roof rafters

Rafter Tales

tales of rafter tails Earlier this week I was Planing My Curved Rafters. Today I cut the rafter tales and sealed them.

I deliberated again this morning before I committed to my rafter width. My tiny house on wheels is only 8 feet wide (which works nicely for dimensional sheet goods!) So if I’d made the rafters overhang just 3” the house would have been within the road legal limit of 8’6” and I wouldn’t need any sort of permit to haul it. There is something alluring about being able to hitch up and go whenever I want.

However, I don’t figure I’ll move too often. Probably not more than a couple times each year. I don’t have any intention of hauling my house across the country. I’m impressed that Dee Williams will be road-tripping with her vardo in a couple weeks as part of her book tour for The Big Tiny, but I can’t see myself doing that. If I were going to hit the road and be really mobile I’d probably want to do it in an actual vehicle, like a Volkswagon or Sprinter van.

I built myself a jig to measure the 9'10" mark on my curved rafters

So I decided to give my vardo some decent eaves. Eaves will help protect my little house, they’ll provide some shade, and they’ll give it a more settled look. The maximum width a tiny house on wheels can be without a trip permit is 8’6.” If you get a trip permit (often about $30) you can go up to 10 feet wide. (If your house is bigger than 10 feet wide you need to go with a commercial hauler and have a lead car and a follow car and it gets a lot more complicated – not to say it can’t be done, but it’s more than I wanted to deal with!)

So I decided to make my rafters 9’10.” But it turns out, it’s tricky finding the 9’10” mark when your rafters are curved! So I made another little jig for myself with a board cut to 9’10,” which I could butt up against the bottom curve of my rafter so that I could mark the edges of the board.

I made another jig for the curve of my rafter tails

I'd been scouting the neighborhood looking for rafter tails I liked and I ultimately decided I just wanted them to be curved (surprise, surprise, right?!) So I used the bottom of my food processor as a stencil and I picked a curve I like. I made yet another little jig so they'd all be the same and then set to work cutting my rafter tails. Jigsaws are my favorite power tool, but I hadn’t used one is so darn long I’d forgotten how helpful it is to have a little momentum going into a curve. Just don’t look too closely for the wonky rafter! I didn’t feel like building a new one!

they look gorgeous but they stick to high heaven!

Once I’d made my cuts I sealed the rafters up with an oil-based clear coat. (I haven’t cut the birdsmouths yet, by the way, because I want to see exactly where they’ll land when I have the walls up.) I picked a stain recommended by someone in the paint store as one of the greenest options. But I wish I’d done a little more research because it stinks like crazy! I may need to let my rafters sit out a while so that this smell doesn’t get captured inside my house. Fortunately I still have a little time before the rafters will go up so hopefully they'll air out completely!

Update on Tiny Barn Build

Several of you have requested an update on the Tiny Barn Build, so I've uploaded a slideshow below so that you can see the progress. Enjoy!

As many of you know, I spent my spring break helping a friend build the shell of a tiny house. You can view daily progress of the intensive build week in the following albums: Day 1: Tiny House Foundation, Day 2: Tiny House Wall Framing, Day 3: Tiny House Subfloor & Sheathing, Day 4: Tiny House Plumbing & Wiring Begins, Day 5: Tiny House Takes Shape, Day 6: Tiny House Windows, and Day 7: Roofing in the Rain. I recapped the week in Tiny House Build Week: Lessons Learned.

Because of inclement weather (read: spring in Portland, OR), we didn't quite get the house "blacked in" during that intensive build week, so I helped out in between classes Wrapping Up the Tiny Barn Exterior. (For those of you who want to geek out on the details of connecting a tiny house to a trailer, you can find them in Tiny Barn Build: Construction Details.) Once the exterior was complete, I helped my friend move her tiny house into its new home. She has continued working on it over the past couple months and has hired a friend who is a very talented woodworker to do much of the work. Stay tuned for more photos!

Day 6: Tiny House Windows

Today Noah (a friend from Whitman College) and Aaron (a friend from my grad program) came out to help with the build. Together we finished tar papering the house and then helped put in the windows. All the windows are now in their rightful places and they look great! We covered the edges of the window flanges with a waterproofing flashing so the exterior of the house is now ready for siding.

It's such a joy to have the windows in. This was a big step for me since windows add so much character to a building. Now it's starting to feel like a house instead of a construction project! I loved walking through the house this afternoon to get a feel for what it will be like to lounge on the window seat or to look out the kitchen window.

Meanwhile the roofing framer put up all the trusses and added supports for the roof's overhangs. I helped by cutting a few pieces for him and admired -  from a safe vantage point - his fearlessness about clambering around on the roof while using a circular saw to cut notches into the top of the roof rafters. The builders had to leave the site mid-afternoon for another appointment, so I helped tarp the house and we wrapped up early. A quiet evening at home and early to bed for me!

We've already cut the sheets of OSB for the roof sheathing so we're ready to put it up first thing in the morning. We're all eager to get the house dried in since the Portland spring promises plenty of rain.