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M&T Shop Building: Second Floor Complete

We finally have a usable second floor. This afternoon, Mike and I finished laying the subfloor layers upstairs in the shop. The 2”-thick vintage barn flooring that we had reserved for this has a beautiful underside which will be seen as the ceiling of the first floor but the top side was quite chewed up (presumably from animal hooves). Not only were there deep gouges and fibers that were ready to jab you but the wear was so extreme that hard knots were full thickness but the area around them was worn down to 1” thick in some areas. Because we appreciate the charm of an old worn floor, our initial thought was to sand the daylights out of the...

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M&T Shop Building: Installing the Second Floor

This week was all about two things: clean up from the packing party and begin installing the second floor. We are using reclaimed 2”-thick barn flooring that Luke brought up with the frame. This stuff has lovely patina that fits in just perfectly with the rest of the shop. Despite its beauty, we pretty quickly realized that there were weaknesses throughout the boards that we didn’t trust to hold our weight. To overcome this, we decided to lay this material as subfloor (and, therefore, first floor ceiling) and then bridge the wild variations of the worn top surface with tongue and groove OSB before laying new wide pine top floor. This will enable us to use the original boards untouched...

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The Newness of the Workshop

As the Issue Four packing party is less than a week away, Mike and I have begun tidying up around the new shop in anticipation of our guests. We’ve constructed three massive worktables from pine boards, built and hung a temporary board-and-batten front door, installed the arched transom window on the second story gable overlooking the pond, and now we’re replacing the cloudy plastic over the rough window openings with clear vinyl (it’s nice to be able to see through the windows finally).   Although the door is temporary, it is a simplified version of our final design. This board-and-insulation sandwich is hanging on the antique strap hinges I’ve been saving for the shop’s front door. Mike even made an...

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M&T Shop Building: Installing Sheathing

Because of a wind storm that knocked the power out this week (stalling progress on the Tables video edit), Mike and I have been working on sheathing the shop the past few days. We are just about finished with the first floor and we have one of the gable ends upstairs complete. This part of the project has been fun as we are able to work to carpentry tolerances rather than furniture tolerances. This is no normal carpentry job, though. Choosing the right board for each spot has definitely made this a slower process because we’ve got all kinds of random lengths and widths (often tapering) to work with, not to mention the waney edges and ragged ends. We are...

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The M&T Shop: 200-Year-Old Wall Sheathing

This afternoon, Luke and his partner, Sara, came up from Vermont to deliver the 200-year-old  1-1/4” thick wall sheathing. About half of the load was from this frame originally but Luke threw in a bunch more of the same vintage and region to fill out the rest of our sheathing needs. We hauled the boards into the frame and loosely organized them by length and width.   We have a whole pile of boards that are up to 20” in width and other piles in the 12”-14” range. They are between 7 and 12 feet in length and all the boards have sash saw mill marks and beautiful patina. These will be applied to the outside of the frame as...

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M&T Shop Building: Sheathing the Roof and Packing Up

Friday morning was the first day of fall and, boy, did it feel like it. The characteristic crisp nip in the air, the breeze, and even geese migrating overhead: All of it was right on cue. John had to head back to Vermont and Mike went to the Common Ground Fair with his family so Luke, Isaac, Matt, and I attached the roof sheathing to the rafters. We spent all day nailing these gorgeous 200-year-old hemlock boards in place. Because they had already cut, fit, and labeled the boards before bringing them up, the process went smoothly. The patina in these boards is sacred to this crew. Because they’ve worked so hard to de-nail, power wash, repair, straighten edges, and lay...

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M&T Shop Building: Frame Complete!

Yesterday we completed the frame. Matt suspended the ridge into place while Luke, John, and Isaac began assembling the round cedar rafters from one gable end. Luke said the first pair of rafters is the hardest, especially when they have diagonal braces and a collar tie to be installed along with them. After that gable end was secured, though, the rest popped into place without issue. As they worked through down the ridge, the manual lift help stabilize it and hold it at the optimum height (decreasing as they went along). This careful and methodical process was really impressive to watch. The whole process took several hours of careful adjustments and minor paring of the tails that were a hair...

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M&T Shop Building: Raising the Frame Day Three

Today began with finishing the bird's mouths for the rafters to seat into. Because the original roof system was damaged in a fire, Luke salvaged materials from other Vermont frames that weren’t going to be restored. Because the replacement ridge mortise layout was different than the original, the plates needed to be cut to match the ridge. While Mike and I cut the bird’s mouths, the rest of the team made preparations for the plates’ raising including installing a temporary deck on the second floor joists. Once the rafter joinery was complete, Matt lifted the first plate up to the posts and we began guiding it down into place while holding the six braces in position. Due to some unexpected...

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M&T Shop Building: Raising the Bents Day Two

  This morning the crew gathered at 7:00 and devised a plan for raising the next three bents. The members between the bents are connected to each other with a 24’ long joist and so they were assembled as a unit and raised into place with a manual lift. The next bent was assembled on horses on the ground and carried into place by Matt via telehandler. This process continued all the way through to the fourth and final bent. Happily, there is little to report on because everything went so smooth. Even the twist in the joist between bent two and three was easily pulled into proper alignment. By the end of the day, we had all four bents assembled....

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M&T Shop Building: Raising Day One

Today was the first day of the shop raising and, wow, was it momentous. The day started with finishing the new sill Luke, Matt, and Isaac began the day before. This 8” wide by 10” tall sill sits on top of the deck to raise the ceiling height. It is joined in the traditional manner with pegged mortise and tenon joints. After the sill was assembled and bolted to the deck, we began assembling the first (rearmost) bent. We assembled the joints on sawhorses and drilled and pegged each tenon. Peg sizes varied from 1-3/8” to 1” to 3/4” depending on the joint. Because the pegs Luke purchased weren’t available in the odd 1-3/8” size that this frame was made...

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