why rising earth?

The title of this blog draws from my time as an apprentice at the Cob Cottage Company in costal Oregon. If you spend time with natural building folk, you'll eventually find yourself around a fire, sing silly songs about cob and natural building. Folks usually refer to these oftentimes improvised tunes as "cobsongs". I often sang..."There is a house in old coquille, they call the rising earth, it's been the work of many hands, and you know what that's worth..."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


So these pictures are in reverse from the rafters down. The posts, beams, and braces are a mix of white and red oak. White oak is much more decay resistant than red, so the most exposed pieces (the west side mostly) are white. The roof framing is tulip poplar, which is plentiful around here and has similar strength characteristics as pine. All the lumber is full dimension. 6x6 posts and beams, 4x4 braces, 2x6 rafters.

The tie beam is notched to lap over the long beam to resist rafter thrust. Because I didn't use a structural ridge beam, the rafters want to fall and spread the "walls". I had some numbers run by an engineer, and am confident that the three tie beams are sufficently strong to resist rafter thrust. Check out Jack Sobon's "Historic American Timber Jointry" for an example of this simple method.

I toe-screwed 6" timberlocks here and through the plate into the rafters. I used 4" and 6" for the braces, 4" in the rafters at the ridge.

I appreciate help when I get it, and I sure needed help lifting the beams. Here Nathan and John are cutting post housings in the beam.

I imagine the next time I build something like this I will do real timber jointery, hopefully I'll have the time. I housed the posts into the beams to keep checks in line, to prevent the posts from twisting as they dry, and mostly because the beams are so rough cut and weird, I needed to create a level bearing surface myself.