Of Wooly Bears and Hobbit House Roofs.

So we’re all concerned with the coming winter. I mean if it’s a mild winter there’s a chance, however remote, that we can pour this Hobbit house roof before the spring. That would be phenomenal. The football season is putting a wrench in the gears so to speak but Saturday’s game was terrific. And they won too! There’s a ton of work to do, well probably two tons but once the season is over I will be in a position to really get going. And a mild November/December could really help me out.

This just in: The Wooly bears have predicted a mild winter! I never saw it coming but I double checked this weekend. The second Wooly bear I found predicted no winter at all!

What? You don’t know what a wooly bear is? OR that the markings on a Wooly Bear actually forecast  the coming winter? Let me educate you on the ways of the Wooly. Here he is:

Wooly Bear Relaxing in my backyard.
Wooly Bear Relaxing in my backyard.

I was going to give you the Latin name of the Wooly Bear but everytime I see that in an article I wonder who on God’s green earth can actually say these words with a straight face? So the brown band on the wooly bear indicates the severity of the coming winter. The wider the brown the less severe it will be. As you can see this brown band is large, I actually found a Wooly whose brown band overtook one of the black ones. Maybe he was a Florida Wooly? Anyway as far as winter is concerned the Wooly’s seem to be indicating a mild one. Put that in your pipe and smoke it  Al Roker.

The picture on the Hobbit calendar for September: The eagles eyrie after saving Gandalf, Bilbo and the Dwarves. They better have another calendar for 2014 or Peter Jackson is going to get an earload from me!

Back to building a Hobbit House:

Wait a second my wife and I just returned from a walk in search of Wooly Bears. You’re not going to believe this. The first and only one we see is dead and all black. I don’t know what that means.

Can we finally get back to the Hobbit house already? 

So I got alot of little things done this weekend and I got a late start on this blog post as well. So what I did was set up the template for the roof structure. The first thing that has to be done is set the template plywood on the layout deck in the right place and then scribe the ceiling line on the plywood. After that you scribe a line a half inch less than the ceiling line. This represents the underside of the plywood deck. We’re going to use half inch HDO plywood for the decking. Check it out.

Templaate plywwod location on layout deck..
Template plywood location on layout deck..

Ceiling line and plywwod line laid out on templatae plywood.

After this layout is done you set your skill saw to the depth of the plywood you’re going to cut plus a little more then you just take your time and cut away.


Templates cut.
Templates cut.

Are you kind of getting an idea of where we are going ? Pay attention. Once this step is done you have to lay out for each individual 2×4 that is going to be used to support the roof. Starting at the high point I pulled my tape and marked out the 2x4s on 12 inch centers and marked them out . Check it out.

Marking out the 2x4 layout .
Marking out the 2×4 layout .

Once the 2×4 layout is completed you put the plywood on the bench and cut the notches for the 2×4’s into the template.

Cutting the 2x4 notches into the template.
Cutting the 2×4 notches into the template.

This doesn’t have to be perfect but you want to make sure that a 2×4 fits into the notch. It really shouldn’t be too tight. If they’re overcut we’ll just use shims to  snug them up a bit.

Plywood template of the Hobbit House roof line.
Plywood template of the Hobbit House roof line.

So I hope you’re getting the gist of things now. This is basically the ceiling line of our Hobbit house. Well half of it anyway. It’s a little more complicated than what it seems.I’m going to keep it simple for the time being but basically what is going to happen is this template has to be elevated to the right height and secured in place. A series of these templates have to be put in place and then 2×4’s have to get dropped into the notches we cut into the templates. Once the 2×4’s are in place then we can nail the 1/2 inch plywood deck down. You’ll see.

The next conundrum I faced was figuring out a way to set my jacks without anyone helping me. I’m not the Little red hen but today wouldn’t have been a good day for someone to help me anyway. I came up with a great idea. I’ve seen these jack stands for metal jacks in pictures for concrete forming systems so I decided to make some out of wood. All I would need is two of them and that would be plenty. It took me abut 20 minutes to make them. Check it out.

Homemade jack stands. Pretty cool huh.
Homemade jack stands. Pretty cool huh.

So the stand holds the jack upright and more or less plumb without me or somebody else holding it. Smarter than your average carpenter Hobbit wouldn’t you say?

Keeping it simple: These jacks are going to be used to set our template to the right elevation. We set two jacks up and put a 4×4 sringer on top of it. Secure it with 16 penny double head nails . Brace it. And then make sure it’s set to the right elevation. But before we can do that there is one other step we have to do before we can get started. We have to set the sidewall panels to the right elevation and secure them to the foundation walls.

The top of the foundation wall is supposed to be 18 inches below the ceiling low point.(This is a structural detail the engineers were adamant about. We’ll talk about that some other time.) Ceiling low point is at elevation 513. I snapped a grade line at elevation 511 and used 24 inch plywood two get the final wall height in place. Here it is.

Wall extension plywood.
Wall extension plywood.

I know this is a little abstract but the top of that plywood is going to be the intersection of our ceiling and wall. The height of the wall at this location when we are finished is going to be 7 foot from floor to ceiling. The ceiling will climb, if you will, to a 11 foot floor to ceiling height at the center of the Hobbit house.

 This is where I finished Saturday morning before I had to leave for the football game . I had to go back though. How could I make an inventon like those jack stands and not try them out? Church, egg on an English muffin, check the start time for the Jet game , and get over to the Hobbit house.

Now the fun really begins.

Beginning the framing for the roof.
Beginning the framing for the roof.

 I know this might not look like much but getting it started is actually the hardest part. Especially if you’re working alone. What you’re seeing here is the initial framing of the roof structure. What I did is secure a stringer with two jacks supporting it  12 inches off the wall. After that I set up the two jack stands with the two jacks in place. Next I nailed a stringer to the two jacks. After that I used a 16 foot 2×4 to set the stringer in the exact center of the hobbit house. This was nailed to the underside of the two stringers. After that I used a 4×4 as a straight edge and made sure that the two stringers were at the same elevation. (This is just a rough elevation. I’ll use a laser level next week to get it right on.) After I leveled it I braced it up with some 2x4s. These stringers have to be set at 4 foot on center and be continuously supported by jacks at 4 foot on center as well. Once this is done then we can begin placing our ceiling templates on top of this framework. Get it…Got it… Good.

Not so hard. We have a lot of work to do but it’s starting to come together.

I don’t know how next weekend will be. Jude and Terence both have Saturday games so I’m not going to get my hopes up as far as getting anything done next weekend but we’ll see.

Get outside this fall. The colors are always so amazing!

See you next week!



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