Welcome to my blog, where a 30-something couple from the UK renovate and extend an old cottage, build some outbuildings, raise some hens and grow firewood trees and vegetables on our Acre in Hampshire. It's a bit like a smallholding but without too many animals, so we call it a homestead - living within our means, relying on ourselves and having a wonderful life!


Sunday, 22 March 2015

Loads of Progress...

...which is a good job, as the Wedding of the Year (as far as we are concerned...) is only 14 weeks away. Yikes!

Every spare moment has been spent outside cracking on with building the Barn. I don't use the word build lightly - upwards progress is being made, which is a huge boost to morale!

After much head-scratching, tea-drinking, internet-browsing and working-out, I've settled on the joint design that will hold the tops of the walls together. Spanning the 6.5 metres between the walls are some really long and heavy oak beams - attaching these to the tops of the walls is a pretty hefty bit of engineering design - the weight of the roof wants to push the walls apart. I've settled on a stepped dovetail joint, designed to tighten if any forces try to pull the joint apart. These bits of oak are 7 inches square, and I made a simple jig so that making these dovetails (10 in all) is a simple job.

I've had a lot of help from my Father during the last fortnight - it has been quite strange having him as an 'apprentice' - quite the opposite of my childhood, when it was his job to show me how to make things and keep any breakages from my Mother! It has been great to spend a few days together, pottering on with a satisfying job. Here we are a few weeks ago, in awe of how tall the walls are going to be...

....and again, with one of the corner posts that we made together...

Speaking of making things, we spend a good few hours on THE most complicated node in the whole building - the freestanding post that will be in the garage, with three braces and a scarfed wall plate. In a funny way, I am starting to seek out ever more complicated joints to try - for the challenge of designing and the satisfaction of building them. This has 11 pegs in the space of about 2 square feet - a personal record!

This is the current state of the Barn as of this evening - all of the west wall and garage store uprights in place and both wall plates (12 metres long, with 4 scarf joints and 11 mortices each...) finished.

Progress is SLIGHTLY stalled owing to an equipment failure - my large hand planer has burned out it's motor. It is a poor design - the exhaust for shavings is right by the cooling air intake, which inevitably gets blocked with shavings and the machine overheats. I am going to try to get a refund and order the machine I should have bought the first time - a Makita which is of far higher quality.

In other news, Kristy and my mother have worked wonders in a scrubby little corner of the garden which used to be overrun with brambles and stunted trees - we now have a lovely little bank which is covered with bulbs and primroses. They've done a lovely job!