Sunday, August 28, 2016

A small barn for the summer house 7, external boards

We have had a period of 2 weeks with very nice weather, so I have been having a great time at the summer house hammering on the small barn.

After the sub roof was installed, I spent some time installing some cement boards as a rodent barrier. I placed them a little distance apart and installed something called a mouse-band in between. this allows for ventilation of the lower part of the frame and hopefully it will keep mice out.

The next thing was to wrap the barn in wind proof tarred paper. Suddenly the house looked a lot more like a complete barn and not like a timber frame structure.
The tarred paper was followed by some 1" thick boards running vertical, to ensure a bit of distance between the external boards and the paper allowing for a bit of ventilation. These distance boards will also help to keep the paper in place once I start insulating from the inside, so it will not bulge out and touch the external boards.

Given that the timber frame has a lot of vertical posts, I decided to do something radical (for me at least): To install the boards horizontal.
I normally like to follow Swedish traditions regarding building practices, and they call for vertical boards, but since this design is inspired by an American barn, I thought that I would give it a try to install the boards the other way. It also means that I can nail them to the existing posts.

I managed to complete the front of the barn. The two sides are some 80% complete and the back is maybe 30% complete.

To protect a bit from rain I have covered the window openings with plastic, and I have mounted an old door as a temporary installation.

I would like to thank The Louisiana State University Agricultural Center for kindly making an incredibly interesting array of different plans available on the Internet.
I have no idea how that university is doing in playing football, but based on their building plans alone, they ought to win the national championship in football.
GO LSU footbal team!!

This is pretty much how it will end up looking.



Too few buildings are made with gambrel roofs in Denmark.

The sides still need a couple of boards more.

A bit of work still remains to be done inside.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

A small barn for the summer house 6, sub roof

Today it wasn't raining, so I managed to burn on the tarred paper (bitumen + some weaving) on top of the roof boards.

Some time possibly next year my idea is to use some of the old roof tiles from our house on top of the sub roof.
But for the time being I'll just stay with the tarred paper roof and continue with the rest of the barn.

According to the weather prophets we can expect (hope) for some sunshine the next couple of days. So I'll try to keep up the pace.

Barn with sub roof.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A small barn for the summer house 5, rafters

Back from sea and back from a canoeing trip with my brothers and all our children, I have returned to the small barn project.

The weather is as you would expect it from a Danish high summer: lots of rain and howling winds.. Not something that encourages you to work outside, but I like building this sort of thing, so I'll keep on anyway.

The children still finds it an interesting project, and they especially look forward to nailing on the roof boards, as that will yield instant recognizable results.


First set of lower rafters installed.

Witches hat rafters detail.


Asger posing.

The work crew. Gustav, Jonas and Asger.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Jones F. Devlin Award

Our ship has been awarded an award from the Chamber of Shipping of America.
The Jones F. Devlin Award.

The award can be presented to a vessel that has had a stretch of minimum two years without an LTI (Lost Time Incident).

It feels good once in a while to get a formal recognition of the job that everyone carries out on a daily basis.
The funny thing is that we didn't know that our company participated in the program, so we were pleasantly surprised when the certificate showed up in the ship's mail.

Everyone in our organization is very serious about safety, So even the smallest incidents and near misses are reported and analyzed, in order to make future operations even more safe for all employees.

People are encouraged to write an observation card if they spot either something that could be improved upon, or something that should be commended.

I hope that all of you have an equally safe job environment wherever you work.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

What have I learned by making a timber frame.

I have now had some time to reflect on the builidng of my timber frame for the small barn by our summer house.

Technically the timber frame isn't completed yet, as I haven't installed any rafters yet, but the majority of the framing work is done.

The first lesson I have learned is that timber framing is fun. I really like making large joints and getting them to fit together. It is a lot like making a piece of furniture, except for the dimensions. And the wood that I used is not surfaced on four sides, but used straight from the mill. There is some heavy lifting involved, but given that I never go to a gym, it is probably beneficial for me to do some sort of exercise - and timber framing appeals more to me than lifting weights.

It might come as a surprise to some of you, but this project is the first one where I have used a marking knife. I am sure that is one of the things that has helped the assembly go smooth. I am so impressed with the results, that I am considering making a marking knife that I can use on some of my normal projects like dovetailing etc.

The drawings for the barn were really interesting to make, and I like that I have no one to blame if there had been any issues with wrong calculations. But everything went together as it should, and all the various parts were either level or plumb as they should be. Even when I reached the top of the frame.

Raising the frame was easier than I had feared. I had spent a lot of time wondering how I could raise the bents and if they would fall over etc. The biggest challenge was actually to assemble the lower frame or the sills.
I had made those joints a bit on the tight side, but with the help of some securing straps I managed to pull them together.

To make sure that the sills would be level, I assembled them to a frame, and then I leveled out that frame by placing it on top of some pieces of scrap wood in the corners. Then once the assembly was level and in position, I mounted the brackets and poured the concrete.

