmill. Just beautiful wood. (it loses the pink hue as it dries, unfortunately)

Well, I left a batch of big thick logs laying in the meadow for the last year, thinking I'd let them dry out, and then get to milling them. The dried madrone, when split for firewood, is also really beautiful.

That didn't work. The entire pile is riddled with termites.

here's a log split open.

So, I'm going to split it all and burn it in the hot tub fire. Next time, I'll mill it up right away.

$1 tool rescue

Had a moment last week, so we strolled the flea market. A woman had a pile of rusty tools "anything $1!" and so I dug through it ...