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#31069 - 09/28/13 05:11 PM Chips/clay questions - project starts next week
ironsheik Offline
Member

Registered: 09/01/12
Posts: 16
Hi all,
I just finished my first timber frame, a cabin for my girlfriend, me and a soon to arrive baby in Western MA. The design is based on the Sobon shed from his first book. I'm insulating with wood chips and clay - the chips are coming from a friend with a pile of dried slabs and we hired a chipper. The chips are going into an 8" cavity framed with 2x2s and sawn 1/2" x 2" lathe strips

I would like to know how important is chip size? I learned from Steve Chappell and he recommended 1.5" to 2" diameter but it seems like that's hard to consistently get.

Second, with 6-8 weeks of curing time would there be any trouble with either coating the interior (or exterior) first, say after 6 weeks and then doing the other side after another 2 weeks? I figure we'll move in as soon as the flooring is done and get the wood stove firing which ought to help the drying, correct?

Thanks for any and all advice,

J

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#31071 - 09/28/13 05:46 PM Re: Chips/clay questions - project starts next week [Re: ironsheik]
Jay White Cloud Offline
Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 480
Loc: Vermont
Hi J,

I don't believe it as critical, as traditionally it was whatever they had. The "lite clay straw," and "lite clay chip," slip from methods probably achieve a higher R factor, but it is all relative.

I would not plaster the walls, if that is what you are asking till they are completely dry. If that is not an option then, plaster the inside first, (assuming you have good overhanging eaves.) You could just create a nice traditional rain screen wall outside and cover with boards not plaster.

Good Luck,
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#31072 - 09/28/13 06:25 PM Re: Chips/clay questions - project starts next week [Re: Jay White Cloud]
TIMBEAL Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 1875
Loc: Maine
I would check with someone who has knowledge on trying times. Wood chip and clay at this time of the year may be pushing it. You don't want the mix to freeze. You may drive the moisture out from the inside with wood heat. It is the outer layer that may be susceptible to freezing, and a render on that side would delay drying even more. If we should settle into a wet fall your drying times will be longer than the 6weeks and that puts you into November or more.

I am saving all the chips from my boring machines, nice half round chips.

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#31073 - 09/28/13 09:34 PM Re: Chips/clay questions - project starts next week [Re: TIMBEAL]
Jay White Cloud Offline
Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 480
Loc: Vermont
Timbeal, that is a good point about the freezing. I am kinda "skirting over" the obvious aspects of earth architecture, but you are good to point it out nonetheless. I don't believe all the details can be covered on such a forum as this, nor should we. Ironsheik should seek out all resources he can learn from I do agree on that, but as of late I see and read much of "novice" folks tackling clay bodied architecture and often the applications are "wanting" in good design or even applicability in safe architecture. It is not as easy as many are making it seem, so take caution on whose advice you follow, and always double check your conclusions.

I tend to lean toward traditional methods that have a proven track record. I have used, research or observed most of the methods thus described and why I made the recommendations I made. Whether dealing with any of the clay bodied building methods (i.e. Cob, Adobe, Bousillage, Bajareque,etc) or any of the clay mortars found in hımış construction styles of Turkey, dhajji dewari construction in many regions of the Middle East, to the timber lacing modalities of taq construction of Kashmiri , and other regions of the Himalayas. I will do my best to give good and sound advice. As said before, there is much promise for the slip forming that is being done, as it is a very efficient form of earth architecture for the beginner to employ with infill methods.

I would stress again, what I said before:

"I would not plaster the walls, if that is what you are asking till they are completely dry. If that is not an option then, plaster the inside first, (assuming you have good overhanging eaves.) You could just create a nice traditional rain screen wall outside and cover with boards not plaster."
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#31075 - 09/28/13 10:01 PM Re: Chips/clay questions - project starts next week [Re: Jay White Cloud]
Jay White Cloud Offline
Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 480
Loc: Vermont
Sorry folks the edit keys on this are time sensitive and I did not catch that mistake in "coding" for other languages.

himis (pronounced hemish) is a Turkish region style of construction using clay bodied mortars.
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#31105 - 10/01/13 07:04 PM Re: Chips/clay questions - project starts next week [Re: Jay White Cloud]
ironsheik Offline
Member

Registered: 09/01/12
Posts: 16
Thank you for the advice. I know the timing isn't great but I'm not sure if I have a good other option as of now. Delays, delays. It's quite dry and warm now. What are the consequences of freezing? The clay breaks off the chips? That's total failure then I assume. Hmmmm... At least the chips I'm getting are quite dry.

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#31107 - 10/01/13 08:03 PM Re: Chips/clay questions - project starts next week [Re: ironsheik]
TIMBEAL Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 1875
Loc: Maine
The north side would be effected the most I suspect. You may extend the climate by building a temporary green house of kind around the building. This would aid in heat during the day and protect slightly at night. You may want to vent it periodically as well. On the south side it will get very warm during the day. Maybe something to consider, even go out to have morning coffee in the warmth. I have often thought of building some such "green house" against my house. Plans keep changing and not everyone is in favor of such things. It would also protect the clay wall from the elements.

