20x34 2-story universal in upstate NY

Started by NathanS, May 13, 2016, 11:04:09 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


My cabin build thread: Alaskan remote 16x28 1.5 story


Thanks for the compliments everyone.

Yes, that's the floor nailer we bought. It probably would have cost more to rent one, and then you're rushing.


Read through most of the posts in this thread and very impressed by all the work done and the end results.  I am wondering if you could describe how you went from floor plan to all the material required and dimensions of that material (at least for the framing/shell) and how you kept track of all of it?  I noticed in one post you even had exact measurements of all the drywall pieces required and dealt with the extra complexity of higher walls.  Thanks for any pointers or links to relevant posts.


Hi David, thanks. That is a complicated question to answer.

It is an iterative process... start from the general and work to the details. You will go through that process several times, I am still iterating through things like kitchen cabinets, stairwell storage, pantry, coverage porch area, patio, trim, building doors...

Before I started laying the blocks for the foundation, I learned everything I possibly could about how masons lay blocks, and how they check for plumb and square. While I was laying the block for the foundation, I had a general idea of where things like drain pipes needed to go, and that drain pipes that needed to be in walls needed to be layed out precisely before pouring the slab. But really, by the time I was laying block I was studying how to frame, and by the time I was framing I was learning how to install a standing seam roof. It is always kind of like that. This winter when I was installing the downstairs bathroom, I was researching everything I possibly could about hardwood floors. By the time you're doing something, you should feel like you have already learned everything you can.

How to estimate materials for framing is covered in a lot of books. I found Larry Haun's video series on youtube and his book "The very efficient Carpenter" are probably the best resource out there. Using it in conjunction with the code, and the wood frame construction manual and you should be good to go. Also, some lumber yards will even come up with a materials list for you, and a bulk order discount, if you provide them detailed plans.

If you are looking for other answers or advice feel free to ask, I don't mind answering. The beginning is very overwhelming. A couple years ago I was starting at absolute ground zero with no experience building anything. I started with a storage shed and that was a very helpful experiment.


nathan,been following your thread since beginning and been meaning to ask about that radon vent you put in.any detailed pics of that.did you put fan to exhaust,did you vent right through block or run it up through roof.also i see you mentioned putting down poly.would that stop radon.thanks .....will


Hi Will, yes.. the main thing I remember about the radon vent was we put it in after I spent all day in the stone screeding it level... didn't go for the camera. I asked my wife if she has any pics, I don't think she does but I will post if so.

I think it was actually two lengths of 3' schedule 40 4" pipe that ran into a sanitary T, then the vertical we used a bushing and shrunk to 3" where it comes out of the slab. We drilled a bunch of holes in the 4" pipe and capped the ends. I used schedule 40 cause we had it, and the perforated drain pipe at the stores is a lessor thickness and probably doesn't work with other sch 40 plumbing fittings.

Anyway, it comes out of the slab, and does run horizontally through the first floor ceiling (a sin), then up through a bedroom wall and into the attic and out of the roof. It is powered by stack effect.

The clean stone fill is now depressurized and all the air or potential radon leaks into that pipe instead of through any unintended cracks elsewhere. Radon is more dense than air, so it will prefers to sink into basements like a swimming pool. If I had a basement I would use the same system (clean fill under the slab is important), and would then test for radon in the basement after using just the passive vent. If levels were still high, only then would I add a fan inside the tube. I might even look for cracks and try to tighten things up and retest before adding a vent. If you vent straight outside at ground level you will have to use a fan, because there is not going to be enough stack effect.

I didn't really need the poly under my slab, and is not there for radon... at the time I was concerned about the inspector. we had 4" of XPS foam which is already a vapor barrier. A lot of times people mix up air barrier and vapor barrier... lots of confusion over that one. The slab is your air barrier, the joint between slab and wall needs to be air tight too. Going from memory I think radon can actually migrate through concrete... so if you are in a high radon area you do still need to vent it.

Hope this makes sense.


