Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Wall

Yep I said it, walls..... actual cordwood walls were constructed this past weekend. But wait, before you scroll down to just look at the pictures, read what all had to happen before the walls were even started.

First we got started on gathering all the supplies we needed for building the walls, minus the wood of course. The mortar is a mix of portland cement, hydrated lime, masonry sand, and sawdust. We already had plenty of sawdust just from cutting up the wood and also from the sawmill that milled out our windows, door, and corner pieces. The rest of the mix we picked up from a local place near town.

Once we had all the materials we needed, we got to work on cutting the corner pieces, windows, and door frames. We didn't own the right tool for cutting the frames. So, we set out to borrow, rent, or buy a miter saw that could cut a true 4x6. We bought a 12" miter saw with the impression that it would cut through our frames. It didn't. Wrong tool and we just couldn't afford the bigger one. We made it work, but it is very unsatisfying when you buy a big expensive brand new tool that doesn't even do what you want..argh. To make matters even more frustrating we still didn't have an outlet to plug into at the land. So we had to haul all the pieces to our place 15 miles away and we don't have any work space there. All the pieces had to be cut on the driveway.

Our plan for our five days off was to gather needed materials, cut corner pieces and window and door frames. Then start with the walls. We had our hopes a little to high for the walls. We are learning that most projects take twice as long as we estimate, therefor the walls were not started on our five days off. Even though we didn't start the walls a lot was accomplished and learned through experience.

The window and door frames were assembled

Like usual we had lots of help.

We drilled rebar into the slab for the door frame.

Then we made an impression of the rebar in the bottom of the frame and drilled a hole to fit.

We placed roofing felt under the door frame to protect it from moisture in the slab. Also the 30lb roofing felt is acting as our moisture barrier between the block and the walls.

Now lets talk walls. Fast forward to the next weekend (last weekend). Once we finished all the prep work we could think of, we started with mixing the mud (mortar mix).

Then we started our corners.

We are using fiberglass insulation tucked into the cavities. So far that seems to be going really well. After the mortar has been laid, we add the insulation then the logs. The next step is to wait for the mortar to harden a bit (but not too much) and then smooth and tuck the mortar. It creates a smooth finish and helps the mortar bond better. We used a bent butter knife.

Next we set our door frame

My dad got his hands on a huge tarp, that was going to get tossed out, for us to cover the cordwood at night. We think it is a 30x40. It's hard work to even move the tarp around but such a great asset. Can you believe my whole house fits under a tarp!

The next day we had some more helpers with the cordwood and placing the giant window frame.

Floating the window frame was a challenge. We just didn't know what to expect. Luckily we had lots of strong folks to help.

My dad worked on getting us hooked up to power. He put an outlet on the post and also assembled a 100' extension cord with outlets too. So we can take that extension cord basically anywhere near the building and plug in!!!! Even in the house, I can have electricity in the house. Cool

He also put together a few things for a potential shallow point well. So far rocks are in the way of that. We'll just have to see what happens.

Well that's it. The plan now is cordwood walls, walls, walls, and walls. The road ahead will be such a journey and well worth it.


  1. Looks like you're really moving along on your house! It looks wonderful! I am going to be in Ely tomorrow (7-16) and am wondering if you'll be at your new construction. I'd like to see it in person.

    Kim of Kim and Sam

  2. Everything looks great, you are doing a fine job! Hope Kim gets to see it tomorrow, wish I could too, but fishing on the San Juan River in NM for big Rainbows.