It feels so surreal to have this behind me now. Saturday was one of the most stressful, yet fulfilling days of my life. I was able to see months of timber work turn into a day of community and craftsmanship. Overall, it went very well. There were a few snags here and there but they were easily corrected.
To start with, at the beginning of the day, the crane had difficulty starting and needed to be jumped. Once it was jumped, the throttle cable wouldn’t work either. With the help of some mechanical minds, a dog chain was hooked to the throttle and was pulled when it was needed to make the hook block move.
So with that issue, we had to assemble a portion of the frame the old fashioned way for a little over an hour while the mechanics worked on the crane. Going into this ordeal, I was actually afraid I was going to have too many hands on deck. However, with the crane out of commission at first, these hands got the work done. We were able to feel Amish for a small stent of our lives.
The very first post and crossbeam that were brought onto the deck had me very distraught. While looking at the post, I noticed that the brace mortise for the crossbeam was facing the wrong direction. This was the very first joint that we attempted to assemble. You can imagine my worry as I thought the entire frame was going to go accordingly. But we decided to press on without the brace on that side and that I would return to it later and mend my mistake. After that hiccup, every other joint was in the right location.
You can see the missing brace on the left of the bent. The first three bents went into place without much problem. The last bent was put in place by the crane since it was working by that time.
After the bents were assembled and temporarily braced, we moved on to the top plates. These two proved to be a little burdensome since there were five joints to engage in one timber. It took some slacklines, a person on each joint, and a lot of patience, but it went together pretty well. The tenon for the middle post had issues when we drove one of the pegs, but the joint is still very strong and more than adequate.
After lunch, we moved on to the rafters. All in all, the rafters look awesome and came together great, but setting the first one safely was a chore. I had neglected how much preparation it would take to brace the first set of rafters effectively before moving on to the next set. If it wasn’t for the crane, that would have been a very dangerous job. Once the first set was secure, the rest went along quite smoothly.
The end product looked amazing. Timbers have such a natural elegance to them. Not as much as trees in their natural habitat, I admit, but enduring the manipulation of man, they still can be creatures of great magnificence.
At the end of our venture, there were many smiles and hugs shared. Pictures were taken and the frame was christened with the branch of a spruce. Although only poplar and oak exist in this frame, not many poplar and oak leaves are available for the showing at the end of February.
Next up, the porch posts, knee wall for the loft, and the rest of the rafters. Weather has been horrid, so I’m really looking forward to Spring.
Some more pics of the day: