Saturday, December 3, 2011

How to Build a Root Cellar

Here’s what some of you might have been waiting for, the picture sequence of the root cellar (many images follow):

Starting here (my first picture) of this project:

To this:

to this:

to this:

to this:

to this:

to this:

to this:

to this:

to this:

to the final covering with a huge double-layered tarp:

to this:

Final picture of the front still coming, I literally forgot to take this shot!
It’s just a big pile of dirt now from the outside, but inside, it’s cold (49 degrees), roomy, dry and useful. Overall finished dimensions are 13 x 24, cost is about $1200 I think or a bit more. The green tarp was pretty expensive, but certainly worth it.
Things I learned:
a) dig a BIG hole, you will be needing it for room to work.
b) remove ALL organic debris as you go. Easier to remove it before you bury it in your waste pile and then dig it up again.
c) budget for more cost then you expect (at least double).
d) budget for more time then you expect (triple in my case).
e) getting holes and posts and logs square is hard to do, dimensional lumber is much easier, but work at it. When you then apply dimensional lumber over non-dimensional logs, it’s hard to get things to line up. Remember things like 4 feet, 8 feet and such like if you are going to use dimensional anything.
f) remove all the rocks you find as you go. Don’t put any around your posts either, you’ll invariably have to remove them when you try to fix a mistake, not fun.
g) trim your logs and remove all the stubs. You can do this after they are installed if you handy and safe on a ladder with a chainsaw (I did) or clean them up before installing, either method works, I didn’t find one method easier then the other.
h) grade ALL your lumber in advance, make sure you have enough and it’s up to the job you intend it to do. I ran out of roof trusses, and opted for tamarack instead of cedar, only 1/4 of the cellar trusses are cedar, although tamarack (larch) is far stronger and will still last a long time.
i) keep your work area clear — of everything. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve moved stuff around. Mostly, realize that you will need access to the entire outside area of the cellar, which I did not have. I hand dug and hand shoveled a great deal as a result, power equipment cannot move at all around stumps, boulders, trees and bushes (unless you like breaking things). This is probably one of the really big issues I’d emphasize, remember, you are going to need plenty of room to maneuver.
k) be prepared for some seriously hard work, there is a lot of sweat that goes into one of these things.
l) listen to your wife or spouse or whoever, they might have some good ideas, otherwise, tell ‘em to shut up and get back to work!
m) you really can do anything you want, there is no perfect way to do this.  The pioneers had far less to work with then we do today and did everything the “hard way” (without petroleum or any of its downstream benefits like ice in your water bottle or a hot shower waiting for you at the end of the day).

2 comments:

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  2. would love to build one of these, sadly florida is flat and the wetness is only 2 ft under the soil. but, great job!

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