Monday, January 22, 2007

Logging and milling are all on hold right now. The weather conditions are still prohibitive due to snow pack and associated road conditions. I am also waiting on Jon to have time to mill, probably sometime in February. The mill has some kind of minor hydraulic leak as well, which is also troublesome. Although I feel somewhat frustrated by these delays, it is probably all for the best, since my shoulder is still bothering me. I must have suffered a minor sprain or shoulder separation. I also need to be working diligently on my Ph.D dissertation, which I want to finish up this spring. :-)

In the meantime, I've purchased a portable 12V DC winch to help move logs. My goal this week is to mount the winch on my trailer. The winch is capable of being temporarily mounted on a standard hitch ball. If I can securely attach a receiver hitch to my trailer, I believe I should be able to mount the winch there conveniently as needed. While I don't strictly need a winch (a come-along works nicely), a winch will speed things up and maybe preserve my shoulder. :-)

In further news, I've leased a workshop space here in town for the next year. This workshop will allow me to store and work the timbers here in town without having to travel to the cabin site. While I would love to work joinery outside and on-site, being able to work closer to home will help with my busy schedule. I also like the idea of keeping my timbers protected from the weather for as long as possible. The workshop space is relatively large, so I should be able to assemble and nearly raise the entire cabin *inside* the workshop space. How super convenient!

Monday, January 08, 2007

I recently used Google SketchUp for the first time. It is a tremendously powerful, free, and easy-to-use CAD system to model the cabin design. I was able to master the software within an hour or so.

After really staring at the basic cabin design for awhile, I decided that the cabin really needed a porch of some kind. We have an 8x12 covered/screened porch on our house here in Moscow, and we really enjoy that space, especially in the summer. I think some kind of outside porch is critical to the value of a cabin like this. Someplace to sit and drink a cup of tea in the shade, leave snowy boots, or just listen to the night. I have visions of being up at the cabin in the rain, and sitting on the porch enjoying the rainfall while also being outside and staying warm and dry...

Anyway, I've been toying with how to add a roof and a porch to the cabin. With these images, you can see the working design. I do believe that I've finally settled on a complete design (as shown in the first picture).

I need to work out some of the joinery details, but I think that this design is essentially complete.

NOTE: For perspective on scale, the man in the drawing is approximately 6' tall, and the bench on the porch is approximately 6' long.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I now have 26 logs waiting to be milled. The weather has changed for the worse in recent days, and the access road that I've been using is essentially snowed in. In addition, my left shoulder is really bothering me lately. I must have tweaked it when I was harvesting logs by myself.

Needless to say, I'm going to take a hiatus from getting more logs until my shoulder and the weather/road conditions improve. I need to focus on finalizing the design details of the cabin frame and get the timbers milled. Jon told me that there is some kind of minor hydraulic problem with his mill, so I am waiting to hear back from him on when the mill will be repaired.

In the meantime, I constructed a 1/16th scale model of the cabin frame using dimensional balsa and bass wood found at a local downtown craft store. The design is based on a cabin frame designed originally by Scott Stevens at Grand Oaks Timber Framing, where I will be participating in a timber framing workshop this April.

The model is very basic and hastily assembled, but I wanted to get a tangible idea of perspective and scale.
After staring at the model for awhile, I've already changed several things with the cabin design. First and foremost, I've increased the dimensions of the main beams from 7x7s to 7x9's. While 7x7 is probably adequate, the 7x9 timbers just have a better aesthetic.

I've also added four additional braces to the design. I am debating whether to increase the top plate dimensions from 7x7 to 7x9 as well. I probably will.

The other added benefit of building this scale model is that I've finally received some input from Jenny. After seeing the model, she wonders if the door placement needs to be reconsidered...or perhaps a side door needs to be added. She also provided some input on where she thinks a porch should go.

Next, I will probably experiment on where to put the porch and what it will look like. I will also start covering portions of the frame and get a better idea of where I will place the piers that the sill plates will rest on. In addition to determining window placement, I will also start to get a better idea of what the roof will look like and how I will construct it.

Here is my daughter sitting next to the model. What a punk!