Cordwood Outbuildings for my fall/early winter project.

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by Thunder5Ranch, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    I had a cordwood hen house and a smoke house that I built back in 2008, never took pictures of them and shortly before I got sick in 2016 a storm blew over a giant old red oak that landed perfectly across both of the cordwood buildings. That old red oak (56 inches diameter three feet up the based and 41" diameter 60 feet up where the crown split out.) demolished both buildings into blown apart rubble, with a lot of concrete chunks mixed in :) Short of getting hit with something that massive they were very stout buildings.

    So fast forward two years and some change forward to the present and today in 2018. I was out walking around a bit ago and was debating what to do with the six 10' long logs I cut that giant trunk in to. Normally I run the red oak through the sawmill and make 1"x boards but the absolute biggest logs my mill can handle are 38" diameter ones. Make no mistake a 38" diameter log is a big log (For those that don't know.) Red oak unlike post oak, pin oak, white oak etc. Is a much softer oak and much more prone to rotting and while OK for firewood it is far from ideal, with about 1/3 the burn time of white oak and about 1/2 the burn and BTUs of hickory. Where it shines is in building and is best suited to making 1" wall covering planks as it is also a very pretty wood. But it won't fit on the mill and it is not suitable to shave down with the chainsaw mill to make it fit.

    So while sitting on one of the logs thinking about this........... I was like DUH dumb ass! Rebuild the buildings it took out with it!!! LOL all of the wood from the original buildings got burned in the wood stove, the first winter when I could not make firewood. Anyway after two years of those big logs sitting up off the ground on poles, the bark has all fallen off and a lot of the moisture has bled out. So it is just a matter of cutting the logs into 14" chunks, and splitting them into the desired dimensions. The splitting will be easy as well since it is 60 feet of nice straight no knot grain.

    I left the limestone foundation blocks and the post oak beams that rest on those blocks where they were since those were the only parts of the buildings not destroyed by the big red oak. Not even it had the force to snap a 22' x 14" x 16" solid post oak beam on solid stone blocks :) The first buildings I used mostly unsplit round wood from banches and smaller trees when I first moved here and cleared the section of the woods for the home area. This time I will split the logs into roughly 4" x 6" x 14" blocks and start laying them like bricks and mortaring them together on top of the original post oak on stone beams. And get up to 8 feet on the front and 7 feet on the back side slap a pole and tin slant roof angled toward the prevailing SW winds I get here and have my buildings back and be able to use the carport the hens have called home since 2016 for something else. Those 14" walls were a lot warmer and less drafty than 14 gauge steel walls on the carport :) And I have never had a better smoke house for cold or hot smoking than the one that got smashed.

    The hen house foundation foot print and original building was 14' wide x 24' long and the smoke house was a simple 8x8 square with two inside smoke pits on two sides for hot smoking and a barrel and underground smoke pipe coming to a center floor vent for cold smoking . It also made a good beef or deer hanging room in the late fall and winter to age them a bit and not freeze the carcass. The smoke house and its functions btw were/are strictly for my personal use and benefit and food supply. LOL While I am the T5R and the T5R is me there is still a private side to the T5R where the public is not wanted or welcome ;)

    Anyway that was todays great inspiration for the fall and early winter project now that I am healthy enough once again to have a project other than getting healthy enough to once again have a project list :) And a good way to do something useful with those big ass logs I seem to always have to move around with the tractor! I will start a new thread or resurrect this one around the end of October with pictures and progress.
    Tully Mars, Motomom34, Ganado and 8 others like this.
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Now, you KNOW that progress pix are REQUIRED for health and safety concerns, do you not?
  3. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    All Monkey Occupational Safety and Health Administration policies MUST be observed........ even if not followed :)
    oldawg, Tully Mars, Yard Dart and 3 others like this.
  4. SB21

    SB21 Monkey+++

    That's cool T5R,,,,I was actually thinking about building one a few years ago. I was researching it , bought a book about it , to get the secret tricks to cordwood building . One thing it was telling me was the best wood for using was a hard pine , can't remember which one they were recommending . But they were saying it had less expansion and contracting , so the joint's stayed tighter .And I don't remember if I ever found any info about using hardwood in one . So , my question for you is , Did you have any problems with using hardwood ?? Did you mortar the front and backside and leave the center hollow , or did you mortar the whole length of the log ?? Did you use Mortar only , or did you mix your cob , mortar , sand , straw ??? Just trying to get some info from someone that has actually done one . Also , did you build the roof 1st, before laying the walls ?? Or after . I read that ideally , you should build the roof 1st , and then the walls , to keep the wood from getting wet while building to prevent expansion . And , How much overhang did you have on your building ??? Thanks for any input you could give me ,, I may have a few more question's for you , if you don't mind .
    Motomom34, Thunder5Ranch and Zimmy like this.
  5. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    Hardwoods once cured have little to no expansion or contraction. Hardwoods typically serve a better purpose as higher end lumber and firewood than most pine type and soft woods. I had a big pile of mostly clean coarse sand and 20 bags of lonestar concrete mix left over from another project at that time and used concrete as mortar and went the full 14" length of each log as I placed it. I built the frame of the building minus the roof with a up and down post oak beam every 8' on the hen house, sitting in a notch on the bottom beam and capped with a notch on the top beam. Those post oak beams on top and bottom had to weigh 1000 pounds each we used the bucket tractor and chains to place them. Making very happy that the longest log I can mill is 24' :) Anyway I just filled in between the up and downs with cord and concrete and once the concrete cured I gave it about a dozen coats of a clear driveway sealer on the outside. I put the roof on last flat on the East side and 12" over hang on the N, W and S sides used rough cut oak 2x4s place in notches in the cap beams with a 1' drop from East to West. Almost all of our storm and rain action comes from the SW or West so the roof slope sends the bulk of the wind up and over and I learned the hard way not to go cheap on the screws on the wind sides of building with overhang :) Then I notched 2x4 purlins 4" side up into the 2x4s and spiked them in, so everything was nice and flush and gave a solid roof base to screw the tin onto.

    If I were using a soft wood I would build the roof first or at least cover the walls with a good heavy tarp if it rained. Many soft woods are like a sponge and suck moisture right of the air. I am not real familiar with pine in general. We just don't have any around any place I have lived and built things. Tulip Tree's and other poplars, Silver Maples, mulberry and elm trees are the softest woods I have around me. My woods are pretty much a equal split of Red Oak, Post Oak, White Oak, Hickory and Pecan.

    I have built several cord wood buildings from scrap Oak limbs over the years and they are just about as easy as they come to build and last forever as long as a 10 ton tree doesn't land across them :) It is a bit time consuming to put the puzzle together and mortar it together. The Chicken house took about a Month to get finished working on it 3-4 hours per day. The Smoke House was up and done over the course of a weekend with 2 people helping me. Make a big difference if you have someone to keep the mixer running and your wheel barrow full of mortar or concrete. that stopping to mix and then back to the wall to place and pack and then back to mix is not the most time or labor efficient way to get things done :)
    Motomom34 and SB21 like this.
  6. SB21

    SB21 Monkey+++

    Thanks for the info. I wouldn't mind seeing pics sometime, if you can. You've kind of revived my interest in building one. Now to start collecting the wood.
  7. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    Wish I had taken pics of the original two. When I get this new project underway I will shoot it from start to finish, probably in late October. To dang hot to be out there sawing and splitting wood now :)
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