Subscribe to my RSS Feed


Ty Gwyrdd: Vancouver Island timber frame barn

Ty Gwyrdd: Vancouver Island timber frame barn

(Note that 'Ty Gwyrdd' is Welsh for 'the green house') Our main aim was to design and build a beautiful home to live in; as simple as that. It's been an ambition since childhood but some dreams take...

Recent comments

Re: You can build this shed for about $2,000

Justin, don't email the file to everyone, save it to the warehouse and stick a link in this article. Then anyone can download it directly into SketchUp.

Like my shed, for example - https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model.html?id=u2e155e1b-e484-4a0e-9941-dfb8bd2fe251

Re: Basement ceilings: drywall or a drop ceiling?

I solved the problem in my own house with pop-up panels a bit like typical office T-bar ceilings. Except I used an assortment of sizes of Doug.Fir and 2x4's to make the 'T-bar' since the house is timber-framed. Panels are 4ft x 2ft ⅜" ply, the roughest surfaced I could find for some texture. Mind you, it took 3 coats of bevy primer and 3 more of colour coat to get a decent finish!

The structure was fairly simple to build, using small blocks of ply screwed to the sides of the lower stringer of the open web trusses and aligned with a laser. The only bit I needed assistance with was raising the 16ft 2x8's to secure them.

As a result I can pop out panels to check or add wiring, piping, ducting etc. I think it looks pretty cool too. Best of all I think the entire 1200 sq.ft. cost about $1200.

Some pictures on my blog at

Re: Why I Regret Making My House a Smart-House

Wow, you had some 'fun' there (for certain unusual definitions of the word 'fun') and I'm glad I had an easier time of it.

I went for Insteon switches because at the time they seemed the best deal overall; right now I'd say some of the wave stuff is perhaps overtaking them on value but I can't comment about quality. Insteon is certainly not as high quality as control 4 but my entire house needed ~$2500 of modem, switches, dimmers, whatever. I could certainly have gone a lot further but pushing $5k would be quite hard. I run Indigo control software on an old mac mini and programmed it all myself reasonably easily. It talks to a *lot* of devices and has pretty good support and help on their forums.

The weirdest issue I had was that my UPS boxes ) for the work computers & backups) tend to 'swallow' commands and I had to invest in filter units - a whole $70 or so.

Re: How to Remove a Router Bit Without Busting Your Knuckles

Easiest solution is to buy one of the many routers out there that don't require two wrenches to do the job; Triton & Festool spring to mind since I have them.

Re: What's Better: Crawlspace or Slab-on-Grade?

Looking at the illustration at the top of this page - how is that *not* an ICF wall done with extra effort? Even if you do go slab-ob-grade, consider using ICFs to form the outer edge. Save on making forms and removing them. You'd need to trim some inner top edge - easy with a bread knife or similar tool.

As for the idea that ICFs would harbour termites… well, how is foam added later any different to foam included at the beginning?

Re: Working Model: Quick Results from an Unrefined SketchUp Drawing

I find CutList to be invaluable. It does the basics of packing a parts list quickly, effectively and neatly. I just drop the CSV version of the result into Numbers (the Mac spreadsheet app) and fiddle with a little formatting and sorting to get a list of each bit of x1, x2, 5/4 or whatever.

You'll sometimes need to mess around with making SketchUp 'materials' that are a copy of a plain material renamed to e.g. 'white plywood' so that your part will appear in the list as part of sheet mat'l instead of dozens of strips of 4" wide ¾ solid stock.

It would be nice to see a new version that has smarter part to board allocation but I do actually understand some of the maths and it's not simple. The ability to list what stock you have - 2 planks of 8ft 5 by 5/4 and 3 10ft 7 by 4/4 for example - would be fantastic. It should pay for the lumber too. :-)

Re: Tool Guide Update: 14 Circular Saws Waiting for Your Reviews!

Hmph. I am offended! Well, not really. But no mention of the Festool tracksaws? At least the DeWalt copy is shown, so that is something.
My Festool TS5 earned its keep while building my house. It made cutting subfloor pieces simpler and quicker - no measuring in many cases. It made trimming the T&G roof decking simpler, safer and faster. It quickly and safely cut formica to rough size.
All with no mess.

Re: Tool Hound Favorites: Bolt-Hole Marker

Cool tool; I wish I had known about it last year when doing mudsills on my own house. I actually invented something similar to do the job and in fact it is in the pile of possible FHB tips that might get published one day...

Re: Smart Phone Apps for Builders: Notes

Also consider 'Evernote'. Simple note taking but it backs up to the cloud and the corresponding app for your other computers does likewise. Thus you make a note on your iPhone/iPad/android/palm/crackberry and it appears on your Mac/Windows laptop/desktop soon after.

Handles photos reasonably well and interestingly can do image processing to OCR any text in the image. I've successfully used this to end up with a picture of a contractor's truck with the phone number from his logo pulled out automagically.

And it's free, which makes it painless to try out.


Re: Digitile: Use a SketchUp Model to Layout, Estimate, and Build a Takeoff List for a Tiling-Job

I used a similar idea to work out and print (for the subs) a layout of the subfloor sheets for my house. Since the positioning of some joints was important it was nice to be able to specify exactly where to place and cut and screw the ply.

Amazing how valuable even very simple uses of SU can be!

Re: SketchUp for Builders and Remodelers: Build a Virtual Lumber Yard

I too have used SU for years, though mostly for furniture design. I have the Pro version and find the Layout tool a really good way of going from 3D models I can work with to 2D plans most contractors are comfortable with.

I've recently designed my own house using SU & LO and if you're really stuck for something sensible to do with your spare time you might find my build related web pages & blog amusing. http://www.rowledge.org/tim/building/building/blog.html

Re: Prediction 2010: Granite Countertops Are So Last Decade

The thing that will end granite's high fashion appeal is nothing at all to do with the qualities of the material. The very fact that it has come down in price is what will make it unfashionable; that's always what happens. The entire point of fashion is that something is not available to everyone. The usual way of making sure that it is available only to a few is price, though there are other ways.

Same thing with stainless steel appliances. Originally it was simply that expensive units were stainless steel and so people wanted them; manufacturers made new models that used s/s but were less and less expensive and suddenly it's just ordinary. Same with Titanium; a few years ago anything titanium was ludicrously expensive and then the ex soviet union countries that had all the Ti mines wanted money and flooded the market and now you get titanium... anything.

None of it has any relation to the virtues of the materials; granite is still a fine worktop material, stainless is excellent on appliances, titanium is still incredibly strong for its mass, etc.