The next stage in the process is flooring.
Our endgame for the cabin floor is rough-sawn chainsaw-milled ironbark slabs between 15cm and 30cm in width. I had cut a range of these and put them down in the back corner as you can see below. The whole floor will look like this one day.
It was great except that there were gaping holes right through it mainly due to cracks in the wood. Seasoning and oiling wood is an art unto itself. There are a lot of secrets, tricks and consulting the great god google came up with as many new questions as it did answers. There are simply a multitude of ways to finish wood depending on a range of factors. Like for most things, you don’t really know until you do it and look at the finished article. That is a very long winded way of saying I think I used the wrong oil on the slabs and they cracked as a result.
In any case, it was difficult attaching these slab foorboards to the top hat joists. The wood is straight out of the paddock, felled many years ago, completely seasoned and consequently very, very hard. As hard as it gets anywhere in the world in fact (with just a couple of exceptions). Even drilling pilot holes, Al and I went through a half a dozen drill bits and would often see smoke curling from the hole due to the friction.
But as soon as it was down, we realised it just wasn’t going to work. We clearly needed underflooring with the slabs sitting on top if we had any intention of sealing the cabin and avoiding cold draft blowing upwards in winter. With a heavy heart, I pulled the floorboards up with the impact driver. Many of the threads of the screws had blown out when putting them in so I needed to knock some of the floorboards from underneath with the mallet and then cut them off at the wood. A total pain of a day but another lesson learned.
Once they were up we were ready to lay the underflooring.
You can buy a range of different flooring from the hardware store but what we kept coming back to due to ease of use and price was sheets of yellowtongue.
We actually bought redtongue which is the same stuff but 3mm thicker and termite proof for just a few extra bucks a sheet. You can get it at Bunnings, mitre 10, any big hardwore store and it is cheap! We got 20 big 3m x 1.2m sheets, enough for the whole cabin, for less than 800 dollars. It is weather proof to some degree and is soaked in termite resistant chemicals (god knows what) which is important where we are.
To lay the stuff took Alex and I a weekend. It is tongue and groove so fits together seamlessly. It is also happy to take some abuse when putting it down and gives a lovely smooth, splinter-free finish.
You can see the seam running up the middle to the right of the centre post where the sheets were laying end-to-end. We put a layer of sealant on this just to add some weathproofing. In terms of attaching them to the joists – pilot holes were drilled using a 3.5mm drill bit, then impact drive into the holes “plasterboard” 65mm metal screws to grip the top hat. A breeze compared to the big ironbark slabs!
The only time-consuming part to the whole thing was cutting it around the post in the middle and on the short side. As the cabin is 6m wide, we were left with 1m offcuts on one side. To make matters more challenging, the walls are not at right angles so they all needed to be cut at an oblique angle which was interesting.
Last thing, forget cutting the sheets with a handsaw, it is hard and full of gluey stuff. Just doesn’t work. We bought a cordless Makita saw which uses the same batteries as the drills. It slams the battery pretty quickly but made the job much, much easier. The finished product looked great.