The Dories

I’ve just finished a two week traditional dory building course in Lunenburg, NS. With the guidance of a traditional wooden boat instructor, I and four other students built two 12′ wooden dories using traditional methods and materials. Students came from Washington State, Minneapolis, Gloucester, Enfield, and Halifax.

It was a real opportunity to gain additional wood working skills and to work in a group to accomplish a fun project. At the end, we launched the Dory Buff painted dory and took her for a row in the Lunenburg Harbour. It was a great experience.

Each day we had our breaks in the Dory Shop office and it was a wonderful opportunity to hear more about wooden boat building and to meet more of the wonderful staff. Pelham House provided our lunch each day; and it was always a wonderful offering — home made, fresh, and very tasty.

Traditional Lunenburg Dory building in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Traditional Lunenburg Dory building in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

For more about the Lunenburg Dory Building Course, please visit the fine folks at The Dory Shop.


Fall Update 2015

The greenhouse gable ends were filled with 1 x 6″ Spruce tongue and groove; the door was constructed of the same material and strengthened with a “Z” fastened with 1-1/2″ exterior screws. Four inch hinges were installed but are too light for this door. The door is hanging in place and held shut for the season by a piece of 1 x 6″ Spruce nailed into place.


door1       door2


I’ve moved a small potting table into the shed, gathered a pile of seaweed to enrich the soil used this year to grow a fine crop of tomatoes and basil, and planted a few hostas in front of the greenhouse.


I burned two lots of scrap, but have saved most of the scrap ends which I’ll turn into relief carvings at some point.

Lots more to do in the Spring! A ramp, vents, insulation, painting, and the wood carvings for the exterior. All that and a wonderful beach to walk.


Completion — Summer 2015

As many of you will have experienced directly, we had a very hard Winter and Spring. Many are referring to June-uary, our  month of very cool, later Spring temperatures. I’ve opened the cottage for the season and have been working on cottage specific tasks at this point. Varathaning new kitchen cupboards, and a bow window area, rearranging furniture, building a shelf, and exterior steps, and helping a friend with an outdoor shower are the tasks at hand. Once I’ve finished the cottage specific tasks, I’ll turn my attention back to the greenhouse.

DSC_0101 DSC_0110

DSC_0115  In anticipation of resuming the greenhouse work, I picked up a 12′ step ladder in the late Fall to help me to be comfortable working on the eves of the greenhouse. I also purchased four vents with sliding closures to control air flow.

End of the Season




The window installations and boarding in are completed for the season, though not finished. I used 6″ tongue and groove Spruce for the boarding in. I used 2″ galvanized nails rather than screws as it’s been a wet Fall and I did not want to run electrical cords over the wet grass when working alone.

At the corners of the greenhouse, I’m adding 2 x 6″ lengths to finish the look of the wall exterior. This also increases the strength though the greenhouse is rock solid already.

Next Spring, I’ll finish the boarding in, caulk and seal around the windows and doorway. This winter, I’ll be carving vines, leaves and assorted figures to apply to the exterior of the greenhouse in the Spring. This has been a fun project and I look forward to completing it in the Spring.
Have a happy winter!

All A Board

ducks  ldybug

So, it’s been a little longer getting back to the blog than I thought it would be! Good progress is being made; and helpful friends and family have been a great assistance in the roof phase of this project! My Dad and nephew, Tom, returned to complete the second roof slope with me.

tomcut  dadtom

I hired a fellow to add the 1×8″ trim boards along the roof line, a drip edge to keep water from wicking into the wood of the roof, and tar paper, and shingles over the drip edge. It’s just too high in the air for my comfort.  My roof is 7′ x 9.5’x 2 slopes and took 4 bundles of shingles, 6 -10′ lengths of drip edge cut to length, 2 -10′ and 4 – 8′ lengths of 1 x 8′ knotty pine for the trim boards. We used 1″ recycled roofing nails, and tar paper contributed by my neighbour, Hugh.