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#31115 - 10/02/13 07:40 PM Re: Chips/clay questions - project starts next week [Re: TIMBEAL]
ironsheik Offline
Member

Registered: 09/01/12
Posts: 16
At first I said this is crazy but now that I think on it, a friend developed a neat little 1x2 framed hoop house that holds heavy clear plastic for a type of green house. I could probably do something like that if temps are set to stay low for a while.

Has anyone here worked with chips and clay yet? I'm wondering how much an effect the moisture content of the chips has on the curing process as well as what the implications of freezing might be. My walls will be 8" deep. Also, I believe I will be sheathing with reverse batten boarding to keep the outside simple and not have to worry about more curing time for another layer of clay cob.

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#31116 - 10/02/13 08:27 PM Re: Chips/clay questions - project starts next week [Re: ironsheik]
bmike Offline
Member

Registered: 01/09/08
Posts: 918
Loc: Burlington, VT
I worked on a large private job where the entire structure was surrounded by scaffolding, which held up clear span conventional trusses. There was 8' between the top of the timber ridge and the bottom of the truss. A marina crew came in and wrapped the entire building in plastic, and the crew worked through the winter at a comfortable temperature... lots of $$ spent on heat, for sure.



Edited by bmike (10/02/13 08:29 PM)
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#31117 - 10/02/13 09:02 PM Re: Chips/clay questions - project starts next week [Re: bmike]
TIMBEAL Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 1875
Loc: Maine
It need not be as to such a scale as Mike points to, and no need to add heat, just use what the sun gives you.

From my understanding, an exterior render should be applied to seal the wall from excess air flow. Plaster on the inside and render on the outside, then sheath in what ever you wish.

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#31122 - 10/03/13 10:17 PM Re: Chips/clay questions - project starts next week [Re: TIMBEAL]
mldrenen Offline
Member

Registered: 06/11/10
Posts: 4
what part of western mass are you located in?

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#31131 - 10/08/13 04:58 PM Re: Chips/clay questions - project starts next week [Re: mldrenen]
ironsheik Offline
Member

Registered: 09/01/12
Posts: 16
I'm in Worthington. We got half the infill in last weekend and are finishing up Thursday. All went quite well. I'm using a mortar mixer for the slip but next time I want to try digging a trench and stomping up a nice batch. It would be nice to not have to spend money renting machinery.

We'll see how the weather holds up this Fall. As far as covering the exterior, I think I'll wait and see. I don't want to hold in the moisture with a bunch of plastic if not needed. Right now there's great dry, windy and sunny weather forecasted for the next week or so. I'll just cross my fingers.

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#31132 - 10/08/13 06:57 PM Re: Chips/clay questions - project starts next week [Re: ironsheik]
TIMBEAL Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 1875
Loc: Maine
Reply back as the winter approaches. It would be good information on what you experience.

To be clear, I would not wrap it tight. I would allow at least 4-6 feet around the building, walking room. And it would have to be vented in some manner.

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#31137 - 10/11/13 09:52 AM Re: Chips/clay questions - project starts next week [Re: ironsheik]
mldrenen Offline
Member

Registered: 06/11/10
Posts: 4
i'm right around the corner in chester. if you need help with anything, i'd be more than happy to lend a hand. sounds like an interesting project.


Edited by mldrenen (10/11/13 09:53 AM)

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#31143 - 10/13/13 09:30 AM Re: Chips/clay questions - project starts next week [Re: mldrenen]
timberwrestler Online   content
Member

Registered: 11/07/05
Posts: 271
Loc: Becket, MA
IS,

Do you know Dave Bowman in Worthington? He did a straw/clay enclosure around his shop. I think he has a custom mixer that he made as well. Look him up.
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#31837 - 01/14/14 06:50 PM Re: Chips/clay questions - project starts next week [Re: timberwrestler]
ironsheik Offline
Member

Registered: 09/01/12
Posts: 16
Hey all,
Sorry I never wrote anymore. Internet access is spotty in my life these days. The project isn't complete but the chips/clay dried with little problem although I'm realizing we didn't do the best job with regards to the clay/chip ratio (not wet enough) nor was the install done thorough enough in that the consistency of the fill density is sporadic. The final product in the walls is not as dense as it could/should be, however we have been able to weather the -13 degree nights with our Jotul 118 wood stove. Also, by the time the walls cured it was too cold for the exterior clay plaster application so we went with 1" ship-lap siding.

The floor is just 2.5" of white pine with no insulation and the foundation is stone so there's certainly a lot of cold coming from there and we haven't plastered the interior yet either. Anyway, I learned a whole lot and am eager to use it again on a more substantial and better planned structure. I'll try and check in again soon if anyone has questions or if anyone wants to see the place, PM me.

J

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