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Framing a Storage/Processing Barn  RSS feed

 
Kieran Chapman
Posts: 36
Location: detroit, mi
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Hi folks, I've been tossing around some ideas for an outbuilding on an urban homestead in Detroit. We're heading into the new season and we have a serious need for a multifunctional building near the house. In spring and winter it will provide a small workspace; in summer and fall it can be used for processing and curing some small grains and other crops; year-round it can be used for storing livestock supplies, building materials, and firewood. There's still a month or so of inclement weather before I need to break ground so I'm hoping to get a solid working idea, draft it up, and gather materials before that time.

I'll try and get a rough blueprint of the building site uploaded, but the building space needs to be located sightly to the northwest of my house. That provides close access from the barn to the livestock and fields, as well as from the house to livestock supplies, processed crops, and building materials. The backyard is to the west of the house and the farm area is to the north. Our prevailing wind comes out of the southwest, so I was thinking of using a single-slope roof (http://cdn.timberframehq.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/timber-frame-barn1.jpg something along those lines) opening to the north. The lower wall will back up into the yard and there I'll build a small canopy for firewood storage. Building code in the city doesn't require a permit for non-residential buildings of less than 120sq. ft., and I don't realistically need much more room than that to start out. Rainwater will likely be redirected to a storage tank to the side of the shed.

I have access to a large variety of supplies from buildings slated for demolition or already collapsed in the surrounding area. A general list would be:

-2x lumber
-urbanite
-stone
-used tires
-metal roofing
-sand and clay

2x's can be used for the frame; "urbanite" stone for foundation; tires as either foundation or infill; metal roofing for... roofing; clay and sand for cob or plaster. Hopefully that's not too much context to bore any readers, but it's basic background for what I have to work with in the area. I would prefer to visit-box-stores/buy as little as possible for obvious reasons.

I've done my research on foundations and have a good idea of how either a rubble trench, stone plinths, or buried posts (maybe charred?) with stone packed around them might work out. My primary issue is the frame. Though the materials I have at hand are all fairly conventional, I would like to gain further practical knowledge of natural building, particularly timber framing and cobbing, as my understandings so far are almost entirely theoretical and based on reading/online research. The picture/sketch I linked to as an example above is obviously a timber frame. But I have no timbers. Given the planned functions of the shed/barn I would like it to be open at the front, potentially even on two sides. I had been thinking of essentially "tying" together sets of 2x6's and 2x8's into 4x6 and 4x8 posts and beams to build the front of the frame, and then stick framing the rest. But then I started considering using my faux "posts" and "beams" to frame out the entire structure save the rafters. I know some people do this for top plates on walls but is this just creating unnecessary work for myself? Is there any advantage to the idea? It seems like whichever frame I go with I can easily adapt the infill to the structure and the roof will remain relatively unchanged, just rafters running from the lower to the higher wall.

Is there yet another solution I've overlooked? Thus far I've passed on the idea of using cob, strawbales, or tires as load-bearingwalls because of the amount of time it will take to put them up. I have eventual plans for a greenhouse and larger barn using some of those materials as structural elements once I have this rough workspace set up.

Cheers,
Kieran
 
Dillon Nichols
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Posts: 597
Location: Victoria BC
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Hi Kieran,

Sounds like you're well set for scrounged goodies, I'm jealous!

I see no problem with doing it either way. You could always start off with the pseudo-timber method and switch over to stick if you get tired of it, and as you say the roof shouldn't change much.

I built an 8x12 roof like this last fall, with one ended covering a glass/aluminum solarium converted to standalone greenhouse. Mine sloped the long way to match the solarium slope, and I used corrugated plastic for the roof. I used 4x10ft+ 2x4s as posts at the tall end, with crossbracing up high. I set them apart than connected with diagonal bracing figuring that was stronger than bolting them into makeshift 4x4s. But I could be wrong. Foundation was simply setting the foot of each one into a cement stacker block and filling with concrete; a couple of them had rebar pounded into the compacted gravel base first. It's dealt with wind just fine despite facing almost exactly the wrong way for wind in order to catch the most sun. I don't expect any problems from the sturdiness side; I'd bet failure points would be something rotting out, or a tree falling on it, or the slope eroding from under it.

My suggestion would be to build the roof on the ground, I wish I had done it that way! I would also suggest a nice tall roof; room to carry 8 foot materials upright underneath it, and to hang things from the ceiling. Maybe even a storage loft?

As a short term thing, you could always just screw some of that salvaged roofing into place on a couple walls, and do something fancier with cob later.

