DIY Rustic Barnwood Table

OldBarn-SnowIn 1980, an unusually heavy snowfall severely damaged the old wooden barn on our place. We propped the roof up and used the barn for another 10 years or so before taking it down and building a replacement.

My beautiful pictureMost of the Douglas fir wood was damaged, but we saved the rest and have used it for various projects, plus have given a lot of it away.

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We wanted a small table with a shelf to fit between our two recliners: something more interesting than the usual fare. I decided to create a table that appeared to be rustic old. The old fir barn wood fit the bill! I chose pieces that still had some red tone from the hundred-year-old paint job.

I won’t include measurements here because you can make your table any size you want, just by following these steps.

After cutting and sanding all the pieces for the project, I glued the three top pieces together (center plus two sides). I clamped them flat and glued with wood glue.

For the end pieces, I cut a 3/8 inch slot on each end of the table and on each end piece, then splined the top and ends with (3/4 inch blade-kerf width) wood splines and glued. Once dry, I tapered the sides from center to end.

I scorched the exposed edges to continue with the vintage look. Metal pieces clamped in place prevented me from scorching the top or bottom.

I assembled the apron next, then inserted the pre-cut corner blocks. These were cut out for the leg tenons.

The table saw blade is set at 45° so that all the cuts on the legs are 45°. Meanwhile with a tapering jig against the fence, the tapering jig is set so that the leg will taper 1/4″ in its entire length as it is being cut. I screwed in tying blocks and taped them to the leg top surface to keep the leg from sliding as it was being cut. I used a homemade pushing stick to keep my hand away from the blade.

I taped the leg parts together as a test for fit, and once okay, glued and clamped.

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I cut out the leg tenons using multiple passes on a table saw and then cleaned them up using a chisel. It was a tricky business with the old, brittle wood.

I assembled the top to the apron, using tape for correct placement, then screwed the apron to the table top through the pre-drilled holes in the blocks.

I inserted each leg tenon into the blocks and screwed through the pre-drilled hole in the middle.

I custom-made metal tabs that would hold the shelf using some metal scrap I had around.

The tabs were installed at the height of the bottom of the shelf.

FinishedTable

I applied a clear lacquer finish to prevent any modern stains. I like that all the flaws are historic.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our suspension bridge book. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Stay tuned for the publication of our new book, Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt. You can see how the yurt is progressing via Facebook’s Yurt Yaks.

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013-2018 by Marvin Denmark and Robin Koontz unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without permission. Thank you.

 

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Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt, Pt. III: The Ring Tower

After a long, wet winter, we finally got a few sunny days to assemble the ring to the tower and then lift it up! To note, this is a ring for a 6′ dome and we’ll be talking about a 3′ dome in the book. It’s a lot easier to build and manage. This 6′ ring weighed about 200 pounds. As you can see, there’s a 12g metal ring inside (for added strength) that adds to the weight. FinishedRing6-ft

The ring will be temporarily held in place by a tower. Once the rafters are bolted into place, the tower goes away. When I assembled yurts in the past, the tower wood would be salvaged and used for interior wall framing.

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Once the components were ready and it was dry enough to drive to the yurt, it was time for installation. The tower was built so I could just take out a couple of screws and then finish assembly on-site. The ring required a neighbor with a strong back to muscle it into its new home.

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You can see the tower parts on the right side of the yurt. I assembled the tower on the inside, given that it would not fit through the door otherwise.

The next step was to attach the tower to the ring…

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and strap it in readiness for hoisting. To keep the bottom from sliding out I attached a cable that laced through the outside legs and bolted to two walls on either side.

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After shoving it against the far wall, I jacked it up about 2-1/2′ to make the angle of the strap going over the doorway and to the truck a little less severe. I installed a cut pipe on the doorway so the strap would slide easily. You can see the cable attached to the wall in this photo.

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And there she is! You can see the movie on our Facebook page or by heading over to this link on YouTube.

