Some progress being made

That's the northeast corner of the backyard and I post that to give reference to where I took the shot of the overhead door side of the garage.

Here's a picture from the overhead door side. I still have to do my electric and that small rectangle to the left of the overhead door is where the meter will go.

Here's what it looked like when I had the first 2 gambrels up.



Three books that I read and kept as reference were Practical Pole Building Construction, How to Build Small Barns and Outbuildings, and Building Construction Illustrated.

I bought the first two new off of Amazon and the latter I picked up on EBay for a little over 10 dollars plus shipping. I read Practical Pole Building Construction from cover to cover several times and consulted it frequently. If I was going to have only one book that would be the one as it is a very good primer on pole building.

Also, I noticed the link to the USDA's Midwest Building Service was no longer valid. Some of the free USDA plans are on this page. The Canadian Plan Service link is still good but I should point out that the structural loading information are found on the Series 9000 pages.

Actually there's a lot of good information spread throughout both websites and if you've time look at some of the beef, dairy, and other categories. Bottom line is that all of the references and links above helped me, a rookie, figure out how to build this garage. If you're an amateur like me I strongly suggest you read the book(s) and surf those two websites.

More to follow in the next week or so.


I've had several emails plus comments here about sharing the plans for this. I'd do that but the originals got fried along with the hard drive they were on in an old PC I used. But I think I will try to duplicate the plans again and I will share them once I get them into a CAD format.

Incidentally, someone asked me about my CAD training and I replied I don't have any CAD training, but learned as I went along with a copy of Turbo-Cad 7.0 that I got on EBay for 5 or 6 dollars a few years ago. 2D CAD isn't all that hard and since I was primarily drawing rectangles it wasn't that difficult. But, if you're not aware of it, CAD lets you measure things "real-world" right there on your screen and you know immediately if the dimensions you're entering will work or not.

Since there's interest in it I'll try to add some regular updates to it.

All the best to all who've emailed and commented.


A few good links

This 20 x 36 garage uses a combination of stick framing and pole barn carpentry. I'm not a professional builder so I read a lot of material about building large storage buildings long before I ever drove a nail in this building or even put pencil to paper to make up some plans.

One place that I frequented a lot and downloaded a lot of free plans from was the Mid-West Plan Service of the USDA. These were very valuable as they helped me understand the rudiments of pole building. Just click on the plan numbers in the left hand column to see a PDF file of the particular building.

The Canadians also have a plan service. That service had a lot of information about structure loading. That was especially critical for me as I was going to sheath this building in OSB and not the traditional method of sheet tin. OSB is heavy and I wanted to be sure it wasn't going to come down on me one day.


To the gentleman that emailed me about the gambrel framing here's a view of how I built the gambrels . I made ours with 2 x 6 bottom and top chords, 3/4" plywood for the gussets, and then used an 8' 2x4 for the collar ties.


My Baptist walk door

I haven't been completely idle. I have the overhead door installed, plus a walk door. The walk door was a gift from a neighbor who had 3 of them to include their metal frames. They were designed for a building with a brick exterior.

These were heavy, solid wood fire doors salvaged from a local Baptist church that had been demolished. Oh, the church is still very active. In fact, they had to build and move into a much larger church because they were running out of room.

I digress. Anyway, I couldn't use the steel frame so I had to make a wood frame out of 1 x 12s and that was interesting. But I actually got the hinge pockets routed correctly, the mount screws centered and darned if the door isn't plumb and level.

I amazed myself on that one as it all went together without much of a hitch. I'll post some pictures of it soon.


8 months ~ where has it gone?

I've sloughed off as far as updating the blog.

Let's pick it up again, somewhat. I finished the attic deck, putting down the rest of the OSB flooring. I then had the concrete poured in the garage area. It was done by the O'Neal "boys" (son and father). But, I think their real names are Jack and Jake Leg. What a joke, but we won't go there. I am not happy with it, but am resigned to learning how to live with permanent swirls in the garage floor. True, their power trowel went belly-up and it was humid, plus the late evening thunder storm didn't help, but still, sheesh!

Valuable lesson - just because they have a business card doesn't mean they know the business.

The weather has been a real detriment on what is basically a one-man show. Plus the grass has to be cut, laundry done (I do my own stuff, I just prefer it that way), the garden had to be put out, dogs to the vet, grocery shopping (yes, I'm the designated grocery guy), dental appointments, plus I'm not real fast. It's just my nature. Slow and steady will get there.