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Kieran,

I love the "magic" your are trying to spine. I also think the model you have selected with its shep roof or what is also called a "pent roof" system is very germane for the novice builder. Being a professional builder (and teacher) I have come to the conclusion that it is more effective of my time and efforts not to alter others peoples concepts (a.k.a. "magic") unless they ask very direct questions. So with that...

Is there any advantage to the idea?


Yes...especially if you feel you have a good understanding of your plans. The "timber frame" model you have (and its source) is a rather new version with some structural improvements to be suggested, but as a basic plan...more than functional for your goals and modalities of implementation.

I know some people do this for top plates on walls but is this just creating unnecessary work for myself?


It all depends if you are going to follow through with your "concept" which is called "laminated post and beam." This is a form of "post and beam" (not timber framing) that utilizes "2x" material into a more substantial frame armature, and is very useful for reclaimed materials to be repurposed. I have helped facilitate several structures this way including a 5 story plus barn here in Vermont if you include the lofts. It is not less work than an actual "timber frame" if working with new material, but it is very useful for reclaimed material application...which is always more work in general than working with new material...

It seems like whichever frame I go with I can easily adapt the infill to the structure and the roof will remain relatively unchanged, just rafters running from the lower to the higher wall.


Yes you can...absolutely!

Is there yet another solution I've overlooked?


Tons of them...but don't let that bother you. We can all overthink a "method." If you have the time to process, and repurposed reclaimed material (very labor intensive) than your concept will more than fulfil your needs in my opinion. I would suggest it is not to be confused with the easiest, nor perhaps the least expensive if you count your time.

Thus far I've passed on the idea of using cob, straw bales, or tires as load-bearing walls because of the amount of time it will take to put them up.


Good, and accurate thinking in my view. I haven't met anyone that works in multiple styles such as these, understand them well, that consider these the "best" loadbearing or facilitated structures compare to other forms. They all work well in concert, but alone are less than they could be. Of course there may be exceptions to this general perspective, such as "no trees" a great clay under your feet for adobe block or cobb. Also, if you have a rice field or other grain crop just next door, then bales may be easy to get and move to the building site. Neither of these scenario locations are common over all, nor change that when SB and Cobb are set to work in concert with a frame armature they don't yield a stronger building...which is often easier to facilitate.

I look forward to following along and helping where I can if asked. Can you post pictures soon of the building site and your actual design plans? Do you know how to use Sketchup?

Regards,

j
 
Rufus Laggren
Posts: 481
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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K

Your thoughts, plan, all seems sensible and well begun.

Design Qs: What kind of floor do you need? Can you tolerate flooding there or do you require that it remain above water always? How much weight, abrasion, trash (what kind) does the floor need to live through? Eg. are you going to spill a can of paint regularly (hope not...)? Do you need to use a rolling floor jack (not likely, but...)? Whatever kind of floor will work for you, normally you dont' want any top soil under it; that can entail a lot of earth moving. Unless you simply build a raised floor.

Foundation: Do you need one? (Well, you might if you want a raised floor...) How long do you require this shed to live? If 15 years or less than just four posts planted in cement sand NOT CEMENT (for good drainage) would hold the roof and walls off the ground for your planned life cycle. (You'd want half decent beams.) If long enough posts are not easily found, splice the post above ground level and add extra diagonal bracing up top to take racking forces. Fill in at ground level w/water tolerant stuff. Hang walls from the top beam.

Wood w/fasteners w/b quickest build. Tires take up a lot of real estate. Metal roofing sounds marginal; you have a tiny roof so price of any material s/not be too much As Jay mentioned, _all_ recycle material COSTS your time big time.

Not sure built up posts would be good in the ground. Water would get into the joins and pretty much stay there. The fasteners used to form the built-up post would be at risk at least as much as the wood itself. If you politics and chemical understanding can tolerate creosote, you can see what old telephone poles and railroad ties you can find. As I understand it, most are at the end of their planned usage and stopped leaking chemicals a long time ago. Plant them in the ground w/3' above grade; make as few cuts as possible. Drill for 5/8+ galvanized bolts and splice on your above ground post. Put a hat on the top of the old piece that's in the ground, maybe sheath it in something you find more benign. But not at all clear it's worth the work.

Above ground laminated 2x's s/b be fine. If a horizontal member will get wet good practice is to put on a "raincoat"; a strip 30# felt just over the top edge and 1/2" down the sides might serve. And/or bevel the tops of the beams. You just want to discourage standing water and water getting into your laminated joins. The bevel applies to any place two/more pieces of wood come together - if there is potential for water at that point, try to lead it away/off the wood.


