Massive window sills - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 07-14-2017, 05:16 PM Thread Starter
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Massive window sills

Hi guys,

I am building a straw bale house with lots of wood. The walls are very thick so I would like to make massive window sills with some wood I have and which has been drying for 2-3 years now outside, protected. 99% it is oak. Very hard on touch. They are about 2 inches thick, as you can see in these photos.

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/attac...304426&thumb=1
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/attac...304434&thumb=1
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/attac...304442&thumb=1

The end result would be the last photo..

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/attac...304458&thumb=1

I am a newbie with woodworking and I have some basic questions:

1. Will the sills crack if I make the sills with one piece of wood?
2. If yes, how do you recommend I proceed to cut and assemble again?
3. What tools do you recommend I buy for this project? I do have some hand tools, eccentric sander, hand circular saw, a very old table with a circular saw. Also I am planning on building wooden floor framing in my house and wooden flooring over it.

tnx guys
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post #2 of 15 Old 07-14-2017, 05:40 PM
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The problem with making a window sill that wide using solid wood is it's going to shrink at least 1/4", maybe up to 1/2" in width. You would have to make it in such of a way where it could shrink that much to make it work. You could fasten it solid at the window side and let the rest of it float. The wall would have to have an empty cavity behind it to allow it to shrink into. If you can do this and finish both sides of the wood before installing it then it would probably work. It would help to make the sill square instead of cutting that radius on both ends. Let the wall go above and below it. With wood you never know what might happen. If there will be a lot of sun coming through that window then it may cup warp on you no matter what you do. It would be a lot safer to use plywood.
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post #3 of 15 Old 07-14-2017, 06:21 PM
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I think you can go either solid or with cut pieces if you lay it so that the grain is p perpendicular to the window. This way the shrinkage will be side to side as you view the window.

You want to have the wood slightly under the wall so that the shrinkage does not show.

I think that if you make the walls without the curve the window will not look good.

George
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post #4 of 15 Old 07-14-2017, 06:53 PM
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I really like your plan. I've read about straw for insulation but I've never seen it under construction.
If your wood is wide enough to make the sill in one piece, that's what I would do. If you follow Steve's advice above and cut into the wall about 1/4" to 3/8" on each side it will allow for movement. You can still apply caulk at the wall so there will be no crack.
As for cutting the sills:
I would first lay the arc out on thick poster board or cardboard for the pattern. Cut on a bandsaw.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #5 of 15 Old 07-14-2017, 07:04 PM
where's my table saw?
 
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Which came first ...

If you make the curved walls with the sill in place, then a precise cut won't be needed. If you have to "fit" the sill under the curved wall then it will be more work. No matter which way, seal both sides of those planks!

In fact I would start work on the sills now, sanding and planing and sealing, etc. and allow them time to shrink indoors if possible.

Nice ideas!:smile3:

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #6 of 15 Old 07-15-2017, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you guys for the feedback, I appreciate it!

The sills usually go between two rows of bales and they have some shrinking rooms, the bales also are relatively soft compare to conventional brick walls. The main problem would be the sand+clay plaster which does crack if you push it too hard. I will try to compensate with some caulk at the very ends where the wood meets the plaster to make some room for shrinkage/stretching.

I will definitely post some pics.

Am gunning on bringing out the grain a little bit and then finishing with a matte poly. A good plan? It will have a lot of sunlight...

Here are some pics of a typical window instalaltion in a straw bale house, mine will be a similar, without the metal mesh.

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/attac...304618&thumb=1

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/attac...304610&thumb=1
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post #7 of 15 Old 07-18-2017, 07:39 AM
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Why don't you hire a biscuit machine and build up your sills using multiple planks?
Use epoxy 30 minute glue between the planks and clamp.
Make sure to have the planks alternated so then the annular rings are like this, ununun.

To note, you may not get the desired effect you are looking for in the grains figure, but you will gain more stability over time.
Grain matching the boards well could do wonders.


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post #8 of 15 Old 01-19-2018, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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Update with pics

Hi guys,

so, my house is almost finished, the window sills are done and they will be installed in a few weeks. Just wanted to give you an update and some pics, I know it will be interesting to see. It was a busy year..
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post #9 of 15 Old 01-19-2018, 03:03 PM
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Most interesting. I have heard of hay houses but never seen any pictures.

