Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spring Morning on Water Street

The day dawned sunny and bright, so I delayed my cleaning and organizing to capture what the back alley has to offer as it comes truly awake from a long hard winter. This is the 'back yard' of Commerce Street.

In The News

The builder is featured in the Reedsburg, Wisconsin newspaper:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

One Day On The Water

When the docks and boats are off the water, it is still and peaceful, allowing reflections of the shore on the water. When the leaves are off the trees, the evergreens stand out, almost resembling a Japanese woodblock print. It was pretty, and it is everchanging. It will be different when I go this week with new things to discover and awe me.


Okay, so maybe it isn't THAT obvious! At the bottom of the post, it says 'comments' with a number in front. Usually '0' and that is what we hope to remedy! Click on it. You will be taken to a page with a box on the right. Type some fluffy words there. Move your cursor down. There is a funny looking word over a little box. That is called 'word verification' and it is to prevent kooks from putting advertising onto other peoples' blogs with automated programs. You have to figure out what the sqiggly or wavy letters are and type them into the box. I hope the sqiggly waviness does not trigger any drug flashbacks for anyone. Below that, you have to click on a way to identify yourself. If you have a Google blogger login, you should not be reading this cuz you know how. If not, you should click the circle by 'Name/URL' and then fill in a fake name that will give me a clue who you are, then click on the orange button that says "Publish Your Comment". Your comment will not show up right away because I have to read it and approve it because some weirdo saw my comments supporting gay rights on some other blogger's post and tracked me down and was putting in mean stuff, so I know it is less fun to have to wait to see your comments, but the mean guy wrecked that. Anyway, thanks for letting me know you were here!

The Timber Frame Stands!

The wonderful people from the timber framers worked long long days and put up with hot sun and drying wind and mosquitos and pouring rain and muddy soil that clung to our boots and cold wet rain and wind so strong it blew ladders over. They did not complain and they worked hard and they joked and laughed and they patiently answered all my questions and explained each thing I wondered about.
In the end, I had them sign the frame in a secret place, and their fearless leader posted on the completed peak a sapling white pine that the construction manager cut for us.

This house frame is a work of art, the product of fine hand craftsmanship, and the result of teamwork and dedication. It will be a happy place full of laughter and happy times. It will be a place that connects people with nature. It will host people coming to play on the water at the lake, to hike on nearby trails, and to climb the red quartzite rocks of Devil's Lake.
The frame is a product of nature, white pine logs, cut by people into timbers, and planed and sanded and cut into the dimensions of a plan that many people worked on over a year and a half.

I see the hands and hearts and minds of many talented and interesting and good people when I look at this house. It has had a very good start!

The Special Touch

My design was functional. And a bit boring. The contruction manager talked me into extending the front entrance bay forward. He tried to talk me into an exterior truss for decoration but it had no functionality so I resisted. We took the design to the timber framers. They proposed changing a boring striaght part of my structure at the rafters with a much more interesting truss that featured an acorn. And they proposed one more truss in front to bring a hint of the structure outdoors.
Now, since the external truss was a repetition of the internal trusses, it made sense! The result was a design made special by committee! So the steps in making these trusses were a very special part of the process for me to be able to watch.
The bottom of each truss is an arch that is cut at the center. Physics pushes the arch down, pinching at the center where the cut is.
The arches are cut with a bandsaw.

They are planed with a curved planer.

The edges are chamfered with a special power tool.
The tenons are cut with power saw, Japanese hand saw, and chisel.

Holes are drilled for the pegs.

Each peice of the frame is sanded smooth.

A kingpin is place in this opening, braced against the rafters, separating the parts of the arch.
Arch braces on either side add more stability.
The acorn is the seed of the mighty oak. The symbol chosen to represent our hometown in Illinois is the acorn. My gallery is Prairie Oak Artisans after the bur oak, the prairie oak. My children learned about the prairie under the sheltering limbs of a bur oak tree at the Morton Arboretum. For many Plains Indians, the acorn was their staple food. In a mature prairie, oak trees shelter black raspberry and blackberry brambles. There could not be a more fitting ornament to grace this home and hang above those who will inhabit her.

