Friday, July 1, 2011

Wrapping up the season (with a floor!)

Well, it's about that time again. Warning: this is going to be a long post. Chelsea, Malia, and I have all talked about writing one more blog post at different points in the last month, but all of our lives have been as hectic as ever, with the Thayer School investiture ceremony on June 11th for me and Chelsea, Dartmouth graduation on the 12th for Chelsea, and both me and Chelsea leaving for the West on the 13th.

Though the last few posts have given some detail into the work we've been doing, I feel like we've left out some details about our goals and our mindset this spring. As crazy as it sounds, Chelsea and I would both be leaving for good after graduation, so the 13th of June was as hard a deadline as we've had yet for this project.

Our goal was to have the space inside the cabin be as usable as possible by the time we left. The cabin technically can't be rented out until it has passed a town inspection, but we wanted to have the cabin ready for that next stage. We had made a list at the beginning of the term of everything that needed to be done in order to call the cabin "complete." It looked something like this (in no particular order):
  • finish closing in the gable ends
  • install all the windows, including all the trim
  • finish building up the subfloor and install the actual hardwood flooring
  • close in the bottom of the loft
  • install the loft flooring
  • stain the outside of the cabin
  • put diagonal braces on the front posts
  • install a front door
  • install the woodstove and the hearth
  • find and/or construct furniture
  • install decking on the porch
  • construct a railing for the porch and a few steps to get up to it from the ground
  • build some sort of ADA-compliant handicap ramp on one side of the porch
Yeah, I know. That's a lot. Obviously we didn't finish all of those things, but in my opinion, we did a pretty incredible job this spring. We worked a lot and had many, many volunteers come out to help. Chelsea described the staining process in her last post, and at that point we had already closed in the gable ends and the loft. From there, we did a whole lot of things, often simultaneously. First, here's a shot of the front of the cabin during one of our spring workdays - note the diagonal braces, courtesy of Max Van Pelt '11, former Ledyard president, and Emily Yen '10. They did an incredible job. I say "incredible" too much.

Also note the front window. This is almost what the cabin looks like now, except that thanks to Conor Galligan '11, there are two additional braces on either side of the center post that hadn't been installed at the time this picture was taken. Diagonal braces, up close:

These smaller-diameter logs were taken from the woods behind the cabin, and they look really great.

In addition, all six windows have been installed, as has the trim on each window. Here's an idea of what the window trim looks like up close:

...and the whole east side of the cabin:

Our method of installing window trim is really interesting and unique to full-scribe log cabins. Each window has an identical board on the outside and the inside surfaces. To allow for settling, those boards at the top of the windows are connected to the upper portion of the window-hole, but not to the window itself. As the cabin settles, this will allow the boards to slide freely in front of and behind the window, and any excess will be trimmed periodically. Note the 1x3 accents to match the roof. Another important detail that isn't shown in these photos is that all of the white window casings have been painted green to match the roof. I don't have pictures of that yet, but it sure looks snazzy, if I say so myself. I don't have a good camera and Lucas and Max aren't around anymore, so I have to rely on visitors for pictures, which isn't that convenient. Most of the photo credit for this post goes to Kelly Mallery '11, who came out with Kodiak, who heckled and drank beer and didn't do much work. What a clown. Since I'm in a volunteer-thanking mood right now, I'll also mention that the window trim was done by a team of Chelsea's dad, Anne Brown '11, and Aoife Duffy '11. Aoife has too many vowels in her name, but that doesn't impede her painting skills.

Next came the flooring, which proved to be a bigger challenge than we anticipated. First, Chelsea very slowly and painstakingly cut a 3/4" notch all around the interior of the cabin into which we would slide the hardwood flooring. This would make the flooring look nice and flush. Then, we built up the subfloor with a layer of insulation and 2x3 supports, and another layer of plywood. Then we got to laying the hardwood:

Here you can see the notch in the lower right-hand side of the photo. The Outdoor Programs Office had a flooring nailer that we used for most of the floor. We improvised a bit when we were too close to the walls, though. After a few hard days, the cabin looked like this on the inside (my apologies for the poor-quality cell phone picture):

...and Malia and I looked like this:

The oak floor looks absolutely gorgeous. At this point, we decided not to install a real floor in the loft area so that we could continue to use that space for tool and material storage. It would be a shame to have to store tools on that floor.

So finishing the floor brought us to the end of the term. Of our original list, several projects remain. At this point, we've all unfortunately had to move on. I'll talk more about my personal feelings in another post, but I'm living in the Boston area now and this project is now fully in the care of the Ledyard Canoe Club. I'll help walk the cabin through the first stages of the inspection process this summer, but I have faith that the current club members will finish things up and leave their own mark on the project. It's been an incredible ride.


  1. hiGreg, can you contact me, please? I'd like to interview you about the Titcomb Cabin project for a home-building/DIY website that I write for regularly. Best, Monica Willis/917-213-3372

  2. He is lovely, i want to refer log-cabin as he because of the masculinity it. exudes. While i prefer garden sheds are she. I just love to stay at log-cabins during winter time, i just don'r know why.