Sunday, February 22, 2009

My first joint.

After considerable delay, I've finally dug into the timber framing this week. I hoped to have all this done before the wedding a month ago, until I discovered the pile of timbers that were milled and planed last fall had bowed and twisted as they I had to take a step back and decide how to fix them. Lesson #1 in timber framing- cut all your wood oversized if you don't plan to use it "green", so that you can true them up once dry. In my case, I altered the plans to use smaller timbers and slightly different joinery methods, then ran them back through the sawmill to make them square again. Starting with just 3 timbers to see how it would go, I cut the joinery for a barn door header and support posts that will go on the east wall.
After a little 'tweaking" with the chisel, they fit together tight on the ground, so I put them up and pegged the joints with oak dowels.
My first mortise-and-tenon joint...a good fit:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My cubicle.

Ran into some problems with the next couple projects, which has forced me back to the drawing board for awhile. So, I arranged a nice little office space in the barn, right next to the pellet stove of course- I get all the tea I can drink, great radio stations, private bathroom, and a multi-window view out of my 600+ square foot "office"...and my commute takes only about 30 seconds at a brisk walk. Did i mention the ski trails out the back door? Now, if only I could pull a salary for this gig.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Needing a little break from the barn, I decided to dig into insulating the basement of our house- a project I've been putting off for several years now. The first step was to insulate and air seal the rim joist. But first I had to tear out the existing material, which was tightly-packed fiberglass insulation covered with rockwool insulation boards covered with 1X8 wood boards, all the way around the perimeter of the basement ceiling. Those old farmers did an outstanding job of precisely fitting every piece and securely fastening the cover boards with what felt like barn spikes when trying to remove them...perhaps this was the best craftsmanship in the entire house! Every so often, I was 'gifted' with a mouse nest or ladybug colony just to keep it real. Definitely not the glory job, but important nonetheless. Once the history was removed, I insulated the empty rim joist spaces using leftover pieces of XPS from the barn project, then air sealed the edges using spray foam. Stopping all the air leakage alone made a dramatic difference in the basement temperature as well as the floor temp upstairs- if I had known how much cold air was sneaking in through the rim joist, I'd have tackled this a long time ago... Next, i cleared everything off the concrete foundation walls and put down a sill board spaced off the floor with strips of 2" EPS foam. A top plate was screwed to the ceiling joists above.
Next, sheets of 2" EPS foam were adhered to the wall with spray foam and a stud wall was built inside of it. (I used EPS here for its vapor permeance, to dry out any moisture that may come through the foundation and prevent any possibility of mold). I worked on a 4 ft. section at a time, and short cutoffs were screwed horizontally to the stud wall to temporarily hold the EPS in place while the spray foam cured. All the joints were sealed with additional spray foam, so that no air can get behind the EPS and form condensation. Finally, done for now. Eventually, we will add blown-in cellulose to the stud cavities then cover the works with drywall...but for now, I've got my workout room back (and it's a lot warmer down there!).