Sunday, July 13, 2008

With a burst of work, I finished the entire loft railing system.

The first step was to cut joinery on three 4x7 Ponderosa Pine posts.

The loft railing uses 2x8 rough cut, weathered, circular-sawn Douglas Fir barn wood boards salvaged from a 1905 grange building in nearby Palouse, Washington. These pass through mortices in the pine posts and are pegged.

The base of each post has an extension which will be bolted to the face of the Douglas Fir middle tie beam. I'll also attach the base of each post to the top surface of the tie beam.

I'll most likely oil the pine posts, which will be gorgeous.

I like the mixture of old vs. new wood, the rustic agriculture look, and the pegged, timberframe style of construction.

I debated whether or not to pre-assemble the railing system or assemble at the cabin. Either way, its a total pain. Pre-assembled, the railing is heavy and awkward to move (and lift up to the loft). However, it took quite a bit of effort to assemble the railing and fit the boards through the posts and get the whole thing square. Some of those joints fit very tightly. The idea of taking it apart only to reassemble it again up on the loft was not appealing.

I will probably just get a hand from a friend to lift it and bolt it to the cabin.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A bunch of miscellaneous progress...

The floor system is done, with the exception of the final finish floor. Having the floor system pretty much finished is great! The cabin seems to be noticeably better insulated overall, and the floor is solid and rigid. The acoustics are much improved, too.

Mainly, having the floor system complete makes the whole cabin feel much more there is now a clearly defined, real, interior space which is more or less separate from the outside world. Loose pieces of 1/2" plywood half-covering floor joists simply didn't do that.

Using a combination of an electric planer (running off a portable generator) and a 2.5" Barr slick, I leveled the tops of the loft floor joists. Several timbers in the cabin have warped, but none so much as a couple of these Ponderosa pine 4x7 loft joists. It took considerable effort to level these so that the loft floor would be flat and level.

After leveling, I sanded and oiled these loft joists and started applying the loft ceiling (the ceiling that you see when you stand below the loft). The loft ceiling is made from 1x6 tongue and groove Western Red Cedar. It has been coarsely sanded, with one coat of semi-gloss polyurethane (like I did with the pine tongue and groove ceiling for the main cabin).

In retrospect, I probably should have just used oil. Next time!

There are all sorts of challenges here, most of which you cannot see from the pictures. Namely, the 7x9 Douglas Fir tie beam in Bent 2 has twisted (warped), so it is no longer flat on the top nor is is the surface plumb. There will be all kinds of subtle planing and hidden shimming involved here.

The wood is probably not done moving, either. Yay, timber framing with green wood!

Below is a picture of the loft joists, looking up from the floor under the loft. You can see the beginning of the cedar loft ceiling falling into place. The effect is good. The cedar contrasts with the pine and the Douglas Fir tie beam.

Below: A closer look at the loft ceiling... You can see in the nearest pine loft joist dovetail that the joint is no longer flush at the bottom. That is caused by the tie beam twisting (warping).

I'll finish up the loft ceiling, and then I think I will install the Douglas Fir loft flooring next, followed by the railing posts and barn wood railing. The loft railing posts will obviously need to be level and plumb as it sits on the twisted tie beam.

Plane, chisel, and shims...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I've been thinking about the loft railing for awhile now. I want to do something interesting that will fit with the stairs, door, and general timber frame aesthetic. I also want a safe, strong railing.

What I came up with is a heavy-duty "timber framed" design that uses three large 4x7 ponderosa pine posts and three rough-cut, weathered, circular-sawn barn wood 2x8s. Its a mix of new and old wood in cool design:

The old barnwood 2x8s will have reduced tenons on either side which will fit into mortises on the two end pine posts. The three 2x8s will pass completely through the middle of the center post. The 2x8s and posts will be draw-bored and pegged with the same 1" white oak pegs used everywhere in the frame.

The post opposite the loft stairs will be lag bolted directly into a bent 2 post. All three posts have a 2.5" thick, 7" long extension which sits on the face on the bent 2 Douglas Fir tie beam. The posts will be lag-bolted to the tie beam here, perhaps in two places. All lag bolts will be counter-sunk and plugged with a hardwood plug.

The loft stairs/ladder will lag bolt directly into a post on one side and into the railing post on the opposite side.

The current plan is to do this before I apply the loft flooring, so the flooring will have to be scribed around these posts. Perhaps the posts should be placed after the flooring. I'm not sure yet.