The Cabin Floor: 02/09/2020

Today is September the second. A friend and I have spent a very soggy Wednesday filling in the old bunker hole and laying the long needed cabin floor.

The den cabin floor.

These plywood sheets are typically not very den like. They are square, straight and flat. This does not work very well with the jumble and tangle of shanty joints and not square angles that make up our buildings. That being said, these 8ft by 4ft sheets of ply were an old shed roof at a local scout camp site that I do tree work for. When myself and the crew felled the shed these and the nice joists were on the bonfire heap along with some old scaffolding boards. These were too good to let be burned and I had to jump in and grab them. So here below lies the tale of how two lads in the hammering down rain filled in a great big hole and made square plywood sheets fit a very not square floor. Enjoy.

Myself and the Barnswood crew having felled the shed.

So myself and Fin headed down to the den today to spend the full day working on the cabin floor. I had dropped off the plywood sheets in a rented mini bus at the farm yesterday and left them neatly stacked up against the stable wall. After a quick plan of the rough days work we hiked over to the farm and acquired ourselves a spare trailer. This would save us a lot of carrying when we were moving over the nice even track. We loaded 3 sheets onto the trailer and with myself steering and pulling and fin pushing we headed off down the track at a reasonable pace. It took us two runs to move the sheets down to the field that lay between the track and the woods. After a short break for lunch, and as the rain settled in, we started working them one by one over the gate into the field. These sheets are eight feet long by 4 feet wide and about 3/4 of a inch thick. So not exactly light work. After having spent close to 2 sopping wet hours dragging, carrying and flipping these boards we had them into the woods and down to the den. The hard work had only just begun and the rain was still coming down.

Plywood stacked into the kitchen.

Now we were properly properly soaked we decided to do some digging. We took spades in hand and started to cut away the large mounds of compacted clay at the sides of the cabin. This was more back breaking work and my pulled back reminds me of this even as I write this. We spent close to another 2 hours digging away at the sides and scooping it into the old bunker hole. It was sad to see this memory at long last vanish from site. The 3 years of Christmas parties in there. The many time it flooded and filled with smoke. But this is for the best. Having move the vast majority of the clay soil into the hole and there no longer being water present there we decided to call the a day for the digging, string a tarp over the roof as it was truly raining cats and dogs in weight of water and decided to lay the floor before making dinner.

Plywood into the cabin and being rotated round to fit where it is due.

Now finally out of the worse of the rain we started the mental challenge of trying to make square bits of plywood fit the rickety shanty building that is the cabin so far. However, as it turned out to make things even harder the plywood sheets were not all the same size. Some were in fact the full 8ft long and some were short by a foot or so in between. These made things challenging at first. But after some wiggling of the boards I found in my lack of ability to use a tape measure the ‘middle’ floor was actually about a foot or so closer to the front then the back This to a great deal of help meant the short ones fitted the front section and the bigger ones the back section pretty much perfectly. One of the shorter boards had a rotten side so that one was immediately chosen for the middle section. These ones had to be cut lengthways due to the cabin being aprox 10ft by 15ft at the ground level. So with 4ft wide boards it should require 2 and a half. Or in the real case of the floor being 9 and a little bit feet long and the boards not quite being 4ft wide (Laurence feet are bigger then a normal foot) it worked out at 2 full and a good half boards. So after much pain and mental challenge (thanks fin for providing my with a brain for the day) we managed to get all the corner boards cut to fit around the posts, the middles cut to length and every board fitted neatly where it was meant to go with minimal amount of gap in between the boards. Things were starting to finally look good, well except for the fact everything was covered head to toe in mud and soaking wet.

Corner joint fitting quite well if I do say so myself.
Long cuts of plywood in the rain.

Having cut all the boards and got everything fitting as best as it could I had decided to try something dramatic. Since the dawn of time here at the den everything is nailed. Need a post attaching to another post, whack a nail in it. Need to put down a pallet plank, whack it with some nails. Need a really load bearing support joint, whack a lot of nails in it. However, with times moving on the den has at long last got a cordless drill. This meant the floor sheets would not be in fact nailed but screwed. This I am told helps reduce the boards working loose as they are walked on and since the floor does have a little bounce to it I can say that is a good thing. So whilst fin cooked dinner over the fire in the shed I went around screwing down the boards ensuring there were screws into every joist and that it was as butted up to the other boards as possible. This was going perfectly till I ran out of screws. I will return next time with more screw and a charge up battery and finish screwing them down. Today was a test of strength, determination and mental will power. The weather was horrendous and the job at hand was very demanding. However, Fin and I powered through and got a brilliant brilliant job done and one that means future projects can go straight on. Shortly the window frames, more wind braces, the door frame and the stair case will all get done. The roof will be an on going project and Will slowly cover the cabin. Bu for today the work is done and a job well done it is.

The boards finding their fit.
Fin trying to get some arty views.
The finished floor with the new drill on it.

Published by The Den Workshop

I am a 21 year old woodsman who lives in the woods in my timber framed cabin.

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