Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More progress on the South wall.

We've continued working on the labor-intensive southern wall of the Artist Studio. It is slow going, due to the scribing and repetitive test-fitting. We are trying to get the joinery very, very tight.

Here is Peter finishing up a tenon on the second strut:

And here is Peter using the Makita chain mortiser to cut the strut mortise in the bottom of the southeast Western Larch post. Its an 18" long, 2" wide mortise!

Here, we test fit the strut tenon into the newly cut mortise. A very, very nice fit.

We cut the mortise in the elm beam as well and test-assembled this whole corner. In general, it turned out quite nice. With some fine-tuning and some high-tension straps, we can bring the joinery together almost perfectly.

One more mortise on the elm beam, and we can test-fit the western strut. We're getting closer to completion with this South wall, but there still remains many hours of detail work before its done.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cutting the large southern struts.

We test fitted the joinery between the large curved elm beam and the two southern Larch posts. Peter mainly worked on this joinery, and got it pretty tight! You can see that the elm tenon extends completely through the Larch post on either side.

We will most likely round that tenon and leave it exposed. It should be a nice effect.

I always get a kick out of seeing wood of mixed species come together like this to form a strong joint. Mixed species frames can be aesthetically beautiful, since you get a sharp contrast of coloration and grain. But you also are mixing woods with completely different mechanical properties. In many cases, one can take advantage of both aesthetics and engineering when choosing which wood to use and where.

After these timbers were successfully test fitted, we started in on two large, curved, Douglas fir struts that will act as massive braces on the south wall. We had to layout the curves carefully and cut the curves using a combination of chainsaws, circular saws, chisels, mallets, power planes, hand-planes, and belt sanders.

We cut the outside curve using both the little 7 1/4" and the larger 16" circular saws:

The inside curve involved kerfing with the electric chainsaw and then cleaning up with a chisel and plane:

After the curves were cut, we laid out the mortices and tenons via scribing. We carefully positioned the timbers on the floor and then placed the curved strut blank on top. By using framing squares and our eyeballs, we laid out the tenons and mortices carefully. Scribing was necessary in order to get good joinery with such curved and wany wood.

Once laid out, cutting the tenons on the strut was pretty simple.

The finished struts turned out looking very beautiful. They will be amazing once placed inside the corresponding mortices on the elm beam and the larch posts.

We have joinery on the other strut to do, and then its on to the knee braces and rafters!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cutting the joinery for the curved elm beam.

We finished cutting all of the tenons at the tops of the six posts. We also finished cutting the corresponding mortises into the three top plates!

With the help of Linnea, we moved on to cutting the tenons on the curved American elm beam. :-)

Since the elm beam is curved and not at all rectilinear, we needed to layout the joinery the old-fashioned way: by scribing. In order to do this, we cleared a large space on the cement workshop floor and marked a perfect rectangle in permanent marker. We then placed the south-facing Western Larch posts on the lines and moved the curved elm beam on top of them. Peter was able to then mark exactly where the curved elm beam will intersect both Larch posts.

We cut 2" thick tenons on the curved elm beam which will fully penetrate the Larch posts via a through-mortise. The bottoms of the elm tenons will be shouldered 3/4" into the posts. The elm tenon will pass a full 2" past the side of the post, which will look really, really nice.

Here is Peter planing the tenon with a small hand plane:

We stacked the beam atop the posts to double-check the cut. Looks good!

After the elm tenons have been fully cut, we can cut the corresponding through-mortices on the Larch posts. After that, its on to the struts and braces!