Cheers

Rufus
 
Kieran Chapman
Posts: 36
Location: detroit, mi
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Sorry I've stepped away from this thread briefly. I was without internet for a bit and with the blessing of a dry, early spring I have been setting up a lot of beds and berms around the property. Now with some rain on the way this week I'm returning in full force to this small building.

Dillon: Id love to see a picture of your structure, even just a more vivid verbal description of the frame as I don't think I fully understood what you explained. It sounds like you tied 2x4's together into 10ft tall makeshift 4x4's?

Rufus: I'd like it to last for at least as long as I'm around the farm, which could only be a few years, but I want it to be a quality structure for others who may come along in the future, so I hope to do things properly. Just based upon what I have time and materials for I will probably sink the posts straight into the ground as you described, surrounded by either sand or small rocks. The building will be going near where a house once stood, and the foundation there was filled in with sand, so I'm blessed with a very well-drained site for the building (sand to a depth of 6ft+, with than more sandy, rocky subsoil below). I have already removed the top soil for use in other projects, and plan to build up a tamped earth floor with some fill dirt from the area. Your telephone pole idea got me thinking and I reached out to our power company: tomorrow I'm headed out to pick up 6 old utility poles that they will cut to size for me. They would have been good for another 20-30 years as telephone poles from what I understand, but were taken down early for various reasons. I hope to be able to coax at least that much life out of them. Down the road, depending on how I decide to finish the walls, I may try to dig a rubble trench between the poles and build up from there.

Jay: your comments are nicely directive and I will now try to ask you more specific questions. Firstly, while I have attempted to learn how to use Sketchup in the last few weeks, it's a bit of a finicky program and I haven't gotten the hang of it yet. I will continue trying to learn to use it seeing as a labelled design is obviously hugely beneficial in soliciting advice. I'll try to post pictures tomorrow of the site to give a better idea of the work to be done; it was only this weekend that I managed to clear the stumps and chain link fence that were impeding progress. In lieu of a concrete design I have some images of the plans that I'm roughly following: , , . As a first time builder I would ideally buy these plans, but money is tight and the process will be... labile, to say the least, so I only have some images to work off with my own measurements. If there are more "traditional" plans that I should look to, I would appreciate being given direction, but for now I'm working off of these.

I think the process of building the frame should be relatively simple. The building footprint will be 8'x16' with 3 poles at the front and back spaced every 8 feet. The front, opening to the north will be 16' high, and the back wall will be 12' high. My hope is that I can eventually place boards across the bracing to build a small loft. As you and Rufus rightfully pointed out, putting together that many recycled materials would be time-consuming. Thus, I have elected to use the utility poles instead so that my "laminated beams" will only be needed for the top plates.

I have two specific questions and one general question for you.

First, the "laminated beams" I'm intending to make need to be 16' long as well. My plan was to sandwich 1/2" plywood between a pair of 2x8's 8ft in length, these will then be spliced together over the center pole. Do you have any suggestions or improvements to that idea?

Secondly, I have not yet decided whether to use metal fasteners or joint-work. As Rufus points out, fasteners would be quicker and easier, but I believe joints will be stronger and though I am a complete amateur at this method of building I would like to learn more about joint work and would rather go through the experience. If I would like to go this route, is there a joint I could use on the laminated top plates? I need to affix them to the the poles, and I need to affix diagonal bracing as well. I don't see an obvious way to do so as the laminated beam would seemingly be disastorously weakened by the removal of material to form a mortise. Perhaps I could cut a mortise and tenon for the bracing at the poles, but affix the top beams with fasteners? (As an aside, do you have an opinion about trying to cut mortises into an old utility pole? I can imagine it might make some nasty dust.)

Third, what "structural improvements" were you mentioning that should be made to this basic design? I hate to ask you so bluntly to apply your expertise to such a rudimentary design, but I do not have the sight yet to see those initial improvements.

Apologies again for my lack of photo and measurement documentation. I have, unfortunately, a penchant to adapt my plans as I go along and then recap everything at the end rather than catalog the process. I hope that this small structure can prove of some use to other amateur builders on the forum though, particularly as the structure becomes enclosed and finished.

