Sunday, July 22, 2018


After a very heavy teaching rotation over May and June, I am withdrawing from forge work over the next two months.The reason is that extensive repair and renovation work is required to the second floor deck here at Wareham. (1)

My residence building at Wareham dates (I think) to the construction of the church next door - about 1930. (My building was originally constructed as a horse/drive shed for the church goers.)
The building dimension is roughly 60 x 60 feet. It is constructed of poured concrete walls to about 8 feet, with salvaged timbers as the framing for the roof, full tree lengths as the roof joists.
These timbers are hand hewn barn beams, mostly to about 12 x 12 inches, a mix mainly pine with some hemlock. These are most certainly older than the original building construction. A number of cut nails have been found embedded over the years. (This, along with local settlement dates, suggests post 1850's to about 1900, likely towards the earlier dates.) (2)

Original deck (left) and lower cantilevered section - during dismantling
The main deck structure dates to the conversion of the original Church Shed into a residence, which was undertaken from 1987 through Fall of 1989. (I purchased the property in November 1989.)
Now, there were a *lot* of problems with the construction of this residence conversion. One factor that impacted the durability of the second floor deck was that there was no waterproof flashing applied between the deck framing and the underlaying wall beam.
I had constructed a second level deck surface, cantilevered out from the main support uprights, some point about 2000.
Additionally, I had made some attempt to brace and strengthen the original upper deck framing about a decade back. Significant water damage was obvious even then.
The massive work and cost involved in replacing the entire deck structure caused me to keep putting off the required repairs.

Showing the additional framing members added about 2008 - now also failing!
Removing the top deck planking - exposing water damage to framing.
A surprise I certainly did NOT want is what I found when I pulled off the board attaching the deck framing to the upper wall beam :

Where the original deck was attached to the wall
Close up view = 20 years of water damage
To allow for the new construction, I have laid a new 2 x 10 plank over the damage surface of the main beam seen above. I wire brushed off as much of the loose wood rot as I could, then applied an insecticide (just as a pretentative measure) first. A set of 3/8 diameter lag bolts, 6 inches long (countersunk) hold this new plank in place. This gives me at least a flat extension of the wall surface to mount the new deck framing to. Some of the damage seen is also from red squirrels who have made a home through this area. You can see the 2x4 pieces set between the existing floor joists, fitted tight to both block the squirrels and also help support the second floor (made of waffer board - not plywood!) (3)

Panorama of the construction - upright bases being mounted, deck still being demolished (July 15)
Why is this a Wareham Forge project?

Long term plans for work at Wareham include finishing replacing the (incorrect) support pillars in the workshop area. Right now the pillars that help support the entire roof structure are rail ties and hewn beams - sitting on dirt. (Not even a stone base, much less actual concrete footings! Over the years, individual posts had frost heaved up, then dropped away - to a total of as much as 6 inches of gap in one case. (Blocked up with bricks and board shims on a yearly basis!) One side of this construction was undertaken three years ago (four supports) with the aid of Kelly Probyn-Smith. (4)

The long term goal, is to finish the current rough loft level in the workshop area, into a proper studio space. Right now this area (potentially about 20 x 20 feet) has some rough plank flooring laid over the support framing. It is used only for storage of long steel, wood planks, and larger pieces of things like Viking 'A' frame tents. Current access is just via a ladder (or a narrow half sized door in the corner of the upstairs living space).

Scaled plan (draft) - new deck replacement / extension (south to top here)
Part of this overall plan is to modify the roof line, along the existing south side kitchen wall. By extending the roof slope off the residence side, this will create a short 'pocket' - allowing entrance into the loft space. A door will be added to the exterior on the east side allowing access to the outside. The current small window in the kitchen will be replaced with a narrow door - allowing direct access to the loft space from the second floor living area.
The deck itself will be extended as seen above, wrapping around 2/3 of the north wall (from the replacement of the current deck off the sliding doors). Although not illustrated on the first draft plan above, the new decking will wrap from the residence NE corner, extending back to allow a for entry into the new loft exterior door. The stairs decending from the new upper deck level will run out straight from this end / door towards the east (also not illustrated).
The new deck area will be roofed over with fiberglass panels, extending the existing roof line on the north side. This will divert water *off* the wooden structure - thus eliminating the kind of water damage caused by the original construction. An added bennifit will be also shifting the snow load down away from the deck surface (not a trivial problem with snow amounts at Wareham, compounded with the metal roofing.)

Beyond the basic increase in available studio floor space, certainly the creation of easy (and much safer!) stair and level access to the loft space is important.
Both Kelly and I have become increasingly interested in the potentials of work with ceramics - and have been slowly acquiring all the major equipment required.  (Including, at date of writing, a massive 36 inch ID electric kiln and a potter's wheel!)

So - if you had been wondering why there has not been any new artisan blacksmith work being reported...

(1) Curiously, I don't know who placed the core of this reference on Wikipedia.
Especially the part related to 'It is the home of Darrell Markewitz...' (!!)
The part in quotations was placed by myself (July 22). This is based on my memory of information given to me by Susan Thompson, who was resident in the Church at the time I moved in. (The Thompson's had undertaken the conversion of the Church building into a residence, starting something about 1985.) I had some paper documentation describing the early history of Wareham - but of course can't find that as I compose this entry.

(2) Dating via objects like nails is always quite tentative. 
- Machine cut nails are introduced about 1810, the specific style found at Wareham start about 1830.
- Availability is certainly going to shift towards the later dates (especially for a rural Ontario location).
- New types (wire nails = post 1890) also take considerable time to both become available, and importantly replace existing stockpiles of older types. 
(see 'Using Nails to Date' )

In this case, there is also the dates related to both European Settlement (post about 1850) and development lag (The first structures would have been smaller, round log. With primary effort going to clearing forest for farm land, there have been considerable delay before the expenditure of effort involved in larger, more elaborate structures.)

(3) When we purchased the property, the second floor came covered in quite horrible, recycled, shag carpet. Over the first winter, I replaced the flooring with 5/8 thick solid pine planking. This also effectively helps distribute the weight loading over that 1/2 waffer board used as the sub-flooring!

(4) This proved a massive job! 
First, about 1/3 of the workshop area needed to be cleared out. 
Next, the main horizontal beams had to be jacked up, taking all the load off each of the existing 'supports'

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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