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Link of the Day: http://www.cordwoodmasonry.com/
I know that a lot of you dream about that backwoods cabin. I certainly do. I took a building course in late September of 2009 with Rob and Jackie Roy, the king and queen of this alternative building method. If you're one that is good at tracking down recycled or repurposed materials, this building method may be for you.
I'm not going to cover every detail here, just the basics. Then I'll leave links to Rob's website and leave it open to questions.
The idea behind cordwood masonry is to trade labor for cost. Let me explain. The main components in cordwood masonry are (obviously) cordwood and portland cement. Mix in a little lime, sand, sawdust and time and you have a roof over your head! Actually, it isn't that easy. You have to skin the bark off the logs, mix the mortar, etc.
The class that I took was in Del Norte, Colorado. It is in the southern part of the state and it is a beautiful area, as you will see. I camped in the back of my truck that week and I might add that I darn near froze to death the first night. Always go prepared. I didn't. But I figured it out quickly.
I took this class because my wife and I had been following Roy's work since the turn of the 21st Century. Her goal was always to live mortgage free. I thought she was crazy at the time and we, like most people, saddled ourselves with 30 years of debt. It is one of my largest regrets in life. Roy, in his book Mortgage Free, points out that the literal definition of mortgage is "death contract" (derived from the french). If you had time and the skills, which are minimal, you could make yourself mortgage free through this process. I highly recommend Rob Roy's books for the very reason that he has practiced what he has preached for about 30 years.
Come with me, to Del Norte, or "The North", which is actually located in the southern part of the state. :)
Timber frame complete.
Here, they add the decking for the roof.
Here, Bryan adds the metal drip edge.
They begin applying the plastic membrane to water proof the roof, which will be a living roof.
After the membrane goes down, you add Styrofoam board for insulation.
Here, they've placed rocks on the styrofoam to keep it from blowing away.
Rob Roy, instructing us on mixing the mortar for the walls.
Here is our cheat sheet, giving us the proper shovel ratios of mortar, lime, sawdust and sand.
Jackie mixes the mortar by hand. Behind ever great man is an even better woman. Jackie Roy is amazing.
Here, Rob lays the first batch of mortar. As you can see, there are two lines of mortar with dead space in the middle. In that dead space goes a mixture of sawdust and lime - to keep the critters out and for insulation.
Applying the sawdust.
Then the wood....
Put a log on, put the mortar on, then dump the sawdust in the cracks.
Here, Jackie is "pointing" or smoothing the mortar joints.
Here they applied rocks over the styrofoam for good drainage.
Spreading the rock.....
That night we took a break and went to eat at the Piece of Art Cafe in Del Norte, which is also made from cordwood masonry. The lady who owns the cafe was also hosting the workshop. She found Rob's book, read it and built the cafe with her friends. Be prepared - it is BEAUTIFUL!
As you can see, glass bottles can be added to the wall to let natural light through.
Back to work!
The window buck.
That was as far as I got. The owners continued to work on the structure for a few more months, part-time.. I don't have any pictures of the outside in the day light, but the owners were kind enough to send on pictures of what they had completed.
Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,
Mike, Oscar, Hotel.....out.