I really didn't get back to it until the end of April, too darned wet around here to do any work outside. May was productive with all the OSB going on the walls, but June was basically a washout. July was good and I got a good start of the gambrel rafters. 2x6 chords and 3/4" plywood gussets, and each also has an 8 foot 2x4 collar tie and they're attached to the 2x6 plate with two 16d nails and also Simpson hurricane ties. I run 3/4" bracing along the chords and collar ties to tie them all together. The OSB roofing deck and the gable end framing will ensure a solid roof securely attached to the building.

It took me about a day and a half to figure it all out and make the first test set - the light bulb finally came on when I realized that a completed rafter covers 180 degrees and there were 8 angles total. 180 divided by 8? 22.5 of course. Funny thing is at 20' wide and 10 total height, the top chords are 3/8" shorter than the bottom chords. I still haven't figured that one out, but it works, that's what matters. Also, I've used Turbo Cad software thru out this endeavor and that is a BIG help, using the computer to see what works and what doesn't.

April through June was very wet, July and August have been one of the hottest and most humid I've experienced in some time around here. Miserable hot and humid. I get about 2 or 3 hours total work on days like that.

Also, besides being slow, I'm anal. Every piece of exposed lumber has a coat of Olympic deck sealer, which in hindsight I realize only slows the process down more. But I hate seeing my lumber get wet, the water sealing process slows me down, but I look at it as a justifiable tradeoff as it just pains me to see wet lumber, especially at the price you have to pay for it nowadays.

I've now got all the rafters made. Only 4 left to install and they're assembled and temporarily braced at the end as I've run out of room to maneuver and will have to slide them into place. Mrs A.G.T. helped me get the first 2 in place and the last gable end one, but she is not comfortable working at height, so I devised a "gantry" and rigged a block/tackle to it and put the other rafters up. It was interesting, but towards the end I got pretty darned good at it.

Here's more:

Here's an end shot of the gambrels from the ground.

That's all 19 of them (24" o.c.) but I ran out of manuever room on the far end and have the 4 remaining ones temporarily attached to #15.

The last one only has gussets on the inside as it is one of the two gable end rafters and you leave the outer gusset off since you'll do gable end framing and attach OSB wall sheathing to them.

Here's a closer look at the knuckles and 3/4" plywood gussets. There's 16" on each "leg" or 32" wide per gusset, that's the most economical way to use at 4 x 8 sheet of plywood and still be pretty confident that you've got a strong joint.

There's construction adhesive on each side, 2" galvanized deck screws, and 8d ring-shank nails to attach the gussets to the 2 x 6 chords. Plus that 2 x 4 x 8 collar tie will help keep the whole setup very rigid.

The first gusset cut from your plywood will be deeper then the others. You'll have 3 of those per sheet of plywood so I used them on one side of the ridge knuckle of each gambrel.

I used a jig of 2x6 scrap screwed thru the deck into the floor joists to hold the pieces while they were screwed, nailed, and adhesived.

I attached them to the bottom "plate" with a combination of Simpson Strong-ties and 3 16d nails nailed into a 2x6 block on the other side. It should stay in place regardless of any normal uplift from the winds we get around here.

Here's the homemade rig that I used to lift them up off the deck along with a block & tackle.


Below freezing? Who cares!

Well, instead of sitting on my duff this winter, I decided to close in the 12x18 "exercise room/stairwell" end of the garage with plastic sheeting so I could get some work done.

First I installed the remaining 2x10x20 attic floor joists, 2x10 blocking, and then put 7/16" OSB down on that end and covered it with a large tarp and two layers of 6 mil plastic. Then plastic around the front side of the building, the left side, of course, and also both the right side and inside the garage.

All that plastic does block the wind, keeps the rain out, and with the new kerosene heater pumping out 20,000 BTUs, long underwear, and a couple layers of clothing, it's reasonably comfortable in there.

The floor joists are 2x6s 16" o.c and there's 2 "sets" with a common double 2x8 header in the middle of the room. The OSB flooring is not attached yet, I just laid some of them in there to have a smooth work surface. Also, the green tint is Copper Penthanate which is a termite proofer as I ran out of 2x6 pressure treated for the blocking and didn't feel like going to Lowes to buy just one 2x6 PT when I had several untreated 2x6s on hand.

