Monday, February 14, 2011

Tavistock Treehouse - Proposed Design

Give me a clipboard, a few sheets of paper, a pen, and fifteen minutes or so, and this is what comes out of my mind... Probably symptomatic of moderate clinical depression, and a mild and fading case of Post traumatic stress disorder!

The treehouse will be generally neo-gothic in style, with some vaguely moorish or arabic architectural features, just to give it a hint of the fantastic and exotic. Just because I can.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Overhanging Dormer

A short while ago I decided that instead of a front facing dormer on the house, I would actually make an extended, overhanging dormer. Although the second floor boasts the same square footage as the first (70 sf roughly) the fact that the peak was under six feet, and the pitch, although steep, would make the second story feel quite cramped.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Waste Considerations

Two important thoughts I had before building the treehouse were to use as much 'waste' materials as I could reasonably find, and also to generate as little waste as possible during construction. The photograph attached here depicts the total waste from producing the studs for one gable end waist wall, two side waist walls, as well as an OSB ridge beam and a pair of rafters. The two stacks of short pieces are the wall studs, the rest of the wood will be top and bottom plates, and two rafters are pictured. All the waste is the small pile of scraps beside the Makita circular saw. 

The decisions to include (or exclude) certain features, or do things in a particular manner, are often quite dependant on the materials I have to work with. I was able to pick up a number of scrap 2 x 4's in 48" lengths, which gave me the idea to build an overhanging gable ended dormer with two foot tall waist walls. I simply cut the 4' sticks down to 23-3/4" and added a top and bottom plate, with a sliver of wood as waste per stud.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rudi's Sick Day Photo Journal

More Found Materials - Steel Roofing

Driving home after dropping off Alexander at the sitter last week, I stopped to grab the mail, then drove by an old house having a small barn re-sided and re-roofed. The entire steel roof was stacked in three large piles, all seemingly in fair condition. I talked to the renovator, who directed me to the owner, and we quickly came to an agreement that for $40 cash and all the steel completely cleaned up I could have it all. I am guessing at $130 a tonne for scrap steel, there might have been $60 worth, as it took four trips with the van to carry it all home.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Second Storey (continued)

With my father's help we got a little more work done on the second storey on Sunday. My mother wanted to see a show in Stratford, and took Katherine to see Evita, leaving Roger, me, Rudi and Alexander at home for a few hours. Roger and Rudi helped me finish the anti sway attachment, and then we installed the planking on the west roof peak, which is now visible in the photograph

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tool of the Month - September 2010

Nothing beats having a lightweight, easy to handle, high output chainsaw handy when working on a platform fifteen feet in the air cutting 4 inch limbs off a gnarly White Spruce tree. So here is mine, a Husqvarna 335 XPT top handle arborist chain saw. It puts out 2.2 horsepower, and makes short work of large limbs, small trees, and even decent sized  logs.

Second Storey Anti Sway Bracket

After laying the subfloor out, and starting the rafters on the second floor, I noticed that there was a lot of sway in the building, and it moved as much as two or three inches from side to side relative to the tree trunk. I suppose this can't be a huge suprise for a small building whose whole foundations is two big beams fastened to a tree with a mammoth threaded bold!

I decided that the sway was too much, and I would design a simple method to essentially anchor the second floor frame to the tree. A lot of interesting design ideas went through my mind, as the method must somehow be adjustable, in that I want the second floor joists to remain in place, even as the tree trunk grows slowly outwards.

The simplest and most effective solution was to lag screw a short two by four brace to the tree trunk, and then use two lag bolts to attach the closest second floor joist to the. The photos below give a good view of what the end result looked like.

First photo from second floor looking down (with Rudi looking up), with the brace, main lag screw, and two lag bolts visible.

The second photo is from the first floor, with the joist, lag screw (installed using the large hole opened in the joist), and the right hand lag bolt holding the joist to the brace.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Second Storey

After finalizing the method I would use to attach the rafters to the second floor joists, I calculated the required length using the trig calculater a few posts previous. Rudi and I carefully climbed up to the second floor, where he helped me install the first pair, more as a test to see if it could be done readily, and if the attachment seamed suitably designed. Bear in mind for weight, simplicity and style considerations, a fascia board and standard rafters with associated birdsmouth cuts was not in consideration.

The second picture shows the means of attachment I designed, using a basic hurricane bracket bent to the appropriate rafter angle, screwed down, and then the rafter glued with PL Premium adhesive, screwed from the sides, and also screwed vertically from the bottom through the joist into the rafter. Theres nothing moving here!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tool of the Month - August 2010

Initially purchased for my Father to replace a forty year old small table saw, he found this one a bit too larger for his needs, and it only had an extendable top on the right hand side, whereas he needed both sides extendable. Later my mother bought him his ideal table saw (a Craftsman Professional, what else!), and this one ended up in my possession.

It is a Craftsman Professional 4.4hp 10" jobsite tablesaw. It's big, it's tough, and it can slice through lumber like a hot knife through butter, all while making extremely precise cuts. I paid $399 plus taxes, and that was a 50% off sale price if I recall correctly. A tough as nails tool that can be moved around easily, and does what you need, and more!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Roofing Materials

We visited my older sister (and my brother-in-law and neice) in Ottawa one weekend during our last two weeks at the cottage, and I was able to return with a couple of hundred square feet of salvaged steel roofing that was removed from their farmhouse when they had the original house re-roofed during the construction of a new addition. It made absolute sense to strip off the fifty odd year old roof, as the new steel roofs are far superior in terms of design, appearance, and durability.

This is the whole lot, about 20 mostly full sheets, which will be used to roof the treehouse later this fall before the snow starts falling (hopefully). My goal is to have the rafters and strapping in place next week, and the roof installed the week after that.

Making Curved Lumber

The main cantilevered deck of the treehouse is designed with a broad sweeping curve at the front, so the outmost deck joist will have to be curved to match. How to make curved lumber, in this case a curved 2 x 6? Fairly easily, if you start with decent sized scrap plywood, best thickness around 1/4" to 3/8" or so. Set up a table saw with the rip fence set at the width of the lumber you are trying to match, in this case 5-1/2 inches for the nominal 6" lumber. After ripping, this is what you end up with. The length really is not critical, as long as about half are at least six to eight feet or longer.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Alexander Lends a Hand

Forever chirping "Me do it, me do it, me do it daddy!" I decided to let alexander help out with some of the simpler tools. Here he is after cutting apart some cedar slabs with the Makita circular saw!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back to Grade 11 Math!

With the main floor framed, the second floor joists installed, and much of the subfloor above complete, I have to now calculate the length of the roof rafters. To keep things simple I cut all my joists at the desired roof pitch of 55 degrees, and will simply intall a 2" x 3" 'fascia stop' across the bottom end of all the joists, and then butt the rafter bottoms against this stop. This means no birdsmouth cuts, just a corresponding 55 degree cut at the rafter top to mate with the ridge.

Seeing that I couldnt recall whether 'soh cah toa' (or is it toh sah coa?) was correct, and whether angles had to be in degrees or radians, I chose the most efficient option. I just googled "trigenometry calculator" and got this incredibly simple online calculator. Input two of the values you know, and the other 3 are calculated for you!