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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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.

Greening a Greenhouse

So, I’m planning a greenhouse to extend the growing season at my cabin on Nova Scotia’s South Shore. Freecycle has been a wonderful source of free, recycled materials and has substantially reduced the cost of this Spring project.

I was given 18 windows and will likely use 13. Once I’ve finalized my design, I’ll regift the remainder.  Recycled tongue and groove boards from another renovation project and donated through Freecycle will reduce my lumber demand by a third. A door of Douglas fir was reclaimed from my sister’s renovation.

I’ve been scouting pictures and plans for greenhouses online and found this image that I’ll use as the basis for my plan. I have excellent southern exposure and shade for the height of summer.