QuoteIf you are looking for other answers or advice feel free to ask, I don't mind answering. The beginning is very overwhelming. A couple years ago I was starting at absolute ground zero with no experience building anything. I started with a storage shed and that was a very helpful experiment.
FYI, this is my first visit to this forum, and first post.  Thanks for useful suggestions.  I'm in the process of designing and then will attempt to build as much as I can.  But just that ... starting with a shed, albeit for my tools primarily.  As an experiment.  With the twist that I have my heart set on a  post & beam styled house.  So the shed will be a post & beam too.  4"x4" posts I'll be getting from a local sawmill.  Extras for when I screw up. d*


Quote from: arkmundi on August 02, 2018, 01:24:03 AM
FYI, this is my first visit to this forum, and first post.  Thanks for useful suggestions.  I'm in the process of designing and then will attempt to build as much as I can.  But just that ... starting with a shed, albeit for my tools primarily.  As an experiment.  With the twist that I have my heart set on a  post & beam styled house.  So the shed will be a post & beam too.  4"x4" posts I'll be getting from a local sawmill.  Extras for when I screw up. d*

post and beam does make for a beautiful house, but it also complicates the structural aspect in a big way. I think a hybrid approach - stick framing with exposed timbers - is a great compromise. It is relatively easy to calculate joist sizing for a timber floor, or replacing the occasional stud with a post, but a timber wall or roof where you need to understand gravity, uplift, and shear forces, will get very complicated. An additional layer on all this is that timbers are not graded by an expert or machine, so you need to know how to read the wood itself. Even a small mistake, like orienting the grain in the wrong direction could have structural implications.


Welcome to the forum  w*

It is really just another framing method, practiced by nearly every farmer back in the day. It really isn't all that hard, just different, it was the way back in the day, we aren't that inferior, yet. Start with something small and learn/ see if you are comfortable.
I would kick it up to 6x material, 6x6 posts, 3x5 or 4x6 braces, 6x8 plates hopefully. That is pretty much the break line in timberframing. At 6x and up the joinery and what remains in a timber after joinery starts to work. 4x is generally a little light once you start notching although there are a million ways to figure things out.

Codewise heavy timber falls under the same grading requirements for structural use that dimensional lumber and for that matter logs do. You can be required to have a grader inspect and sign off on the timber. We can talk about that if its required.

Ever notice that the blades on a framing square are exactly 1-1/2 and 2" wide?, A 2" mortising chisel for 8x material and a 1-1/2" chisel for 6x, The square works for layout with a knife, it also can slip into mortises to check fit and alongside tenons to feel fit. 3/4 pegs in 6x, 1" on 8x. The farmer with the addition of those tools pretty much had everything else he needed, he was framing. I bought a chain mortiser, a few larger skill saws and drills and never looked back though  ;D.

I need to do the stone retaining wall and fill, site prep  :P, the frame for this little building is stacked in my shop. It has 6x6 posts and 6x8 rafters and tie beam, the braces are 4x6

The bent footprint is 12' wide with a 10' spacing between bents this is 20' long.


Don that is all good info. It would even be nice to have it's own thread - where to start for timber framing. I still am not sure. I read A Timber Framer's workshop a couple years ago. It was all about bent framing, that would be ok at shed size, but how does someone lift that up alone. I saw you mention another time about other methods of platform(?) timber framing, which is more suited to building alone. I am not sure if I could have lifted all those beams up to the roof alone, it was pretty tough with 2x material that was kiln dried.

Even with stick framing I ran into unintended consequences at times. 24" OC joists requiring a second layer of subflooring for tile springs to mind...

A good question with timber framing is how to insulate. Rigid foam on the roof makes some sense, but those structural screws are going to need to bite into the sub-roof 2" or more. So you would need to know the size of your insulation screws before putting down the subroof. In heavy snow load the screws are probably going to be subject to some serious stress.. Rigid foam on the walls could probably go on like that too... but again do we need roughsawn 2x to hide the screws...  And in both cases, wall and roof, all the weight gets transferred back to a couple anchors on the structural timbers. That seems like a big problem to solve.

I don't doubt you have answers to these questions, but they are not readily available the way they are for stick framing.


I thought I'd post an update on stuff I have been working on.

I made the downstairs bathroom vanity completely out of leftover flooring scraps. The T&G seemed to make a pretty good joint, so I just glued up a bunch of panels. Sanded to 100 grit and finished with rubio monocoat.

Finally finished the siding. I used leftover siding for all the gable and eaves, had to get the power shut off one morning to finish the one gable end. Really nice to be done all that. The overhangs were a miserable job, absolutely requiring two people.

Installing clapboard was a lot nicer than having to scribe boards that would butt together, at least. Overall clapboards were very enjoyable to install - it's all about cheating.