Humbly,
Kieran
 
Kieran Chapman
Posts: 36
Location: detroit, mi
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Here's a couple rough pics of the site. The red wheelbarrow's there for reference between the three pictures. Lots of detritus around the property from years of abandonment, but due north is looking out from the brick "patio" over the back of the wheelbarrow towards the large maple tree in the background. That will be the backside of the shed with the front opening north.
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Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Kieran,

OH BOY...lots of questions...this should be fun...

Also, don't feel bad, or "hate" to ask any questions...I wouldn't make the offer I do at the bottom of each post if I didn't want to help. I love teaching these skills as much as doing them...So lets get started...


I will continue trying to learn to use it seeing as a labelled design is obviously hugely beneficial in soliciting advice.


Good! As you "play with" the program you will grow more comfortable and having a professional looking set of drawings goes far with "building enforcement types."

As a first time builder I would ideally buy these plans, but money is tight and the process will be... labile, to say the least, so I only have some images to work off with my own measurements. If there are more "traditional" plans that I should look to, I would appreciate being given direction, but for now I'm working off of these.


This is one of the reasons I make the offer I do...I see too many plans for sale that aren't worth the value someone has placed on them (in my view.) Many of these are coming from individuals that have less than 10 years of doing this work, when 20 use to be the "unspoken" standard. Now everybody is teaching one form or another of "natural building," timber framing and the related...some are really qualified and good at it...many are not...

I think the process of building the frame should be relatively simple. The building footprint will be 8'x16' with 3 poles at the front and back spaced every 8 feet.


"Simple" is a mind set, and for some it is and for others not so much...It is all a perspective, and I think you have the correct kind of positive attitude it take to be very successful at what you put your mind to...

Here comes my first change to your design. Lets stick with more traditional foot prints, it makes laying out the foundation easier especially for a novice. The standard common form is within the realm of "geometries" in building like the pentagram of which the "golden section" resides as does the "3,4,5" triangle. As such lets go with a foot print of 12' x 16' or if small is a must, go to inches (I personally work in metric so changing such things is much easier) and resize to achieve the 3,4,5, geometry.

The front, opening to the north will be 16' high, and the back wall will be 12' high.


Hmmm...that is a 1/3 pitch and rather shallow for your regions snow loads...We may need to revisit this also or get much heavier rafters to carry the load...?? But we can just move on for now as this will all work itself out in the end...

My hope is that I can eventually place boards across the bracing to build a small loft. As you and Rufus rightfully pointed out, putting together that many recycled materials would be time-consuming. Thus, I have elected to use the utility poles instead so that my "laminated beams" will only be needed for the top plates.


O.K....utility poles are doable but are round and full of toxic "gick" so the have there own challenges...but again we can plow with the horses we have and see what else develops...

First, the "laminated beams" I'm intending to make need to be 16' long as well. My plan was to sandwich 1/2" plywood between a pair of 2x8's 8ft in length, these will then be spliced together over the center pole. Do you have any suggestions or improvements to that idea?


Several, but I will get to them later...

Secondly, I have not yet decided whether to use metal fasteners or joint-work. As Rufus points out, fasteners would be quicker and easier, but I believe joints will be stronger and though I am a complete amateur at this method of building I would like to learn more about joint work and would rather go through the experience.


Metal being faster is subjective to the skill sets one develops...and...what system of building is being employed. It is a matter of method and choice to whether one is faster or necessary...

I don't have to "buy" fasteners so I don't have to spend money, take the time to go to a store to buy them, make sure I have the tools to "drive them in" and a myriad of other little issues that can actually make them slower. I often here this from folks but never from those that can or do work in both traditional and contemporary modalities of architecture. I use metal fasteners mainly as "back up" (and to make some PE happy) as for being faster...??...that all depends and is often not the case at all...it actually adds work...and tools...

If I would like to go this route, is there a joint I could use on the laminated top plates?


Yes, but with "laminated beam system" glue and hardware is typically faster...unless one learns some pretty fancy joints. Sorry, if that seems paradoxical to what I just wrote above...yet many of the 'methods' are dependant on a them of sorts, so one change can have a domino effect onto others...

I need to affix them to the the poles, and I need to affix diagonal bracing as well.


Yes...and...No...

For one, these designs do not "have to have" oblique (diagonal) bracing. There are alternatives to this that I will recommend and explain later on...

I don't see an obvious way to do so as the laminated beam would seemingly be disastrously weakened by the removal of material to form a mortise.


Not really, with either true timber framing methods or monolith (and integral) laminated beam methods...

