Day one

Now that we are out of the ground, we need to move on to phase two of the build, the timber frame, Rick has ummdd and ahhd about the best and most efficient and least expensive way to do this and we have decided to fell our own timber, from our forest, we’ll make less mess than a local logger, they won’t be selective or understand.

Selectively felling makes life a lot more complicated, every tree has to measured and estimated, carefully chosen for it’s straightness etc. etc. we don’t want to take everything out (which is generally what people do here), so we’ll call it forest management, along with creating two resources, one is firewood for us to use or to sell and the other is the frame for the house.

In total Rick reckons we need to fell at least 70 of our pines. Today we felled, cleaned and processed for lumbar and firewood 3!!!!! (and I collected a lot of pine cones!!)

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5 Responses to Day one

  1. sophie says:

    Very very interested in this, as it's something we want to do on our new land. Are you going to season / treat the wood in any way before building the timber frame?

    You've come such a long way, well done! Try to focus on that rather than what you've still got to do (and I will try to listen to my own advice!) xxx

  2. rick said,

    hi soph,

    in answer to some of your questions, following felling approx 20 trees (i have to do it in batches or i'll run out of room), and site processing them, i will be getting someone local with a tractor and winch to haul them upto the trackside where they can be picked up by the guy from one of the local sawmills, then taken to the mill, where i can dictate how they are processed, then they will get returned to the building site, where they will be given a couple of coats of diesel, thats it for treatment, and seasoning. the point with timber framing (in a modular post and beam way) is that you use green wood, one its easier to cut the mortices and tenons, and all the other complicated joinery, and two as its held together by joinery, you need it to shrink tight, in the process of drying it tightens the joints.

    i might add, sarah was very useful today up in the forest, particularly at helping to clear away all the brashings.

    i'd like to be getting more like 5 trees done per day, but even if it was at 3 a day its only 3 weeks work. the thing that's complicated about selective felling, as opposed to clear cutting is, tree avoidance, where you've got a lot of tall trees growing in close proximity its somewhat hazardous to get individuals out, without either getting them hung up on other trees, or flattening other trees, or glancing off other trees and coming down in the wrong place. obviously personal safety is at the forefront of my mind, however there is only so much you can do with a tree thats twice the height of your house, that leans one way for a few meters then another, and then perhaps yet another, and then there's the wind to take into account, its a lot windier up there on the mountain top, especially on the ridge, and sometimes, you never know what way the tree is going to eventually go until it goes, however good you are at felling. sometimes it just wont go according to plan. its hazardous and dangerous and there are no two ways about it. i'm cutting trees that are between 300mm and over 500mm diameter, to obtain timber upto 8×10″ beams upto 6.6m (over 20') in length, with trees over 15m and one or two probably upto 30m, if i could find a cheaper and more efficient way of getting the timber requirements i would. frankly its quite scarey up there.

  3. Mark & Suze says:

    Hi Rick & Sarah…phew! And still a couple of weeks to go. Take care cos it sounds scary to me. We went out to our little tiny bit of bush to find fire wood for this winter a couple of weeks back, and I cut down three little already dead tea tree. That was scary enough for me and they were only about 8-10 meters high – the pines trees we have on the boundary are huge in comparison. Our little operation was very twee in comparison – I cut them to meter or so lengths, Suze loaded them on the little trailer pulled by the quad bike. Now we just have to cut and split them in the shed.

    Interested to see your timber frame though. Seen a few timber frame houses on that Grand Designs program and they were pretty special. Not sure about the smell of diesel though…guess that smell fades after time.

    Go well! Love from us lot down under
    Mark, Suze, Ellie, Jack xx

  4. Sophie says:

    Hi Rick

    Thanks for taking the time to explain all that. Good news about the seasoning and it all makes perfect sense but aren't you worried it will twist and split and god-knows-what as it dries in situ? How long will you leave the frame before filling in the walls (and what will you use as walls)?

    Sounds very scary and dangerous! I was already worried about how we will get our trees felled as they are really close together, I think we'll have to take down a lot more than we'd like just to get them out of the way, or use a winch, or something …

    Take care!

    x Sophie

  5. rick said,

    hi soph,

    in answer to your question, am i worried about the frame twisting, or components of it twisting, the answer to that is no. and for the following reasons. part of the principal of framing in this way that the nature of the joints, the way in which the frame is constructed (in a cross boned manner), and the use of corner braces, all help to prevent twisting, and the greater problem of racking. additionally, the entire building will get sheathed in inch board nailed from one plate level to the next (ideally this would have been 12mm shuttering ply, but try finding that here).

    timber drying defects across the length of each piece are probable, although from all the pine i've cut previously, its all been pretty stable, unlike the walnut and chestnut which showed most of the text book defects, in some pieces every defect. i'm not generally going to be concerned by splitting, as it rarely effects the strength of timber, especially not in a housed joint situation. drying will cause the faces of the joints to cup slightly, and this has to be taken into account when preparing the joint faces by scooping out the cheeks of the tenons to allow them to straighten when dry, thereby keeping a flush joint.

    as for infill, following roofing and sheathing i will begin infilling. for the exterior, the front and back will have a coursed stone rubble face over insulation and a breather membrane. the sides/gable ends will have lime render on wooden lath.

    having said that, i have and still am considering using cordwood infill on one of the sides, which would run on the interior aswell as the exterior.

    for the internal infill, i have a lot of 4×2 to cut to stud out, and then i plan to use a system known as light clay, which essentially is clayey subsoil mixed with cellulose fiber of any kind from wood chippings to bits of wood or sawdust, shuttered and poured in, in semi liquid form, and allowed to dry. thermally its nearly equivalent to strawbale, and a lot better than cob, its much more stable, and is an instant natural plaster background, doing away with having to use plaster board of any kind. its super cheap, can be mixed in a cement mixer, non hazardous to use, and non-combustable.

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