Sunday, January 30, 2011


Three years ago we packed up our books and stacked up the boxes into the deepest recesses of our storage space, a 39 foot long room in the eaves on the north side of the house. Cold in the winter, hot in the summer, this space is filled with all the detritus from our lives and, oddly, my sister's life as well. It seems as though Elizabeth has contracted UPS to make monthly deliveries of her kid's unused stuff. There's a large box up there labeled Barbie Stuff. Others with nothing but lonely board games, barely, if at all, used. And boxes upon boxes of clothes. But as of yesterday, there's a little more space; we unpacked enough books to fill a new 64 sq ft book case.

The inspiration to build the bookcase came from a job I've got starting this spring. I'll be building a writer's studio, the interior of which will be floor to ceiling bookcases. The structure of the building itself will serve as the framework of the bookcases. I'll be framing the space with douglas fir 2x12's and notching the shelves, also douglas fir, into the frame. After sheathing with pine boards, I'll insulate to the outside leaving the interior with 11 inch deep framing to receive the shelves. Before I could be confident that I wouldn't be digging my own grave with this technique, I decided to try it for myself. As it turns out, I won't be building the bookcases exactly like I built my own shelves. Chris Doyle, who's working on the design, thought it would look nicer having both the shelves and frame douglas fir and came up with a simpler way to marry the shelves to the framing. It will end up making my job a little easier; the joinery won't be so fancy. I struggled to get my joinery to be tight because it's more or less impossible to correct a 2x12 that's cupped. It would have been time consuming to frame the studio space that way, possible, but difficult. I'm pleased with our bookcases, though. There's another 7' of wall space for more shelves; the plan from the start was to have an entire 15' length of floor to ceiling bookcases. But I don't know when I'll get to it.

It's been a snowy winter thus far with surprisingly little sun. We seem to be relying on our wood stove much more often than last winter. Still, though, we rarely heat our house overnight, relying on a fire first thing in the morning to give us a boost in temperature. We've burned maybe a half cord of fire wood so far this year, and might end up burning a little more than a cord in total. The nice thing about a passive solar house is that from December 21st on we get a little more solar heat every day. By March the wood stove is cold more often than not.

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