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I put small lengths of conduit underneath the tower so that I could shove it into place after determining the center.

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The last step was to turn it so it is lined up to the 12 rafter corners on the walls. Check out the homemade plumb bobs (plummets).

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We’re ready for the rafters! Stay tuned while we once again wait for it to stop raining.

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We are writing a detailed book about the entire process from start to finish so we can share how to build this yurt with anyone who is interested! Be sure to check back as we progress, and be on the watch for news on the book. You can also find us on Facebook.

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Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt
by Marvin Denmark and Robin Koontz
ISBN-13: 978-0692957370
ISBN-10: 0692957375

Thanks for stopping by! Photos by Robin Koontz and Marvin Denmark.

Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt

When most people hear the word “yurt,” they think of one of these.

Nomadic tents known as Yurt at the Issyk Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan

Or maybe one of these.

Yaks in the plains of Mongolia

While it’s true that most yurts are constructed with wood framing (or sticks) and covered with animal skins (like yak) and/or canvas, a more solidly built yurt is also a traditional building design, such as this one.

Wooden Mongolian yurt

I built and/or consulted on several wood-panelized yurts of various sizes in the years before I retired in 2011. I decided that a fun retirement project would be to build my own version of a wood-framed panelized yurt on our property. Here’s one of the yurts I built in recent years, with help from a team of strong arms. Mine is a similar design.

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Yurt under construction near Eugene, Oregon

For my yurt, I began by building a foundation.

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Then I built 12 floor panels.

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Then I built 12 wall panels.

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Then I built 12 roof panels.

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I cut and finished 12 rafters.

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I constructed a huge wooden ring, which houses the skylight dome. All of this work spanned many months, between other projects. But with all the pieces done, it was time to put it all together.

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This week, our neighbor came over to help install the floor panels. It took us about an hour.

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The walls are next, and then the wall cable, and then the tower….well, there are a few steps to get to completion, and it will take however long it takes. I will keep you posted.

And FYI, we are writing a book about the entire process so we can share how to build this yurt with anyone who is interested! Stay tuned as we progress, and be sure to watch for news on the book. Here is the tentative cover, designed by Robin Koontz. That’s a yurt that I built in Florence, Oregon.

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Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt
by Marvin Denmark and Robin Koontz
ISBN-13: 978-0692957370
ISBN-10: 0692957375

Thanks for stopping by! The first three photos are owned by istock.com, the rest were taken by Robin Koontz. Cover design by Robin Koontz, copyright 2017.

 

How to Build a Small Cable Suspension Bridge

INSTRUCTABLE-BRIDGE-LOGOWildcatMarvin

As mentioned, we built this bridge and wrote a “how we did it” book about the process a few years ago. Recently, I thought it would be fun to share the basics of this design as an Instructable for people who have enough skill to be able to take the information and work with it. And as we do in our book, we recommend having your specific design approved by an engineer just to be on the safe side.

Here is the link: Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge – the Basics Plus a Video Demo

I entered their “Outdoor” contest and you can kindly vote if you like by clicking the little vote button at the top of the instructable page. Thanks! I need a t-shirt.

Zip Line Challenge

My spousal unit, who actually writes this blog, is an author and illustrator of books for kids. She ran across this website for aspiring engineers, and thought it would be interesting to some of my readers. DiscoverE (formerly the National Engineers Week Foundation) helps to unite, mobilize, and support engineering and technology volunteer communities. They hope to increase the collaborative footprint in K-12 education and celebrate with the public as it discovers the value of engineering education and careers.

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I was especially intrigued by their Zip Line Challenge for kids. It’s actually a model that challenges kids to transport a ping-pong ball down a zip line from start to finish in 4 seconds or less. The activity discusses many of the considerations when designing and building a zip line. I’ve uploaded the PDF so you can download it from here, or you can get it from the website listed above. There are a lot of other creative engineering related activities there, all free to download and use in your classroom, home, summer camp, whatever.