One Hundred

This is my one hundredth post. What started as a whim at the suggestion of a friend who has his own infrequently posted on blog (yes, that is a challege for him to post more) was spurred on by the admonitions of another friend who has his own (too frequently posted on?) blog who said if you aren't going to post every day, you may as well not start. I hoped you readers would comment more, for those zeros make me think no one is reading, but when I miss a day or two, I get emails, so I suppose you are out there. But still, give it up now and then, eh? And I aim for an average of one a day, you know, like vitamins, if you miss one, you just take a couple the next day. Anyway, thanks for reading.

The House Goes Symmetric

The walls at the eaves are shorter than the walls that are either side of the central hallway within the house.

These are assembled as a two-story section. The posts run from the floor full length to the eaves.
Corners are strengthened with arch braces pegged into place.

The pegs are pounded into place to joint the posts and beams together.
The holes of the mortices and tenons are drilled out of alignment so that when the peg is punded into the holes, they are pulled into alignment and the wood is drawn tighter together. This is called draw joinery.

The beams are tenoned into them with an extra notch at the bottom called a shoulder that supports the beam securely in place.
The entire two-story wall frame is lifted and moved and set into position.
Then the first floor of the taller wall is assembled and lifted into position.

More sections are added to the front quarter of the house.
The wall sections are then tied together with beams.

The second story section of the cental wall is build on the floor of the house around the posts of the sections already in place.

It is then lifted and carefully manuevered between frame parts into position on the second story.

Once these walls are both in place and tied together, rafters can go onto that quarter of the house.

Each rafter is lifted into place.

Rafters have four pins through a mortice and tenon joint. Being able to see this is an advantage of the queen beams instead of a ridge beam.

With rafters on both sides, it really starts to look like a house shape.

The view from the stairs to the water is not too imposing. This back wall will be mostly windows!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Knock Knock!

"Knock knock!"
"Who's there?"
"Wooden who?"
"Wooden you love to have a boat like this?"

You can't buy these in stores. They are hand made. You start by building a table. Yes, you need a perfectly level very long table, so you build it out of plywood. Then you cut shapes out of plywood that are cross sections of the canoe type you want and you mount them upside down on the table.
Then you take tiny strips of cedar wood, 1/4" thick and 3/4" wide and very long. The first one is clamped onto the forms and the second one glued to that and the next one glued to that. Where they meet along the center, you have to cut very precise angles both across and along the wood so that they meet just right. When you have all the strips glued together, then you sand and sand and sand so that the series of flat strips forms a continuous smooth curve.
Then you put on a layer of fiber glass cloth with epoxy. The cloth is white and it seems like this is going to DESTROY the beautiful wood boat, but the epoxy makes it clear. You do this inside the boat and outside the boat.
This boat is like no other in the entire world, for then a gas grill was retrofitted as a steamer with PVC pipe so that it somewhat resembled a still, and wooden strips were steamed to soften them and then quickly bent into shape to fit the inside of the canoe. When all of the dozens of strips were bent one by one into shape, they were glued in place, and the whole thing was given more coats of finish. The top edges, called 'gunwales', oddly pronounced as 'gunnels', were cut and trimmed and sanded and glued into place and the triangles in front and back, called 'decks' were hand crafted by meticulously cutting and fitting various kinds of wood. The center support, called a 'yoke' was hand carved into a shape to make it comfortable to carry the canoe upside down on the shoulders and wooden frames were cut and glued and sanded then woven with rawhide strips to make seats.
The man in the yellow had did most of the work and the kid paddling in front helped, especially with the bending of the ribs inside the canoe.
It is a thing of wondrous beauty and it made its first water voyage recently on a cloudy day. But oh, it is amazing, when beautiful wood is finely hand formed into something so perfectly functional. A canoe itself is a thing of quiet beauty that takes you places where the splash of water, the breeze on your face, and the life in the water and on the shore make you remember that we live in a beautiful wonderful world indeed. I love my little one person boat, but a boat like this, built for two, means you have someone along to share it with, when you make a discovery and whisper 'Look!"