Sunday, June 14, 2009

Frame-raising with NBI

I think the date on my last post was off. I had started writing it on Wednesday, but it was finished on Thursday. So pretend like Thursday was the last entry.

Friday was another day of landscaping. Nothing highly remarkable, except that I don't believe that weed-whacking the cracks of a paved parking lot is a worthy way to spend time.

I've spent a lot of time in the kitchen with Heidi lately. A few of the NBI boys and I hung out with her late on Friday to help her prepare for yesterday's dinner - serving about 75 people (board members, families and people coming for a slideshow presentation.) We get a lot of prep work done so that yesterday could go as smoothly as possible for her. (I also helped her during the day on Friday. Not just landscaping.)

Yesterday, I went with the NBI class (Natural Building Intensive, as a reminder) to raise the timber-frame that they had been preparing all week. The NBI class will be here for a total of 13 weeks - we'll be leaving around the same time. Their class project is a jam-type studio/garage for a family in Warren. Lots of pictures!

Chelsea Green Publishing Company is making/supporting a documentary about the class and their project.

When we got out to the site, the concrete foundation had just set. The timbers were marked, cut and waiting on us. (If you look beside Dan and the scaffolding, you'll see some orange pipes under a sawhorse - those are the connections for the radiant heating. We had to be careful not to knock them. If one of those tubes busts below the concrete, there's just about no way to fix it. I don't like this about radiant.)

The class preparing to set up the first bent. They had connected all the pieces, pegged them into place and were receiving some last minute safety instruction reminders.

First bent up.

There are two levels of concrete - one side is about two inches shorter than the other. The lower level is the garage. The upper level is the studio. They were treated differently when it came to protecting the beams from water.

The studio area, which will have more protection from natural elements, has flashing attached to the bottom of each post. We found as we raised the posts that the flashing needed some extra nails to keep from crumpling. (Here, Nick repairs crumpled flashing.)

The area in the garage needed more protection, so an entire two-by went under it. Theoretically, this will keep the post from absorbing moisture from the concrete, which would cause warping.

When we set up the second bent, we noticed that the middle post wasn't quite flush with the ground, but decided that it was just a settling issue. Nobody payed much attention to it.

However, when it came time to put the first beam up (attaching the first three bents), we could not get the pieces to fit.

We worked on it for about half an hour before we figured out that one of the side posts from the second bent was about an inch too tall. So it all had to come back down.

Josh, the instructor, sawed the bottom portion off. It was thin, but enough to make a difference. A good reminder why it's important to measure twice. (At least it wasn't too short.)

When we tried the second time, , after the trimming, the piece fit perfectly.

Around noon, the excavator came to the site to help get the heavy timbers onto the posts.
This was much easier than using a bobcat.

The operator was a little concerned about reaching his crane so far away from the machine with such a heavy log, so students stood in his bucket (opposite the crane) to provide some counterweight.

The brothers (good guys) and the first tractor-raised beam.

The second beam, going up.
Skip, one of the instructors, helping to line up the second beam. (For the record, the mortise is the hole, the tenon is the peg.)

The second set of beams was a little trickier to set up. The connection between the two beams had to be set at a certain angle that didn't work very well with the angle that the brace needed. There was a lot of teamwork required for this one, as well as strong leadership.

After a while, however, the group got on a roll, leading themselves and working together well.

So good, in fact, that the instructors sat back and watched. I sat with them for a while - it was just the class working. The instructors were watching and yelling every once in a while for a student to watch their fingers, but mostly chuckling as the students figured out how to piece the building by themselves.

They jumped in where instruction was needed.

The last beam was a snug fit. It needed some "convincing" with the giant mallet. There was much rejoicing once complete.

And picture-taking with the finished frame.

The finished frame.

At the end of the day, the instructors presented the class with a cooler of beer, joined together and sang. It was a smooth, good day.

1 comment:

  1. i want a giant mallet to help me with my convincing.