Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Roof and stairs to the deck.

The "work crew" Mischa and Brendon put the sheathing on the roof today and have started the felt paper. Tomorrow is a shopping day to Spokane so they will get back to the roof on Friday. We are hoping to move Mischa into a "dried in" number two by mid next week.

The stairs also went in today...That was my contribution.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rafters and flying rafters

Came up with a really easy way to put up the flying rafters.

Cut the slots in the two outside rafters, lay in the appropriate length support boards for the flying rafters. Place a 2x4 over the inside ends of these supports and clamp the 2x4 to the rafter thus sandwiching the supports between the two. The supports are only extended a few inches beyond the side wall, now install the flying rafter. Now slowly move the entire flying rafter out until you reach the proper measurement. Now screw down all of the supports where they are exposed before removing the clamps. Remove the clamps and fasten the rest of the supports.

No fuss no muss and it is totally adjustable so you can make sure you have the "EXACT" width roof you want to match the roof sheathing.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Up go the loft walls and notice the new loft window configuration.
Also we are trying a new way of placing the roof rafters. Instead of bird mouth cutting each rafter twice we are going to use metal tie downs to secure the rafters. I think much faster and easier for those lacking in talent. (namely me!)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Number two is moving along

Number two is now framed and sheathed on the first floor. The deck is now on and the steps and jump pad will go in tomorrow. Also tomorrow we will begin putting on the loft area and the roof. I hope to see this unit dried in by the end of the first week of August.

Mischa and Brendon are working very hard everyday and doing great work. I can see a major increase in their skill levels from the first day they were here. They have done most of the work on number two with only a minimal amount of supervision from me.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Number one shot gun shack nears completion

The number one shot gun shack is within a day of being ready to inhabit.
There are many cosmetic things yet to do but Brendon will move in and we will
finish later.
The door is in as is the temp kitchen and the loft with access ladder.

We have now started on the deck/floor for number three so we can stack materials on it thus getting them out of our way in the shop.

We will have the floor done by Sunday and then will go full tilt for framing and drying in number two.

The summer weather is still great. Highs in the mid 80's and lows at night down to 50. Although it is beginning to get very dry.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Brian has been gone for two days now and we are missing his help.

Mischa and Brendon have done the roofing on the first Shot Gun Shack with some small help from me. They did a Great job of it. We installed the tubular skylight and just need to get some ridge caps and the roof is complete. Two of the five windows are installed. The building is completely wrapped in felt ( tar paper ) it will be completely water proof when the other windows and door are installed.

Today's post will include pictures from the roofing process and three shots showing the visibility of this cabin from 100 ft then 75 ft and last from 50 feet away. Note that it is nearly invisible from 100 feet.

Brendon will be moving in by next wed/thur and going into full retreat. He gets the first "dried in" cabin (still unfinished inside) but that means he will get the last totally finished one.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Final day, Mother Photo

Today was the last day for me at OGM this month, it's time to go back to California for awhile. Two of our young hermits are going into full time retreat next week, while one will continue working with Roger during the building season. Here's a photo of the young men at site #2, for their mothers to see - they are indeed healthy, whole and apparently happy. I am especially keen to convey to their mothers that these fellows are being well looked after. Mothers are extraordinarily important.

Terran and I affixed the foundation posts and girders, built the joist frame, installed splash guard, rat wire, insulation and decking of cabin #2. We managed to put one wall up. At the same time Roger, Brendon and Mischa were working on weather barrier and start of roofing of #1. One window was installed and that unit will be dried in shortly.

The weather changed again - a new front blew in with a lot of wind. The tall Douglas Fir tree over #2 produced a continuous litter of bark and small branches. Mischa was hit by a small branch at site #1, and a 100 foot Aspen was knocked down across the road near our neighbor's driveway.

This wind also carries me away from OGM, back to work and the SF Bay Area and my usual sedentary life, long enough for my blisters to heal before I return for more OGM construction fun.

Blessings to all!
At the end of the work day we took a group photo of the 5 workers - Mischa, Terran, Brendon, Roger and Brian.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Porch - Day 2, fire

Today was a kind of weird day, where I felt a bit "off" emotionally and everyone else seemed to be grouchy or quiet or anxious. Fortunately it seemed to pass after about mid-day.
Yesterday during the start of the trials of the porch rafters I built a starter rafter as a template and then a handsome beetle came and alighted upon it and would not leave despite our prodding and coaxing. Terran and I decided he was a special insect associated with building and named him "Template Bug". Later Brendon came around and told us he was a northern pine beetle, responsible for decimating forests of the North East.
Well. "Template Demon Bug from Hell" is perhaps a better name. I tore through 4 or 5 planks trying to figure the proper cut and angles for rafters, and didn't get it right. I even tried bringing in the CAD software out to the cabin to figure the cuts for me and still failed to get it right. Finally I was reduced to the Medieval practice of scribing a copy of the profile from an available edge, and that worked OK.

After all this the porch roof *finally* assented to being built. I spent more hours on the rafters for the porch than I did for the entire remainder of the roof. Pictured here is Terran tidying up after one of my disasters. Clearly there's more for me to learn of the secrets of rafter framing on twisted/bent/warped beams and girders.
While Terran and I grappled with rafters, Mischa and Brendon finished the footers for cabin #3, and Roger framed up the girders and posts for #2. Despite the rafter woes things are still moving along. Here's a picture of the sheathed & decked #1. I'm off this site now, on to #2.

With the roof on #1 decked it was time to move the center of operations to #2, and I spent the afternoon trying to get electricity set up for the new site, eventually tracing my troubles to a dead circuit breaker. Here's a shot of the beginnings of #2 rising from the earth.