Perhaps I could cut a mortise and tenon for the bracing at the poles, but affix the top beams with fasteners? (As an aside, do you have an opinion about trying to cut mortises into an old utility pole?I can imagine it might make some nasty dust.)


The fact you can think this way tells me as the design progresses you are going to have not problems making it all work...
​​
Third, what "structural improvements" were you mentioning that should be made to this basic design? I hate to ask you so bluntly to apply your expertise to such a rudimentary design, but I do not have the sight yet to see those initial improvements.


In the selected model you have as your "rough example" the scarfe joint placement above the post is a sure tail sign of a either a novice timberwright and/or somebody just copying what they have seen others do. The placement of a scarf joint typically is at the most neutral "shear zone" as possible while still having support from below. So...(this is a bit technical but worth "starting" to understand) in any beam the lowest "shear point is in mid span and the highest is directly above the post. Because of this a scarf should never be above a post unless full supported by a corbeling member. You will find scarf joints above post, even in old buildings, and it is one of the ways we can tell the skill sets of the builder that facilitated the structure...

Apologies again for my lack of photo and measurement documentation. I have, unfortunately, a penchant to adapt my plans as I go along and then recap everything at the end rather than catalog the process. I hope that this small structure can prove of some use to other amateur builders on the forum though, particularly as the structure becomes enclosed and finished.


Now, sense it doesn't seem like you are going to starting building tomorrow, I am going to generate a few alternative designs for you. Send me an email, so I can send the files to you, then you can post the one you would like to consider here so others can follow along...This way you have an "actual" CAD model of "exactly" what you are going to build with all the correct dimensions. I look forward to your email...

Regards,

j
 
Rufus Laggren
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Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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K

Jay is the real source for pole work here. My experience is almost all w/stick frame, so I can make some general remarks but the joints you are interested in want more know-how than I have. W/that caveat:

An overall perspective comment. Perhaps you've covered this ground in your mind but I can't tell for sure from just this thread, so: This is how I approach a project.

This is a Project. A Project is special, it's different from just trying to fix the tire on your bike or painting the window sill over the sink. It's BIG and it impacts your whole life over a significant period of time. That's great but you need to have respect for your situation because "impact" goes all directions, starting w/good and bad. This isn't a school lab exercise where it's all been scripted and anyway even if you fry the frog or whatever, you just go home after and next day everything is rebooted. IMHO anybody starting a Project is under an obligation, has a responsibility, to try to consider the whole picture and not just the rosy parts. It can be that some Projects are not appropriate or a good idea at all. So. Approach a Project keeping always in mind that you _will_ mess things up, over and over, sometimes important things - BUT you STILL need to have a good to excellent chance succeeding because the Project is a large and serious part of your life. So. You plan _very_ conservatively for Plan A with many safety factors and options so that even w/terrible luck, or whatever, you come out healthy, smarter, better off - or at least not totally messed up. This doesn't mean not shooting for the moon - the moon is just an added cost option, an upgrade that can be invoked at the appropriate time provided you've been really lucky and are way ahead of yourself.

What does this mean? Don't make bets you can't cover. Betting that you can learn timber framing and get a building up in time to use it by fall may be a really bad bet. Can you cover it? Is it ok to lose that one? If so, not a problem, per se. But if somebody (you?) really _has_ to have something in the building protected from weather by fall... Maybe tryingn to learn fastenerless t-framing in three months would be the wrong bet to make. How about this one: Is having that building up and "working" w/in two years going to mean the difference between you being able to stay and succeed on the land or not being able to handle the work you need to do and having to quit? Might be important to choose a plan that gives your the _best_ chance of getting that building up - no betting on long shots.

The concept: You do NOT have complete freedom with your Project - not if you have a life. The Project must fit and complement your complete life. You _need_ the holistic view, not an option. So. Choose building methods and materials that give you the best chance of plan A getting you what you need. As a Project proceeds you will find that "yeah, I _can_ do those joints - I'm _good_ at this stuff!" Great, great, great. Now you can add in that extra wall, put in a couple more windows this year instead of next, find time to lay a gravel path/drive to that door... Etc. etc. But plan A should be such that even if you're a clutz that lady luck hates w/a passion you'll end up w/a rickety POS that does the job you _have_ to have done and that you can make better next year.

What inspired this lecture is your desire to avoid fasteners while at the same time mentioning that your enthusiasm is as yet untried. You may want to step back and consider whether the simpler, somewhat more expensive and less "proper" methods might be more important to you from the standpoint of getting your first building completed in time to do you real good. You will find myriad options as you build to do so w/more traditional tools and materials and methods; planning your first building "the easy way" does not preclude taking good ecological steps - in fact it may make them possible simply by allowing you to afford to stay in business, so to speak. "Appropriate" is a very powerful and general concept and sometimes a subtle one.