I’m working on boarding in using 1 x 6″ tongue and groove Spruce.  Another few solid days and the greenhouse will be roof tight for the winter. I’ll likely fill in the doorway with plastic film and install the door in the Spring. I’ve carefully saved all the board end that I’ve cut. I’m planning to use these  to make some wood carvings this Winter and next Spring. These decorative carvings will be installed on the greenhouse. I’m hoping to have next to no wood wastage.

Hoping for some fine days in the next two weeks to finish up for this season.

Hit the Roof

goodsummer2 goodsummer1

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you on the greenhouse construction. It’s been a busy and fun summer but the air is changing and there is a rustling dryness in the leaves, spurring me on to finish for the season. It’s been an interesting process – building a greenhouse. It has brought out the curiosity and the willingness of the folks around me to lend their support, interest, and assistance. Since the last posting, the fourth wall, ridge board and rafters have been installed, and the roof boards and windows are in progress.

photo 1-1
For the fourth wall, I framed for the windows and a door. Double studs around the door should prevent racking from the stresses exerted with repeated opening and closing. I built a lintel at the top of the door opening. I’ll frame in the door as one of the last bits of the construction. I calculated for the door dimensions when framing this wall, and added 1 ½” to the door width to account for two 1” (3/4”) door frame boards and an additional ¼”to accommodate the swing of the door.

My nephew, Thomas, lifted the wall and I nailed it into place. I spent an hour driving nails to strengthen the walls, tying the walls and joists together more firmly, and stiffening the wall corners.

I constructed the beginnings of the roof by adding a set of top plates and a vertical support for the ridge board at the two gable ends. I added the additional two top plates on the rafter end walls. This tied together the four walls and set me up for working on the roof. Nancy and Brenda helped me with the installation of the top plate assembly.

ridgebracesThe roof has a run of 49 and 4/8” and a rise of 37 1/8”. The hypotenuse is 61 and 7/8”. (All interior measures.) To create the gable end framing for the roof, I cut the rise 2×4” to 35 7/8” and nailed through from the bottom of the top plates at those ends of the roof prior to lifting these two T-shaped constructions into place. I worked from a ladder to place those T-shaped roof pieces into position and nailed the top plate 2 x 4s” using 3.5” nails. If I’d been a little smarter and experienced, I would have installed the two sets of braces to steady the ridge board while the “T” assembly was on the ground and easier to construct. I’m not great on ladders and enlisted the kind and knowledgeable support of my nephew Thomas. We added 2×4” braces cut at 45 degree angles to stabilize the ridge support uprights. It would have been simpler to have done more of the roof framing on the ground and lifted it into place rather than working from a ladder. Oh well… this is a learning project.

tom roofbds

I cut the 2×6” ridge board to 9’6”. This provides me with an 8.5” overhang at each end of the peak.

windowsI did not space the rafters 16” on centre as is the usual practice. My cabin, which is 60 years old, has 2×6” rafters spaced 26.5” on centre and it’s a very strong structure. The rafters were cut to match the window spacing on the front wall, 31.5” from the gable ends, and a narrower space between the two central rafters to match the centre window.

tomcutrafterWe should have been able to cut the rafters at 60 degrees; however, the angles ended up having to be 54 degrees. We were able to cut all the rafters alike as we tested the first rafter that we cut, successfully in each rafter position against the ridge board.

tom ridgeWe used 3-3.5” screws to connect each rafter to the ridge board, screwing directly through the ridge board into the rafter for one side of the peak, while toe nailing the corresponding rafter to the ridge board.

rafterjigOnce we had the two end rafters in place, we created a jig to support the bottom of the remaining rafters as they were maneuvered into place. This saved us a lot of time and aggravation.

I did not cut the rafters to sit into the top plate as is generally recommended. I couldn’t figure the angles. I now suspect that if I’d used outside measures for the 3-4-5 gables, I might have figured it out.

raftercobbleTo compensate for this, to add the stability and strength that seating the rafters into the top plate would have created, I used scrap 2 x 6s to reinforce/join more firmly, the rafter ends to the top plates. We used 3.5” galvanized nails for additional strength.


We cut and installed rafter collars for the two interior rafters.