The pics make it appear the joists are ground level, but they're not, there's about 6" or so of space between the joists and ground level. I'll put 6 mil plastic on the ground then lay 1" polystyrene panels on top of the plastic which will give the floor a R-3 insulation value. Not a lot, but that's three times better than nothing at all between the floor and the ground.

There will be a non-supporting wall to separate the garage area (to the left) from the exercise room (to the right). On the bottom left you can see the 2x4 "plate" I sandwiched in to give the wall's bottom plate a nailing surface.

Just trying to do a little each day and I figure eventually I'll be able to stand back and say, "It's finally done!" But, that's still some time off... way off.


Making hay while it shines

Have been trying to do a little each day before the cold weather sets in. Got the 2x6 wall studs up. In a post frame building (aka pole barn) they serve as nailers for the wall sheathing (7/16" OSB in this case) and "bays" for the insulation batts. They do offer some structural support, but your load is primarily carried by the top girts which then transfers it to the columns, to the concrete pads/collars surrounding the columns (poles) and then on down to the center of the Earth.

Really... well, more or less.

I've also begun to set the 2x10x20 attic floor joists. I'm toenailing them to the top girts (inside and outside girts) and also putting one Simpson Strongtie clip at each end. The joists are 12" o.c. which meets code for 18' 9" clear span. I'll also add 2x10 solid blocking (some call it bridging) between the joists which should make the attic floor super-stiff and solid underfoot.


You load 23 tons, what do you get...

Apologies to America's favorite Peapicker, but the last of the 23 tons of crush and run have finally been spread in the garage area of the building. Here's a before shot of the last bit and also a pic of one of my helpers... before all of it got spread. Here's the after view.

That ladder on steroids in the picture is one of three I am building to hold the aluminum scaffolding that a friend loaned us. I got the idea from this book and no, I didn't pay $30 for my copy, I got mine used from Amazon for about 1/3 that price.

Here's a look at the "exercise room". It's about 12' x 18' and the floor will be framed similar to a deck. We plan to cover the ground with 6 mil plastic sheeting to control any moisture, then 1" blueboard styrofoam insulation on top of that. So it should be reasonably comfortable in that area.


All top girts are up

Some busy-doing-other-stuff type things ate into our construction time, but we still managed to get all the top girts installed. Also spread about half of the remaining crush and run, plus I put in some additional blocking here and there that's not obvious in the photo.

The next "biggie" is getting thirty-eight (yes, 38) 2x10x20' floor joists up onto those top girts. Those rascals are not light and even though we consider ourselves in good condition for late fiftyish/early sixtyish type folk, Mrs GunTrash and I are trying to figure out the least strenuous and safest way to get it done. I'm thinking some sort of gantry and pulley affair off of one of the posts.. I think it'll work.. if it does, I'll be sure to take some pics of it.


The first top girt is installed!

As promised, here's a pic of 11.8 tons of crush and run. Plus, you can see at the far end the last two columns are up. The bottom plates were nailed on top of the two bottom girts. What you can't see is 2 x 6 blocking was nailed between the girts on 16" centers. Blocking stiffens both girts which is necessary as the inside bottom girt will serve as the form boards for the concrete pour.

Today I installed 2x4s onto the 4 end columns. These serve to support the 2x10x20'top outside girt and also act as backing for the OSB wall sheathing.

And I got another important little task done today, I planted a couple rows of turnips in the small raised garden area.


More crush and run and all the posts are up!

No pics today as we didn't get everything put away and shut down until almost dark. I don't care for flash pics, so took a pass on taking any. But, it was a good day's work today, for a couple of very late 50s type folk, anyway.

J.D. called at 7:15 a.m. letting me know he was on his way to pick up some more crush and run. He showed up about an hour later with 11.8 tons of it. Pictures tomorrow.

Mrs GunTrash and I then put up the last two end posts and I installed the 2 x 8 plates onto the bottom girts. This, after putting 2 x 6 blocking between the girts at 16" centers.

Pictures of all tomorrow.


Just keep chipping away

For some reason we didn't get going until around noon today. I couldn't tell you where the morning went, but it was over before we realized it. Where does time go?

