Infrastructure: Big Creek Homestead Garden Shed

October 25, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

INFRASTRUCTURE: Big Creek Homestead Garden Shed

My late summer and early fall was consumed building our new garden shed/outhouse/greenhouse/solar shower. The shed's multiple functions will make working around the homestead easier, and it's construction gave us the chance to salvage some blown-down timber and put some piles of leftover lumber to good use. I've built a few timber frames before with traditional joinery, but this one uses a new system of aluminum connectors and associated tools that simplify the use of large timbers and reduce the hand labor. See the CONNEXT system at The basic structure is complete, but all the details are on hold until spring. We'll then have time to use the building for a while before deciding exactly how to use the space and finish it. This flexibility is one of the great benefits of timber frames and other post and beam buildings. Because the structural integrity of such buildings depends only on their largely open frames, walls and rooms can be added or changed very freely. The single rectangle of our shed will have an out house on the east end, for easy acces, and a solar shower of the west end, for the late-day sun. The south side will be largely open and have a greenhouse extension of some sort connecting to the garden. The north wall will be closed against the weather but will have windows and maybe a door. 

In the bigger picture, the garden shed joins the six other buildings of Big Creek Homestead's infrastructure (house, garage/workshop/sauna, summer kitchen/sugar shack, sawmill, machine shed, and horse barn). All were built or rebuilt largely with lumber milled here from trees grown here. When you rely on the land for significant aamounts of food and fuel and fiber and fun, a carefully thought out infrastructure is one of the main keys to success. Having removed the remains of several buildings built by the former owners, I sometimes wonder what they would think of what we have done here. It's too bad there is so much starting over. How much more I could have done, if I hadn't spent all that time re-building the infrastructure of the homestead. I am pretty sure this "garden shed" will be around for the next generation.  Maybe converted to an artist's studio? 

Cedar SalvageCedar SalvageNorthern white cedar taken down by heavy snow was salvaged for the garden shed.

Wood for Cordwood WallsWood for Cordwood WallsNorthern white cedar rounds drying in 8" lengths for the cordwood walls. Northen White Cedar LumberNorthen White Cedar LumberThe larger cedar logs were sawn into boards for the interior walls of the outhouse. Northern Red Oak TimbersNorthern Red Oak TimbersOak timbers left over from timber frames built decades ago were used for the posts. Resawing Oak TimbersResawing Oak TimbersThe dry oak timbers were sized and trued using a specially hardened blade on our 1987 Wood-Mizer.

Cutting Timbers to LengthCutting Timbers to LengthThe timbers were cut to length with a cordless chainsaw mounted on a jig from Connext Post and Beam.

Fitting the ConnectorsFitting the ConnectorsConnectors of structural aluminum from Connext Post and Beam were fitted into the bottoms of the oak posts.

Posts Ready to RaisePosts Ready to RaiseThe posts were pre-fitted with the connectors and shouldered for the top girts. Connext Post and Beam ConnectorsConnext Post and Beam ConnectorsConnectors of 6061 structural aluminum from Connext Post and Beam were used to attach the posts to the piers.

Attaching the ConnectorsAttaching the ConnectorsDrilling the concrete piers for attaching the connectors was the hardest task. Pinning the PostsPinning the PostsOak posts were secured to the connectors with aluminum pins. Raising DayRaising DayTop girts are 2x8 aspen left over from previous projects. Vision Realized!Vision Realized!At the end of Raising Day, the posts, girts and trusses came togehter to realize our vision. Knee BracesKnee BracesWith the basic frame constructed, oak 4x4's left over from previous projects were cut into knee braces for stabilizing the building. Roofing the Garden ShedRoofing the Garden ShedThe roofing is composed of conventional metal panels with some transparent polycarbonate sections on the South side. Temporary WallsTemporary WallsWith winter approaching too fast, we enclosed the shed with 1/4" OSB until spring. Imagine a greenhouse extension to the South (right).


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