Building the Octagon Pt.49 Of towers and railings.


It is getting close to making the choice of cladding plywood. I have looked at the stock in some of the local outlets. The price is as variable as the cosmetic quality. With little connection between the two. A heavily knotted cladding is going to look 'heavy' and draw the eye to the surface. While smooth, almost characterless grain pattern will defeat the eye and look far more homogeneous. So the shape or form of the building will be better emphasized. If I should decide to paint the structure later on then the knots might still be visible on the "busier" examples.

Yesterday I found a picture of a timber-framed [half timbered?] octagonal tower attached to an old farmhouse. It was pure coincidence I found it because the tower was in the background of another property for sale. The online property details of the farm itself suggest the tower was built in 1862. Its original purpose remains a mystery. The rather heavy, modern windows suggest quite a recent 'domestication' of the tower. Older windows would have been much slimmer in their construction. Mostly thanks to far better quality heart wood which could last for centuries. The modern knotty pine may only last ten years even with a "protective" coat of plastic paint.

The tower is certainly attractive in design albeit reaching an impressive three full stories plus roof. Which is quite a different scale to my far more modest building. The rusting steel roof is typical of Danish agricultural properties converted from thatch. The material was originally supplied in long strips, was plated for protection and was supplied with edge upstands. These edge ribs joined the strips, stiffened and sealed the roof against the wind and weather.

Then there is the matter of the veranda railings. I prefer a lighter touch rather than massive timbers. I threw a quick drawing together to get a feel for slim wooden rails. These would be seen against a plain background of cladding plywood so would be far more obvious than this image suggests.

If I need 4x4 support posts for the veranda railings I could miter the bottoms where they fit inside the perimeter 2x8 joists. To get parallel faces for coach bolting the posts securely in place I needed to miter opposite faces. The image shows the general idea. Shame I wasted time fixing holed connector plates before I thought of this means of reinforcing the veranda's eight 'corner' joints. In the image above I have roughly drawn how the bolts might pass through the mitered section of a the 4x4. Naturally the coach bolts would be staggered above and below each other to avoid collisions.

I came close to collecting 16 x 8'x4' sheets of cladding plywood but was talked out of it. I have lots more to do before I need to cover the sides of the building. A roof [or dome] would be a very good idea to keep everything dry. Any work on veranda railings would improve safety but probably block easy access to the top of the building. A veranda floor would be a good idea though. To save working from ladders and provide the necessary working surface in the absence of scaffolding.
Click on any image for an enlargement.

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