Speaking of Timber Framing…

While I’m no timber framer it sure is something I’ve gotten a taste of and once a builder does there’s no turning back.

A true craftsperson usually has a love for the more natural forms of creation and a timber frame is the epitome of such building,

To me…it’s a form of art that stands well on it’s own merits.

This frame I did out on the eastern end of Long Island in Watermill (East Hampton area) a couple of winters ago with two other carpenters.

While the timbers are real the application is strictly for asthetics which I find absolutely nothing wrong with….beauty is beauty.

On the other hand…to me, faux beams are simply tacky. There’s so many ways to “keep it real” that trying to mimic a work of art is almost sinful to me.With these beams weighing thousands of pounds each and there being only three of us…..lets just say, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

A true craftsman that loves their work finds challenges like this inviting.

To me, the hum-drum blasé’ day to day repetitive work, while necessary leaves something to be desired in not only inspiring myself but it also inspires that get to see it after I’m long gone and this to me is “what it’s all about”!

While it isn’t always about how much something costs to create something of beauty, it ‘is’ about the love of ones work that keeps the wheels spinning…or the creative juices running into a never ending stream of possibilities.

I believe all people within all that they do…whaqtever it is that they do have the same capacity to bring into our spaces creations of beauty. To me, it’s simply about soul. It’s about attitude.

It’s a reflection of who you are.

…and what you’re all about.

This particular project took the three of us three very long days.

An Outdoor Cooking Island for BBQs

Planning ahead wasn’t part of the agenda with this home owner’s project so I was brought in to figure out how get what they wanted for the island top.

No slabs of bluestone or soapstone or and of the numerous other suggestions went over well from past remodelers until they found me.

They needed to match the colors of the new(ish) stone patio and island but no solid surface would work for them and they didn’t want concrete.

bbHere’s what I started with.

The first thing I needed to do was build a frame of pressure treated lumber inside this island structure flush with the top in order to accept pressure treated plywood.

All my 2×4 framing was fastened to the interior of the frames using my Remington nail gun. I used a long 20′ 2×4 that I bent along the front of the curved wall by wedging straight pieces of 2×4 to the straight part of the wall where I fastened yet another piece. bbq_3By slowly adding in straight pieces hammered into place with a small sledge hammer I was able to get the front piece bent as needed.

Next was cutting and fastening two layers of 3/4″ pressure treated plywood in to place. Everything was glued with a polyurethane glue (PL Premium) and screwed with coated deck screws….bbq w/ply topAfter the plywood was was secured in place I had to round the front side. I used a thin piece of lumber I cut so I could bend it to the radius the customer was happy with. I then cut it with my jig saw and then sanded it perfectly to my line with my belt sander at which point I was ready to thin-set and screw my cement boards to.

manao bbq tile work.1

After my cement boards were set and solid I added my fiberglass tape to all seams, cut the front to the same rounded edge using a carbide blade in my jig saw and painted on a product know as RedGard a sort of membrane that helps to further waterproof and keep the tiles from cracking.

manao bbq tile work

My customers ordered custom handmade tiles made for exterior use…as well as custom made border tiles.

Not an easy installation considering this BBQ/kitchen island top was right in the sun and it was the hottest part of the summer with the sun baking down on the tiles making them so hot I could hardly touch them. This is no good for the setting up of the thin-set so I needed to bring some shade to the island. My customers allowed me to use the picnic table umbrella you see in the back ground. I just moved it as I went along. Worked like a charm.

The next step would be laying out my tiles.

bbq tile counter top job

This too was quite a feat being they wanted certain tiles to line up in areas that was quite the head scratcher for me but as you’ll see it came together beautifully.

So next was setting up my wet saw and getting down to business.


The plan was to start in the early A.M when the weather was coolest. Now with my tiles laid out I was able to draw my layout lines, remove the tiles and start mixing up my thin-set. One thing I needed to do with these custom made tiles was to lay them out on the ground to make sure I didn’t keep too many dark or light tiles together.


I needed to spread out the different shades…something I’m always aware of with custom made tiles.

