Front Arch Up


Building higher scaffolding was the first order of the day so that we could put up the concrete blocks for the front wall above the bond beam. This scaffolding will also allow us to safely work tomorrow when we setup the trusses and hopefully pour. It is supposed to be 61째F tomorrow! That’s the last day of November and here in the mountains of northern Vermont! Amazing!

The scaffolding is a deck of 16′ 2×6’s. I wish I had had it when setting the bond beam along the south wall of the house. It feels very stable, safe and rock solid. There is plenty of room for setting piles of block, buckets of tools and buckets of concrete as I worked on the front wall today.


The decking is at the height of the loft so once we completed the front upper arch the kids finally got to see what their bedroom will be like. The edge of their loft is about where the cross beam is passing below the 2×6’s on the other side of the buckets. Their room will have an window that looks out over the pond, picnic area and south field directly magnetic south. The light from the kid’s loft window will shine down into the common room lighting up the high central ceiling.


With the upper scaffolding in place the commons room now feels like it has a ceiling. The final ceiling there will extend all the way up to the vault of the roof. It is interesting though as it is now with the filtered light and being more closed in.

While Holly and I worked on the decking Will worked on extending the exterior scaffolding walkways so that we would be able to float the cement on the ends of the barrel vaults. It was only an extra four feet or so of extra scaffolding on each corner but it will make it safer. I should have done that extra length from the start. Notes to self: Longer scaffolding is better on the outside. Preferred scaffolding is on the inside.

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This is “The Big Cutter” – 42″ of leverage on hardened steel jaws. I’ve had these for sixteen years and cut a lot of rebar and chain with them. So far we haven’t found anything it won’t cut through – we’ll just have to try harder. :) Interestingly, they don’t actually cut the metal but rather stretch it until it snaps. On examining the end of a piece of rebar you can see that they cut into the rebar about half way and then the rest of the rebar is snapped off by the tension. That is a lot of force! Keep fingers, toes and other important body parts away from the cutting blades…

I prefer to use these cutters over a saw or angle grinder because they last. Saw blades and abrasive disks wear out and keep costing money. I am considering extending the length of the handles another 12″ for extra leverage to make it so that Holly and Will are better able to use these on the thicker rebar but other than that they are a tool that works.


We took one of the trusses up on top of the deck today and fit it in place – perfect! Here are the other five along with the total amount of ‘waste’ generated in making them. I try to make for efficient cutting to save both time and materials. Holly, who usually wields the skill-saw, is further always keeping an eye towards efficiency so we waste very little. We also try and make it so that when we take apart the forms the pieces will be save-able for future projects rather than being burned or tossed in the landfill. To this end we use screws when possible although sometimes I want the strength of 16 penny nails instead.

Another detail on the trusses is they are designed to be picked up by one person and lifted to the second floor for placement. This is both a safety issue and a cost issue. At only 32 lbs each they are easy to handle. The diagonal makes them rigid so they don’t suffer in handling either. Two identical pieces put together, halves, form one complete truss.

On the topic of weights, Will measured:

Item Weight (lbs)
Truss 32
Stretcher Block CMU 41
End Block CMU 43
Half Block CMU 21
Partition Block CMU 26
Pail of Concrete (~5 gallons) 61
Ben (boy) 61

CMU = Concrete Masonry Unit e.g., block

45째F/35째F Misty in the Clouds

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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2 Responses to Front Arch Up

  1. Kristianna says:

    Great progress, Walter. :)

  2. Patti says:

    Stocking cap, flannel jacket and SHORTS??????????

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