From Chris Newman

Chris  Chris Newman is a Vicksburg’s carpenter–general contractoritinerant framer. A Guild member for 12 years,  he has participated in a number of Guild projects.

Hard to believe it’s already been a week since the last rafter was set and the last peg driven. The site seems very empty now. The tents are all back to their respective owners and the piles of offcuts and cribbing have found new homes. Yellowed squares left by campers are slowly returning to green and being covered over by falling leaves. The gray container, empty of tools, sits awaiting pickup. The whine of saws and mortisers and the chunk of mallet against chisel has given way to the hum of excavators and skid steers readying the site for the next phase of construction. Conduit has been run and the forms are set for the pouring of the slab starting tomorrow. The sun rises and sets as small progress is made. And yes, the trains still scream by.

It was an amazing time. After all the planning, the flurry of activity. Ten days that at times seemed to last for months, now seem like minutes. The camaraderie inherent in Guild projects was manifested in spades. Old friends well met, new friendships made. People trading stories and jokes, and exorcising demons, with laughter in the firelight.

People here are still talking about how great everyone was. Talking about how hard everyone worked and how glad they are that everyone took time out to come to our village and help with this ambitious project. Talking of their amazement that people would spend vacation time working so hard for someone else. People still stop at the side of the road to take pictures or just stare. Smiles abound in our little corner of the world, and for that I am forever grateful.

I would like to thank
Everyone of you who fed us, showered us, and answered our questions.
Everyone who sweated, sawed, chiseled, climbed, carried, and pounded.
Everyone who believed enough in this dream to make it happen.

I would like to thank the members of the Guild for the oversight and guidance necessary for the completion of this beautiful structure. I consider it quite an honor to be part of this truly amazing group. It was a pleasure and a privilege to work along side you and share this experience.

rafters
Will Fowlkes and Will Denton installing the final common rafters.

garden
Yellow squares after our tents.

firee
Alicia Spence at the campfire. The last campfire we had in Vicksburg.

Day 11—Frame complete, winding up

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Last morning meeting, at the fire that had burned throughout the night.

After a busy yet satisfying Saturday, the project team gathered once again by the fire, enjoying our last moments together. This time not only the offcuts were burning, but also a tie beam that couldn’t be used in the frame. We found this the most appropriate way to get over some mistakes in cutting. With such a thick piece, the fire stayed all night–good for Mez Welch, who was regularly camping under the stars, next to the firepit. This time, morning meeting was full of gratitude and melancholy: common emotions when a building project comes to the end.

On Sunday we pegged off the last holes, cleaned up the site,and packed up the tools. On this day many people came from the area to see the new pavilion and have some ice-cream sundaes, provided by the Vicksburg Historic Society. The gathering was filled with infinite “thank you’s”, both on the part of the local community and on the part of the building team. Along with raising the frame, we’ve built new friendships, all participants have developed new skills, and new members have joined the Guild.

The project has been very intense, but the tremendous satisfaction of having raised a new structure for a community purpose and seeing people joyful about it is the best reward we can get.

SAMSUNGThe Farmers Market Community Pavilion, frame finished.

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Carving on the frame: TFG and gazebo (Vicksburg town symbol).

SAMSUNGMez Welch and Will Fowlkes presenting the project T-shirts.

Wood

SAMSUNGRichard Barnes, always with a warm smile

The Pavilion project was fascinating for its size and the scope of community involvement, but also for its use of local timber.  The frame was cut almost entirely from locally donated, locally milled timbers.  Yellow poplar, Eastern white pine, and white oak made up the majority of timbers, but we also used ash, cherry, black locust, and red oak! One of many supportive, involved locals has been Richard Barnes, who spent months helping to source and mill local timbers using his portable sawmill.  He was also a constant presence on the building site, driving the telehandler, cutting joints, making special runs for tools or materials, and generally being a major contributor of positive energy to the project.

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The solid red oak spline tying the truss chords to the kingpost put chain mortisers and chisels alike to the test

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The Mafell mortisers spewed chips all day long.

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One of several struts cut out of local ash.

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Some of the timbers, including the white oak posts, were milled by a circular sawmill instead of a bandsaw mill.

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Beautiful end grain on the bottom of a yellow poplar kingpost.

