Oak Lodge

That's the name I'm giving to the treehouse I'm building.  (It's going to be lodged in an oak tree, and I hope it stays there.)

May 20, 1999 -- To build a treehouse, you first gotta have trees.  They sold me this one cheap because the foliage was so sparse.

May 26, 1999 -- the beginnings of Oak Lodge.  Looking northeast.  3x12 main beams hung temporarily in the tree; pole set to support northeast corner.

May 28 -- Two pieces of the support steel cut, drilled and prime painted.  (Paint didn't stick well.  Maybe the surface preparation was inadequate.  Didn't have a pneumatic sandblasting rig, so I just picked up sand off the ground and threw it at the steel real hard.)

June 3 -- Fancy steel connection.

June 3 -- Looking east.  Support structure (steel and main beams) complete.

June 16 -- Climbing up to install the FM antenna (gotta have NPR).  I'm wearing a safety harness, Mom.

June 20 -- Sketch of current design -- elevation view of south side.  Square building  8' x 8' with northeast corner cut out to accommodate tree trunk, metal hip roof with generous overhangs, open deck on east side.  Pole holds up northeast corner of structure and also supports davit (to hoist stuff from the ground) and FM antenna.

July 10 -- Davit arm fabricated from pipe.  Questionable welding hurriedly covered with several thick coats of paint.

July 11 -- Davit and hoisting tackle in place.  This has proven invaluable for handling sheets of plywood, windows, dismembered corpses, etc.

July 21 -- Floor joists for building complete.

July 24 -- Detail of floor framing -- 3x12 main beams, 2x8 floor joists, hurricane clips, furring strips to support polyurethane insulation panels.

July 24 -- Laying the plywood subfloor.

August 20 -- Framing for deck on east side complete.

Deck flooring installed -- "five-quarter by six bullnose pressure-treated pine" -- love that lumberyard talk.  I'll put up some kind of railing later, but during construction it'd just be in the way.

August 30 -- Homemade sill for west window cut from 2x8 cedar.  I LOVE cutting this lumber -- the fragrance is like sharpening a thousand pencils at once.

September 4  -- West wall framing complete.

September 4 -- West wall under construction.  I'm building the walls in the middle of the platform like this so I can access both sides easily.

September 7 -- Installing the window in the west wall.

September 8 -- Ian helps me set the west wall into place.

September 9 -- Inside view of west wall.

September 9 (9/9/99!) -- Here I am admiring the view from the window in the newly erected west wall.

September 18 -- Assembling the north wall.

September 20 -- View from inside -- west and north walls in place.  It's starting to look like a real building now.

September 24 -- South wall framing completed by means of yet another wall framing ploy:  using the bed of the pickup as a work platform.

September 28 -- Assembling the south wall.

October 5 -- South wall in place.

View from the inside.

October 12 -- Fancy joinery at the top of one of the little walls which will jog around the tree trunk -- my first hesitant steps out of the world of right angles.

October 14 -- The two jog walls in place.

October 18 -- East wall framing complete.

October 20 -- East wall siding complete.  I won't install the door and trim until I get the roof on.

October 26 -- First four rafters set in place.

October 28 -- Fancy arrangement for fly rafters (velocirafters?) along tops of jog walls.

October 28 -- Half of the rafters up.  This hip roof has a LOT of pieces.

November 2 -- The workshop tent set up as a rafter factory.

November 4 -- Last rafters in place, so the structure is topped out.  I clamped a juniper branch up there in honor of the occasion.

November 8 -- Picked up the roofing tin -- er, that is, "specialty architectural metal."

November 9 -- Completed the 1x4 skip sheathing for the roof.  I used this instead of solid plywood sheathing to save weight.  This is plenty of support for the metal roofing -- plus, the 1x4s make nice "ladder rungs" for clambering around up there.

November 10 -- Perched like a gargoyle on the rafters, attaching the drip metal around the edges of the roof.  While installing this stuff, I bested my own record for swear words per foot of material.

The uncut roof panels for one of the four roof surfaces.

November 13 -- Some of the roof panels cut and installed on west side.  Gadget in center is the special tool used to crimp the panel edges together.

November 13 -- After a bad day, I sat myself down and gave myself a good talking-to.  Came up with these Oak Lodge Priorities to help me keep in mind what I'm trying to do.

This roof took a LOT of figuring and cutting.  At upper right of clipboard you can see a little cardboard model I made to figure out how to bend the edges of a roof panel.

December 7 -- Fraidy-cat rigging to let me climb on the slippery roof panels.  Wooden cleats clamped to the panel ribs give me a foothold;  carabiner clips to my safety harness and attaches me to safety line via "Prusik loop" lanyard.

December 9 -- Dry at last!  With all panels and hip cap installed, roof should shed water now.

