Gimmie Shelter

I have seen a lot of old buildings gutted and renovated/restored over the years.  Whenever I enter one of these buildings I make it a point to pay strict attention to the craftsmanship and methods used in its construction.  When I say "old building" I mean buildings older than 1900, some that date before 1800 and a few older yet.  My time in the military offered me numerous opportunities to view everything from barracks and family homes to historic wooden and masonry construction in several overseas countries.  I could never understand why I got so many befuddled looks while crawling through framing members and poking around attics and foundations with a flashlight.  Apparently, inspecting construction joints at close range that have been hidden in a wall for two and three hundred years makes you a weirdo.

I personally find many of the details in old buildings beautiful, and sometimes, the ones that are hidden are even more beautiful than the adornments on the outside.  This may be why I like the Greene & Greene style so much, as they used a lot of their structural joints as adornment by making them out of exotic materials, finishing them to a high degree and leaving them exposed.  I think obsession is a dirty word, and my wife uses it a lot when I start talking about wood joints at the dinner table.  I also think "one sided conversation" and "I get bored when you talk" are dirty words, maybe she just swears a lot.  

Modern timber framing is one of those practices which still uses a lot of traditional framing techniques, just like many of those in the surviving old homes I inspected.  I have tinkered with some small scale timber framing but building a house is another story.  Unfortunately, to construct a timber framed home you have to have space and money, both of which I am currently short on.  Fortunately, I have a friend who just so happens to have been planning one of these for a long, long time.  The cabin he is constructing is modest as it is a vacation property for some "out of the way" wooded land he has.  He is sending me photos of his progress on dates when I can't be there to help out.  His most recent set reminded me of some joints I had seen in a cabin last year while in Oregon that dated to the 1860s.  They are of housed dovetails he is cutting for floor joists and when looking at them I feel like I am on the beginning end of a piece of history.  They are gorgeous. The photos are from his cell phone so I'll take some others the next time I'm up there to show some of the details and how they fit into the sill plates.

Cutting The Shoulder 

Housed Dovetail

These are of a "commander" (big ass mallet) he made out of some cutoffs which is used to tap the joints together or apart.  This one will also likely be bound around it's perimeter with an iron band to keep it from splitting apart over time.  

Shaping The Handle

Commander To Be Commanded

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