installing an earthen floor

Installing the base layer of an earthen floor

Earthen floors are floors composed of compacted clay, sand, and straw. They are made flat and troweled smooth just like a concrete slab. However, the finished product is much softer on your feet… and on the earth itself. You can build an earthen floor with readily available materials. The labor input is quite high, but the material cost should be very low. And of course, the embodied energy is low, too — this is a very resilient, low tech method that can be incorporated in a variety of locales. Here’s a very short introduction and answers to common questions about earthen floors.

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diy live edge wood countertop

The nearly completed live edge wood countertop

I’ve gotta admit, there’s something really visually appealing about “live edge” wood, that is wood with the natural outline of the tree left in place and not sawn square. Last year we bought a nice slab of cedar when deliberating about how to build a countertop between the two posts of our timber frame retrofit in the kitchen. This winter the cedar appeared dry enough to go ahead and make our own DIY live edge wood countertop. I’m glad we went this route. Here are the results.

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8x16 timber frame wood shed

The finished timber frame wood shed (sans siding)

In the fall of last year, I was contracted to build a small 8×16 timber frame wood shed and it was a great opportunity to get back to the ol’ chisel and mallet. I love this type of work — the materials, the scale, the tools, and the workflow feel so good. In my first post about the shed back in November, I shared some photos of the building process. Here are a few more pics of the raising and the finished shed.

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Natural Plaster Practice Board

Make your own plaster practice board with a scrap of plywood

You don’t need to build a natural home to experience the joy that is natural plaster. If you want to experiment with clay and lime plaster, you can get some valuable practice with some very simple scrap materials. Read ahead and I’ll show you how.

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Base coat clay plaster

A student floats a creamy layer of clay plaster during one of our workshops

In my recent series of posts, I’ve described the process for building and finishing a light clay straw wall. First there was mixing the light clay straw itself and stuffing it into wall cavities. Then I discussed how to prepare for plaster by making and installing wood trim, and coating the walls with a simple clay slip. Next I’ll describe how to make and apply a base coat clay plaster. Now it’s really getting fun.

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