Cordwood/Cob? Need advice ASAP!!!

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Lost Pilgrim, Sep 29, 2004.

  1. Lost Pilgrim

    Lost Pilgrim Guest

    I am wondering if anyone has any advice on this building technique? I have started to build a cordwood/cob cabin. Size is 12X16. Using a stacked corner method. Where i live is SE Ohio the ground is solid clay red type. I've dug down to almost 2 foot. I get great clay its elastic and a little water and kneading and you can make anything out of it. Now im not mixing it with any thing just the clay a wheelbarrow at a time, onto a tarp and then adding water and stomping with my bare feet and turing it over with the edges of the tarp. It mixes up pretty fast. Well i started to lay the Cob?clay. Then i started to set my locust rounds on top of that and continued to build in the normal cordwood masonry fashion. My problem is that its been 3 days since i started. I got one corner up and the 2 walls that connected to a height of around 2 feet. They clay has started to dry but it is still pliable like a play dough. The temps have been cool around 70 during the day down to 50 at night. I'm concerned that the clay will not harden enough for me to keep going up. I want it to set up before i go too much higher. One wall is already 12 foot long and the other is around 14 foot. so im ready for the corners. I am not sure if this will work out or not. Does anyone have any idea? I have no money. I lost my job and i am having trouble finding a replacement. My 4x4 blew up and i sold it. I got an old station wagon and basic hand tools and 2 chainsaws etc. Winter is comming on fast. I have a wife and a son with one due in january. We are basically homless except for our piece of ground which is heavily wooded mostly level.Sort of remote. We do have water. No septic or any of that, no electricity. I started to build a log cabin from the trees a cut down, but moving logs 14 foot long by myself with out mechanical help seemed hopeless. I didd move most of them to the site set my sill logs etc.. but got discouraged and cut then into 16 inch lengths for cordwood. I do not know what to do. Can any of you help me out? I am at the public library and i will be in town for another hour or 2. I walked from our land its 6 mileas to town. I have no money for gas. I will have a couple hundred dollars come 2 days from now but that is it nothing else is comming. Please help. By the way i have no access to sand and cannot afford to get it hauled in. Any other info someone might have would be very apperciated. I hope i get some help. I will be checking this post often today. It maybe a few more days before i get back here. Thanks

    Lost Pilgrim
  2. ckncrazy

    ckncrazy Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2004
    Parish New York
    Welcome back Jagger.

  3. coalroadcabin

    coalroadcabin Well-Known Member

    Jun 15, 2004
  4. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2004
    Have you contacted anyone at the cob building websites? I think it is really important, when building with cob, to have straw or something to mix in to provide fiber to hold the stuff together. Possibly you'll get by without it, as the cordwood should be somewhat self-supporting. I feel for you, we've been pretty close to your situation a few times ourselves.

    If you want to try logs again at some point, there is a way to haul them that I read about. Will try to find the article (I think it is in one of my envelopes full of clippings).

    What are you guys going to do for heat? If you have clay, it sounds like you could build a cob fireplace, but do be careful with the chimney so you don't burn your cabin down.

    How are you for food? Don't be too proud to get food stamps if you need to. Your babies won't grow right if they don't eat, and you won't be able to cut firewood to keep them warm if you don't eat.

    Work smart, and take care.

    Kathleen in Oregon
  5. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

    Jun 24, 2002
    Use the money to buy a tent or another easy-up structure, used. If you are going to build you need to do it right. What you are doing is 'breaking the rules' of both building styles. You would do better to simply hammer the wood together and caulk the gaps or use cheap tarps.

    You might want to focus on walking to a job that pays some cash. Or have your wife do such or take a caretaking job. You obviously do not have the cash to finish this project in a manner that would leave it still standing 6 months from now.
  6. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

    May 12, 2002
    In beautiful downtown Sticks, near Belleview, Fl.
    In the archives,click 'countryside', scroll down to construction, there is cord and cob info there.

    Edited to add; In your position I would change directions to useing the logs tobuild a conventional log cabin and use the clay to put between the logs, small logs can be used to form ramps to roll heavy logs up a grade to be in place. Short lengths of logs, 16 inches or so can be split to make roof shingles, rafters can be made of split logs. And its time to seek some public assistance, not doing so will catch the attention of the local child rights group.
  7. coalroadcabin

    coalroadcabin Well-Known Member

    Jun 15, 2004
    Uphill and in sandals!!