The balcony is finished aside from staining or painting that PT board, not a big deal though. On the left is hardy kiwi, the right is a Niagara grape. Decided to plant one of each to see which was more vigorous. Hopefully will have grapes or kiwis growing on the railing in a few years. Up to half a dozen humming birds will go at those feeders at once too, that is really fun to watch.

Lots of interesting cuts on the balcony. Better than going up and down a ladder though.

I made the lower cabinet boxes and countertop for the other portion of the kitchen too. We decided to use 8/4 white oak for the countertop. I had to buy the little porter cable jointer to finish the edges as the mill only planes top and bottom. It was tough because white oak feels as heavy as concrete.

Just to show what the rubio monocoat does. Again, zero VOC... smells pleasant, if it wears thin I can just rub a little more on. It feels noticeably harder after applying the oil. I am sold on it. Just sand to 100 grit and rub it on, rub it off.

It's about time to make the bulk order of wood. Unfortunately cherry prices are going up, but I think we're going to get it anyway. I think I am also going to order a couple hundred feet of white oak, and that will be the back splash throughout the kitchen.

Also going to order the ductless minisplit within the next month. I am thinking about installing it in the stairwell up high so that *hopefully* it can both heat and cool the whole house. We are using a 5k BTU window unit that cools the entire house, but it has to be in an upstairs window - no amount of fans can move the cool air upstairs if I put the unit in a downstairs window. I am wondering if having it up high in the open stairwell it could both heat and cool the whole house. Not sure if anyone has knowledge on that.



Beautiful work all the way around!  I have sent you a private message about cherry.


Looks great...but then I think every pic of your work you have posted looks top notch.  [cool] 

One of these days maybe I'll have the skill and patience to produce that quality of work.  :)


Thought I'd post an update... working on inside stuff now.

First was the pantry area. I bought some kiln dried rough sawn hemlock. I used my planer to clean it up. You really need a huge sawdust can and vacuum hookup to be efficient.

Vent for the fridge

I bought some casters and will make a big box to slide in and out of the bottom eventually.

Right after this I took delivery on 900BF of cherry. The price has been going back down because of the trade war.

I don't know a lot about it, but some years ago most of the US cabinet makers moved over seas, so that is where most lumber gets sent.

This is really nice stuff. 90% heartwood on the one side and at least 50% on the other. There are almost no defects to cut around. I ordered it S3S, planed top and bottom and straightened on the edge. Thank god.


I did take inventory, number and restack everything. I then figure out all the cuts I need to make, and enter it into a program called MaxCut. This way I have as little waste as possible.

Window trim. Sanding is easily the worst part. YOu have to do it to remove the machine marks. I am sticking with going to 100 grit with a random orbital, or 120 with the grain and a belt sander is pretty good.

I precut everything. I know some of these trim carpenters seem to fine tooth every piece, but that is nutty to me.

Again rubio monocoat. Brings the cherry to life.

Working on the stairs now

Laying out the stair treads for glue up. This really is not for the faint of heart.

Landing is ash trimed out in cherry

Posts are just glued up 5/4

Well that's where I'm at now. Need to cut the upper treads and risers to fit, make the railing and balusters, and make some small other small trim pieces.

I decided to get the sawstop jobsite table saw as well. No regrets. Very well made machine and it is real piece of mind knowing that the blade will stop if flesh touches it.



Thanks Gary. The Cherry has been nice to work with. I've gotta say it might be nice to have a cherry floor to combat these long cold winters we get up here.  ;D



Thanks Rys, we really like it too.

The stairs are basically finished now, there are a couple little trim pieces that I will cut as my make scraps for the kitchen. I think this must have taken over 100 hours to complete. It's hard to say, and I don't want to think about it too much.  :D

The railing took a lot of time to make. It required cove cuts to make the hand holds, and then there was a good bit of hand scraping to smooth out the marks.

Using a level during glue up goes a long way to keeping things straight.

To get a tear drop shape, I had the saw at a 23 bevel and also ran across the blade at about 23 degrees. I really would not want to do this amount of cutting without the Sawstop. I think the cost has been justified by how much use it gets.

I also had another fence to sandwich the wood as it passed across the blade. Forgot to take any pics till I was taking everything apart though.

This is the final profile.

Then assembly, the top was held in by plowing a groove in the bottom and locking everything in with filet strips. I doweled the bottom of the spindles. I drilled everything by hand, it's impossible to get the dowels plumb and perfectly centered, but you can't tell on the stairs.