Anyway, Mrs GunTrash worked on the chainlink fence separating the two kennel areas. She's taking it down so that all 3 mutts can share one big enclosed area instead of two medium sized ones. Here's Lickrish whose nickname is Lick (you can see why), the original GunTrash dog, Raven, and our talking dog, Sasha. And no, we didn't really want or go out looking for any of them, but somehow we ended up with them. What can I say?

[Ah, I'm getting sidetracked... back to the garage.]

Me? No great shakes, but I did manage to get the left and right side bottom outside girts attached. Every little bit helps.

The sun was setting so the digital did the flash thing, but we now have double bottom girts on the left hand side and also now on the right hand side.

Still waiting on J.D. and another 10 tons or so of crush and run. So, we can't put up the end columns and girt them until the gravel is delivered. His truck is down for some unspecified ailment, but he assured us that he should be back on the road NLT then this Thursday. We'll see!


11 tons just doesn't go as far as it used to

The Dodge and utility trailer are sitting on 11.2 tons of crushed limestone with fines. That's what I knew it as when working up in the Dayton, OH area. But, here in northeast Kentucky folks call it "crush and run". I haven't the faintest idea why and neither did J.D. the gravel truck driver. "Well, uh, I don't know. It's just always been called that long as I can remember."

J.D. tried to spread it in two runs for us with his surplus single axle former State of Ohio Dept of Highways yellow Ford dump truck, but the gravel was wet and it just slid out of the bed of the dump in two big clumps. Bummer... so it was rake and shovel 11.2 tons of crush and run over the back 24' of the garage.

I didn't do the front 12' as it will be separated from the garage area by a stud wall and the floor for it will be wood, sorta an almost ground level deck. Hard to explain, but I've got it figured out in my head, so it's doable and will be much warmer and comfortable than a concrete floor.

Anyway, from this angle if you look at that right side bottom girt you can see that there is still almost 9" of 2 x 10 girt exposed and the top of those girts is the top of the concrete pad that's planned for the back 24' of the garage.

So, it's either a 9" inch concrete pour or another load of "crush and run". I think we'll opt for the crush and run, probably cheaper going that route, by a long shot.


Slooooooow, but we're getting there

Well, we managed to get the right hand columns ("poles") put in on Wednesday, then the lower girts Thursday, both left and righthand sides of the building. Then, for some reason, it took all afternoon to get the overhead door end columns in today.

I think part of the slow going is the slothful nature of my helpers. But, also, the lack of an opposing thumb tends to limit their usefulness on this type of work.


Poles done on one side

Finished placing the "poles" on the LH side of the building yesterday. The wife found an old codger, who's 6'2", to stand next to the poles while she took a picture. There's about 9' of pole sticking out of the ground which will provide plenty of height for the framing.

Here's two of our cat helpers taking a break.


Just a slight delay - about 2 months!

Okay, back on track. Did a 16' x 18'deck for the step-son, that took up all of July and 1 week of August. It was hot, hot, hot, AND humid. Some days I would only work about 2 or 3 hours then that was it, it was just too miserable, heat and humidity wise, and I would throw in the towel and head for the house and soak up the air conditioning.

Also, during this period we had our roof replaced. Not just shingles, but 1/3 of the whole roof. A new 22' ridge board and rafters all raised about 2 1/2' higher on the hip. The old one was barely 3:1 pitch and was in bad shape. We had a good roofer and he was also a good carpenter, but slooooooow. Lord, he was slow. He was here 7 weeks... 7 weeks... to do a roof job on a 1350 sq ft cottage style house. Good worker, good price overall, but slow, slow, slow...

Anyway, we finally got him out of here and could get back to building this 20' x 36' garage. First thing was to get the post holes dug. We considered renting an 8" two-man auger, but we had used one twice before on other projects and weren't looking forward to doing eighteen 12" holes with one of those things.

So, I lucked out and found a contractor here locally that would dig eighteen 12" diameter holes 36" deep with a tractor mounted auger. His minimum charge was 4 hours which equaled $160. He was only here about an hour, but the wife & I both considered it money well spent!

Today we set the corner posts. Here's a picture showing the LH "line", perfect, eh? And here's the four posts in the corners.


Kentucky crop circles

Yikes! Came outside and found crop circles.

Not really! Just kidding, those are Painted Circles, done with an aerosol can of black paint and a 12" circle tool.

