ruralstudiowoodshop

Shiny House, “Neckdowns,” Things Exterior

Welcome back to the journal, dear reader. In my last entry, I reported that Hale County had entered a state of oppressive heat and humidity. Several weeks have passed since that report, and climatically, nothing has changed. It’s 95oF in Hale County today, but they say it feels like 106oF. Let me ask you, dear reader, that if it feels like 106, then is it not 106? Alas, my mind wanders. Such a question is a trifle in comparison to my duty to you, that is to recount in an earnest fashion, the activity of Reverend Walker’s Home team.

While the environment is still and sweltering, my crew is the opposite. Intrepid and strong, and with the help of a protective roof, they carry on. I will admit, this motley crew are always raising the bar. I previously issued orders for them to complete the exterior of the home in a timely manner, and that they have. It was not a trivial amount of work. The tasks were varied and many. But yet again, the team has risen to the occasion. Doors and windows were built and installed concurrently with the application of siding and flashing. With additional help from new students during “Neckdown” Week, roll roofing was installed, the site was graded, beneath-ground drains installed, and a small patio built.

Doors & Windows

As Addie and Becca finished windows in the woodshop, Paul and George would install them on site. The whole unit is fabricated in the shop, making installation quick and easy. Pre-hung doors were installed and custom trim applied to the face of them to match the window details. As the doors and windows went in the house, siding and flashing were installed as allowed by what openings were done.

Siding

Reverend Walker’s Home is clad in the same galvalume r-panel that makes up the roof. Large, cut to length sheets make a fairly easy process. The only tricky parts are at those window locations where c-shapes need to be made out of the sheet metal. Bottom flashing was installed prior to siding.

leveling bottom flashing
installing r-panel
sided wall

Flashing

After the siding was put up, metal flashing and trim were next. The corner trim was installed first and then the top of wall flashing. The typical metal building corner trim has always been a team favorite. It is incredibly easy to install and is so big that it somehow disappears, or appears as just another ridge in the r-panel. Thank you fat corner trim. Top flashing was trickier with the different angles and cuts needed to make crisp connections between pieces. But with some practice cuts and good measurements it came together without much trouble.

cutting flashing with an angle grinder
flashed, trimmed, capped

Roofing

As flashing wrapped up, “Neckdown” Week began. Each day we were assisted by one or two new arrivals, bright-eyed and incredibly clean. We were also able to welcome Becca and Addie back from their shop sabbatical/site hiatus! Reunited and reinforced, we set about our work. Becca and Addie led the charge on the application of asphalt roll roofing to the top of the volumes. The roofing provides the final layer of water protection to the two volumes underneath the roof.

roofing layed out

Fireplace Patio

As the roll roofing went on, Paul and George were joined by several Landscape Architecture students, who offered advice and assistance in making a small gravel patio. After a quick design discussion, the area was graded, and a first length of French drain was installed so that we could move forward with edging and infilling with gravel. The rest of the drain would be installed later.

relax

Grading

When the roofing and patio jobs were complete, it was all hands on deck for site grading. With the help of the skid-steer, earth was moved from the excavated pile to the slab edge and graded away. Additionally, several large ruts were filled in and the site was smoothed out. The septic mound was extended with any remaining earth in the pile.

So, post grading, what we are left with is a mostly finished exterior of a house. There are always a few odds and ends to take care of, but there is no doubt that “Neckdown” Week was a huge success on site.

Certainly, much has happened in a short period of time. I tell you once more, dear reader, that this bunch is special. Of course this is not to say that it could have been done without my strong leadership. It takes a steady paw to guide a vessel this size through choppy waters. On the horizon I see finish carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and other odds and ends. I will continue to record the progress of Reverend Walker’s Home for posterity, the world deserves to know the intricacies of our grand adventure. Alas, dear reader, the sun draws closer to the horizon and I have grown weary. I must put aside my journal in favor of a nap. I think I will chose a nice spot in between two elephant ears Paul has acquired for this occasion.