How do you keep the bugs out of the hay? What king of fire rating do the insurance companies put on it?

Do you use a stucco type of material on the outside? Is there conventional framing on the inside?

George
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post #10 of 15 Old 01-19-2018, 06:11 PM
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First I want to thank you for giving us an update on your straw house. It looks like it has really turned out nicely.
Like George above, I also have questions.
Is the straw compacted ? And if yes, how did you compact the straw?
Do you have an estimate of the R-rating for insulation when using the straw?
Now that you're almost complete, was there any savings to using the straw vs conventional construction?
What are the primary benefits of building with straw?
Would you do this again?

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #11 of 15 Old 01-20-2018, 12:27 AM
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Hi Lucia...Great Post!!!

Sorry I didn't get to see this earlier...I was in the middle of a huge project this summer that really kept me hopping...

I'll try and catch up, and offered my perspective on this and hope that its not too late to be of service...



These window seats look stunning!!!....Great Job

Quote:
1. Will the sills crack if I make the sills with one piece of wood?
They can...but they don't have too. It all depends on instillation method.

I would also note, with glue ups or full slabs...both act like a "big piece of wood"...so movement is the challenge.

I would also offer as a suggestion...

So what if they do check and split?

Big slabs have a charm and character all there own. If a rock solid mounting is easiest for something (like a window seat) compare to all types of macanations to allow it to move a lot...I will just joint them inplace and deal with the checking later. Often this adds more charm and character to the wood...

Repair Work - Kintsugi 金継ぎ and Wabi-sabi 侘寂 are art form that deals with exactly such things...These embellishments/repairs can be as rustic or refined as one likes...

Quote:
2. If yes, how do you recommend I proceed to cut and assemble again?
I think you have done fine, it would seem?

I like solid slabs, and I tend to not just do edge gluing, but that can work also...

Quote:
3. ...Also I am planning on building wooden floor framing in my house and wooden flooring over it.
Sounds awesome, I just helped (limited amount this time) with laying another green White Pine floor. I like Asian building system and floating a jointed floor system...You could always start another post on other aspects of your project...

I have been part of a few SB structures over the years and specialize in natural/traditional building systems like SB.

Here are a few links that you may find of interest of some other writing I've done on the subject:

Raised Earth Foundations

Condensation, and other moisture related challenges in natural building...
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post #12 of 15 Old 01-27-2018, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thanx Jay, those are some useful links, I will be reading those, especially moisture related topics. I am building a wooden raise floor and here are some progress pics of it. I guess I have to make a seperate thread about it. I also have some questions...

Anyway, only straw bales are used to build this kind of house., no hay bales. We build a wooden frame first, roof, then the bales came in between. They need to be very dry, and compressed. They are additionally compressed betweeen the wood posts with car jacks. Later on they are covered with clay/sand/straw plaster. And that's abut it. The plaster is cca 2-3 inches thick and no mice diggs though if after it is finished.

I am still working on it and the price is cca 30 % cheaper than conventional building, but if you wanna build conventional with this kind of insulation, the cost benefits of straw bale houses are even bigger. I spend a lot on wood and carpentry. I didn't do that by myself. You can't avoid some costs.

As for the interior., I will be doing it by myself. Never did anything like it but I am a fast learner and motivated, good with hands. Will be some trial and error, but I am excited. oak plank floor, wooden kitchen cabinets etc etc.

No R ratings, there are some on the internet, I will be doing the measuring when I move in :) subjective first. But am expecting some good values.

Benefits? no artifiacial materials, low cost, good insulation,,but you need to invest time and energy to know the materials...
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post #13 of 15 Old 01-27-2018, 06:49 PM
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Please explain how you compress the bales further with a car jack.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #14 of 15 Old 02-02-2018, 09:20 PM
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I like the double floor system with internal SB insulation in the floor.

What type SB...wheat, rye, rice, buckwheat?
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post #15 of 15 Old 02-02-2018, 09:43 PM
where's my table saw?
 
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How does this work?

I am used to seeing pole barns with timber frame type construction where the pole are sunk into the ground, which secures the entire structure from shifting or rising. These photos show a smooth platform with no frame members going into the ground to secure the structure laterally and vertically..... ?




The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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