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Prairie Farm House Kit (with shake roof)
(click on photo's for a larger image)
Make sure to use a waterproof glue suitable to your climate. If you can get waxed paper in your area, for frame elements, we dip the ends in glue and put them in place on the wax paper over the drawing. The new waxed paper we get has little wax, and works great as the glue sticks slightly to it making it stay in place. It peals off well after the glue is set, but leaves glue that might have to be trimmed later for fit with other components. As with all glues, excess is best cleaned up before it sets. If you will be doing a clear finish, we have found that small glue mistakes don't show if clear setting glue is used, and Thompson's clear water seal is used. Still it is best to clean up, especially areas where a hardened glob interferes with further construction. (Easier to remove a soft lump than a hard glob)
For cutting small material (1x2 & 1x4) a sharp knife or even side cutter can be used. For larger sizes a razor saw or band saw with a fine tooth blade works well. For fine tuning a piece of sandpaper laid on a flat surface works great, holding the piece vertical and giving it a few strokes with light pressure across the sandpaper. With all tools, caution and safety is important. Remember this is a real wood product. There might be some warping. Material if not being used for a while (overnight) should be wrapped or bundled together. So when you stop for the day, wrap it up. If you do get some warped pieces, carefully bend them in the opposite direction and you can temporarily remove some of it. Once it is glued together as a composite structure it will become stable. Most material is shipped in 18"-20" lengths, that is equal to 36-40 feet in real dimension. I don't think you will find many real boards that long without some warp. Always cut longest elements first and use the leftovers for the smaller items.
Also notice the layout board we have been using. It serves as a nice flat work surface. It is made of a piece of graph paper sandwiched between two pieces of single strength glass. The edges are taped together with clear packing tape. The graph paper makes it easy to keep things square. We recommend you use wax paper to keep glue from sticking laid on the plans and on your layout board if you use one, but it isn't always available here and might not be in your area. So on with the show!
Marking 2x4 stock to length by laying it on the drawing. Cut long elements first using the leftovers for the shorter items. Keeping your pencil sharp makes for more accurate cuts.
Several elements of the first side wall glued and held down with wood blocks.
A completed side wall, remember you need 2. Continue until you have front, back and both side walls done.
Using 2x4's make 4 roof trusses per the layout drawing. It's important to keep them as close to the same as possible to make it easier to add the roof panels later. All the effort you put in now to make sure everything is as straight and square as possible will pay off in the end.
Even though just the front and back truss get a window, we left the window frame in place for all 4.
Front view, all walls glued together. Spring clothespins make good clamps. The graph paper of the layout board makes a good reference for keeping things square. Weight on top holding it all flat to the glass, keeps things flat and straight. Front and back walls are inside the side walls, per the layout drawing.
Framework face down, and the end truss glued in place. Wood blocks holding things in place while the glue sets. This method works well, as it keeps the front wall and truss straight and flat.
Space the center trusses evenly between the front and back one. Boards clamped across them holds them in place until the glue sets.
All trusses in place. Not show in this picture, it 2x4's between the trusses at the peak to act as a ridge board for roof panel attachment and strength during the siding process.
Placing tape sticky side up, to lay 1x12 siding on works well. If using masking leave it 3/4" wide, but if using duct tape tear it into strips about 3/8" wide. Wider than that makes it hard to remove as it's much sticker than the masking tape. You don't have to use this method, but we think it's faster. If you want start at the bottom of the frame and apply the siding leaving about a 7/16" exposure.
The bottom piece placed with its bottom lined up on the bottom line of the wall bottom. Also notice it extends to cover the end stud of the side walls. Press it firmly onto the tape. Cutting around openings is easier now.
A closer view of the first piece.
Line the next piece's top up with the next showing line, and continue working your way to the top.
Siding can be easily cut with a sharp scissors.
Front wall done, and ready to be turned over. I didn't leave openings for the front lower windows at this point, thinking it would make it easier to keep the siding straight. I had planned on cutting them out with a dremel tool after attached to the framework. But as you will see in later photo's I forgot, and ended up doing it after the porch was already on. Don't make that mistake. Do it before the porch is added, or as you are doing the siding sheet leave the openings.
This is the trick part, turning the sheet over to apply glue to the back side. Be careful not to stretch the tape or let it go slack, either one is bad as your sheet ends up long or short, and the lap is off.
Once turned over, it is a good idea to lay it back on the layout drawing to check size, or measure it.
Apply a beads of glue between the tape strips. Be careful not to glue the tape to the boards.
Carefully spread it out with your finger or brush, stick, etc. From top to bottom to force the glue into the seam at the lap area. These strips of glue after set up will hold the wall together for application to the frame. After the glue is set up, hold down firmly with a block of wood, and peel the tape off. Be careful and watch for glue joint separation.
Same process for back wall. Notice, we left the duct tape too wide. Don't make this mistake. We found it hard to remove later.
Remember you have 2 side walls to cover. You can fill in later between the truss ends at the top of the wall later if you desire.
Side wall ready to turn over. Notice the left side of the window opening, is not very straight, this will be easily covered by the 1x4 window trim.
Front siding sheet applied to the frame and clamped in place with clothespins
Backside in place, notice 2x4's at the peak that I talked about at the end of the framing process.
