Sunday, November 1, 2009

Building a life #10. The cabin project.

Building the cabin`s log walls.

For the past year I have read nothing but building books: concrete, reinforcing rods, spans for wooden beams, plumbing, electricity... the list is endless as is my capacity to learn from them. That, in the end, is the real legacy of my years in university: I can read and learn from books and do not have to rely on partial knowledge gleaned from conversations or from working in a particular trade. Neither do I have to hire someone and reduce our small building fund still farther. It is a little like a marathon though, with a steady push to keep moving forward. I am certainly getting in spades what I had dreamed of while I was teaching. Teaching... that already seems like a distant dream from another galaxy.

Once the sill logs are in place and the plywood sub-floor nailed down it is time to begin the job of building the frame and walls of the cabin we will eventually call ‘Swallow’. I have decided to use an old Quebec style of building a log house called ‘piece en piece’ - a post and beam structure with the open wall spaces filled with scribed and fitted logs. This takes advantage of the small diameter ( 6 to 8 inches) lodgepole pine logs I have cut in the Okanagan which I can lift and handle by myself without needing machinery. I make a special pair of saw horses that allow me to work with the chain saw at waist level and some log dogs ( giant staples) to lock them into place while I cut the tenoned ends ( to fit into the morticed slots in the vertical posts) and cut the long V slot in the bottom of each log that I have scribed to fit the lower log. All very labour intensive and repetitive, but each day`s work in the cool winter weather sees solid progress. Compared to teaching, I can see the results of my creativity each day. At the end of each day we can read in the evenings about how Pa is building his log house on the prairie as we sit warm and toasty having the bedtime story.

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