Archive for the ‘Cypress’ Category

Front Porch

December 19, 2009

Lewis and the crew built the front porch this week and finished putting the poplar bark siding on the front of the timber frame. Bunny Vista is so different now–it begins to feel like home. From the road that runs along the ridge just west of us, the house is so intriguing. The porch roof and cedar posts somehow tie the house to the ground so that it looks as if it’s part of the landscape. As Erin said, “it looks so snug.”

So here are some photos from the building of the porch and from the second snowfall of December.

Aaron and Braxton scamper along on the rafters. Kelley says they were like Tigger bouncing up there. The rafters are hemlock, which Kelley bought several years ago and stored at John Boody's sawmill. The beam that supports the rafters is cypress, left over from the timber frame.

The bark shingles await.

It is such fun to stand on the porch and look at the log section--there is snow on the windows and logs and stone and even on the poplar bark siding.

Standing on the front porch watching the snow. I hear that the light fixtures are done, and I'm anxious to see how they will look beside the French doors. The porch rafters and roof are hemlock, which Kelley says is resistant to boring bees. Thank goodness for that.

From the top--hemlock roof, hemlock rafters, red cedar posts from Aaron Tammi's property, cypress rafter-bearing beam, Atlantic white cedar decking, cypress deck frame, hemlock deck joists

Let's see. . . from the top: hemlock porch roof, hemlock porch rafters, cypress rafter-bearing beam, red cedar posts from Aaron Tammi's family property, red cedar posts, Atlantic white cedar decking, cypress deck framing, hemlock deck joists.

Kelley says there is enough poplar bark to finish the work on the front--the basement entrance and the little porch between the two log rooms. The door for the basement is here, and Kelley is going to make a door for the little porch. Someday we will say goodbye to all the Tyvek.

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Windows, Walls, and Loft Stairway

October 5, 2009
Kelley worked hard to select the windows for Bunny Vista, and he was excited to see the sunset reflected in them.

Kelley worked hard to select the windows for Bunny Vista, and he was excited to see the sunset reflected in them.

The crew has installed most of the Bunny Vista windows. They will wait until the drywall is in the timber frame room before they install the front windows and French doors in that room. I think the windows are beautiful, and when Kelley showed me how easy they are to remove for washing, I thought about my mother sitting on the window sill struggling to wash the double hung windows in the house I grew up in. I am so glad Kelley picked windows that are beautiful and energy efficient and ones that will be simple for him to keep clean.

The kitchen has casement windows. The one at the left was damaged on arrival, but the replacement is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. The cypress siding is here for the shed addition, and

The kitchen has casement windows. The one at the left was damaged on arrival, but the replacement is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. The cypress siding is here for the shed addition, and the crew will start installing it this week.

Lewis has almost finished chinking the log section.

Lewis chinks the office office.

Lewis is putting a layer of Permachink on the office wall. He put the first exterior layer of chinking on this wall early in the summer.

Kelley has finished building the staircase for the loft. It is beautiful. The treads are cypress and the stringers are white pine. He and Lewis worked hard to design a beautiful staircase that would not be so steep that it would be difficult to get to the loft.

If you stand between the kitchen and the mudroom and look through the timber frame, you see the loft staircase against the interior log wall of the office.

If you stand between the kitchen and the mudroom and look through the timber frame, you see the loft staircase against the interior log wall of the office.

The treads are protected with paper and tape, but you can see the beautiful cypress wood on the underneath edges. I love the staircase.

The treads are protected with paper and tape, but you can see the beautiful cypress wood on the underneath edges. I love the staircase.

The View from the loft

The view from the loft

Another view from the loft, including a look at the hearthstone.

Another view from the loft, including a look at the hearthstone.

Topping Off the Timber Frame

June 17, 2009

Last Thursday was the start of an intense week of building at Bunny Vista. With the arrival of Jordan Finch and his crew, the number of workers at the house doubled. Lewis, Braxton, and Aaron worked alongside Jordan, Justin, and Mike to add another beautiful element to our new house. Jordan’s crew had been working on the timber frame at Jordan’s workshop in Mount Jackson for many months.