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Some of the kingposts were cut out of Eastern white pine.

From Kristina Aubry

SAMSUNGOne of our sisters, Kristina

It’s amazing what one can learn about complete strangers in a very short time.  As one of the three woman who have tried to make a campground and building site homey and comfortable for the framers while they spend their days diligently chiseling, sawing, hammering and winching, we have learned a lot about the gang.

There are the early risers.  Those rare few stir before we drive in at 5 am to get the coffee perking.  They move slowly but deliberately through the dark getting things started.  And the late risers.  We know that until we see the slowly ambling stride of the only one who just can’t hear the “dinner bell” ringing right near his tent, it’s not time to clear up the breakfast.

We know who, in spite of the near freezing temperatures overnight, comes to the table in flip-flops, bare footed, or in slippers; who likes quiet and soft conversation first thing in the morning; and who hits the ground running and ready for life with a roar.

We’ve learned how nearly everyone likes to arrange their food.  Some are “all-togethers” who dish up everything in their own dish, making interesting combinations of flavors and textures; some the separate, tidy “no touching” arrangement of selections.  There are the loaders whose economy of energy won’t require a return trip to the buffet; and the one-at-a-timers who like to savor each item on its own and make return trips.

We have learned that not only models are vegetarians.  The mountains of fruits and vegetables that have been consumed in the past 10 days would make the Department of Agriculture and the FDA giggle with glee.  One afternoon a local stopped by to see what was going on and noticed some bananas on the table.  He asked if we picked them up at the local grocery in the mornings.  When we told him we did, he understood why, when he went in to buy his, they were all gone.  He left and returned with 7 bags of bananas to keep us supplied and he able to buy a few of his own for couple of days.

We know the milk-drinkers, the coffee-holics, and the water-onlys.  The break that fresh Michigan cider and lemonade made in the menu.

We know that even as produce-conscious as the framers are, sweets are part of the picture, too.

I’d estimate over two thousand cookies of all shapes and sizes have passed through the dining tent with only a few crumbs remaining.  The nine home-made, fresh Michigan fruit pies for dessert at lunch will go down in TFG food history.  So many residents have taken the project to heart they started dropping by with unsolicited trays of cookies and baked goods.

Of our 50 participants, to whom 10 days ago we were just being introduced, we have learned many things.  We now think of ourselves rather like the sisters who know a lot, wouldn’t tell a soul about the private things, but know how to make things “right” when we see the gang heading to the dining tent.  We’ve met artists, poets, philosophers, and kings, white collars, blue collars, and no collars from all over the world here in our little corner of it.

We have also decided two things.  First, it will be tough to have to go back home and start cooking just for ourselves and our families after 10 days of exceptionally good, brought to the tent, meals.

And we will miss every one of our new timber framer family when they go back to their homes.

Kristina Powers Aubry

Vicksburg Historical Society

Day 10—Raising: the most intense day

On Saturday most of the crew was working “in the box.” All of the eleven trusses were put together. One of the most difficult moments of the day was the operation to insert a bent at one of the ends, where the live-edge pieces were already installed. This required finding a way to expand the frame by six inches in this spot. Two lifts and one crane were involved, but also a lot of hammering. After two hours, the piece has been put in its location.

The raising day was successful, especially scince initially there were two days scheduled for the crane to work on site. While part of the crew was installing last trusses and ridges, others were putting up the common rafters or working on the porch on the west wall.

Right before 7 pm, work stopped for the day: it was high time for hanging the wetting bush. Kristina Aubry, Margaret Kerchief, Richard Barnes, and Bob Smith from Vicksburg went up on the scissor lift and did the honors.

The last dinner was a real feast. The last evening was really long. We’ve become really close over the past ten days.

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Two lifts and one crane engaged in the tricky operation.

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Joshua Webster (timber framer from England, currently working with Trillium Dell Timberworks), wielding the commander with all his strength.

porch
Nicole Collins working on the porch. (photo Sue Moore)

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View of the trusses from the scaffolding.

SAMSUNGInstalling the wetting bush.

Since the team is working in the Vicksburg Historic Village, journalists have published new pieces about the project:

article from MLive

video footage from WWMT-TV.