Thursday, September 18, 2008

Excavation Day!

We had a great turnout of volunteers for the Artist Studio excavation project!

Students from both the University of Idaho and Washington State University, PCEI members and staff, and friends and family all turned out to move some dirt. We had about 20 pairs of helpful hands.

A lot of the excavation was done with hand tools: shovels and wheel barrows!

A great day for friends to get together and do some cool work on a hot day!

It was such a hot and dry day that this hastily erected shade shelter turned out to be crucial!

We cut back into the hill. Our deepest dig was 24" below grade. We used GeoWeb material to provide slope stabilization and essentially create a simple earthen retaining wall.

We also used a rented diesel Dingo for our auger and scoop. The dingo was not very helpful unless the ground was softened up with shovels by the volunteers. But once the ground was softened up, the dingo could efficiently push dirt around.

The post holes for the footers and sonotubes turned out to be our only problem. The ground was just too hard.

The hard Palouse clay was a big problem for our little dingo with the 30" auger. Digging with this auger bit was rough going. We ended up largely polishing the clay instead of digging through it.

The next steps are to complete the footer holes using a larger (heavier) machine and a smaller auger bit. After that, we'll setup the footers and sonotubes and rebar and prepare for the concrete pour!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Milling The Posts and Beams!

We submitted our building plans and permit application to the City of Moscow, and we anxiously await their verdict. Our pre-permit meeting went well, and we are not anticipating any problems.

While we await the building permit, we've decided to proceed on two fronts: preparing the job site and milling the timbers.

All of the logs going into the studio come from local sources. Many logs come from homeowners, community members, and parks inside or around Moscow that lost trees to wind storms, disease, or other causes. An important part of any good urban forestry practice is the recycling of trees that would otherwise end up as firewood or dumped in a landfill.

Below are pictures of a 90 year-old Douglas Fir log donated by Steffen and Nicole Werner of Moscow. This fir tree was felled in the Spring of 2007 to make room for home renovation. Here it is being milled into an 8x8 post.

Each side is milled separately with care to produce square corners. The log is manually rotated 90 degrees for each cut. Moving the log into position for accurate cuts is the most time consuming part of the milling process.

After lopping off the irregular ends with a chainsaw, we have a strong and beautiful post timber!

At this point, I've milled three posts and one beam. The posts are entirely mixed-species: Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, and Engelmann Spruce. The large curved beam on the front of the studio was milled from an American Elm harvested from East City Park after the city removed it (it was dying of Dutch Elm Disease).

Every piece of wood comes from the Moscow community and therefore has a story and shares a common history with all of us.