Naust Part II–A Barnraising

June 12th, 2015


The first job is to assemble all the parts–ultimately fastened with wooden “trunnels” or tree nails. They’re 7/8″ diameter hand carved oak dowels, 8″ long.


The deck is not fastened–we’ll do that this fall when the lumber shrinks a bit more, then pull out a 6″ and install an 8″ to make up for this shrinkage.


Here’s the whole package.  Rafters are in the distance–we’ll put this up on Saturday in about 8 hours, then have a big barn-raising party… on!

Bunk #2

OK–up we go.  Here the first wall is up and the second follows.

Joist Mortise and Tenon

Tip up and we’re done.

Beam Down

Each cross-tie is wedge-shaped to keep the walls from spreading.  One, two, three, lift!

Beam Up 2

We align all the joinery.  It fits perfectly!

Beam Up

Now the other end.  We’ve a square that can’t budge.

Tapping down a joint

A couple more taps and we’re all set.


Here’s the view from the slough.  The roof is a 12/12 pitch and fourteen rafter pairs will sit on this frame.  Skip sheet and a blue metal roof will complete the building.  We’ll let the siding go natural–all yellow cedar.

Nearly Done

We’re nearly done–here the rafters are nearly up.

Roof Peak

Curved symbols are the north side, straight the south–this is the second span with the third beyond. The ‘trunnels’ are left an inch proud for effect.


Interesting joinery.


Andy is the brains behind this architecture; he builds beautiful wooden boats too!  Well done, Andy!

Cedar Bough

It’s customary to nail a bough at the highest point in the structure–of the trees used in construction–in this case Yellow Cedar and Sitka Spruce.  After the skip-sheet and roof, we’ll side the building and build a window package with sliding doors at each end which open wide enough to take in the afternoon sun–what a view!  More to come!

The Naust (boat-shed in Norwegian)

June 7th, 2015


Our warehouse and gazebo are full of boats–no place to store them–so it’s time to build a traditional Norwegian boat-shed, called a Naust.  Looking in the opposite direction you have one of the most beautiful little sloughs in Alaska and a perfect place to launch boats.

Location 3

We first put in creosoted pilings begin hauling lumber.  First the pilings:

Creosote Pilings

This is all that’s left after redoing our harbors here in Petersburg.  These wouldn’t even float, so I tied buoys on each end to tow them across the Narrows.    I select about a dozen and get out the shovel.


Here’s the site cleared and surveyed at a 19.5′ tide–the corner post is set at the 14′ tide–we’ll get almost 22′ at times so there’s plenty of water.

Placing Pilings

Lumber gets floated across the narrows and we dig holes in the ground–these graveled out at about 30″ on average.  We filled the bottoms with rock, buttered the cut ends with Penta (found an old 5 gallon can of this) and back-filled with more rock–a grid of 3 X 4 or 12 total pilings.  The lumber rests on mid-day weaker tides–so I utilize an old climbing rope, a jumar and a weighted bucket to float it closer at the 2 am higher tide–no point in getting out of bed.  It’s 10′ closer to the job-site in the morning.


Here they’re all in with temporary bracing.

Tibo Towing

Now it’s time for lumber–lots of it.  Here Tibo, our friend from France, and I plunk the lumber in the Narrows and 1/2 hour later, it’s where it’s supposed to be.

Crane Work

We get it into the Narrows by using this handy device–a 2 1/2 T crane.  All this lumber is hand mortise & tenon and will all go together in about half a day.  Read on…..

M & T 2

Here is how these joints look up close–all dove-tailed together–which will take about half a day to assemble…’s more:

M & T 4

The building is 18′ X 36′ but the mill only cuts 20′ lengths so this necessitates joints, and these fit!

M & T 1

The design is all self supporting, using oak tree-nails (“trunnels”) only–no nails!


Back to the building site.  We mill 6″ X 8″ for the sill beams; at 20′ in length, they weigh approximately 300 lbs.  Crossing this will be 2″ X 8″ floor joists and then 1-1/4″ X 8″ flooring–all yellow cedar and spruce and free–each Alaska resident gets 10,000 board feet per year with the stipulation, they have to log it out and cannot sell the lumber, but use it for personal use.  See the logging here.

Rain Barrel

This is a little spin-off for some of the shorter pieces of cedar–had 6 of these made at Kachemak Cooperage in Anchorage for water catchment.  If we pump water for the garden, it has an energy price-tag.  This method, time tested, is free.


Our spiny friend shows up again this year–and tackles all the salmon berry bushes.  We find his quills all over the boardwalk and save them in a hand-woven basket.  Next week, the floor and frame–stay tuned!

Back to Totland

June 7th, 2015

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After spending all winter in Munich, Cody Wyoming, Utah, Georgia and Florida, it’s back home to Totland on the AK ferry Columbia.  This is the only boat that does it right–white table cloths, waiters and a good cold beer.  The AK ferry system has closed all the bars, gift shops on all boats–to save money. Now I thought it would be more practical to sell one of the propellers or perhaps a lifeboat or two….but close the bars?  If they can’t make money selling booze on a ferry boat, there is no hope!


Our first stop after leaving Bellingham is Ketchikan–usually arriving early Sunday morning.  Here is the new plaza bronze depicting the citizenry throughout Alaskan history–Tlingit, Aviator, fisherman, etc.  A visit to Cape Fox Lodge up the hillside lift is a must–one of the best ‘museums’ in Alaska.


At last count there are 52 jewelry stores in Ketchikan–run by East Indians (from India).  How bad is that?  The shops are largely owned by the cruise ship companies–which close their doors in the winter leaving the core downtown area dead.  Up to four ships obscure the town in the height of the season putting another 10,000 folks on shore.  We voted overwhelmingly (about 90%) to keep these behemoths out of Petersburg.

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Here is the second ship of the season.  The Solstice holds 4350 folks, boasts several restaurants and a theater that seats 1400 people.  Below is Petersburg’s version……


The St. Lazaria is a beauty.  I actually tried to buy this boat right after the Winimac sunk in 1991.  It’s currently packing fish–her owner keeps her spotless.  Her original lifeboat is currently restored and going into the new Naust, or boatshed, currently under construction.


Well, it’s back to sticker shock but at least this is organic.


We arrive in time for Syttende Mai, Constitution Day in Norway.  First thing I do is fire up the 1961 Gravely–with a lawn/brush mower that will remove limbs…..yours.


The sun made an appearance the day we left B’ham and continued for over 30 days–good time for a gin & tonic in the back yard…..   Stay tuned!