Let’s just say I will be terribly glad once the windows are done and dusted- the whole process has been long and tiring and we haven’t even built one yet! That said progress is being made so let me bring you up to speed.
So, due to a slight misunderstanding, the building of the windows has dragged out considerably longer than anticipated. Naively I had planned to have them done and dusted by September, however, it is now the last week of August and I have 1 sash measured & cut and a handful of bridle join practice pieces.
This delay predominantly stemmed from the choice of timber. We had read that Western Red Cedar was the ideal timber for windows due to its tiny weight and solid durability and therefore sought a quote from a local timber yard. To our disappointment, it was incredibly expensive. Considering the fact that we are complete amateurs and that the budget isn’t overly generous, it was with reluctance that we had to say no to the cedar and began looking for alternatives. I will just pause a moment and say that there really aren’t many resources for building your own windows so when you have a question or face a problem there isn’t a whole lot to turn to- if there was we probably wouldn’t have investigated our second choice- Merbau.
Don’t get me wrong Merbau is a nice timber- it’s impressibly durable and a very popular choice for decking. Being hardwood, it was going to undoubtly be heavier than the cedar, but on paper it didn’t sound too bad at 2.6 kg a metre, I mean I have never held a window before so it seemed reasonable enough. That said we knew it was 3-4 times heavier than the Western Red Cedar so it was with some trepidation that we ordered a sample 8 metres of the wood- enough to build a medium window, and a wee extra for testing. A week or so later, the timber was ready for pickup. Supplied in lengths of 3 metres it immediately became apparent that Merbau is heavy. Most of the windows clock in around 3 metres of timber and holding the 8kg length I could feel this would be a problem. That said, I had eight metres to burn so began to have a play.
Being a novice woodworker I had only ever really worked with pine and ply. Merbau is a hardwood and I will just say that it is beautiful to work with. True, this could just be because I have never used nice timber before but it felt reassuringly solid and cut easily enough with my new Japanese saw; (more on that another day). That said, after a couple of practise corner joints, it became clear that the weight was just too great- a deal breaker when it comes to a Tiny House.
Growing a tad frustrated and disheartened, it was as I was researching alternatives when I took another look at the Western Red Cedar quote- 25 metres of 30mm x 140mm.
… 140mm? uh, that’s a terribly solid sash. It was then that I realised we had asked for a quote for the window frames, not the sash. No wonder it was so darn expensive. A bit more research and it turned out Bunnings had some 67 x 30mm Western Red Cedar – close to the dimensions we were looking at, and thankfully it was half the cost of the original quote. It was without hesitation that we ordered a sample.
Where the Merbau was solid and assuring, the cedar felt like a piece of balsa wood. It is incredibly light- light enough that one could throw a piece a 3-metre length into the air and catch it, but be sure to catch it because it bangs up like anything. That has been a struggle as I have been playing with it this last week- but otherwise it’s nice enough to work with (I will go into the joinery another day) and supposedly is durable, strong and recommended for outdoor use. I am a bit sceptical but hopefully, a complete window will settle these doubts.