Check it out: zip-line-challenge_091316

One of these years I hope to finish my zip line. All is ready, but now the brush has grown up so much I have to hire a tree climber to clear the 420 foot long pathway.

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View from the zip line tower to the landing 420 feet down the hill.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our bridge book if you’re thinking about a DIY suspension bridge. Here is the link: Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System.

And if you’re curious about Robin Koontz’s books, look her up on Amazon as well: Books by Robin Koontz

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013-2017 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.

Marston Mat Mudway

Marston Mats, aka perforated steel planking (PSP), were developed by the U.S. before World War II. The idea was to quickly build temporary runways and landing strips. They were first used at Camp Mackall airfield near Marston, North Carolina, in the U.S.

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A Curtiss P-40 Warhawk on a Marston Mat runway at Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea in September, 1942. – public domain

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I honestly don’t remember where or when I acquired four of these heavy metal planks, probably saw them advertised somewhere. I know I didn’t pay much for them. The idea at the time was to see about using them for my bridge deck. I wasn’t able to acquire any more at the time, so opted for the wood deck you see in the photos. One of these days I’ll replace that deck with something metal. I like that the perforations would let air flow through so the bridge would not be as vulnerable to high wind gusts.

Meanwhile during our rainy season, areas where we like to walk get more than a little muddy. The small creeks flood and send water everywhere. I’m always digging ditches to try to control the flow somewhat, but this particular area is low, so it’s always a mucky mess.

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So I installed some 2×10 planks I had as well as the four Marston Mats. Nothing much to it, other than first setting out short cross members for everything to rest on. While you could just toss the planks into the mud, raising them up a bit makes them more effective, and you can get them level to some extent. I screwed down the wooden planks, but the mats were heavy enough to be stable without reinforcement.

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When finished with the project, we noticed that Jeep the dog appreciated the wooden planks, but not so much the mats. He proved the point that the Marston Mats would not be the best material for a bridge, assuming you want to allow your four legged friends to come across with you. We’ll be watching for other options.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our suspension bridge book. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013-2016 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.

Floating Mantel Shelf

cherry treesOur house has posts, beams, and siding made from Douglas fir milled on our property. I decided to employ another kind of wood for a fireplace mantel. Bitter cherry, also called Oregon cherry (Prunus emarginata) is a native tree that popped up in our woods when it was replanted in 1988. I wondered what the grain and color would look like when it was milled. It has an interesting bark, that much I knew.

So I picked a tree I liked and thinned the woods by one cherry tree. I parked it in the barn to dry for about five months, then had it milled to about a five foot 5-1/2″x7″ with bark edge on the 7″ width. mantle-sawmill

As control against splitting, I scored slices on one side in varying depths, the deepest being the middle cut over the tree center at about 1-1/2″ deep. Then I primed the sawn sides and left it to dry, standing up, for about 3 more months.

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I was hoping to preserve the bark, so cutting and fitting the corners was tricky. I sanded down the precautionary slices (which were on the bottom) and cut the pieces. I sanded, splined and glued it all together, then applied a clear finish. The bark is threatening to peel, but underneath looks pretty cool so I really don’t care.

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de-barked Oregon cherry

I used a bracket system to install the 35+ pound mantel. I hollowed out two slot holes at 9/16″ depth on the backside that corresponded with metal brackets that screwed to the wall studs.
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Metal straps, which were recessed so that the mantel would fit flush with the wall, were screwed across the hole slots. Taping their location on the mantel top,  I could line them up with the marked brackets.

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A bit of hammering with someone else holding on, and the mantel was up.

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I have 3″ metal posts that I had intended to install on either side, not for support just for looks, but for now we’re seeing if we like just having a floating mantel. Eventually there will be a wall sculpture underneath. I’m just waiting for my spousal unit to come up with something…
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Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our bridge book if you’re thinking about a DIY suspension bridge. Here is the link: Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2016 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.