The Real Know How

How-Tos, Videos, Tutorials — Ramping Up for the 21st Century

Archive for the category “construction”

How to Make Wood Shingles

WoodlandsTV from the UK shows us how to make oak shingles with hand tools. He notes that the oak shingles should last about 70 years untreated due to their high tannin content:

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Rammed Earth Construction

Rowland Keable from the UK talks about rammed earth and rammed chalk construction.

Earthen/Cob Floor

“Natural building expert Michael G. Smith from the Emerald Earth Institute shows us the first layer of an earthen floor (clay soil, sand, chopped straw and road base, or crushed rock): just one layer of the 3 layers they eventually use. He also shows us a finished floor that has been treated with 4 to 6 coats of linseed oil and is water resistant and completely mop friendly.”

It was nice to see a natural, durable floor that didn’t come from a factory.

Passive Solar Earthship Homes

This video (in English, despite the title in Russian which translates as ‘house build from tires’) takes a look at “Earthship” houses in New Mexico. The houses are designed to be stand-alone, self-sufficient, off-grid units.

In this case, the “Earthships” have thick walls that allow for passive solar heating formed from rammed earth in recycled automobile tires. Empty aluminum cans and glass bottles also provide filler for the walls.

The thick walls can store so much solar heat that the inside temperature is easily a stable 70 F without additional heating, even on freezing days.

So, heating = solar passive via thick walls and window siting, energy via solar panels and wind turbines, water and waste = special filtration and septic systems.

Building with Straw Bale Demo

Barbara Jones who builds with straw bales in the UK, demonstrates how load bearing straw bale construction works. She shows us the various simple tools and components of straw bale construction (wooden pins that anchor the bales to a base plate, baling twine, the base plate itself, top plates, mallets, baling needle, strapping, etc.).

Straw Bale Build in Fairview, Utah

“When this home is finished and you walk into it , it will be like putting on an old pair of Levis. It’s just extremely comfortable and personnable.”

This (4H?) video shows a straw bale house under construction in Fairview, Utah. The house is a wooden post and beam house that uses straw bales as in-fill material (versus a structural straw bale house that would use the bales as support for the structure).

At the time of the video all or most of the straw bales are in place between the wooden joists and the all-ages work crew is focused on finishing the interior walls with a home made plaster (a mix of mud, sand, wheat paste and straw).

Straw Bale, Adobe and Post and Beam House in New Mexico

The following videos feature a small (800 sq ft) “hybrid” house built by designer Ted Owens in Corallis, New Mexico, near Albuquerque. His house uses post and beam construction (he got the lumber from salvage yards and home renos), straw bale and adobe with mud used as plaster. The house draws its electricity from photovoltaic solar panels.

The house also uses sunlight, heavy materials (adobe walls and concrete floors) and shifts in temperature (passive solar concepts) to keep the inside temperatures comfortable. Windows are also carefully placed to maximize comfort in the house.

Earthbag Construction – Using Metal and Wooden Supports

Treatments for Exterior Earthbag Walls

There seem to be a number of ways to cover your completed earthbag “skeleton.”

Cement plastering in a hot, humid climate:

Cement over chicken wire in another hot climate:

Papercrete (ash, mud, newspaper)

Cob finished with paint and linseed oil

Earthbag Construction How-To

Laura Bartels of Greenweaver shows students how to use earth bags in construction. Filmed on location at the University of Colorado Boulder.

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