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jules4 08-03-2010 06:47 PM

Screenhouse in the woods
This thread is a follow-up to my first thread on this site, Seeking advice on framing plan, in which I received a lot of help fixing up the plans for the screenhouse Iím building at my parentís cottage. (Momís had to mostly give up walking due to nerve damage, so Iím building this for her so she can spend time out in the woods again like she used to.)

Anyway, Iíve just returned from a two week stint at the cottage - unfortunately thereís no internet access, but I kept track of what I was up to on my laptop so Iíll try to get it all posted in the next day or two.

jules4 08-03-2010 07:00 PM

Tuesday (July 20)
Tuesday (July 20)

An outdoor fire place I actually built this spring to accompany the screenhouse. The fireplace is about 4 feet across, and built from two boulders (one for the back and a big flat one for the hearth) and a lot of dry-stacked stones. The rocks are all fitted into position so nothing is loose or wobbly (it was a lot of fun to do, like putting together a large jigsaw puzzle).

Batter-boards that were used to workout the orientation of the screenhouse and to guide the excavation of post holes (there were four strings connecting the horizontal arms, with the intersection of the lines marking the post locations).

Four 14 foot pressure treated 6x6s that were hauled out to the site today.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get ground contact rated posts around these parts (let alone PWF), so these posts are woefully under-treated for setting in the ground. To overcome this I’ve painted the ends with 3 coats of marine polyurethane (Interlux Brightside), which should buy me an extra decade or two.

The nails you can see sticking out of three posts are there to provide some tooth for the concrete necklaces I’m going to pour around them.

jules4 08-03-2010 07:11 PM

Thursday (July 22)

Three of the posts are raised and braced in position - raising them was easy, but it took the better part of two days to get them plumb and square.

The pier I “poured” yesterday (I mixed it pretty dry so it was more “beaten-into-position” than “poured”). The avant-garde shape is due to the difficulty I had in setting stakes (to support the forms) around the rock rather than any sculptural aspirations on my part.

The pier extends down the side of the rock about three feet below ground (the rock keeps going well beyond this).

jules4 08-03-2010 07:13 PM

Friday (July 23)

Today I got the last post raised, plumb and sort-of square (more on this later). I also installed the side floor girts (outermost joists) to establish the floor line so I could mark the posts to height (each post will need to loose between 2-3 feet).

Getting back to the “sort-of square” fourth post - those with sharp eyes probably noticed from the previous picture that the post on the pier is out of alignment.

Even after shifting the right front post over as far as possible in its hole, and letting the left front post overhang the pier by a good inch, the front wall is still going to be an inch narrower than the back wall.

I place the blame for this screw-up squarely on the shoulders of the site-supervisor, who was asleep on the job, as usual:

Of course, blame aside, there’s still the question of what to do about the out-of square framing.

I must admit my first impulse was to ignore it. But then I thought about what my framing-idols loneframer or framerman would say about someone who left something out an inch in just 8 feet, and realized that I’d have to fix this or I’d never be able to read their posts again without hanging my head in shame.

As soon as the ground dries up enough I’ll dig a larger hole for the right front post so I can get this fixed.

jules4 08-03-2010 07:23 PM

Sat/Sunday (July 24/25)

I was going to cut the posts to size with a chainsaw; however, modern tech being the faithless mistress it is, no amount of cleaning, lubbing or replacing of spark plugs could convince the darn thing to start. So, after wasting Saturday morning working on the chainsaw, I finally gave up and decided to use my great grand-father’s bucksaw instead.

It took me over three hours to “fell” one post-top with the bucksaw while balancing precariously on a ladder. Great-grandpa was probably looking down at me laughing himself silly. After that ordeal I came to my senses and built a small platform to stand on while sawing the other rear post.

Once it finally stopped raining on Sunday I got the other rear post cut in about 40 minutes (it would have taken even less time if the wood wasn’t so wet).

jules4 08-03-2010 07:26 PM

Monday (July 26)

I spent most of Monday working up at the cottage, but I did spend a few hours at the screenhouse in the afternoon building a new, larger platform that extends the full width of the back (and a similar one across the front). This will make life much easier when it comes to installing rafters.

jules4 08-03-2010 07:28 PM

Tuesday (July 27)

I finally corrected the misalignment in the front posts. I dug a larger hole for the right front post so I could shift it over 2 inches, which allowed me to shift the left front post 1 inch further back onto its pier (so it’s now only overhanging by a fraction of an inch).

I also installed a triple 2x6 beam across the back posts, and cut one of the front posts down to size (only one post left to go - my shoulder is really looking forward to the end of all this horizontal sawing).

jules4 08-03-2010 07:34 PM

Wednesday (July 28)

Cut the last post this morning (yay!) and installed the front rafter beam. Unfortunately, while installing the beam I discovered that all my previous efforts to ensure nice, square framing were thwarted by a twist in the upper third of the right front post.

I tried shimming out the beam so that it would be square even though the top of the post wasn’t, but this emphasized the twist in the post and made the framing look really ugly. So, I compromised by slightly shimming the beam so that everything looked square even though it wasn’t. (This ultimately backfired when it came to sheathing the roof.)