I have so many clamps now, and at times still have to wait for glue to dry because I run out of them. These stairs have about a half gallon of glue in them.

This was the best way I could think to assemble a floor to ceiling railing. I cut the spindles a little short, glued them in, then slid the top rail over them. Worked well.

Finished. I sanded down the hemlock post, I think it looks good. I may technically be bending the code a little by not having a rail over that first step, but I think you could argue that the post counts.


My cabin build thread: Alaskan remote 16x28 1.5 story


Looks great Nathan, keep the pictures coming.  Love all the detail you are putting into your build.


Adam Roby


Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


First of all, thanks for the compliments.

I am still just chipping away at things. I built the upper cabinet boxes for the kitchen cabinets and installed the stove vent, getting time to do the frames, doors, drawers, shelves, and back splash.

The latest big project was the ductless minisplit. This required a lot of research. I wound up going with a Mitsubishi 1.5 ton with 'hyper heat' which means it will heat down to around -20F. It heats at 100% capacity (20.3k BTU) down to 5F, and will heat at around 75% capacity at -13F.

First up was mounting the interior plate, the wall sleeve was just 2.5" conduit, sloped downward.

Next was the exterior bracket. We mounted the bottom of the unit 3' off the ground, and under the eave to protect it from snow. Not the prettiest thing to do, but I don't want to want to be worried about snow storms if we are gone for a week or two in the winter.

Also you see the conduit which has 14/3 UF wire in it. That was a real pain in the ass, but code requires the UF... only way we got it through was pulling a rag soaked in dish detergent through the conduit a couple times.

Mounted up next to the disconnect switch.

At this point I probably made 20 cuts on the copper pipe to work on my flaring technique, which required a flaring tool specially made for R-410a refrigerant. The flaring was actually pretty easy, but the deburring tool I had kept scratching the inside of the pipe, and I was pretty paranoid about that. In the end, I don't think that actually effected the flare, but next time I would use a conical deburring tool. I don't have any pics of the flaring, but that was absolutely critical to get right. Once the flares were just right, I applied Nylog to the front and back of the flare, and used a torque wrench to tighten them down to spec.

Then it was time to pressure test with nitrogen. First a ~72psi test for 5 minutes, then a ~220psi test for 5 minutes, then a 550 PSI test over night. The inside head is rated for 601PSI design pressure. This is way higher than the old R-22 units which is why the flares have to be perfect.

The unit held 550psi over night, that was a relief.

This is my pressure test set up, I used the high side (red gauge) because that one could actually read up to 550psi. Nitrogen tank to nitrogen regulator, to R-410a manifold, into the service port on the unit.

The weather was getting ready to change, so first thing in the morning I started the vacuum process. Mitsubishi calls for a triple evacuation, which means you pull a vacuum, then purge with nitrogen to 0PSI, then repeat two more times. The purpose of this is to eliminate any potential moisture in the lines.

All 410a minisplits will require a 500 micron deep vacuum per the EPA as well. The trick to pulling a deep vacuum fast is to use a valve core removal tool attached to the unit with a your micron gauge mounted to the side. Then a single hose straight to the vacuum pump. You pull out the schrader valve to shorten vacuuming time significantly.

Took a slight risk here and used a service line (rated for PSI) instead of a vacuum line. The service line pulled a deep vacuum just fine. The nice thing about these service lines is that they had a ball valve, so I could pull vacuum, seal off the line, then attach to the nitrogen tank, without getting air into the line which would defeat the purpose of the nitrogen purge.

So the vacuum process is 4000 micron, purge nitrogen to 0PSI, 1000 micron purge to 0 PSI, final vacuum needs to hold below 500 PSI.

I was able to pull to 52 micron, which was pretty awesome.

2 Hours later it stabilized to 100 micron which was better than I could have hoped.

Before releasing the refrigerant I removed the vacuum line and screwed on the valve core tool. I then released the refrigerant, then opened the ball valve and put the schrader valve back on. This way I knew I didn't accidentally suck air into the vacuumed system.

Still have to put the line cover on, but otherwise we're good to go. By the way, Mitsubishi even has torque specs for the nuts that cover up the service valves. Quite a process...

And not a moment too soon - just a few hours later.

Lastly, at about 31F outside it raised the indoor temp from 65 to 70F in about 1 hour.

Welp that was certainly an interesting one!


Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.