Notching the Ceiling Joists (and Finishing the Frame!)

September, 2017

Before we move on to talking about ceiling joists, I wanted to get in a few more images of the posts and tie beams. They’re way more poetic than ceiling joists.


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Here they all are, cut and ready to be reassembled. It’s been pretty rainy, hence all the tarps.
J.’s dad, who’s been helping with the chiseling, agrees with me about the poetry of the beams.

On to those ceiling joists. I guess I’m not as excited about them because they didn’t come from our woods. We bought them from the local mill and then borrowed a tractor to haul them up the hill. Milling is important because they needed to be straight enough to hold up a metal roof, and J. won’t let me thatch the roof. Maybe he would if I knew how.

But back to those joists. They are beautiful, as milled lumber goes: rough cut 4 x 6 Douglas Fir. Pink as a baby’s bottom. J. cut tongues into half of them and forks into the other half (I’m sure these are the correct terms) so that along the roof-ridge the joists will meet with a mortise and tenon joint. Here they are, forks on the left, tongues on the right:

The other ends of the joists will rest on the wall plate, and a simple groove was cut into their ends to fit into the wall plate.

I like the visual metaphor of this image. Notice J. has exchanged his Amish hat for the chainsaw helmet as he uses a circular saw to cut those grooves.

Lastly, each wall plate needed a notch to receive the joists. This cut is called a bird’s mouth. Hopefully you can see why from the pictures. It seems like a complicated cut, but it flies pretty fast (no pun intended) with the help of a mal or pattern guide, which you can also see in the pictures.


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Here you can see the south half of the wall plates getting their bird’s mouths. Their northern mates are under the tarp, and the pile of posts. Eventually, each north beam and south beam will be joined at the angle cut to make one continuous beam running the length of the house.
I just wanted to show proof that I did also work on this house. Here I am banging out the notch that will fit into the bird’s mouth, working so fast the camera can’t keep up with me.

Here let’s take another break so show what others in the household have been up to:

Also, a couple of the creatures that have been hanging out with us:

And that’s it! The frame is cut and done! We do have another big step before we start calling you all for help raising the house (that’ll be the next blog post), but you might want to start checking your voicemail!

Or avoiding it…

3 thoughts on “Notching the Ceiling Joists (and Finishing the Frame!)

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