Our Cabin.

Question: Why Build a Tiny House?

Answer: Less

Less cost
Less maintenance
Less space to accumulate stuff
Less to clean
Less impact on our environment.

I was talking with my girlfriend Libby the other day about how we describe what we do.  She is finishing her masters in Social work, I am working on my Manufacturing Engineering Technology AA degree.  Her one sentence answer was “I solve problems”.  I think that is why we get along so well, we solve problems.  She doesn’t have the background I do, but is so smart when it comes to figuring out how things work.  

When I look at my day job, that is exactly how I would describe my job.  I solve problems.  When you distill it down, thats what all engineers do, they solve problems.  Sometimes it is a math equation, other times it is how to get a solar panel to trickle charge a battery.  I have broad general knowledge of things mechanical and electronics.  I attribute most of this to my dad.  When I was younger, we would go down to his workshop and turn on an old Black and white 13 inch TV that only got in chanel 5 and 9 (abc) and try and fix things.  He showed me important things like flat head driven screws are dumb.  How to use a pipe to get more leverage out of Craftsman tools.  How to get Craftsman tools replaced when you broke them by overloading them with a cheater bar.  My first job was at Aubuchon Hardware.  I have since learned and grown of my understanding of how to Make things.  

As I try and document this process I will be interjecting stories from when I was a kid of formative experiences that made me be the Maker I am today.

I am not an architect.  I am not an engineer.  I am not a designer.  I am not a carpenter.  I work with all of them in my day job and respect all of the training they have gone through.  I am working with info I have read, observed, asked about and guessed at based on common sense.  I have designed and constructed Fighting Robot Arenas.  
This is the arena I built in college and is now used for NERC.  It has to be transported, assembled, sustain battle, torn down and packed away all in three days.  This helped form my concepts of modular and panelized construction.  If you watch the video, you can see how it looks in a few minutes.  I built 50 arenas in my head and 10 in CAD before I cut a piece of metal.  
Two years ago a friend was handed down a cabin at a camp.  It was in rough shape, the floor was failing, and it was becoming a flood and damaging the cabin more.  I went up took some measurements and designed a replacement floor in CAD.  We then headed north with material, a case of beer and a few tools.  In a weekend, we were able to jack up the cabin, remove 3 different versions of floor and build a new sturdy floor.  We then lowered the cabin onto it and replaced the bottom plate of all the walls.  You can read the entire story HERE  

I knew someday I was going to build a cabin up north.  After I finished my degree, after I bought a house, after I had a truck.  Then our sister company bought some new Milling Machines.  They came on giant Pallets constructed of Douglas Fir Beams, 4x6, 4x4, and 2x12 all between 8 and 13 feet long.  The Rigger said they were getting scrapped anyways so I could take them.  I thought back to my Grandfathers. My grandpa on my mom's side would collect old pallet wood and build things with it. My Dads father would also Re Use things to make a new Use. When they were growing up, if they needed something, they had to Make it. I figured it was my turn as an adult to do a project with my Grandfathers together.

I sent Libby a message that sometime was Now and we would be breaking apart some pallets that weekend. We worked together and removed all the boards, took out all the bolts being careful to salvage them.  

Waste not want not. We started by cutting some nails off and then started to get down a rhythm in removing them. I taught Libby some tricks I learned from my dad of how to increase leverage using a 2x4. In around 8 hours of teamwork we had broken up the pallets and removed most nails. Our summer just swung from do nothing to Build a cabin. We now had limited physical resources, and Unlimited mental resources. We took inventory of the wood and came up with some design guidelines. I will go over some of the decisions we made and why in the next post.

Next Post, Curved roofs and other silly ideas.

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