I didn’t want to have to drag the ladder back and forth between the front and rear platforms, so I made this nifty little ladder out of some scraps. I think it has a lot more character than the aluminum ladder. (However, using live trees for uprights rather limits its portability.)

Around 6pm the site-supervisor (a.k.a. Gryphon) showed up wondering when we were going to break for dinner.

A gratuitous shot of the view I enjoyed all day.

jules4 08-03-2010 07:39 PM

Well the first week sure went by fast :jester:

I'll get the rest of the pictures posted tomorrow.

Willie T 08-03-2010 09:25 PM

Thank you, J. This is obviously going to be an enjoyable photo adventure for us. But a heck of a lot of work for you.

The fact that you are doing that whole project all by yourself is staggering. My hat is off to you.

jules4 08-04-2010 11:49 AM


Originally Posted by Willie T (Post 480117)
Thank you, J. This is obviously going to be an enjoyable photo adventure for us. But a heck of a lot of work for you.

The fact that you are doing that whole project all by yourself is staggering. My hat is off to you.

Thanks Bill!

The only other construction I've done is building a fence (which was pretty easy) - raising an actual structure has turned out to involve a lot more work than I anticipated (but it's fun work, so it's all good).


jules4 08-04-2010 12:07 PM

Okay, now for the rest of the pictures of my two-week adventure.

Friday (July 30)

I spent all yesterday working at the cottage again, but got back to work on the screenhouse bright and early today.

I half-lapped the braces by sawing a bunch of parallel cuts in each member to be joined (to the desired depth of the half-lap) and then cleaning the wood out with a chisel. It’s not a perfect fit, but not bad for my first effort at joinery “in the field.”

(The 5/4x6 behind the triple 2x6 beam is just there to bring the beam flush with the post, it's not actually needed structurally, so cutting half-way through for my laps is not a concern.)

I also installed the rafter girts that will support the fly rafters for the rake overhangs, and scribed the birdsmouths on the outermost common rafters. I had to scribe both outside rafters because, due to the slight angle of the front rafter beam, the front birdsmouths were somewhat offset (by about 3/4" it turned out).

jules4 08-04-2010 12:10 PM

Saturday (July 31)

Installed the short fly rafters that will support the floating rafters of the overhang, and added purlins running parallel to the fly rafters to provide lateral bracing.

I have some ďactionĒ shots of the installation of the second purlin courtesy of mom (she came down this weekend to check on the progress of the project).

Pre-setting the nails for the second purlin:

ďKnee bracingĒ one end of the purlin while nailing it in place:

Random sheltie foolishness:

jules4 08-04-2010 12:20 PM

Sunday (Aug 1)

Sadly the construction will be coming to an end very soon since I have to leave tomorrow. It’s amazing how fast two weeks goes by when you’re working all the time. It’s also amazing how long it takes to build stuff - working the hours I did I seriously would have thought I could have the screenhouse completely finished inside of a week.

Anyway, I finished installing the rafters today.

Knowing how far the front birdsmouths were offset on the outermost rafters, I had the bright idea that I didn’t need to scribe four remaining common rafters: I could just mark them out by progressively moving the front birdsmouth by 1/5 of the total offset.

I’ll bet it would have worked great, too, except that I progressively moved the birdsmouths in the wrong flippin' direction. (Thankfully only two were so far off that they had to be recut.) I forgot to take pictures of this screw-up for everyone's amusement, but just picture large ugly gaps behind the 4 interior rafters where they meet the front beam.

Here’s some pictures of the roof with all the rafters installed (I didn't install the front fascia until I had most of the sheathing on, since it was easier to install from on top of the roof):

And a picture later on after I’d finished sheathing the roof (I used 5/8 T&G CDX) and laying the felt:

Remember several posts back when I said that my solution to the problem of the twisted post would come back to bite me?

My “solution” was to angle the front beam so that everything would “look” square (instead of setting so it actually was square, which would make the post look warped). Well here’s where pay-back occurred, because the roof deck really was square:

If I had power on site I’d have just taken a circular saw to the sheathing so that it “looked” square too, but I didn’t have time to trim this with a hand saw so I reluctantly left it.

jules4 08-04-2010 12:31 PM

Monday (Aug 2)

The roof had to get finished before I left today, so I was back at work by 7 am.

By 9 am I had the felt trimmed and had installed the starter strip of roll-roofing and the drip edge (lessons learned this morning: galvanized drip edge is a b**ch to cut with a dull hacksaw).

The single best piece of advice I received regarding the use of double-coverage roll-roofing (or 19" selvage roofing) was to nail down all the courses first (starting at the bottom), and then cement all the laps (starting at the top).

I can’t imagine how much of this black goo I’d be covered with if I’d followed the manufacturers directions of cementing each course as it was laid:

Roll-roofing finished except for the trimming.

Unfortunately I had to leave at this point and couldn’t get the trimming done, I just hope the final section that was left overhanging the front doesn’t wind up getting torn off by the wind before I can get back down there to finish it up.

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