Monday, 2 July 2012

Floor 2

Started installing the joists in the floor yesterday. I've used joist hangers where I can, these are bolted to the new sections of wall which is easy enough. Trying to put joist hangers on a stone wall is a pig, since unless you are lucky and have a really big stone, all you do is shake all the mud from around the stone and end up with a loose stone. I say mud of course because the house essentially is a dry stone wall. There is no mortar to "glue" the stones together, it works on gravity to stay upright. The material between the stones was a mixture of clay, straw and cow dung and is there simply to stop the wind blowing through. The outside skin was pointed with lime mortar to stop the rain getting into the wall.
 Elsewhere the cross timbers go into sockets in the wall; and yes I know that eventually the ends of the timber will rot out, but the wood is treated so they will outlast me at least.

 Around the fireplace is a bit more of an issue. There was a corbel that held the joist end as witnessed by the hole centre frame. This as you can see is a bit low now the main timbers have been moved up to raise the ceiling height. Where the new timbers want to go the stones don't fall nicely and the stone in the centre that would have to come out goes behind the fireplace. Since the fireplace is a little on the fragile side I don't really want to go hacking out stone willy nilly. What I've decided to do is use the original holes and build a frame to bridge the gap; I can do it in oak and make a bit of a feature out of it.

This is the old corbel and as you can see, after 300 years sitting in a stone wall its pretty well gone. It should be about twice as thick but over half the thickness has rotted to dust. Interestingly though its only the sapwood that goes, what is left is the heartwood of the tree and it is in perfect condition. Top tip then if you want a corbel to last longer than 300 years; use heartwood.

And this is the new replacement in place. Well its not new wood its a bit out of the centre of an 300 year old joist that had the ends rotted out. The centre bit was perfectly OK and much stronger than a new piece. I'm pretty sure that its cut from the same piece as the corbel above as its the same section and has the same adze  marks where its been worked by hand. When the house was built the wood was split and then trued up with an adze since sawing wood joists by hand was very time consuming. They probably would have given their right arm for a Makita table saw (come to think of it I would give my.......)

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