Monday, March 8, 2010

The Art(and Science) of Scrap-Fu

Approach students. Close the circle at the feet of the master. You have come to me asking that I be your guide along the path of tae-kwon-leep Scrap-Fu, but be warned. To learn its ways, you must learn the ways of your own soul. Let us meditate on this wisdom now.

I've gotten several emails lately asking me about my materials collection methods. I've spend years developing procedures to find and sources of economically feasible(read: mostly free) building materials. And now I'd like to share them with you.

Kaden Harris talks about the art of scrap-fu in his book,
The Eccentric Cubicle. He coined the phrase to describe the art of knowing what you're looking at in a scrap yard. I'd like to extend that definition to include all forms of materials scrounging, whether it be dumpster diving, cull hunting, or anything else.

There are many methods with which you can obtain materials at less-than-retail prices:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Formatting Fixed!

Looks like that with the latest update of Firefox and IE, this page stopped displaying properly. I believe the issue is fixed now.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Insulation Circus

When I worked construction, I noticed that insulation crews were often... nontraditional. A panel van would pull up to the jobsite and out would spill 15 old women, 3 dogs, and a goat. So when I went to insulate my yurt, I thought: where am I going to get a goat? As it turned out, we had to insulate sans bovids. Luckily, I do have several friends with acute memory loss, so I'm able to convince them to help me out more than once.

First up was the cotton. I had tired fairly quickly of the black backside of the billboards that were my cover material, and decided that my yurt would look much prettier with a white background. That went pretty fast.

Oh hai!
Then came the actual insulation. If you remember from previous posts, I had decided to use concrete blankets as insulation. They are used by contractors to keep freshly poured concrete from freezing. They are essentially multiple layers of bubble wrap and tarpaulin quilted together. The ones I got were in horrible condition, and needed a lot of work to get them usable. But at ten bucks a piece, they were still worth it. And as a plus, they had a reflective coating on one side!

Fuzzy wore tie-dye, in keeping with the carny/gypsy aesthetic.

It was a relatively painless process, taking up a full day at a more than leisurely pace. I then replaced the cover, this time turning it inside out to make it a little less... commercial. After all, black is the new, um, black. Good thing we got it on when we did, because this happened fairly soon afterward:

But that's a story for another day...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Graywater System

The next step to habitation after I built the yurt was the graywater system. I needed drainage from my shower, the bathroom sink, and the kitchen sink. The toilet is a dry system, so no drainage necessary there. Looking around at the different options for graywater, I realized that most are designed for the typical four person household output of 50-75 gallons(190-280 L) a day. My output is drastically lower: somewhere around 15 gallons(57 L) a day. So I'm yet again stuck designing a system from scratch. Here's what I came up with:

First, you dig a hole.

Cut a 50 gallon drum in half and drill holes in the bottom.

Put the barrel in the hole, layer with large rocks, small rocks, pebbles, and sand to create a filter. Put the top back on the barrel.

Dig your trenches. In order to drain properly, the slope needs to be 1/4 inch to the foot. Yes, that's a microwave in the picture; and no, I have no idea why.

Here's the barrel buried and ready to be plumbed.

That's 2" ABS pipe.

I put a p-trap outside in case I lose anything important down the drain. Don't want to be digging that barrel back up if I don't have to. Insulated the access box with hay so it doesn't freeze.

Here's the pipe inside buried. From left to right, we have bathroom sink, kitchen sink, and the bottom is the shower flange.

This system should be able to handle all my drainage needs. I'll take care not to wash too many food particles down the kitchen drain so as not to clog up the system. I will also be using biodegradable soaps whenever possible.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Yurt Raising!

It was a gorgeous day, and we started early. My yurt was finally assembled and ready to put up. I had run into issues acquiring enough recycled lumber for the deck, so I decided to build the yurt on the ground. I had previously raised the height of the yurt site about a foot, then used a transit and plate compactor to level it. I then put a layer of billboard material(fiber reinforced PVC) down as a moisture barrier.

After that, we laid out the khana(wall) sections and assembled them.

That's 850 10-24 1&1/4" bolts!

After that, we stood the wall up, expanded it, and attached the door.

Then came running the support cable and building of the scaffolding for the roof ring.

By this point, our supervisory task force was at the peak of their game.

What you don't see in the pic below is the 3 people holding the scaffold up. I built it from memory, and was about a foot short in height. Sorry, guys!

After we got a few in, the scaffold could be removed.(set down?)

From there it was easy going, one rafter after another, until we reached the magic number of 42 rafters(no joke!). Had to be careful to keep the roof ring level.

The crew at the end of day 1.

The cover went on super fast the next day!

Next I'll cover the insulation!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the yurt

Lately, things have been a bit dry around here when it comes to new posts. I've been a little busy... putting up my yurt!

I know, I know - What about 'the making of'? I'll be doing step-by-step how-to's on each step of the yurt later on. In the meantime, I'll take you through the yurt raising.
'Till then,