All Thursday afternoon, the crew unloaded the frame and laid it out on the house decking. They joined the wall posts to the top plate and added cherry braces while the walls lay flat on the deck. On Friday, they raised the timber frame, beginning with the west wall. They attached the floor beams for the loft, laid the loft floor joists, and raised the east wall. They maneuvered the giant cherry sling braces into place and added the four principal rafters. On those two days the men worked very hard and very long, and at the end of the day on Friday, we stood on the deck with the amazing timber frame structure surrounding us. It was very emotional for all of us.

Jordan used three woods in the timber frame. Most of the timber frame is made of cypress, which Jordan bought from a sawmill in South Carolina; it is very clear and has a lovely soft color. Kelley tells me cypress was Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite wood. Cypress is widely used in Japan, where builders often bury it for years to deepen the color. The cherry for the braces came from a sawmill here in the Valley; the sling braces on two of the bents are about twelve feet long, eighteen inches or so wide, and six inches thick. Kelley and Jordan sawed them at the Taylor and Boody sawmill so that they retain what Kelley calls “live edges”–the edges are not sawed but follow the natural outline of the tree. They will make a stunning frame for the stone fireplace at the south end of the house. Kelley really admires the handplaning job that Mike did on the cherry, not the easiest wood to plane. The top plates run the full thirty-five foot length of the frame and are made of very dense yellow pine; Kelley and Jordan chose this wood because they were able to use one timber for the entire length of the room.

At the top is the yellow pine top plate

The top plate is yellow pine. The post is cypress, as are the beam running perpendicular to the top plate and the girt directly above Kelley's head. The braces are cherry, which is my favorite wood. In this photo, the crew is preparing to join the first sling brace to the frame.

The posts flare at the top and are narrower at the bottom. Jordan specified that the lumber be milled so that the bottom of the tree (the famous butt swell) would at the top of the post to support all of the joints in that area.

The sling braces have "live edges," which are not sawed but follow the natural line of the curved tree trunk.

The sling braces have "live edges," which are not sawed but follow the natural line of the curved tree trunk. The heartwood of the cherry tree is the reddish color we always associate with cherry. It's really interesting to see the contrast between the heartwood and the sapwood on these braces.

Kelley recruited Nick and Erin to help him put finish on the cypress ceiling boards. Although they spent several hours on this project Sunday afternoon, they were not able to finish. There were a lot of boards.

Cypress ceiling boards

Cypress ceiling boards

On Monday morning, the timber frame crew returned to Bunny Vista to add the common rafters and the cypress tongue-and-groove ceiling.

Jordan and Lewis consult about rafters at the fireplace end of the timber frame.

Jordan and Lewis consult about the rafters at the fireplace end of the timber frame.

Rafters

The larger rafters, visible at the right and the left, are called principal rafters. The common rafters (there are four in this photo) are the smaller rafters between the bents.

After putting the rafters in place on Monday, the builders were able to apply finish to the rest of the ceiling boards, saw them to length, and nail half of them to the rafters.

Justin saws a ceiling board.

Justin saws a ceiling board.

Almost finished with half of the ceiling.

Almost finished with half of the ceiling.

At the end of the day, we had a “topping off” ceremony, which is a traditional centuries-old ceremony among timber frame builders. It marks and commemorates the completion of the timber frame; it recognizes and honors the builders. One important component of the ceremony is the nailing of the “whetting bush” , an evergreen bough, to the highest point of the frame. The origin of this tradition is obscure, but it is probably Scandinavian. Possibly, nailing the evergreen bough to the timber frame once offered appeasement to the gods for using the wood of the forest to build a structure. It may also serve to give thanks to the forest for providing wood for a new home. Kelley climbed onto the roof of the log house and nailed the whetting bush to a principal rafter of the timber frame. Jordan read a traditional German topping off toast and a house blessing which our friend Emily brought to us on Friday. Then he smashed a wine glass against the foundation of the house, and we served our first meal from what will soon be our kitchen.

The whetting bush

The whetting bush

Today, the rest of the ceiling boards went up. Tomorrow, Kelley and Aaron will drive to Winchester to pick up the panels that will insulate the ceiling. Thursday, the builders will add the panels to the ceiling, and we will be on our way to the next house-building adventure.

The final ceiling boards and the whetting bush

The final ceiling boards and the whetting bush