I think it turned out much better than either of us ever expected.
The northern bent was originally designed as a really simple bent consisting of three posts, two girts and a couple knee braces with simple, unhoused, unshouldered joinery. However, after re-evaluating how much of the center Englemann Spruce post was going to be removed, we decided to include a hardwood spline passing entirely through the Spruce post and directly tying both girts together in a much stronger joint. In addition, we decided to shoulder all girt-to-post joinery, matching the shouldered joints on the southern bent.
Below, we are tensioning the north bent using rachet straps. At this point, we have not yet placed the knee braces.
And here is the completed bent, with knee braces, and test-fitted with drilled peg holes. This single bent consists of 7 species of wood! Ponderosa Pine post, douglas fir post, Englemann spruce center post, maple spline, two American elm girts, two American elm knee braces, a Grand fir sill plate, and black locust pegs!!
We will cut a nice curve on the bottoms of the knee braces prior to raising day.
Peter suggested a couple modifications to my basic brace design, and I think they turned out great. First, we cut the brace so that the tenon and brace are flush on the interior side. This makes great-looking joinery, especially in situations where the brace meets up with a wany surface.
Second, he cut a small piece off the far corners of the braces. The advantage of doing this is arguable since it can expose the brace mortise slightly, but I think it turned out very, very tight nonetheless.
Here is a closer look at that maple spline tying together the American elm girts through the spruce post.
That American elm, salvaged last Fall from East City Park in Moscow is WET and heavy. It is also exceedingly beautiful. The color difference between sapwood (light tan/yellow) and heartwood (like black walnut!) is stunning. And by placing wane and sapwood in the same orientation for both girts, we create the effect that the girts are continuous. In fact, they were cut from different parts of the same massive elm tree.
Here is the best look yet of the impressive joint. One of the best parts of this joint is invisible: that all three pieces of wood (elm, spruce, and maple) were salvaged by hand from city and street trees in Moscow. All three trees grew very near each other in Moscow for at least 75 years.
We've made major strides in the last week. The foundation is done, both bents are complete, all the braces have been cut, and we're almost done with the west wall! We've cut all of the tenons and most of the mortises. Without exception, the joinery has turned out fantastic.
The next big challenge prior to raising day will involve laying out the roof system and mocking it up.
We're almost done with this timber frame!