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North House Timber Framing Workshop: Day Five

by Tyler

It is so rewarding to be making something tangible for our homesteading project. For the past eight months, the only thing we've done to pursue our goal of moving to Vermont is continually drain our bank account in an effort to pay off our land. While this is important progress to be sure, it hasn't really fueled the fires of my imagination the way working on the frame for our house has during the past few days.

Now that I have a few sessions of fairly intensive circular saw use under my belt, I'm starting to feel really confident with it. Chopping out 90° angles is actually a lot of fun, especially when the end result is usually close to perfect. Also, after manhandling the giant 16" Makita to cut some of our 6x6 timbers, a standard 7 1/4" saw feels like a kid's toy!

Unfortunately, I got a little too comfortable this morning. On my first cut of the day, I forgot to check the saw depth, and nearly performed a tenon-ectomy (cutting off the extension that fits into a mortise) on one of the most important pieces of our house, a giant 6x9 tie beam. Thankfully, I realized what I was doing before I finished the cut—the damage was minimal.

Tara left me this note on the next one:

Tara's Note for Tyler the Cutter: "Depth Cut, Be Careful!"

This nine day intensive timber framing class is geared towards making a simple shed, not a small house. Because of our modifications to the intended plan (thanks for your willingness to work with us, Peter!), we have a larger-than-average workload to complete by the time class is over on Sunday afternoon. Our solution to this problem is to come in an hour early every day to work, and to divide the labor between us as efficiently as possible.

Though we'd both love to learn everything, it makes more sense for us to divide and conquer, with Tara doing basically all of the layout (translating the information on the plans to measurements on the timbers), in order to keep me busy with the saws, chisel and mortiser. I did convince her to give the 16" Makita a shot at one point today, though. Go Tara!

Tara Using the Big Saw Tara Using the Big Saw

In other news, our classmates seem amazed that we are working on this project together, and even more blown away that coming here was Tara's idea. I feel so unbelievably lucky to have such an adventurous and industrious partner! Oh, and word has gotten around, both at North House and our campsite (our tent is literally surrounded by a village of huge motorhomes whose retired residents have lived here each summer for years—news travels fast), that we're "the couple building the house and moving to Vermont together!"

I'm a pretty introverted person, but I've really enjoyed people asking about our plans these last few days. We've been shut inside working so much lately that it honestly makes our dream feel a little more real to hear other people talk about it, too. Well, that's about it for the day, I'm exhausted. Time for bed.