    This pic has been used as inspiration several times on a log home forum that I frequent. Thought it might inspire you.
  8. breezynosacek

    breezynosacek Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2003
    Unfortunately that kind of clay takes a very very long time to dry out. If you haven't added anything to it to help it drain, it could take quite awhile.
    I am saying this from the perspective that we have so much clay in our area that we have brick and pottery factories here.

    Our garden can turn into a swamp in the spring and fall and you lose your shoes and your firstborn.

    If your library is a small rural library, you might want to ask them what they are doing with old newspapers. Ours let us have as many as we want. They are good for firestarting during the winter and for flower pots for seed starting and for wallpaper.

    I think, if you are inclined, right now might be a good time to pray. I know God can bring about some miracles if we ask Him.

    Yes, by all means apply for foodstamps if they will allow you to do so without a roof over your head. Also, if there is a salvation army for shelter.

    Not to mention, and here is from my experience in living off of the streets...

    If there is a dayold bread store around, you can get a big plastic barrel of pig feed bread for about $5.00. It gives you a LOT of breads, buns, cupcakes, donuts, ect. It is good for breakfast, sandwiches, hot dogs and such. Peanut Butter is healthy.

    Dry a lot of it out by the fire and use it for stuffing.

    It will feed some chickens so that you have fresh eggs. You can keep a couple of chickens under an upturned laundry basket.

    You can use it for bait to catch other critters.

    Now about shelter...A couple of friends of mine lived in a tent for almost 2 years. They did it in FL but it still gets down to freezing down there. They wore a lot of sweat pants.

    We stayed in the winter time down there, when it was freezing cold, raining and damp in a boyscout camp. All of their tents were huge canvas deals with wood floors up off of the ground and a woodstove in the middle. I say huge but I'm exagerating I guess. It was big enough for 8 bunkbeds. It stayed dry...nothing was touching the sides.

    Then years ago, I read and saw this articles about people that lived in tents. Families, they took large canvas tents and built them up on platforms and lived in them. The grey water from their shower went down a pipe in the 'bathroom' floor and into a tank under the floor. They used that for the garden.

    They had carpeting to help insulate and keep out drafts from the floor, they had a woodburning stove, ect ect.

    Even in a fixer upper Mobile Home, it gets pretty cold sometimes...I've piled on the blankets when the wind is blowing hard and still not stay warm. There is one thing that will keep me warm enough and its stupid really.

    I have an old nylon robe. It is very thin, but for some reason, when I lay that on top of the blankets, it holds my body heat in and I have no problems. I've tried wearing it to sleep in and it isn't the same thing. If I tuck it in, it loses it's insulating power, it has to be loose.

    I got that thing at Goodwill about 10 years ago. I've been thinking of buying a couple more and sewing them together into a nylon quilt for this winter. Most of our heating is spent at night when the temps drop.

    If all else fails and you can't get a building built, get a roll of greenhouse plastic different than what you find in Home Depot. It is tough enough to withstand the elements, will last for 4 yrs, but it needs to be stretched at temps above 50 degrees.

    Our stovepipe in the greenhouse was about 3 1/2 to 4 ft below the top of the plastic roof and it didn't melt.

    We built our greenhouse out of pvc. with plywood at the ends and wood framing on the sides. It will hold a lot of heat during the day even during the winter. The biggest worry you would have then is during the night.

    There are free greenhouse plans all over the internet, they are called hoophouses.
  9. margo

    margo Well-Known Member

    May 29, 2002
    Pilgrim, what county do you live in?
    I am thinking of some of the resources in my area that may help you. I mean that we have sawmills and such, and I personally am aware of some businesses where I sort of "dumpster dive" for materials. If you aren't too far from me, I may be able to give you a hand. I am not trying to pry info, but, realize that if you are close, t'would be a shame to miss a chance to have building materials free for the hauling.
    Wherever you are, I sincerely hope you find a way to keep your family safe and warm. ...Margo