Scaffolding Up

The scaffolding is up! This will let us more easily and safely reach the higher portions of the walls for stacking block, pouring cores and doing the roof. The wooden trusses that will support the 661010 Welded Wire Mesh (66WWM) forming for the barrel vault roof will sit on top of the upper level of the scaffolding. We’ll be pouring our roof much like MXSteve describes on his web site. We’ve built some smaller versions but this will be our first inhabitable one – by humans that is.

Yesterday and today we took a break from the cement work to give the concrete that we have poured so far a chance to cure and worked on other aspects to prep for the roof pour. Tomorrow will be more wood working as we build the roof forms support trusses so the concrete can continue to cure. We also need to build the window and door frames. Then if the weather is right on Thursday we’ll dry stack and pour the last stretcher blocks bringing all the walls to full height so we can set the channel block creating the upper ring bond beam that ties the house walls all together.

The higher you work the more dangerous it gets. A good reason for building short houses. Still, we have to work on the roof. To that end we’ll string a climbing rope on each side and using harnesses so we don’t fall far if we do fall. In the photo above Will is adding vertical supports outside the house to transfer the forces down to the ledge. The other thing is we keep the focus on working slowly and carefully, especially when up high. This means we don’t go as fast as we might but we hopefully will get the job done with no injuries.

After the roof is poured and cured we’ll remove all of that wood work you see in the photo as well as the trusses yet to come. To that end, all nails and screws are set such that we can reach them from inside the house without touching the walls or ceiling. A key design consideration and a challenge for design! This saves us from having to cut the wood out which means we are preserving the lumber in its assorted sizes for use again later.


We built the primary sections of the scaffolding on the ground outside the house, carried them in and connected them. Giant letter M’s as Hope noted. While I prefer screws for most wood working we resorted to double headed 16 penny nails for the scaffolding to get better shear strength. Lots of hammer work for everyone. It is amazing how much wood goes into building a stone house!


Another view of the insulation. This keeps the wind off the north wall. Eventually we’ll berm along our windward side but that won’t happen this year. During the day we removed the insulation from the east, west and south walls so they could soak up some warmth from the sun on this beautiful day.

Speaking of the sun, at the Summer Solstice, if I got all my math right, the sun should touch the front sills of the window and then during the Winter Solstice it should reach back to the base of the rear wall of the house. Today, November 21st, one month before the Winter Solstice, the sun was at the floor of the bedroom doorway.

Another fun detail is that the tiny cottage is oriented along the North-South magnetic axis for our location. Why you ask did I not do the solar axis? Because we have a mountain ridge to our west so we get more light in the morning. Using the solar axis would have actually given us less light per day and thus less passive solar heating in the winter. After exhaustive calculations and squinting at my chewed thumb I determined that our optimal heating angle to be at the same as the magnetic axis or 11 am at the Winter Solstice. The alternative was to cut down the mountain. I considered it…

So now Holly has an easy way of knowing North, South, East, West. She loves it as she is compass challenged. :) (Her description!) I’m thinking of doing a world map with the compass points tiled into the floor of the commons room using thin shards of counter granite we’ve gotten from the stone sheds. It may not happen this Winter though as we’ll be living in such a small space that it will be hard to also do a tiling project!

Some people have had problems with various photos in recent posts not loading in their web browsers. It works fine for me so I’m a bit puzzled. I’m trying to track down the problem. Today I used my FTP program to upload these photos rather than using Blogger’s photo upload tool. I think Blogger.com is having difficulties. Maybe this will solve it. If you had problems before and these work now, please do let me know. If they don’t work for you also please let me know. Please let me know what operating system, browser and version you are using as well as what pictures are at issue. Thanks! -Walter

34째F/24째F Sunny

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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3 Responses to Scaffolding Up

  1. pablo says:

    magnetic axis for your location as it is now. They say in another 50 years, magnetic north will be in Siberia.

  2. Aye, Pablo, you are ever so correct. It is very interesting to look back on old maps and see where the axis was not too long ago on a human time scale. It is actually a coincidence that it is the current magnetic axis since what I was aiming for was maximizing our winter solar gain. It is a fun coincidence though!

  3. Grandma says:

    Walter, your last few postings have been fine, It seems like it was just those 3 days. I think you are right in thinking that it was a problem with the blogger server. Thanks again for a great blog.

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