The weather was odd in keeping with much of the rest of the day. The breezes were fitful, and blew hot and cold. The mosquitoes were bold and thick, the sun burned me and blinded me. A forest fire started to the West and sullied the horizon with dirty clouds. But in the end it was a good day, I had a great talk with the three new hermits and a fine dinner with Roger and now off to bed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Porch - day 1

The porch is teaching me how to be a better designer and framer. I spent far more time on it than I planned because of inadequate design, and I've had to be very tricky and clever to frame it properly despite the design flaws. I hope to have it finished tomorrow with Terran's help and will post a pic or two then.
Roger went off to Omak to buy supplies and had a jolly time, but it did cut into our productivity. Nonetheless it looks like we can hope to have cabin #1 dried in and #2 framed (more or less) before I leave at the end of this week.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Roof deck

Small cabin #1 shown here progressing nicely - the roof rafters and decking went up today. Along the way two of us had a major allergy attack - I had to knock off work at one point and soak my head.
The other two sites are coming along. Mischa and Brendon poured footings for site #2, and Roger dug footing trenches for site #3.
Our weather has been great, save for the pollen - around 80 degrees and partly cloudy, very nice.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sheathing up, productive day

The pendulum swung the other direction today and we got a LOT done. Mischa and Brendon set up and poured footings for #2, Roger dug the foundation trenches for #3, and Terran and I finished sheathing #1 and got a few rafters up. It's a relief to have passed beyond yesterday's doldrums. The new guys seem to have quickly settled into their camp-sites, a worrying water leak was located and fixed, and Roger's injuries didn't take him out of action. Another good day!

Here's a picture of the sheathed cabin awaiting a porch and roof - kind of ugly

and the view from the window on the West wall - kind of pretty.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Sheathing, frustration, visitors, injuries, Moon

This was one of those days when every little thing seemed to be going wrong on the job site.

I managed to finish the framing for the first small cabin against what often seemed a conspiracy of obstacles. I'm not complaining - well maybe just a little bit - but observing with interest how some days are like this. Every tool seems to drop from my hand, and when it does it is magnetically drawn to the one muddy spot on the site. Levels won't level, staplers won't staple, and when I drive I hit things and run over stuff and generally seem to be incapable of precise action.

The cumulative effect was actually a bit frightening. Roger and I went for a hike to pick a site for small cabin #3, and at a certain point as we were scrabbling over rocks I heard Roger give a yell and turned to see him slipping from the rock face and falling painfully down the slope. Fortunately no bones were broken, but Roger wins the bruise contest on this work session. On a day like this I feel a bit fearful to use the nail gun or the chop saw, it's like asking for trouble.

On a positive note our new visitors, Terran and Brendon showed up today. I put them to work immediately, and perhaps a bit cruelly, moving 80lb sacks of concrete from the truck to a storage location. They had a rough journey getting here, we'll go easy on them for a while.

The photos here show the partially sheathed cabin frame. It seems pitifully little to have accomplished today, but such a day it was. Most of the frame is lying in a pile to the left. Also here is a photo of the new moon, a thin and graceful sliver, showing over the lodgepole pines as the trying day draws to an end.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Up goes the Frame

The weather shifted last night - it rained fairly heavily (which woke
me up twice, with nightmares about rusting tools...) Much cooler today and an over-abundance of mosquitoes.

After some thought we came up with a way to use the "bad" plywood to finish the deck and did that first thing. Roger and Mischa also poured the footings for the porch. Here's the crew loitering on the finished deck early this morning.
Two walls up, there I am attaching some additional pieces. After this we broke for lunch
Three walls up, mid-afternoon    
Late afternoon - Mischa and Brian pose with 4 1/2 walls.   

Our good friend Addie from our Wat Metta days is up here using the VIP cabin. She made a huge salad for lunch today, loaded with lettuce from Roger's garden.  

Yesterday was the Birthday of my two beloved sisters, Mary & Margaret. I observed this event in my usual way by neglecting to call them and then feeling a bit guilty, in the proper Catholic manner. But I didn't actually forget...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Number 1 shot gun kuti

Today we continued work on the first of the small cabins. It took us most of the morning to move tools, materials and equipment to the site, set up power and the air compressor, and finally get ready to start working.

The main beams were leveled and shimmed, then the joists were assembled into a frame. Building felt was attached to the frame, then hardware cloth "rat wire" on top of the felt. Next we flipped the frame so the rat wire is on the bottom, insulated it with R21 fiberglass insulation, and prepared to deck the surface. Just before this we back-filled around the footers, mostly by hand. Although the foundation and deck are simple there was still a lot to do.

We would have gotten more done save for a number of screw ups and obstacles we encountered. One of the joists had a shape like a football, so we had to pull that one out and replace it with a proper joist. A staple gun lost its spring power and entered early retirement. The decking T&G turned out to be a 1/2 inch less wide than we expected and that stopped us, amid much cursing from Brian who was quite affronted by this shortcoming.

Along with the materials issues, we found ourselves many times missing a tool or a supply of nails or *something* which was needed and so sent somebody up to the barn to fetch it. Usually this was Mischa (thanks Mischa!) - he ran up and down that hill probably 10 times today.

Pictures here show Mischa and Brian working on the foundation and deck.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Back to work, Electricity again

I (Brian) got in late yesterday and this morning went to work on putting in electricity at the "VIP Kuti". As expected it was an all-day job, but with Mischa's help it got done. I put a very small load-center breaker box in the kitchen area and installed a single utility receptacle nearby. On the other end we sorted out all the cuts, unions, curves and joins of the conduit to safely and securely wire in to the barn load center.
The weather is very typical for this time of year. It got up to about 96 degrees and was mostly sunny. I hope it cools down soon, hot work is more tiring.
Now I'm exhausted again - a familiar feeling for my OGM time. Someday I'm going to come up here and not work... Some day. Maybe...