Sometimes the treasure hunt of creating something from salvaged materials is half the fun. Okay, Okay. I’ll admit it, more than half the fun. I’ve been making art out of bullshit found in junkpiles and on dump runs for more than a decade.
But when you want to create a barn or a shed or a shantyboat out of old barn wood and rusty sheet metal, you got to do some searching. If you live in a less-than-rural area, good luck. On my country drives, the amount of rusty weathered junk in the yard of every farm we pass sets me drooling. To find materials I have to get more creative.
This weekend we went out to the deep country of Hollister (made famous by Marlon Brando in The Wild One) to tear down an old chicken coop. It was beautiful. Beautiful country, beautiful weather, and beautiful 80 year old redwood lumber and rusty sheet metal.
Salvaging a building, involves deconstructing a building in the reverse order it was constructed. We remove the shingles, then the roof battens, then the roof beams, and so on. It is an interesting way to understand how a building is constructed.
The chicken coop featured “single wall” construction. That is, no stud framing, just siding that holds up the roof. When we were done, we had a huge pile of beautiful old redwood 1x12s and a handful of redwood beams. It was rough-cut “dimensional lumber,” meaning a 2×4 actually measures 2 inches by 4 inches.
Jen and Kai helped disassemble the chicken coop, and then Alex helped disassemble a nearby outhouse the next weekend. This lumber will be used to construct the cabin on our shantyboat. The corrugated metal will form the roofs over the cabin and porches.
Walking out into the nearby fields we found an old shack with gorgeous peeling paint patterns. Hard not to joink this door as our shantyboat door.
I get hot just looking at old weathered textures. In some ways, for better or worse, it is my love of this aesthetic which guides a lot of the decisions about the shantyboat.