The wall plate is essentially a wooden box that sits between the top of the bale walls and the roof frame. It serves to distribute the weight of the roof evenly across the width and length of the walls. Without this rigid structure the roof beams would just sink into the straw walls.
Our wall plate was constructed from mostly reclaimed 2x6s (originally used as bracing when pouring the concrete foundations) and plywood sheets. Due to the pentagonal shape of the house constructing it involved some more complex planning than what would normally be encountered. Thankfully Sylvain and Damien, our two French volunteers here on prac for their engineering degrees, were up for the task. They were responsible for constructing most of the wall plate themselves and said they particularly enjoyed the problem solving element of the project.
Damien lowers down some plywood sheets stored out of the way on a pile of bales
Cutting station. The circular was a donation to the build from Forrest Row local (name)
Clamping the 2×6 beams in place for gluing and drilling
Clamps off, surveying the first corner
Filling the spaces with recycled glass foam pebbles as insulation
The 126 degree angle between the front door and the North facing wall. Some inventive bracing was required to make a strong frame
The completed piece showing the 126 degree angle where the front door meets the adjacent wall.
Whilst we originally planned to fill the wall plate cavity with the same recycled glass pebbles used in the foundations, it was found that without the ability to compact it, it left too much space for air. Luckily we had some old wood fiber insulation panels left over from a previous farm project which we decided to use instead.
Fitting the wood fiber insulation panels into the wall plate
Damien putting the finishing touches to the insulation
Peter proudly exhibits the first completed piece demonstrating just how thick the walls will be.
Peter scores 8/10 for his graceful dismount although Damien and Sylvain remain unimpressed
Once all the pieces were finished the decision was made to take them down to the sheep barn so they could be laid out flat as a whole. Although constructed in pieces, each section was extremely heavy. Even getting them on and off the JCB was quite a chore. In the end round fencing posts were used as rollers to slide the wall plate on its side across the floor. Unfortunately all hands were required on deck so there are no photos of the process.
Sylvian directing the JCB down to the sheep barn
Once at the sheep barn Damien and Sylvain measured out and fitted the final pieces of wood to reinforce the ends where the individual pieces would fit together.
Peter labels the pieces to make them easier to assemble later down the track
Damien and Sylvain are forced to pose with arms out in front of their completed masterpiece.
Up next: Baling Time!