Yours sincerely,

Taterhead

A Bittersweet End to the Inaugural Cabinet Class

plan perspective of Ophelia's Home focusing on millwork
plan perspective of the millwork in 20K Ophelia’s Home

The spring semester has come to the end, and what a wild four months it has been! At first, the Cabinet Class endeavored on a new adventure into the land of CNC routing by setting out to design and fabricate the millwork for 20K Ophelia’s Home.  Typically, the 20K Home is outfitted with off-the-shelf cabinetry units for kitchen and bathroom storage from the big box stores, i.e. Lowe’s or IKEA. The quality of the cabinets purchases is usually reflected in what the Studio can afford. To improve durability of these particle board cabinets, we decided to create cabinet designs that would be both more affordable and sturdy. 

Despite all of the obstacles created by the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been an exciting semester filled with discovery and empowerment for the Studio as well as the students.  The first half of the semester focued on learning about the CNC router and its accompanied technology. By March, initial design for all of Ophelia’s Home storage was nearly complete, and the students built a physical mockup of their cabinets.

Remote learning, however, began at the end of Spring Break. Yet, the students continued to move toward a final design of storage spaces, which included the kitchen, bathroom, utility room, and bedroom closet storage.  This week, the teams presented a presentation of their final project: a book that explains the context of their cabinetry designs and a stylized guide of instructions on how to build the cabinets.  The class hopes this this books will be used to continue the exploration of millwork when studies resume in Newbern.  Hopefully, the adventure will continue very soon!

Thanks to all those who helped make this class a success, including Dylan & Keith from Wood Studio and John Byler from Dudley Hall’s shop in Auburn.  This semester’s great work would not have been possible without your help!  Most of all, thank you to the Rural Studio 3rd-year students who persevered through tough circumstances.  Great job to all!  

Cabinet Class From Afar

A lot has happened since the last Cabinet Class blog! Rural Studio has transitioned their classrooms to remote learning for the remainder of the semester, in response to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Anyone see that coming? Not us.

To keep everyone safe, class is now being held on an online video platform. Obviously, this will change what is expected from students for the rest of the semester. Unfortunately, in accordance with Auburn University regulations, the Studio has put all on-site construction on hold, which includes 20K Ophelia’s Home. As a result of all of these changes, this class will regretfully be unable to fabricate their cabinets this semester. 

This change in plans, however, will not stop the class from powering forward! Teams are now working remotely to finalize the design of their cabinets. With their final designs, students will create thorough sets of construction drawings and instructions for the use of Ophelia and Rural Studio.  Hopefully, at the end of April, this class will have all components needed to build the cabinets, so the next class can construct cabinets when the Studio is able to return to the shop. Steve and Chelsea are excited to see the beautiful fabrication drawings this semester creates!

Zoom Meeting with Joo, Jay, and Hannah

Midterm Reviews

Spring Break is here, and this 3rd-year class is almost ready to build!  Before Spring Break, however, the students were reviewed by some incredible experts for their midterm.

For the class’s first review, friends from Wood Studio, Dylan and Keith, and Emilie Taylor from Tulane came and gave their sage advice on the students’ design and built cabinet mockups . 

For their second and final miderm review, the Studio’s fearless leaders Andrew Freear and Emily McGlohn visited the class.  Given this is the first time Rural Studio’s woodshop class has ever ventured into building cabinets, Steve and Chelsea wanted to provide the students with as many perspectives as possible.  Thanks to all of the wonderful reviewers the Cabinet Class has had over the last couple of weeks!

Route it Out

As assigned, the teams have been diligently working towards their cabinet designs.  As part of their assignment, the teams built physical models, or mockups, of the cabinet itself.  This is a very common practice at the Studio, which is used to test the fabrication process.

This means that the students finally get to build something in a shop class! Because a large component of this course’s assignment is using a CNC router, instead of traditional shop equipment, a number of the students ventured back to Auburn’s shop at Dudley Hall and CNC’d the cabinet pieces.