The first bent was the most difficult one to raise, since I didn't have any high spot where I could attach the chain block. So to overcome that problem I started by lifting the top using a hi-lift car jack. I lifted the top as far as I could and then placed a set of saw horses underneath it. Then I lifted to the maximum capacity again and used the chain block on the lower frame and it went smoothly.
The subsequent bents were raised using the neighboring bent to hang the chain block in.
To keep the lower part of the posts from sliding around I attached a piece of a 6x6 timber approx. 12" long with a clamp on the sill. Once a bent was raised I screwed on some boards to help stabilise it and keep it plumb.

All the dowels I used were made out of larch. Traditionally dowels are made out of oak and other hard wood, but my dowels are just added to keep the tenons in the mortises, so the strength of the frame is not that dependent on what species they are made of.
I sawed out the stock for the dowels trying to follow the grain lines as well as I could, and then they were hammered through a 3/4" hole in a steel plate to make them round. This was something the children liked to help with. Instant results seem to appeal a lot to children.

The single thing that I had given the most thought was how I should lift up the beams for the upper plates and for the ridge beam. Once I finally got to that point in the process, it dawned upon me that I could raise them on an end, and then lift them up a bit. I then lifted and pushed the timbers until they reached their pivot point. Then it was just a matter of a few more inches and then I let go of them. That put them on the first floor in very short time. With a little more than half their length supported by the joists. My choice of dimensions for the timbers allowed me to do all the lifting myself. So if you plan on making a frame using 12x12 x 18' It might not work.

It is a strange feeling to see a frame grow that has only existed on paper and in your head and in the form of some loose pieces of timber with joints here and there. It shouldn't feel much more different than seeing a table or a chair coming together, but for me it did.
Maybe it was the size, or maybe it was the pioneer feeling, that this could have been a home for me and my family. I actually think the pioneer feeling is the most true description.





Monday, June 20, 2016

A small barn for the summer house 4, Making joints and raising the frame.

I guess that if I had been on one of those other Internet things such as Instagram, and if I ha had a slightly more modern phone, I could have shared the progress a bit more fluently than this.

My problem is that when I get immersed in a project, I work on it as much as I can, and that means that I rarely turn on a computer, and even more rarely take my time to blog about what I have accomplished.

Yesterday I took the children with me to the summerhouse, to have them help with part of the raising.
Mette had instructed Gustav to take some pictures, so if you find the pictures better composed than normal on this blog, that is probably why.

As a warning to wives of readers from Pennsylvania, I haven't even taken the time to visit the hairdresser this home period, so I look like the "before" shot from some makeover article.

I had constructed the sub frame and poured some concrete to form a foundation. While the concrete hardened, I started on making the joints for the next part of the frame: the 4 bents.

Olav visited me in the beginning of the process, and he gave me some advice, that I gladly took. That resulted in that I made the joints a bit narrower, 1.5" instead of 2" and all the mortises were not made as through mortises, but as 4" deep ones instead.
Olav was so kind as to lend me a portable chain mortising machine. That thing is amazing. And it sure speeds up the process.

Asger helped chopping Roman numerals for identifying the joints.

The raising of the bents was done over a couple of days, because I had to do other things as well, such as sawing more timber and making more joints for the next frame parts.

That status of the build is that the frame is erected all the way to the ridge pole/beam. I still need to make some rafters and mount those. But since I'm going back to sea on Wednesday, that'll have to wait for the next time I am home.

All the raising was done by hand with the help of a chain block to raise the individual bents. The timbers for the first floor were lifted up by hand. I raised the timber on end, and lifted/pushed it up till it reached the pivot point. Then I let it drop on the joists for the first floor.


Asger, Gustav, Fnug and Jonas

Roman numerals

Asger helping with a tenon.

The tenon after breaking off the small pieces.

The slick (Stossaxt) has been used a lot in this project.

Wrestling a piece of 6x8 timber.





Close up of a joint.

Negotiating the joint in place.



Sunday, May 22, 2016

Guitar shaped cutting board

Asger likes to play the guitar, and we talked about making a gift for his guitar teacher, since he is a really nice guy and incredibly gifted when it comes to teaching children.

Given that the teacher is a professional musician, we agreed that making a guitar shaped cutting board would be a fitting gift.

I found an old piece of an elm slab, that wasn't quite big enough for a chair, and we sketched a guitar body on it. We talked about making a small neck for it as well, but we agreed that it would just get in the way when he had to use the cutting board.

After sketching,which was done by tracing the outline of an acoustic guitar, I sawed out the shape with the band saw.

The guitar shaped slab was then placed between the dogs on his bench. We used a scrub plane for traversing to reduce the thickness. I helped a bit since the elm is fairly tough. When the back side was reasonably flat, we moved on to a No 4 smoothing plane. We flattened the piece further by going diagonally and finished off going with the grain.

After that the upper side was treated in the same way.
We didn't use the thickness planer because the board was too wide, and I wanted Asger to really feel that he did the job himself.

The curved sides were sanded using the hand held belt sander, and then followed up by hand.
The edges were also broken by means of sandpaper.

Asger used a brander to write: TO SIMON FROM ASGER (In Danish) at the end of the cutting board.

As a finish we used the wood wax from Dictum and applied it using a small piece of rag and followed by a pollisoir from Don Williams  The elm looked spectacular after that treatment.

The finished thickness was around 1 5/8".


The proud craftsman with the guitar shaped cutting board.

Sanding the sides/edges.

Breaking the edge

Using an electric brander.

Using a pollisoir is hard work.