Weekend Cobbing Update

David's picture

Ok, ok. So we didn't get 2' done over the weekend as we hoped to. There were just too many other things that had to get done as well. A couple of them really took a big chunk out of the day. If this is the way it's going to be every day, we may as well piss on the fire and call in the dogs because this season will be over before we complete the walls. But as long as we can still see the grass, we're gonna continue right on a'goin.

As predicted by the forecaster, Saturday was clear with only the slightest of chances of rain. We had the whole day planned for cobbing. Well, most of it anyway. I needed to set the door frame into the wall before we added another layer. I had just finished the door Friday evening, and now we needed to make a frame for it. I would have like to use peeled poles for the frame, but I think I would have had a hard time making a good seal around the door, and I just don't have the time to tinker with it. So, we went with dimensional lumber. First thing that morning, we were off to the lumber yard. We picked up a couple of 2x6's and almost went for a 4x4. You see, the hinges for the door are 3/4" dia. and about 8" long lag bolt type. I need more meat for the hinge than a simple 2x6 could offer. Luckily they were out of rough sawn 4x's because it gave me the idea of using a peeled pole for that instead. And so with that, we headed back home.

Patricia was really stoked about cobbing so we figured she could work on a part of the wall that was away from the doorway, while I worked on the door frame. We went right to work. The making of the door frame was one of those things that really ate up my time. Again all I had to cut with was a hand saw, and for the angled cuts, I had to first jimmy up a jig so that my cuts wouldn't walk on me. I wanted a nice clean fit. No big deal. A few extra steps. No sweat. And after it was cut and put together, it was time to dry fit it in the threshold. We put two huge stones on either side of the door way which, I knew ahead of time, were a bit narrow. I knew I had to chisel some of the wood frame out to get it to fit. And of course, I'm looking for a tight fit, so I take off a little at a time. I couldn't exactly measure it because the stones weren't exactly flat. So I chiseled some off, and checked it. Then shaved a bit more off and checked it again. I did this a number of times, and it was maybe after the 12th time I was pretty well fed up with manhandling the frame every time I checked it. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and each time hoping for a different result. Well, I tell you what, I would have been a prime specimen for a psychiatrist because I was also getting on myself about what I was doing wrong. How often does one come across an insane schizophrenic? Well, come to find out I was just being to fussy with it and it was costing me precious time. I ended up taking a nice big bite with that chisel. Luckily it was exactly what it needed. The frame went right in, nice and tight. I plumbed it up, and staked it down to keep it there. Now, I just needed to get a peeled pole cut to fit along with it. I hauled out a nice piece of timber from our wood heap and got to cuttin'.

I didn't have to be to exact with the cuts, but I had to be close to make sure it snugged up to the frame nicely. Now I'm not sure if it was because it was a diameter pole, or maybe the wood was just a bit wet, but it was a son-of-a-gun cutting with a hand saw. It was as if the saw was getting pinched. I know it wasn't though, because of how I had propped it up. With rivulets of sweat pouring off my brow and jaw clenching so tightly that my teeth felt as though they would shatter at any moment, I pushed and pulled on that saw. I'd rotate the log around to help my saw keep from binding but it was still slow and painful. Eventually I would get through, and I did. So now I got a good chunk of wood to sink my hing into. And I should have put it in and walked away. But apparently I didn't torture myself enough. I had to take a few steps back and look at my handiwork. Oh no!

If my right arm had a mind of it's own, it would have strangled me and forced me to become left handed. You see, the peeled pole looked so nice on one side, I had to make another for the other side. I figured I can leave them exposed in the cob giving the building some nice character. So away I went to give myself a second helping of pain. No pain, no gain, right?

Once I finished up the logs, I set them in, attached them to the 2x frame, and then added some nails spaced randomly down the side so that the cob can attach to it. All together it looks quite nice. Unfortunately it took most of the day. Who knew? The good thing was that, not only is the door frame in, but Patricia had been working on the cob walls the whole time. Nice! The rest of the day we kinda took turns making cob. We also put in the bottom framework of the trombe window.

Then came Sunday. (Yes, I'm going to keep this blog going for Sunday as well.) Sunday was not very productive. We had it in the works to pick up a freezer that day. Well, Chris' truck decided it wasn't going to start so we spent the morning trying to work out some other way of getting the freezer. There's a gent. in Dryden that we have been dealing with for used items that he didn't want which we could use here. The freezer was one of them. He is moving out of time, so we had to get this freezer right away. Well, we ended up just taking our car. Not something I wanted to do because we would need to lay the freezer on it's side to fit it in. I had heard this could ruin the compressor. I did some research and found that as long as you stand it upright for 24 hours before pluggin it in, all will be well. So off we went. We did a bit more shopping for some more materials, and then came home.

By this time it was about 3pm. We went straight to cobbing. Being how it was our day for supper, one of us had to get going on that. And being that Patricia is really eager to keep cobbing, I went ahead and worked on supper. So again, only one of us is cobbing. Also, being how we didn't really get started until late in the day, we didn't get very far on the wall.

Well, although I'm happy about getting the door frame in, I'm a little disappointed we didn't get further with the cob. It set us back quite a bit, but I think we can still recover from it and meet our end of the month deadline. We need to do about 2.5' of cob per week to make it. And I think we can do it. Plus, I'm going to get us two stations for cob mixing instead of just one. This way we can each do our own batches. So yeah, I'm pretty sure we can finish in time.


Rick's picture

Might be slow going but that is looking really good! I like that door - came out much better than I pictured from your last post on it.

Have you thought about adding another layer of stones? I don't mean a nice even layer...but something that when viewed from the outside kinda rises and falls a bit and is different thicknesses - like rolling mountains. Could speed up the process of getting the walls done. Could even use a row of cord wood the same way.

By Rick
David's picture

Thanks! Yeah, we talked about both. We are adding stones in the wall around the corner where the rocket stove goes. Stone holds more heat than cob, and this is a good place to put it. We are planning on adding some cordwood but not so much for asthetics. Like maybe at the top corners of the building so that a covered porch can be bolted to it in the future. We are also going to run a peeled pole where the counter is going to be so that I have somewhere to nail to. Things like that.

By David
Rachel's picture

It IS really looking great! You guys should be seriously proud of yourselves. You ROCK!!! :-D

By Rachel
David's picture

Yeah, we are very, very happy to be building it! We can't wait until it's finally finished, to see all the work come to life.

By David