…I have worked as a forester since the mid-1970s and have lived in places that had specialized structures with limited functions, a cookhouse for cooking and eating, a bathhouse for showers and clothes washing, and a smaller structure (cabin or tent frame) to sleep in. Not much of a stretch to think I could do that again. I always wanted a large outside space which would stay dry. So I ended up with a 16´ × 16´ covered deck in front of the cabin. This had an added advantage because it gave me a large, dry, flat building area. Since it does rain a bit around here, that was a huge plus.
The cabin’s concept was to build modular log walls, and then assemble them in a post-and-beam framework. The log walls use ¾˝ thick, 3˝ wide plywood splines to attach them to the posts. The modules are built on a jig, and are then either stored somewhere until it is time to build or are then rebuilt on the foundation.
I’m just a retro-grouch at heart. Old school, wood and steel, no electricity, and a bit of skill beats power tools any day. I like my electric hand planers for smoothing wall timbers, love my chainsaw for cutting the big stuff — but for a simple bevel on a board (or 70 boards), I like the sound of a quiet hand plane that is older than my grandkids, older than my kids, older than me, maybe older than my father, and just like the ones my grandfather used to use.
It’s not a building. It’s MY building. Pride/vanity of creation maybe, but my cabin is mine above all else. I’m old enough to appreciate what that means, at least to me. I really don’t give a hoot how much of my time it costs, because I get it all back when I sit in a room I made.
If it’s only a little harder to do it by hand, that will be my choice most days. It’s about creation and the journey. Results are nice and certainly desired, but slow and easy work pretty well, and the power planer just doesn’t make those nice curled chips when you’re done making the bevel cut. For planing a bevel on 70 boards, I doubt if there is an hour’s difference in total bevel time — might even be faster with the hand tool since I don’t have to get an extension cord out at the beginning of the job and then put it away at the end.
If the job was bigger I’d probably use the power tools, but for smaller-scale jobs I’ll stay old-school if it is not too much more effort. Nothing wrong with elbow grease and sweat holding your project together.
As many of you know, you start this stuff with the thought that “Maybe I could.…” Most people either look at you like you are crazy or go along with you just to humor you.
Years pass, $$$ spent, hours of planning, days and months of site work, building and revising. Nobody sees the vision in your head, and you hope to heck you can pull it off even close to how you envision it…
- From our book Tiny Homes