So while I haven’t been able to get into the shop or blog much over the last few months, that doesn’t mean I’ve just been sitting around in front of the boob tube draining my intelligence with the mindless drivel that plagues the air waves these days. In fact, things have been just the opposite. We’ve been extremely busy with projects around the new homestead, like tilling, planting and tending the gardens (which the deer have managed to completely destroy), running the kids to various summertime activities and parties, and working on our new house. While we do have a professional doing the heavy lifting, there are some things we’re getting involved in as well, in order to keep construction costs down, but also because we really wanted to be involved in the construction process.
This week, I took vacation from my paying day job to do some of the more intricate work of framing the second floor for our new log cabin with my brother, who came down from New Jersey to help. The cabin will have exposed ceiling/floor joists between the first and second floors, so that means that the joists are not your typical stick framed 2x construction lumber variety. Instead, we’re using appearance grade white pine. The central girder that runs down the center of the second floor is a pair of 20′ long 8″ x 12″ pine beams (really 7-1/2″ x 11-1/2″, and insanely heavy). These two girders get mortised about 3″ deep into the logs on the side walls of the house. They are also joined with a pegged bridle joint at the center (supported by a 6″x”6″ post below) to create a span that is approximately 40′ long. In addition, the girders themselves (as well as the front and back wall logs) needed to be mortised to receive the 4″ x 10″ (really 3-1/2″ x 9-1/2″) floor joists. So all told, over the last 4 days, my brother and I have sawed and chopped about 60 or so very large mortises. We did use a circular saw to cut the side walls of the mortises, and kerf the waste in between to make it easier to remove, but nonetheless, there was still a lot of chopping and paring going on. As you can see above, my 2″ wide straight lathe chisel worked well as an improvised slick for cleaning up the mortise pockets.
Next week, the crew will be back with the heavy equipment to set the mortised side wall logs, girders, floor joists, and second floor logs. By the end of the week, I’m hoping they’ll be ready to start the roof rafters and collar ties. But the weather around here has been slowing the project down, and it doesn’t look like next week will be any different, with scattered thunderstorms in the forecast for the next 8-10 days. But that’s Appalachian mountain weather for you. It can be bright and sunny one minute, windy and rainy 10 minutes later, and then clear skies 10 minutes after that. So we’ll see what Mother Nature brings us next week.