Continuing from Part I of the Straw-Bale post. Now it’s time to put up the walls!So, we’ve made the door and window frames and put up corner braces. The top and bottom plates are made, and the bales are now stacked on top of the bottom plate:
So there’s a few things I’d like to point out about this picture above. Firstly, notice that the corner brace has been itself braced by a diagonal piece of wood, screwed into the bottom plate. Also there is a thin layer of ‘biscuits’ underneath the first course of bales. This is not normally done, but we had to make the height slightly more than 6 bales worth in order to align with the front side of the building (that was completed beforehand.) Apparently, when you’re doing this type of build, it doesn’t work to put the biscuit layer on top as it slides around too much.
Also, half-bales are used at the end to stagger the bond of each course, like you would in a brick wall. This gives it more strength. After the wall gets to a certain height, then it should be braced by a simple wooden cross:
And when the wall is the right height, cover it with some concrete underlay (black plastic) and peg to keep the rain off:
It was astonishing how fast the walls actually went up, but I guess they are rather like huge bricks…
The walls around the door and window frames are done similarly. The goal for these (not always achievable) is that a whole number of bales fit underneath and on top of the frames. We did the measurements a bit wrong and ended up using bale biscuits, but it still works ok:
One thing I really loved about working with bales is that they’re very forgiving. You can make the odd mistake and it’s not the end of the world, especially if you have someone to guide you that’s experienced.
As you can see from many of the pictures (and the one below) bracing – once everything has been squared – is essential to stop movement:
Make sure that front-back movement is minimised, as well as side-side. Wooden braces can be nailed or screwed into the bottom plate and the frame itself. For front-back braces, we hammered a short, sharpened post into the ground, and then screwed the brace into that:
That’s all for now. To be continued soon…