Another small milestone: Second floor floor installed

No, it’s not a typo: I have the second floor (just the floor) installed. Relax, Ivan….

About as big of a picture as I can take of this thing.

Installing the boards was fairly easy until I reached the back wall, then it got extremely difficult. For one thing, the log is very bumpy and knotty. For another, it’s not knotty in just one direction, so I couldn’t just cut a two dimensional line in the board. The top of the board was often not in the same plane as the bottom of the board. Anyway, I was installing about 5-10 boards per night, but the last row of boards took two weeks. The last board itself took 3 days.

The RPSL is not notched on the back – but it is everywhere else. You can’t tell, can you?

I also had to fit the floor around the Ridge Pole Support Log (RPSL). I notched the front of the RPSL about 1/2″ – 3/4″ – it’s about 16-18 inches across at this height. Don’t worry – a 12″ log can support 600,000 lbs of stress in a vertical direction. On the back of the RPSL, I couldn’t get any tools back there between the RPSL and the log wall, as there was only 1 inch of space. Happily, the log wall itself had a nice knot in it that stuck out about an inch or so, so I carefully cut away the knot until I had a nice ledge to rest the floor on. I carefully cut and fit, then cut and fit 20 more times until the floor board lined up nicely with the RPSL and rested neatly on the ledge of the knot.

The last board took three days to fit.

I’m not a professional carpenter. I’m sure there’s a way to make this go faster, but I don’t know what it is. It’s terribly frustrating to go this slow. But I’m going for a certain look, and I’m not willing to cut corners. To fit the last board, I first placed one end of my compass against the log, and traced the bumpy log onto the board. Then I cut off the bottom edge of the groove. I don’t know another way to fit the board over the tongue and still have a tight fit unless you do this. Besides, where I installed this board can’t be seen from below as it rests on the ledger beam holding up the second floor joists. Then I used the sawzall to cut along the line I traced with the compass, leaving plenty of space for when the log isn’t bumpy in only one direction. Then I used a chisel or an electric plane to make the cut fit closer and closer all along the board. I would fit it in place, mark the spots that touched the log, cut them down a bit, then sand off my pencil marks and try again, marking the new spots that touched the log. Doing this all along the board got me closer and closer to the log. Finally, I sanded the board until it dropped neatly into place next to the log. I used floor adhesive and then just face nailed the board in place.

I love how the RPSL looks like it is standing on the floor.

There are a few places where there are small 1/16″ – 1/8″ gaps where the log just suddenly changes shape below the surface of the floor – I guess I could make a new board and fit it in place…..nah. I think I’ll just push some sawdust and glue in there and call it good.

Next Steps

I counted my lag screws – I need 8 for each window frame, and 8 more to hold the frame in place in the log walls. I have 4 window 4″x12″ frames to install (we are doing 3×4 windows upstairs). So that’s 64 lag screws. I have all but 6. Apologies to the folks shopping local blue box and orange box stores – I’m the one buying all the lag screws. Every time the store orders a new box, I swoop in and buy it. You snooze you lose.

I have all the window frame wood cut, I just need to assemble the frames, hoist them up to the second floor, cut a hole in the wall, and stuff them in place. Once they are in place, I can finish up the insulation and get ready to chink the entire outside of the house.

Then I move on to the stairs- I have a pile of oak trunks waiting to be milled. I’m actually going to mill them next so they can start drying while I work on other stuff. My research is telling me I need to cut them into 48″x1″x2″, then plane them, and glue them back into boards. Folks are telling me to just cut thick slabs for my treads, but I think I’m right on this one. And I don’t have enough oak to make thick slabs anyway. I think I’m going to make the outside edge (called a stringer) of the stair supports out of a pine log split in half. The inner stringers will probably not be seen, so they will be made out of just 2×12 boards.

Why a mix of pine and oak? Well, to tie everything together: the first floor is oak. The second floor is pine. With oak treads and pine log stringers – I’m hoping it ties it all together. I can’t find any photos of anyone having done this before, so I’m just going to do it.

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