That (lot) said, you diagram was great to confirm the general concept and the photos really give a sense of your situation.

My take on your engineering (which J or other post&beam people will need to correct): I think that you beam as described is really two shorter beams using the ply to form a weak connection where they bear (one way or another) on the middle post. Since you may be able to tie each "short" section firmly to the middle post that can probably work. If you want the beam to have more lateral strength (instead of making a hinge at the center) you need to use three layers, using a third 2x in the center instead of ply, offsetting the butts of the 2x's. However. The size building you plan is nicely small and you likely don't need any built beams at all, at least not to carry weight over the 8' spans. Other issues may be diagonal bracing to stop wracking but if you have full single piece posts 6"-8" diameter buried 4'-6' deep, in compacted sand/gravel w/a flag stone under them at the bottom, I doubt you have that issue either. Six big posts set firmly should pretty much take care of building shape and support. As I understand soil dynamics, "sharp" cement sand will drain almost as well as gravel and will resist intrusion of other soils better than gravel. IOW, it will form a thin boundary layer w/the soil, loam, silt, whatever in the surrounding areas and this boundary layer will remain thin and not inhibit the original drainage properties of the sand. Providing good drainage around the posts is at least as important as getting them deep enough to rest below the front line. The correct phrase escapes me at the moment but when there is poor drainage, water around the posts will freeze and form ice...lens(?) that tend to lift the post even if it's bottom is below the frost line.

It looks like you have a wonderful opportunity. Thank you much for sharing and posting your pics.

Rufus
 
Dillon Nichols
pollinator
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Location: Victoria BC
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I'd definitely second what Rufus says about the need for conservative estimates and margins of error! I certainly spent much more time than expected fucking about with the corrugated plastic roofing I used.

Should be a couple pictures below of my greenhouse/potting area. About 75% of this was salvaged materials. As the pictures hopefully make clear, my 2x4 are not bolted into makeshift 4x4s, but used solo, then tied together with a crossbeam and various angled braces.

There are quite a few things I'd do differently next time, and a few that I would have done differently this time, if I'd had more time. I've since got my hands on some salvaged flashing to add along the edges of the roof. But I'm pleased with the overall strength of the structure, given how lightly built it is. We've had a few typical winter windstorms and no hint of any problems.


Nice score on the power poles! With all these salvaged materials around, is there any chance you might find a complete shed free for the taking? I've missed a couple near me due to conflicting commitments; while they wouldn't be nearly as useful or durable as the structure you are planning, a quickish solution like this might give you some scheduling flexibility for completing a timber framed shed...

Did the utility company folks worry about protection when cutting the poles down for you, or mention anything about this? My inclination would be to use a good full-face mask when cutting such poles, if you've got one available; can't hurt!


It occurs to me you might be interested in this series of posts on one of my favorite blogs, following construction of a 16x24' 'Grindbygg' style timber framed workshop: http://journal.goingslowly.com/topic/timber+framing/2013/04/timber-framing-course-norwegian-grindbygg-trestle-frame-workshop
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Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Rufus,

In light of staying positive and the wind steady into Kieran's sales, I would like to offer perhaps some added or alternate perspectives to what was just shared above...

I agree with the underlying message of having a well understood plan and committing to it. I further agree that just wanting or thinking something will work (or won't) isn't enough to make something succeed (but lack of belief in oneself can make for failures...)

... that your enthusiasm is as yet untried.


This...as a teacher...has always been the students that achieve the most with the least effort. They seem not limited by the doubts of other and tend to listen to their hearts as well as their own minds when set to a task. I personally live for them and they have always take what little I offer in way of guidance and do such much more that it seldom fails to blow my mind...

I agree that routinely stepping back from a "plan" or "concept" is a wise thing to do. I too look at the "economics" of choice, both long term and short. I am not sure timber framing, for a beginner (what the Buddhist call "I don't know mind" or "empty mind") is any less hard to learn that anything else...In my view, understanding both modern and traditional as well as a vast array within both, I would suggest that modern stick framing can often be more challenging and absolutely less durable a method of building...

Now for some technical consideration worth addressing sense they have been brought up...

