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DayCreek Journal

May 12 , 2002

Wall-O-Meter on the Move

Well, it's another soggy weekend up at the homestead. Weather can be quite frustrating this time of year and this year is no exception. For those who are estimating how long it will take to build your cordwood house, don't overlook the weather factor—it can easily set you back many work days or even weeks.

Okay, I'll stop whining now! I am happy to report that a one new wall was completed this week prompting me to move the Wall-O-Meter ahead by one log. Granted, it was a "window-wall", but it was a wall nonetheless.

Cordwood construction commenced on Tuesday, May 7th with the help from my friend Tom. Tom and I make a great team together with Tom doing the mixing and yours truly doing the mudding. I can certainly see the advantages to a team of two vs. a team of one. Thank you Tom!

What's a Tom Wall?
Speaking of Tom, I have dedicated the next wall to Tom. Therefore, it is now called the Tom Wall. (I'm sure future architectural classes will include this in college text books.) As we were building this week's wall, Tom brought up a good point. One of the best views from the house is from the second story window looking due South across the valley. He convinced me I should have a window there and I whole heartily agree. (Jo agreed too, although I'm not sure how coherent she was a the time of our late-night phone conversation. She agrees to all sorts of stuff when she's half awake.)

The view is spectacular and since this is where our study will be, it seemed quite appropriate to do a slight rework of the "blueprints" to move a window to this next wall.

So on Friday, the "Tom Wall" was started. Tom really didn't want the wall named after him because he didn't want to be held responsible for the wall, but too bad! If anything goes wrong with that wall, it's Tom's fault. (Seriously, Tom has been a great help and a friend, so why not dedicate a wall to him?) When Tom signs a log for me, his log will be prominently displayed on that wall.

Speaking of which...I don't think I have ever mentioned about the log signings. For friends, relatives and those who have contributed to the house, I have been requesting that they sign a log, along with a brief note and the date that they signed the log. These logs will be mortared into the interior walls of the house for all to see. The log signing first started when we visited Bun and Bear's house in Bancroft, Ontario. After seeing their house, we were sold on building with cordwood, so I asked Bun and Bear to sign a log for our house. (Thankfully we made it across the border without the log being confiscated by the ill-tempered Canadian Mounties.) Their log along with all the subsequent signed logs will be mortared into cordwood eternity.

Sealection 500
This week, I also received a price quote from a local contractor who installs the Sealection 500 manufactured by Demilec. (See the March 10th and March 19th journal entries for details on this foam product.) I have decided to go with this product for a couple of reasons. (1) It's identical to Icynene, but less expensive and (2)The contractor is willing to use some of my labor to offset costs. I expect that we'll be foaming some time in September if all goes well with mudding this year. What a great way to seal up the walls from air-infiltration!

Getting ready to mount the window frame to the "Tom" Wall.

Jack of All Trades
I thought I would take the time to elaborate a bit on how I am raising the second story window frames. These are BIG windows, so the frames are quite heavy. Since I am building the house using a double-wall system, I have been using 2 x 8 framing material. Being pressure treated wood (only on the exterior part of the frame), these suckers are heavy. It would normally take three people to do it by hand, but I have found a way to do it with just one.

If you recall, the first floor windows were raised using the assistance of the rusty, trusty Bobcat. Obviously, the second floor requires some other means to raise the windows. Enter the railcar jack. This is one heavy-duty jack. I think the jack itself ways about 50 lbs. Now, for those thinking of following this idea, it's not necessary to use a railcar jack, but I happened to pick it up at a rummage sale down the road and couldn't refuse the price.

The post-and-beam frame is a must for this. The first step in raising the window frame is to attach a long 2 x 4 to the exterior and interior of the window frame. Make sure the 2 x 4 is at least two feet wider than the width of the wall panel. This prevents the frame from falling in or out while raising. The posts act as guides as the frame is gradually raised up the side of the wall.

Here's a couple of photographs depicting the jack. The photo on the left shows the initial position of the jack as the frame is raised. The photo on the right shows the jack on top of the 6 x 6. It's just high enough to raise the window all the way to the top.

The next step is to slowly jack up the frame. I use one hand to ratchet the jack and the other to stabilize the frame while it is rising up the side of the wall. Eventually, the jack reaches its limits—it can go no further. When this occurs, I get my cordless drill/screwdriver and secure the exterior 2 x 4 to the vertical posts. The frame kind of hangs there precariously, but it will hold.

Here's a photograph of the frame in place ready for mudding.

I then shove a 6 x 6 under the jack and proceed with raising the frame until it is flush with the overhead, horizontal beam. I then get up on the ladder and secure the window frame to the beam. You can also use this same technique for securing window frames that float in the panel. Instead of one 2 x 4, I would use three—attaching them to the top, center and bottom of the frame. The 2 x 4's are then secured to the vertical posts until the mudded cordwood is brought up to the level of the frame.

I have used this same procedure on five window frames now and it works great. Not only does it work great, but it's a quick way to raise 75lb window frames with just one person. It would still be much easier using the jack, no matter how many people were lifting it into place.

This technique will only work with post and beam frames—another advantage to using post and beam framework.

This coming work week is a short one for me as I am traveling to Kansas for a family gathering later in the week. The next journal entry will probably be in two weeks. Until then, somebody do a sun dance—this cold and damp weather is getting on my nerves!


Territorial Disputes! Photographed here is a Phoebe who thinks she owns the cabin. For the last three years, she's been building a nest under the eaves. We have learned to live with each other's company although she protests quite often.