The rectangular outline is 4-1/2" x 5-1/2", which corresponds to the end size of three 2" x 6" pieces of dimension lumber - the size of our "posts".

The 2 holes correspond to the back side of a "post" and are used to measure and align jig.

To use it, first establish a "zero" point at one of the string corners and simply work from there by measuring the appropriate distance from post edge to post edge. Use a plumb bob along the string to ensure the back edge hole is at the proper distance from "zero" and drive a 6" spike into the ground. Set the jig over the head of the spike. Then plumb bob the front edge of the rectangle to ensure it's parallel with the string also.

Here's what it looks like with the circles done on one side. They really are in line, but the camera operator didn't get lined up, so the alignment isn't all that obvious.

Why go to all that trouble? Well, I've dug postholes "freehand", by eye before and usually there's one or two holes that are "off" and you've got to pull the pole out and dig again. This method should eliminate that kind of error.


Side View

Side view as submitted to Bldg Insp. One side will have an exterior walk door. But haven't figure out where exactly.


Front View

View from the front, more or less. Always subject to change!


Free delivery, but stack it yourself

I drove 65 miles to Flemingsburg on the 8th of June and purchased $2400 of lumber to begin the lower level. A.W. Graham delivered it that very afternoon. 65 miles, one way, and they didn't charge for delivery! Incredible.

We had to get it covered fairly quickly as storms were in the area. Rather than tarp it overnight and move it on the 9th, we decided to suck it up and move it all into the covered car port that day. Even though the wife had just returned from the dentist and some fairly serious dental work. She's tough, I tell you.

If there hadn't been the threat of rain, I would have taken my time and stacked in order of the build. But, with the rumble of thunder all around us, we just started moving lumber, with little thought of stacking in order. We started at 4:00 and by 7:30 had it stacked under the carport. The old man's muscles are still sore two days later!


Never, ever, say never

Well, after mulling it this way, then mulling t'other way.. hmmm... 9' centers for the columns. It finally dawned on me that at 6' o.c. there's just too many holes and too much lumber going into the ground. I still have to consider all that weight on 9' spans (top and bottom girts), but I'm cogitating a somewhat simple solution for that. More holes, but not 46" deep ones. Instead, approx. 8" x 10" x 30" holes in between the 9' o.c. columns and poured to grade with reinforced concrete. These "footers" will support the middle portion of the two bottom girts. Here's the latest side view.


The objective

We've decided to build a 20' x 36' garage. It will be a "hybrid" pole barn style. Three pieces of 2" x 6" x 12' ACQ (pressure treated) dimension lumber will be built up (laminated) to form 4 1/2" x 5 1/2" wood columns, 12' in length. We'll use construction adhesive between each piece and a combination of 4" galvanized screws and 20d nails, staggered 8" o.c. on each side to build the columns. We've used this method to build outbuildings in the past, and it ensures reasonably straight columns, plus single pieces of 2" x 6" lumber are easy to handle. Something that can't be said when wrestling solid sawn 4" x 6" or 6" x 6" treated posts. Also, invariably, treated lumber arrives from the yard wet and to ensure a straight board (or post) it must be stacked, ricked, and air dried for about 2 weeks before use or it tends to warp. In addition to the wrestling issue, 2" x 6" x 12' boards dry quicker than solid sawn posts.

The laminated columns will be placed in 12" x 46" holes and rest on 10" x 12" concrete "punch pads". The holes are then filled to grade with concrete. The columns along the sides will be set 6' o.c., with 2" x 10" ACQ double bottom girts, 2" x 10" double top girts, and 2" x 6" stud framing between the columns to form 2' bays for R-21 insulation batts. The 2x6 studs also facilitate window and door framing.

The 6' o.c. might seem extravagant, as normal spacing is 8'. But, I tend to overbuild, plus when we decided to go to a 36' length from our originally planned 32', I just couldn't seem to follow the "build in 4' or 8' divisions" principal without doing a 6' o.c. spacing. I certainly didn't want to space them 9'o.c.



Well, I've just about always lived in a house with a garage, either attached or not. Since moving into this small cottage-style house, we don't have one. Just a carport and that frustrates the dickens out of me. Yes, we've got 2 fairly large sheds in the back for storing our "stuff", but that just don't hack it for a tinkerer like myself. We've got this large empty lot next to us, so we finally decided that it'd be the perfect spot for a garage.