1x6 was used for jambs, and 1x4 for trim. Front edge of jamb boards should be flush with peaks of siding. Trim is applied to cover the edge of the jamb. Leave the top trim board long as we did if you like, this was a common detail on old west buildings.
Assemble door frame out of 2x4, adjusting size to fit your door opening.
Door face down, 2x2 window divider in place and 1x6 boards glued on lower half from the backside.
Finished door front.
2x2 for dividers, cut to fit your window openings. Using the layout drawing to glue it together helps keep it squared up nicely. Notice the drawing doesn't include the jambs so the length for the dividers is off. They were included in the drawing for just this purpose as a gluing guide.
1x6 jamb and trim installed just like the door. Divider in place
Window from the backside to show the dividers flush with the back of the jambs. This makes it easy to add glazing as you can cut it larger than the window opening so accurate cutting isn't necessary.
2x6 face down to form a sheet for the porch deck. Glue applied and spread. You can make yours with the boards laying the opposite direction if you like.
4x4 porch frame assembled.
While the porch parts were drying, we started making the shake roof panels. Measure your frame and add 1/4" for overhang front, back and over rafter ends. Using the spacing guide sheet, start by just lining up a row of shakes face up. Don't get to perfect, just make sure overall line is straight. Small differences from shake to shake will give it character, and it will look more like a real roof. The guide has a vertical line on the right to help you keep your sheet square. Marking a line proper width for your panel on the left, will keep you straight on that side. As a few photo's below, shakes can be snapped to trim them for width, or cut with sharp scissors or a knife. Choosing ones with the straightest grain to cut is best.
Glue applied to the top while holding the row down with a wood block. Keep the glue to the top 1/4" as it will get covered by the next row.
Spread the glue smooth to hold the row together. Don't leave any bumps or lumps that will interfere with the next row, and keep the glue strip narrow so it will be covered by the next row.
Next row started, you can put a small dab of glue on the bottom of the backside and add like here, or as in the next photo a bead of glue across the entire sheet. Line up the beginning row with a line. The next row line up its top with the next line, and this will give you a 10" scale exposure. This is the proper exposure for a premium roof shake installation.
As you add shakes, alternate widths and color. Let some stray a little from straight. Make sure starting with the second row, that the covering row also covers the gap between the lower shakes.
The completed sheet. One more needed, and then one for the porch roof. Remember, that the last row gets trimmed, so the shakes end up being about 9/16"-5/8" long. Then once the ridge cap is added, correct exposure of 10" happens at the peak. Look at the ridge cap photo's below, and it will become clearer. So, this completed sheet show is about 6 1/4" tall, and after the top is trimmed it was 5 3/4 tall. This left correct exposure at the peak, and 1/4" overhang over the ends of the rafters. 13 rows of shakes in each of our panels.
Porch deck and frame attached. Trim the 1x6 deck to fit the front wall, and fill in if desired with scrap at the threshold area of the door if you have a gap. Then glue the 4x4 frame to the to the deck centered and about 1 1/4" from the wall to the back side of the posts. Check for correct rafter length and adjust if necessary making sure porch frame stays square with the rest of the structure.
Side view, showing rafters being about 1/2" higher at the back glued directly to the siding. Notice front lower windows still weren't cut. Don't wait until now to do it. It was a real pain, but I was able to reach in with a dremel tool with a cut off wheel and do it.
First roof half attached, clothespins at ridge hanging over the edge of the table, and the rest upside down on flat surface using gravity to hold it all together.
Place your finger nail at the width you want, and bend towards you and it will snap.
Making 1/4" wide shakes for the ridge row.
Detail shot of the ridge row, if you get sloppy with the glue as we did here, clean up with a damp cloth or a camp stiff paint brush, as it gets in the crevices real good. Work from each end towards the middle. At the middle, end by covering with a shake on each side covering the tail of the last shakes at the meeting point.
Side shot of ridge cap, showing center meeting point. Again glue clean up is easy, I use a 1 1/2" wide natural bristle paint brush.
1x6 corners board applied to side wall first. Make sure front edge is flush with the high points of the siding. Trim around things as necessary.
Detail shot showing corner board trimmed to fit around porch deck.
Front door glued in open position. Your choice right, left opening, or closed. Glue applied to door edge and stuck to the door jamb.
Porch roof panel added, and notice top shake row trimmed as the main roof panels. Also a 2x2 added as a rain stop at the point where the shakes meet the siding. 4 rows of shakes in the porch roof panel
Finished front view, ready for you to add details, glazing. Adding railings made from leftover scrap would also be a nice touch. Window flower boxes from siding scrap is another idea.
Another view. We didn't fill in between the truss rafters on the side walls, this is a detail, that can't be easily seen unless you have this building in a position where it is higher than than eye level. The roof overhang covers this up very well for lower than eye level use.
As seen on our layout with a prairie outhouse, prairie barn and corral from accessory kit #1.
At this point the building is ready for finishing. Detail such as a pin head for a door knob, chimney out of 1/4" drinking straw. Then paint, inside and out with exterior grade finishes. Paint added details and add glazing. You can use clear document protectors, or thin Plexiglas. Some I have heard from use clear packing tape. Two layers sticky side to sticky side. Since we have low voltage lighting in our yard, we plan to use their 4 watt bulbs and power source so every night when they come on our buildings will light up.
Let us know if you have any suggestions or inputs for this tips page!
Mark & Sue Smith
Smith Pond Junctions Railroad Products
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