Building begins

High school students set out to construct timber-frame cabin


Students at Steamboat Springs High School are beginning a project this week that will last at least into the spring: the construction of a timber-frame, two-story cabin.

"This will be the first real structure ever built (by students at the high school)," shop teacher Dusty Dike said Monday.

In Dike's wood shop and home repair classes, students are preparing timber for the construction that will take place in warmer weather.

In other words, they're cutting trees. Big trees.

Using a portable band saw on loan from Jeff Becker of Becker Tree Service, and under the watchful eyes of Dike and Becker, students spent part of class Monday turning round, bark-covered trees into usable rectangular planks.

"What we're doing right now is canting it up," Becker said. A cant, he said, is a squared-off piece of wood.

The band saw is about 7 feet tall and more than 10 feet long. It is so big, it has to be used outside, behind the school's technology shop, and it operates with a motor lubricated by windshield-wiper fluid.

"Water would freeze right up in this weather," Becker said. "And wiper fluid doesn't stain the wood."

Becker donated about half of the 23 trees, mostly lodge-pole pine, that will be used to build the 16-by-14-foot cabin. The trees are byproducts of his residential tree service.

"By and large, these are from beetle-kill," he said.

Dike said the school's engineering and technology budget would pay about $1,500 for the rest of the wood. In all, about 4,000 board feet of wood will be used for the cabin, Dike said.

Classes next semester will build the cabin behind the technology shop, where Monday's tree cutting took place. Senior Andy Morell said that although he won't be a part of the cabin's construction, cutting large pieces of raw lumber was an interesting lesson.

"You're seeing how to make boards," Morell said, helping fellow seniors Lee Morris and Conner Murphy cut slabs and then reposition the heavy logs for the next cut.

"Sometimes, kids think wood comes from a lumberyard," Becker said. "This shows them the whole process."

-- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203 or e-mail


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