My father and nephew came down to visit and stepped into work mode. They added the roof boards. They used taut pieces of cord tied on a nail at the end of the ridge board and the first lower board of the roof to create a guide for the placement of roof 1×6” tongue and groove. The tongue and groove boards were place on the rafters starting at the bottom of the roof. We used 9’6” boards for the first two rows. We used shorter boards cut to length as I was delivered 12’, 8’, and 6’ pieces of 1×6” spruce for subsequent rows. We added a 9’6” board to keep the growing roof even, edge to edge. The top two boards were also 9’6” boards. The last board at the ridge extended beyond the ridge. We’ll leave that and trim it later when we plank the other side of the roof. Tongue and groove boards were laid with the tongues up, pointing to the ridge. This creates an effective channel for drainage should any moisture infiltrate.

windowsTo work effectively with shorter boards, we assembled rows so that joints on rafters were staggered. This creates more strength in the roof as joints are weak points in any roof. To fill the 9’6”roof width with boards, we measured individual boards by lifting them to the roof and temporarily fitting each in place. The loose board was marked with a pencil for length, returned to the ground for cutting, and then returned to the roof and secured with 1.5” Robertson screws. We used two screws at each meeting of the board with a rafter. My Dad, nephew and I were a “well-oiled” machine of productivity for this process! My dear sister made us supper, supplemented with “Cottage Coffee” – a fitting end to a very productive afternoon of roofing.

The next posting (hopefully within the week) will be about adding the windows and the remainder of the roof! Tempus fugit! Fall Cometh! And I have a few plants I’d like to extend in the Greenhouse!

Wall Three


bracingWe weathered Hurricane Arthur very well. Two tall spruce trees at the end of the driveway came down and there were lots of twigs and leaves to rake, but no damage to the cabin or the greenhouse.

Time to remove the extra bracing, clear the deck, and bring out the tools again!

Wall three has a 65” x 30” window facing East. It has a frame of its own to extend from the exterior, through the wall to the interior. This window had old foam insulation from its previous life that I cleaned off with a scraper.


nailsI used 1 x 6” tongue and groove lumber, some from a Freecycle donation and the remainder purchased, laid horizontally across the studs to construct the exterior wall. The tongues faced up and the lumber was fastened to each stud using 1.5” exterior Robertson screws. For the window opening I cut the tongue and groove just shy of the interior edge of the window opening.

Cleaning up the Freecycled wood involved pulling nails and cutting to length around damaged tongues and grooves. I was able to reuse over 70 % of the Freecycled tongue and groove at this stage.



I used scrap 2 x 4 pieces to lift the wall off the deck to ensure that when I set the window in place, the window would rest firmly against the tongue and groove and not catch up on the deck. The window was heavy and awkward to work with by myself but I managed to drag it onto the wall as it lay horizontally on the deck.

windowlever2   windowlever1

I used scrap boards to create four ramps to take the weight of the window, to ease it into position between the studs, and to butt it against its upper block.

screwwindowI screwed through the upper block and into the upper end of the window frame using 2” Robertson screws.






tgwindowtopI added a piece of tongue and groove at the top edge of the window between the window frame and studs and screwed that into place.

I then screwed into place a lower edge block and added 3 cripple studs as support beneath the window.



I left the last 12” of the wall without tongue and groove so that I could attach lumber guides to assist with the raising of the wall, one on the exterior of the wall and one on the inner side of the interior end stud. The interior guide was screwed on as we began the lift. I had enough Freecycled tongue and groove wood to complete about half of the back wall. Some of the tongues and grooves were damaged during demolition, so I cut and pieced it to take as much advantage of this free wood as I could. Some of the damaged wood may still be usable when I build plant benches later.

crewFriends visited for the weekend so we planned the raising of this heavy wall for Sunday morning. I and my mighty crew of three received a wonderful surprise of assistance from my neighbour Marion’s family. We had literally lifted the wall about three feet when a parade of cars pulled into our shared driveway. The men of the family all came over and helped us to move that wall into position! What wonderful timing!


My now enlarged crew held the wall steady as I screwed it to the joists and adjacent wall. Many thanks to my crew of three and to Henry and his extended family!

One wall left to go!