Friday, November 24, 2006

An interesting post to share.....

I spend a lot of time on different websites deditcated to timber framing and sawmills. I ran across this post tonight on the Forestry Forum and felt that others might want to read it. It is especially meaningful since we just completed our own new "old cabin" and wonder what the kids will think of it want to do with it during our final days...

Landrand in Norther Mighigan said:

"I have a 20'x24' stick built cabin on 25 acres in Northern Michigan that was built by my dad back in 1941. He built the camp when he was 15 years old. Although it isn't much, I consider it quite an accomplishment for a 15 year old. On this property I have a portable sawmill and have been cutting timbers to build a Timber Framed house. While cutting the timbers for the last 4 years, I've practically been living in the old cabin. Since the cabin is in very rough condition, I always thought it wouldn’t be worth the time, effort, and money to fix it up. I've been planning to build a house on this property and tear down the old shack. Since my elderly dad knew someday I'd tear down the cabin and make room for the house, he'd often tell me to wait till he died before tearing it down. One day last year, I was sitting in the old building having a few beers, when I thought it would be a shame to demolish this old relic. The memories of spending summers at the cabin, my parents and friends gathering to play cards, and all the locally caught fish grilled on a wood cook stove persuaded me to forgo my initial plans and save the shack. Six months before my dad passed away, I told him I was going to fix it up rather than take it down. The smile this old, sick man gave me was heartwarming. Since I've been planning to build a Timber Frame, I thought putting some sort of TF roof system on the cabin would be a good learning experiment. Since the roof leaks profusely and is quite rotted, I'll need to totally rip off the old roof. The existing rafters were spruce poles with a top diameter of 1.5". The 2x4's complementing rafters were added about 30 years ago to help hold it up. It's amazing how this roof held the Northern Michigan snow load for the last 65 years. The walls are uninsulated stick built with small spruce poles spaced 20" on center. Again, 2x4's studs were added to the walls 30 years ago so cheap paneling could be applied to the walls. Therefore, the walls should be very strong with a studs spaced somewhere around 10"-12" apart. The top and bottom plates consist of a single rough cut 2x4's and the outside is sheathed with 1" thick rough cut boards and tar paper.Although I've been studying Timber Framing for the last several years, I'm a newbie with no TF or building experience. What are your thoughts, recommendations for timber framing a new roof for this old cabin? Since I have all the pine timbers and plenty of 1" and 2" boards already cut, it shouldn't be too expensive. My initial thoughts were to beef up the top plates with some kind of timber. I wouldn't mind increasing the height a foot or so. Then perhaps principle rafters (king post) spaced every 6 feet. Or should I just stick with rafters and a ridge pole spaced 2' oc. In addition to the timber rafters, I plan to nail 1" T&G pine to the roof and insulate it as well. Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bedroom window is open and it is 33 degrees outside....

Just headed to bed and we are sleeping again with the window open in the bedroom. It is going to hit a low of 33 degrees tonight. We consider ourselves pretty eco conscious so how come we do this.....

Okay it all started with purchasing acres of wood land. Then we got a sawmill. The bane of a sawmill owners existence is the off cut wood. We got piles and piles of wood. Some of it is poplar, some southern yellow pine, some fruit wood, some beech and some oak .... but we got tons of it.

So we went and got one of them soap stone stoves (Woodstock Soapstone Stove Co.). It is a small stove but does it throw out the heat. Not the heat like my parents buck stove did in the 70's and 80's but still some BTUs. It is an even heat that lasts and lasts ... about 8-10 hrs per load of 2-3 pieces of hardwood. I tell you the wood does not go quietly into the night.

So the house gets up to 75+ degrees and that is why we sleep with the windows open. It is like early spring all winter ... nights with a cool breeze as you sleep.

Warm rooms with open windows and nice breezes .... and no guilt of adding to the energy crisis. BTW, it has a catalytic combuster that allows it to burn real clean.

