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!

Walls Two and Three

photo6Driveway volunteer.

Thphoto1e second (East) wall was built using the same techniques as the first (South) facing wall.







photo3 I tied the second wall to the first using screws.

The back wall design differs due to the type of window to be installed. I am measuring and cutting, but haven’t yet added exterior 1×6” tongue and groove boards or the windows to these walls. The recycled tongue and groove contains a lot of nails that I am pulling using a hammer, nail punch, and pliers. With a storm coming, I’m glad that the wind won’t be on the windows before I have them in and properly sealed.

I have a 65 x 30” window for the East wall. This Freecycle gift includes the window frame. It will extend completely through the wall and host its own sill. I built the studs, a header, and will build a below window block to measure. I’ll then screw recycled 1 x 6” tongue and groove boards to form the exterior wall over the studs.

photo2 The tongue and groove board edges are to be set 1/16” in from the window opening, and vertical wall ends. The upper horizontal edge of the tongue and groove will extend 1.5” above the top plate to accommodate reinforcing 2x4s that will tie the four top plates together, and add strength and rigidity to the walls.





Because the third wall will be heavier, I will need a crew of four to raise it safely into place. Hurricane Arthur is predicted to hit us within the next 48 hours, so I’ll wait until after that to complete and raise the third wall.

photo5Securing the existing two walls with additional bracing, and adding 2 x 10” to solidify the base to its 4x4s will be Friday’s priority.

All Hands on Deck

ImageWith the insulation completed, I now turn to the decking. I was very fortunate to pick up almost enough 1″x 6″ lumber through a gift via Freecycle Halifax. A wonderful man who was moving and had also hoped to build a greenhouse, donated the wood he had collected for his project, as well as 13 of the windows I collected for the project.  Very generous and I hope that his move overseas brings him much success in his new work adventure. Most of the boards are 10′ and that gives me the needed 8′ of solid lumber when I trim the split ends of some boards.




ImageAs with the joists, I’ll place the boards crowns up. This allows the pressure of the walls and the traffic in the building to push down to flatten the boards, and so that any warping or twisting of boards occurs in the same direction, keeping the floor even.

I also was gifted, by the same gentleman, with a good supply of 1″x 6″ tongue and groove which I’ll save for the walls and roof.



ImageFor the most part, I’m using 2,  2.5″ screws manufactured specifically to withstand the interaction with the wood preservative chemicals of the pressure treated joists, the weather, and fungus.  Occasionally I’m using 3 screws if the end is a bit split.

Lumber and Supplies Arrive


This little fellow presented himself on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 but disappeared promptly as the delivery truck beeped and backed into the yard on Thursday. I’m not sure that my neighbour will be pleased to know that this little fellow and his unseen litter mates have been blissfully hanging out beneath her shed. As the kit has not been seen since Thursday, I suspect that mama has moved the litter to her alternate den now that the human folk have returned.



ImageI’ve been fortunate to collect many materials for the greenhouse through Freecycle. Purchased lumber and patio stones arrived Thursday, May 15th at 1:04 pm. The delivery truck had its own crane, allowing the driver to single-handledly make the delivery.

I used the compass on the iPhone to locate Solar South. You can find Solar South any day at 12 noon. Face the sun at 12 noon — that direction is Solar South. For precision, use a compass and face directly into the sun at 12 noon. You will note that the compass reading for South and the Solar reading differ.  In my location, Solar South is a few degrees East of South.

Aligning the greenhouse to Solar South allows me to maximize sun exposure. I have one tree that will provide unwelcome shade mid-morning for about an hour; and my cabin, located to the West of the greenhouse, will cast a shadow in the late afternoon. In my situation, I’ll take the direct sun from the south for the remaining hours and will therefore align the front of the greenhouse to Solar South.

The greenhouse windows will align with East, Solar South and West. The windowless back wall will face North.

I’ll use Wolmanized wood for the joists and a combination of Freecycle and purchased Spruce wood for the remainder of the structure. Kind friends loaned me a circular saw and a hand cart. The bags of crushed stone were a better buy that paying for the delivery of a small load of unwashed gravel. The bags of gravel (34 Kg each) and the  24″ x 24″ patio stones (25ish Kg) are heavy and difficult to handle without a hand cart.

Many thanks for the loans!