As you can see with the border tiles they were made very inconsistently and I had a hard time deciding which tile to put where so I had the home owner help me make the choices to where they were happy.

bbq tile counter top  sheet metal fabrication phase

In the end ”I” wasn’t happy with the way they sent those tiles to me but what can you do when you have to wait six weeks for an order to be made…and at about $50 per edge tile……

bbq tile counter top job border phase

And below was the best choice of the placement of the border tiles given the shades we were sent.



Over all the project came out absolutely gorgeous!!

The large over hang in the front curved section of the island top had me very concerned so we had 3/4″ steel L-brackets made up. I chiseled away the to pf the stone wall enough to keep the top of the brackets flush with the top of the stone wall and flush to the bottom of the counters bottom. All brackets I bolted deep into the back underside of the stone island. Every part of this project was quite the challenge..


After the top was grouted I used a “grout bag” to carefully fill between the edge tiles taking care not to get any of the grout into the intricate pattern of the edging.

After all the grout was cured I came back and gave all my work several coats of a premium sealer…and this was the project I left some very nice customers with.




A Timber Frame Garden Room

The start to the timber frame garden room project made of eastern white pine milled with a planed finish.

Timber Frame start

All the roof panels I had fabricated from a heavy gauge yet light weight steel with a solid 6″ foam core. All panels were screwed together through the fabricated flanges and then screwed straight into the roof rafter timbers.


The foam/steel panels acted as a webbing to keep the structure from twisting from side to side. Heavy steel brackets were fabricated and bolted into strategic points of the timber frame for the additional support.

foam/steel panels


P1010003 stone on shower wall corner

Each step will illustrate the thought process in bringing a very natural and beautiful structure into completion as we move along in this illustrated process.

And a very happy home owner watches each process unfold


Looking out after most of the completion.

finished looking out

Fireplace and stone walls are about half finished.


and yet further along..

fireplace stone work partially done

For the ceilings we used primed bead board.


And the final photos of the completed project.






SLIDE SHOW BELOW http://picasaweb.google.com/andybuildz/GardenRoom09#slideshow/5365871698594548514

An Impractical Carpenter?

Impractical means ‘not advisable to put into practice’ while impracticable means ‘not capable of being put into practice’; impractical or unpractical is something that can be done but “may not” be worth doing while impracticable means it can’t be done at all which means there’s hope for me after all.

What I’ve learned through-out my years in this current lifetime is that I can choose what’s unrealistic…or what “truly” can’t be done.

pool overgrown

Some call this reaching for the stars, while some call it…..

To me this means taking a sows ear and turning it into a silk purse….as ‘impractical or impracticable’ as that may sound.

There have been projects set before me that to most……… in my position, would have walked away from…and this for me, is very hard to do.

[A+pool+picture.JPG]I too often feel more of the love than the pain………. when I get the vision. I feel the dream deep inside…I envision it…inhale deeply, exhale, and step off the edge of the ledge as I so delicately put it. This is the point where I see the vision more clearly as I start weeding things out (so to speak).

One picks their tools wisely for the vision at hand. Weeding requires much patience, as any good farmer will tell you. It takes dedication to the farm, to the land and to the air we breath. The soil can be worked when the rain clouds clear and then…the vision becomes more clear. We see the tools we need to make the vision a reality. We soon see if practicality is what embodies the mother of invention….or not. You can feel it, you can taste it and then you can see it. It transcends life. It then becomes a part of you.

I think this is what separates a job from the craft. The word “just” is never a part of your vocabulary anymore. The vision becomes a part of your life style. It becomes a project that is a part of your life. It becomes your work. Your dharma if you will. It brings you strength. It empowers you. It feeds you. You’re fertilizing the soils. You’re growing the vision.There really is no project I find beneath me. Whatever it is I do, large project or small I do with an awareness..and the awareness is that it all adds up to the bigger picture. It’s the foundation the eyes don’t see that supports the monument within~





Andy Clifford - Clifford Renovations & Restorations

Huntington, New York
E-Mail abuilds@optonline.net | Phone 631 659-3007