Since I am in bed I am not taking the time to shoot pictures of the stove tonight but here is what we got ... less the dog and the fancy fireplace opening.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Extreme Home Makeover - Slow Edition

BEFORE (Feb 12 2006)

AFTER (Nov 14 2006)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

When is a porch too big??

I am sitting on the porch of our new house as I write this entry. It is the first time I have actually been able to sit on the porch in one of our comfortable chairs eventhough it is about 50 degrees outside right now.

It only took my about two weeks to get around to cleaning half the porch off. The other half is full of trim boards, paint cans, tools, an old microwave, sawmill blades, a few nail guns, more fire wood, muddy boots and a few bags of trash.

Now back to the question at hand.....

When is a porch too large? I am no architect, but we did design this house. It is 22x40 with a 10x20 covered porch. The porch is equal to almost half the size the main floor living space. Is there some ratio for how to size a porch compared to the remainder of the house?

When Stephanie and I were designing the house we wanted the extra living space a porch would provide. It looks out over our small yard (mostly mud right now) and into the woods. Our house in Chicago had a decent size porch off the back but we rarely had time to enjoy it. I guess the view off our current porch is much nicer than in Oak Park where we got to look at our postage stamp lot and the back alley.

So here are some specifics on the porch. The floor is made of rough sawn poplar with an exposed tin roof above. Three nice ceiling fans provide decent light and a good breeze. To go along with the look of the glavanized roof we had Glen our electrician place some nice bends in the conduit supplying power to the fans. The railing is a fairly simple repeating pattern of a 1x3 board - 3" space - 1x6 board- 3" space - 1x3 board and so on and so on.

The only gutter for the house is on the porch. It is a 6" galvalume half round with some cool brackets. The water flows down a copper rain chain into a stone filled dry well that goes into the woods. Troy at CSC Sheet Metal in Durham worked with us on these items and was very helpful.

We have an extra wood burning stove that my Uncle Bill had in is art studio back in the 80's before he passed away and it has been in storage ever since. We are going to clean it up and install it on one end of the porch. That will be the family room area with the comfortable wicker furniture. We are going to place the grill on the other end with a large farm table for the family meals when the weather is nice. We hope to even use the porch for sleeping in the fall and spring.

Well I guess with all the plans for the porch it may not be too big but could be bigger. What do you think???

Friday, November 10, 2006

It's a longer walk to get the paper now.....

It is a longer walk to get the newspaper now. The house we moved from a few weeks ago had a 50 ft driveway and the houses were about 30 feet apart. Now we are on a 1/4 mile drive and the only houses near to us are just becoming visible with the leaves falling off the trees.

Our two kids used to love to run to the end of the driveway to get the paper in the morning but now they are not so keen to do this given the distance. Here are some of the views as I walked back to the house after getting the paper.

Out at the road you start out with a long flat stretch that goes by a nice German shepherd. Note to self :I'll need to start bringing dog treats for him in the future.

Following that it opens to some nice views of the adjacent property. This morning there was a decent amount of fog lingering above the trees as you can see in this picture.

We have a small "traffic circle" about half way down the drive and then past the pond the drive goes up to the house.

I guess the walk was not too long since I still had half a mug of coffee left.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Okay its been a while .. but we moved in

Okay its been a while since the last post. I guess a little over 2 months. There may be many excuses but the best one is that we were very busy getting the house in a good enough shape to get our certificate of occupancy and move in. I am sitting at the table in the picture and watching the leaves fall from the trees as I type. Not to fear, many pictures have been taken during the blog radio silence at Boothe Mountain Retreat. We are all doing fine after taking a few weeks to rest after the move. The place is definitely a "retreat". Each morning when we wake up we feel like we are on vacation in the mountains in our own cabin. It is still hard to sleep some nights as I look at the timbers and remember when different ones were cut and where they came from on the property.

There is still much work to do but that is okay. I guess we will never be done with this place.


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