Peak of the roof.  The four pieces of hip cap lapped over, screwed down, and gobbed with silicone.

View from the inside.  Didn't see any daylight shining through.

January 8, 2000  -- These pieces of cedar from my lumber pile were not just wet but FROZEN.  Brought them inside to thaw and dry in front of the fire before applying stain.

January 12 -- End of hip cap trimmed, folded and screwed down.  My learning curve on these things went the wrong direction -- this first one turned out fairly well, but the remaining corners got progressively worse.

January 15 -- All this roof-edge detailing, the soffits and the remaining wall trim had to be done off scaffolding borrowed from Ian.

January 27 -- From this angle, the exterior looks complete.  The other two sides still need trim, though, and the door isn't installed yet.

Soffits are 1x3 tongue-and-groove "car siding" salvaged from an old railroad building, installed rough side out.   Looks pretty good but was a lot of work.

February 5 -- The latest scheme for radio reception.  After extensive experiments with various kinds of radios, signal boosters, etc., I bought this expensive Cambridge Soundworks "Model 88" table radio from a mail-order company that had a money-back guarantee.  Haven't sent it back so far.  Here it is hooked up to the pole-top antenna and powered temporarily from a Wal-Mart lawn tractor battery.  KRWG (our excellent but distant NPR station) is still rather noisy but at least listenable with this setup.

February 19 -- The door, halfway through the application of about 1,688 coats of stain and varnish.

February 27 -- Installing the door.

February 28 -- Aluminum threshold under the door.

February 29 -- Piece of trim for northeast corner, grooved to cover up coax from FM antenna as it comes through the wall.

February 29, 2000 -- Not the grand opening, but the grand closing.  I hurried to get the door on and the building closed up for this special date: the first leap year day in a century year since 1600, and the eve of my birthday.  This was an auspicious time for me to spend the first night under the first roof I've ever built myself.  I froze my butt off.

April 6 -- Interior wiring completed.  This is the electrical panel.  Feeder (a piece of extension cord, temporarily) comes in through gray flexible conduit.  Using my typical level of overkill, I installed three 20-amp circuits in this tiny building.

Wiring up above the ceiling, and the handsome ceiling light fixture.

I was very happy to find these porch light fixtures.  The pyramidal tops echo the roofline, and the color even matches.

April 11 -- The first piece of insulation for the ceiling.  Four 1-1/2" layers of "Iso-Board" polyisocyanurate insulation glued together and sculpted to fit between the ceiling joists and around the rafters.

April 18 -- My low-rent time capsule -- empty champagne bottle from New Year's Eve entombed above the ceiling for future generations to find.

Insulation partially done.  This Iso-Board is light, easy to work with, and has excellent insulation value per thickness.  Also, the foil facing shields me from the government's mind control rays.

April 26 -- Plastic vapor barrier covering ceiling insulation.  I thought about just leaving it this way for a '60s dorm room effect -- naah.

April 26 -- Finish ceiling of 1/4" oak plywood installed.

April 30 -- Some of the tongue-and-groove wall planking laid out to acclimatize in the workshop tent.

May 7 -- My brother Eric furiously cutting pieces of wall paneling.

Eric showing off the finer points of our workmanship on the paneling. His workmanship actually -- he was much better and faster at this than I was.

May 10 -- Eric putting up the last piece of paneling ...

... and then banished to the deck.  Once he got it finished he wasn't allowed back inside.  No point in taking a chance on him messing it up.

May 21 -- A big problem in building with wood is that you have to cover up all the edges and corners with more wood.  Here's the beginning of that process on the interior.  The junction of the walls and ceiling and the joint between the two pieces of plywood on the ceiling are covered up with trim pieces.

May 25 -- I made the window trim out of the same salvaged lumber I used for the soffits.  I ripped the tongues and grooves off, and then ran the pieces through Ian's jointer to finish the surface.  (I failed to get all the old nails out of the lumber, the jointer blades were ruined, and I had to get Ian some new ones, so this salvaged stock ended up costing many times more than new.  AFGE.)  Anyway -- the wood frames of the north and west windows protruded inside the paneling a little bit, so I milled these rabbets into the back side of the trim using the router spindle on the radial arm saw.

May 25 -- Trim installed around the north window.

May 31 -- Shows the trim around the south windows and the "chair rail" trim to cover the joint between the vertical wainscoting on the lower part of the walls and the horizontal planking above.

June 6 -- The first half of the parquet floor laid.  For some reason the word "parquet" makes this stuff seem exotic and difficult, but it was easy.  You just trowel glue onto the subfloor, lay the tiles into place, and walk around on it to seat the pieces into the glue.

June 14 -- Baseboards are on, so all interior trim is completed.

Another view.  This interior work was fun -- every day of work made a visible difference.