The "beam work" can not really be addressed just yet as the design is still a work in progress. As such I design using the Asian modalities of "center line" and "plan points" and until the details are worked out, sizing a post or timber is moot. We may also have to reconsider materials and or make the frame according to the materials at hand...In time this will all naturally work itself out...


Other issues may be diagonal bracing to stop wracking but if you have full single piece posts 6"-8" diameter buried 4'-6' deep,


I will stress again that oblique bracing is not a prerequisite that is so often (too often??) suggested...This seems to dominate in the "Western" mindset as a "must have" element...There is very little to no oblique bracing in many of the Asian frames. And I would add, that Japan is recognized as one of the most violently active tectonic zones in the world in both seismic and wind effects. Here "horizontal" (and flexible) bracing systems have evolved over thousands of years...to leave us with the oldest wooden structure in the world to be found and absent the dominance of diagonals, as found in the European traditions. Both works, accept one fails catastrophically in load events while the other has a more flexible and slowed failure when overly loaded...

As for "frost" this is too often a misnomer...Soils with bentonite clays are as large an issue as ice forming to effect heave. If one does not have standing water (i.e. good drainage) it is impossible to have "heaving."

I would also suggest that buring post into the ground more than a couple of feet is a major overkill, as I routinely (as in Asia) set my posts to rest on simple stone plinths, and the architecture, like the countless Barns I have restored in my life...just sit on their foundations of dried laid stone. Many of these even sit on plane undisturbed ground as they have for the last several centuries. I know the next challenge is "what if," comes about all manner of thing from hurricane to tornado. These can be an issue in some areas, yet I don't see very many buildings suffer well a direct hit by any of these so a "natural disaster" is always going to have impact. The difference? Traditional framing can typically be repaired much easier than modern...which usually has to be razed just to start all over...These methods I suggest are not "conceptual" but millenia old, proven, relatively well document...just not well practiced today...hopefully that will change in due course as others "relearn" what has been forgotten and/or push aside with the illusion that "modern is better or more economical."

As for backfilling with sand...that can have some merit in certain biome (like at a beach in the south for certain "pole architecture) yet for the most part, if a post is buried in the ground, a large stone at the base, and elongated side stone hand fitted and packed have been the most enduring and traditional method...These not only withstand well wind event uplift but drain better than any other system...Side soil infiltration/inundation into such post footings is seldom an issue.

I hope that better clarifies some of my shared information from above...

Regards,

j
 
Bill Bradbury
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Hi Kieran,

I can't really add anything at this time, but here are some photos of a small greenhouse/covered shop entrance that I built without metal fasteners(except for the roof) a few years ago on the back of my house. This was my first.

The posts and stiffeners have rebates to accept the siding and the posts' tenons are wedged in order to prevent pull out.
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Rufus Laggren
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Jay

I'm glad you've stepped in here with your knowledge and background. Keiran definitely gets a real chance to put together a building using actual _and_ appropriate traditional methods. I can only offer the dirt practical approach. <g> But I think I understand your shallow poles in light of

> if a post is buried in the ground, a large stone at the base, and elongated side stone hand fitted and packed

I think you refer to "side stones" laid in a pattern (perhaps along under a wall?) at or near the surface and in contact w/the post (at the surface) which provide a strong lateral support for the post at that surface point which makes a sort of fulcrum to the base of the post in the ground (even though fairly shallow) which strongly resists forces trying to push the post out of vertical. IOW this makes the vertical post want to stay vertical - very firmly. This is what I was aiming for when mentioning sinking a good sized post deeply - resists lateral forces and stays upright. If the posts stay upright against lateral force, and they are large enough to resist bending, they will hold the whole structure square w/out bracing. Or did you mean sinking the posts into a shallow (relatively) but wide hole and laying stones all around the post tightly - with the same result? The whole object being a post that will remain straight up despite side loads. Given that the rest of the building gets much easier.

> ice... clay...

Both challenge stability. I have seen major problems where there is loamy soil with high moisture content (silty sand under) that heaved well over an inch every winter. Place sand down deep enough to get to good draining material below the silt and problem goes away.

Bill, that looks like a beautiful first project w/out fasteners. Very inspiring.

Cheers

Rufus

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hey Rufus,

I will see if I can clarify things a bit better...Let me know if I can explain more.

With "post in ground" forms of architecture, which is considered one of the oldest forms of architecture still in existence since we moved out of caves or just sleeping in groups on the ground, there are two primary concerns.

1. Mitigating the degradation of the post, i.e. "rotting." This is done through employing rot resistance species, "charring methods," treatments, and good drainage.

