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Grindbygg Timber Framing: The First Rafter

by Tyler

When Peter and the students left last week, I was crestfallen. Though I was excited about the huge progress we'd made, my enthusiasm was deeply underscored with a bitter cocktail of exhaustion and gnawing concern about the work that remained. Instead of a roof in need of decking, we had twenty six untouched rafters and weeks of unplanned labor with which to contend.

Tyler Reading Rafter Plans

I'm rarely deterred by the prospect of large projects, but my ego was having a field day with me on this one. The reality before me didn't match the story I'd been telling myself for the last five months, and it was furious. Lurking around every corner of my mind was a new outrage: these rafters are too heavy! We don't know anything about building roofs! The grindbygg is going to collapse into a heap of rotted wood because it will be unprotected from the elements! You fool, why do you even try?!

Rafter Lap Joint

In spite of my mind's incessant complaining, Tara and I soldiered on, debarking the red pine timbers and using the jigs Peter left for us, finishing a tenon here, a mortise there. Slowly chipping away at our pile of rafters, we vacillated continuously between a sense of self-assured confidence and feelings of complete hopelessness. Any time we were uncertain of something, we called Peter and he happily answered our questions.

Tyler Preparing to Cut Rafter Tenon w/ EDM Tracer II Chainsaw Jig Tyler Cutting Rafter Tenon W/ EDM Tracer II Tara Cutting Rafter Tenon Tara Draw Kniving Rafter Tenon Tara Cutting Rafter Tenon Tyler Chiseling Rafter Tenon Rafter Tenon Ready for Chiseling

...and then, when it felt like the work could go on for the rest of our miserable lives, it came time to raise the first rafter. Somehow, the two of us managed to heave a pair of them ten and a half feet up to the roof line. The moment those 18' foot timbers slid into their rafter seats, they floated in perfect balance. As the tenon and mortise glided together, two weeks of loathing and despair were instantly transformed into pure triumph.

First Rafter Pair Up!

Suddenly, the endless pile of impossible rafters seemed a little smaller and more manageable. Suddenly, we could do this. We are doing this.



Tara and Tyler: You two have no idea how inspiring you are. Your tenacity and hard work, usually accompanied by a terrific sense of humor, as well as a good dose of 'nothing ventured, nothing gained' enthusiasm, will go a long, long way in both of your adventurous lives.

In this cynical world you are so refreshing; you have provided us with a true sense that we really can do what we set out to do, and we can overcome huge obstacles and thrive. Many thanks.

p.s. All of your adventures, including the bicycle journey, would make a terrific book!
Posted by Nancy Kane on September 10th, 2013 at 11:37 AM
Tara & Tyler,

First. Wow - your workshop is so beautiful! I so admire your decision to build this way. I can see how much more time and effort it takes but the world would be a different place if we all built in such non-toxic ways.

Second. I remember the extreme highs/lows of building our own home. I know how exhausting it is - the pressure, the self-doubt, the short-tempers that arise from exhaustion. Building your own structure, and learning as you go, can be all-consuming and, at times, you can question everything you're doing. It will test your relationship (at least, it did ours). I guess I'm offering unsolicited advice.......which is to stop often to notice your accomplishments and celebrate your resolve, your successes and your path to the life of your dreams. It is so worth it, this hard part.

Third. I so appreciate your continuing to blog during all of this (lots of valuable information for others and I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been obsessively checking for updates) but make sure to take care of yourselves too - don't kill yourselves blogging for us if you need a week off in between projects.

Forth. You two are so kick-ass & I love everything you're doing. Kai & I are so excited you are in Vermont and that you're making your part of the world a beautiful place. Wish we could be there to help you out these last few weeks. Big hugs. Big love.
Posted by Sheila on September 10th, 2013 at 2:15 PM
I've been following this blog for 3+ years now - you guys are so inspiring, and I love reading about each step of your adventure. This entry got me all teary-eyed, dreaming of one day building a home with my hubby Sean. Well done, and good luck!
Posted by liza on September 10th, 2013 at 3:45 PM
Well done!
It's so tempting to give up sometimes - we all need to remember the rewards as well as the frustrations.
Posted by et on September 10th, 2013 at 6:46 PM
Thank you so much for the encouragement, kind words, and advice everyone. It never ceases to amaze us how many cool people are out there rooting for us!
Posted by Tyler on September 11th, 2013 at 9:45 AM
keep up the great work guys, you reap what you sow! looks like you're sowing a whole lot of awesomeness!! slow and steady gets the job done.
Posted by Aaron Placke on September 11th, 2013 at 3:25 PM