Building the Cabin – Part 6 – Framing the Walls

As you saw in a previous post, we had planned to build an Australian Slab Hut. What was not considered was that never, in any examples seen, has a slab hut been built on stumps..

The issue is pretty obvious, the hardwood slabs weigh a tonne and the wall would be sitting with all its weight bearing down through 1 or 2 wonky stumps. As these are only 80cm in the ground (max), most are off centre, leaning and likely to be snacked on by white ants for the next 20 years, we decided that the dream of building a slab hut would have to wait for another day.

Decision made and everything was going great guns until Alice quietly pointed out that we still needed walls.

This is how the Cabin looked, no walls, half a roof and a temporary ply floor. We needed to finish the front section of framing as this would support the middle beam and hence the rest of the roof.

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As you drive along the outskirts of any city in Australia you will often see the bleached skeletons of new houses being built in various development zones. That pale timber is of course framing timber and it is the standard building method as it is light, cheap and geometrically very strong.

We decided that lightness, cheapness and strength pretty much summed up our little cabin so decided to build the walls with framing timber covered by sheets of James Hardie “pineridge” cladding.

First of all you need to buy the framing timber which you can get from Bunnings, Mitre 10, Masters or any timber supply store. It is important to get treated timber if you live in an area where mould or white ants could into your walls (pretty much the whole of Australia). The next thing is size, they come in three sizes as far as I can tell;

70mm x 35mm

90mm x 35mm

90mm x 40mm

We started with 70mm x 35mm and immediately felt it was too small, you can’t get a strong join and it just looks and feels too slim to carry the weights demanded of it. That said, the whole front section including 8 banks of louvres is sitting on this stuff so here’s hoping I’m wrong.

The optimal size in our opinion is 90mm x 35mm with 90mm x 40mm used where greater strength is needed. Also, buy it in long lengths – 5meters plus. You will be cutting a lot to size but you don’t want to be joining pieces in long sections.

So, once you have the timber supplies, how do you actually frame? You Tube of course! – check this out;

I followed this video and ensured that everything was reinforced in terms of screws connecting into the posts, floor and roof. The screws we used were specially designed for pine and grip really well.

So to start with, we did the front section which was really tough as it had one large door with a bank of louvres over the top. Helped by Alex and Gus, this was a tough piece of work that took us a full day. We thoroughly enjoyed a few cold beers that night, it was a hot day with a late afternoon storm and I’m so thankful to Gus and Al as this day’s work really got us past a big rut in the whole project. Not a chance I could have done it on my own. We built this in situ, ie from the ground up. The following shows the development;

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front section framing

 

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The large piece of metal above the door is called the “header” and is very important. As this wall is bearing the weight of the roof, the header (200m 2mm c-section) needs to carry that weight away from the glass below and distribute it through the posts on each side. If not, the door glass will crack.

The following weekend, the Parkins came out. Dean got up on the roof for a 7 hour stint of roofing and did a cracking job to get it all done. He was still strong enough at the finish to do it in style with a pose he called “Aboriginal Adonis with Impact Driver”

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Dean and I then knocked up a side frame which was a piece of cake and finished the rest of the framing in about 2 days. Once you get the hang of putting them together it does go quite quickly. An important lesson was to do it on a flat surface, so much easier to screw two pieces of timber together when you are not fighting the undulations in the ground.

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That’s it, you need to frame up the windows and doors carefully, we added 10mm both widthways and lengthways to the frames to ensure we have no problems when we go to put the windows in. We measured and cut the timber using a handsaw which is no great effort when cutting pine and didn’t hold us up.

The great thing about this process was that it was quick. We got the whole cabin framed in 3-4 days of work and ready for cladding. This is the how it looked moreorless fully framed;

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