2. Incersion depths and methods. Here I was describing methods as typically found in almost all the different "post in ground" vernacular forms around the globe. For example the different 掘立て (Hottate) styles found in Japan for their architectural forms like 東屋 (Azumaya-Pavillion) きづま (Kizuma -Firewood Shed) or 高床式倉庫 (Takayukashikisōko- Stilts warehouse)...as just a few examples that employ these systems. The stone placement is rather critical for these methods and follow a rather common theme.

a. A "post hole" is dug to a desire depth, often much more shallow than we think we need to do today.

b. Placement of a large plinth stone in the bottom of the "post hole" or a series of plinth stones, and/or hand packed stone of a smaller size "up on end" to facilitate rapid drainage and better compaction.

c. Then the post is placed within the "post hole," and more elongated stones are well packed around the post until grade level is reached. These stones range in size from 100 mm x 50mm all the way up too 400mm x 200 mm. Again...these are place in a "vertical orientation."

With these methods "frost heave" seldom become an issue even if above what some would consider "the frost line."

Regards,

j
 
Rufus Laggren
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J

Sorry for the delay here. An overhead rack failed and dropped 50+ years "stuff" in the work shop. No danger, huge mess. Priority rebuild along w/other work.

Thanks for clarifying.

Plinth stone is pretty clear.

Stones packed on end around the post to get lateral support. Sounds like it makes the effective post diameter much larger structurally speaking while providing a wide open drainage path around the actual post. If the stones are packed well it could be almost like setting the post into a 2' (or whatever) concrete footing. Elegant. Not sure how the post depth gets determined... Well, yes it's what works easiest w/out falling over, like everything we do. <g> What I mean is how do we figure what lateral loads a post can take for 1) post size; 2) local subsoil; 3) post height; 4) post depth; 5) "structural diameter" - the effective size w/stone or other large fill; 6) how various types of large fill (stone) affect the post. Of course, if the post setting doesn't allow it to move, then it's just the breaking point for a particular diameter post.

W/out proven traditions for the exact particular building, I think I'd tend to go as deep as convenient and then deeper if I thought of any good reason. Plus the rocks around. Thinking is mostly "I haven't done much of this" and "Don't know what I'm going to stack on top down the road". Or how hard some "friend" will back his 1-ton pickup into it some happy night.

But I do over think stuff. W/more or less sound utility poles of moderate length Kieran s/have not much trouble getting the strength for a shed.

Rufus

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Rufus,

Rufus Laggren wrote:...what lateral loads a post can take for 1) post size; 2) local subsoil; 3) post height; 4) post depth; 5) "structural diameter" - the effective size w/stone or other large fill; 6) how various types of large fill (stone) affect the post. Of course, if the post setting doesn't allow it to move, then it's just the breaking point for a particular diameter post...


In very critical or extreme environments "lateral load paths" may be necessary to really focus on, however, in most domestic applications it ordinarily isn't of great concern. Do understand I am speaking of timber frame styled architecture...not all architecture. So even "post size" is more about joint configuration than "lateral loads," concerns as a 100mm x 100mm post is usually strong enough to do the work asked of it...but it is the joinery that then religates the post size...more so than "lateral loads" themselves.

Again "post height" and "post depth" are not really a concern either in most applications beyond the needs to accommodate joinery. Seldom do post fail in either shear or compression.

Rufus Laggren wrote:W/out proven traditions for the exact particular building, I think I'd tend to go as deep as convenient and then deeper if I thought of any good reason. Plus the rocks around. Thinking is mostly "I haven't done much of this" and "Don't know what I'm going to stack on top down the road". Or how hard some "friend" will back his 1-ton pickup into it some happy night.


I guess that is part of this conversation; we aren't without "proven traditions" and there are...thousands...of "proven traditions," out there to extrapolate traditional knowledge from. The longer we do this kind of work, the more aware of how these traditions work and apply in framing a structure. It is common for DIYers and new builders to "over think" their projects. Often they exhaust themselves, the resources and the aesthetics of the structure by "over thinking" and "over building." Since most timber frames in the world (today and in history) just sit on their foundations...there really isn't any reason to "go as deep" as many think they need to. Even in very high wind locations it's not necessary to go deeper than about 0.5 to 1 meter in depth for most applications. I have seen entire stick built subdivisions in Florida get decimated by hurricane winds yet the "fishing shacks" and "Chickee" pavilions are left standing...There is much to be said for the knowledge and skill sets of tradition...once they are learned...

Regards,

j
 
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