Sunday, December 27, 2015

Winter Work

Chimney system design

The barn continues to delight us and provide many opportunities to pursue pleasurable projects. Doug is fine-tuning the equipment arrangement and inventory while I am honing my power tool skills on a utilitarian bench. If successful, I will refine, replicate it for multiple indoor/outdoor applications. (Benches are particularly useful in New Hampshire where we are constantly needing a place to sit to put on or take off boots.) From the vantage point of the warm barn, the cleared building site inspires us as we view the changing weather and wildlife movements and imagine where, next spring, the house will begin to come together.

Meanwhile there is plenty of “winter work” to do inside with Doug on crutches and his torn Achilles tendon healing. (The injury occurred two weeks ago when he gave a Herculean push attempting to attach a snow plow to a truck. We are thankful that Dartmouth-Hitchcock and its expert medical team are just 25 minutes away.)

First order of winter work was conducted at the dining room table with graph paper, ruler, architect’s drawings, and stove specs. Doug designed the chimney system, and system is appropriately applied here.

Quadra-Fire fireplace insert

Two stoves—a Hearthstone Equinox in the living room, and a Quadra-Fire 3100 in the basement—as well as a Quadra-Fire wood fireplace insert in the dining room all share the chimney chase in a 3-D wonder of pipes and angles with tight clearances and strict codes. Hours of effort later (with stove expert Steve’s input), Doug worked it all out and his design will be incorporated into the architectural drawings.

Hearthstone soapstone stove
The plan is for the chimney framing to be built over the winter in the barn and be ready to be put in place in stages once the foundation is poured in spring. After the stove pipes are installed, a stone veneer will be applied. We’ve chosen Ashlar or Ledgestone cut in Vineyard Granite by Stoneyard from Corriveau-Routhier in Concord. The product is New England-sourced stone, cut thin. It weighs less than 15 pounds per square foot but given the dimensions of the chimney, which goes 24 feet up from the first floor, the structure needs to support 10,000 pounds. 

Vineyard granite in Ashlar cut
Other major winter work: nailing down the window selection. Doug has spent hours translating the architectural drawings into detailed window specs that we can send out to bid. The baseline product is Marvin Integrity, mostly casements but some picture, awning, and double-hung windows (basement and garage). After consultation with Marvin, we also will be getting bids from three Canadian companies that offer comparable products and manufacture all windows on a custom basis—Thermotech (Ottawa, Ontario), Fibertec (Concord, Ontario), and Accurate Dorwin (Winnipeg, Manitoba). Once we have a better idea of costs we'll decide whether to go with double or triple glazing (maybe a mixture).

Windows are a crucial element in our plan to build an energy-efficient mountainside house. We are striving to achieve a balance between sufficient ambient light and allowing the beauty of the landscape into the house while maintaining energy efficiency. The industry-accepted ratio of window area to floor area is a range of 15 percent to 18 percent. International building code requires just 6 percent while other codes require 15 percent for occupancy. Doug has crunched the numbers in every room and they run from highs of 23 and 21 percent (office and kitchen/dining areas) to a low of 11 percent in the mudroom/laundry, which makes sense when you factor in that the later has a northwest exposure.
Next up for bidding: the SIPs or structural insulated panels, standing seam roof, inside railing system, and granite countertops. Then we get to design the kitchen down to the last detail. What fun! I know many friends and family who have gone through kitchen renovations/redesigns, so please weigh in with your wisdom. Fill in the blanks: “I wish I had _____________” and “I would never again __________________“ and share in comments. Thanks in advance.

Friday, December 4, 2015

How to Furnish a Barn

Nobody ever complained that their barn was too big or their tractor too powerful.—Trish

Side of barn. Front has two more overhead doors.
(All photos by author except where noted.)

“What are you going to raise?” was the first question people asked upon learning we were building a barn on the New Hampshire home site. Given Doug’s long professional association with dogs and cats, they were expecting an aspirational leap to sheep, goats, alpaca, or at least some breed of exotic chicken. Sorry to disappoint, but sawhorses and bench dogs are as close as we will come to animals in the barn.

Doug organizing a workbench.

Horses at work.
Let’s start with the horses. We have four right now, designed and built by Doug, after a little research courtesy of YouTube videos. Nine pieces of 2 x 4s plus a 1 x 3 brace (nearly 26 feet of board) along with 50 screws make each horse very strong. With a pair of these versatile trestles Doug proceeded to cut lumber for two workbenches using the sawhorses to support plywood or 2 x 6s for legs. The sawhorses conveniently do double duty as a coffee table, coatrack, or pedestal to hold a something small for painting.

Bench dogs holes.
(Photo courtesy
The bench dogs have not yet taken up residence in the barn. When they do, there will be at least a pair of the clamp-like devices that will work with 18 holes in the workbench ¾ inch wide, evenly spaced; 12 in a parallel set and 6 perpendicular. They will be used to hold wood, working in tandem with router, drill, or hammer.
None of the barn critters need walking or feeding; some clean-up, however, is required.

Chickadee nest box ready
for occupancy.
Other furnishing for a well-appointed barn: table saw (I used it to build a bluebird nest box), miter saw (quick and handy for short cuts), drill press (bird house entrances), router (advanced wood working projects), vice (hey, everybody has one or to or they aren’t human), and circular saw, just for starters. And, of course, the full complement of shelves organized into departments that echo hardware store aisles—paint, electrical, automotive, plumbing, cleaning, lumber, gardening, and hand tools, hand tools, hand tools.
I can see myself getting into these power tools. For starters, I will be applying my beginner skills with the table saw and miter saw to building a bench.
Meanwhile, I am looking forward to my own new power tool, on its way for my birthday—a heavy duty sewing machine. It may not be able to handle wood but it is supposed to be able to rip through, wool, fleece, and denim, all necessary to keep warm in a barn on a mountainside.
P.S. First snow on the mountain; two inches yesterday.
View from behind barn toward Mount Cardigan.