Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Build a Hoop House Step 3: Frame it up!

Today let's talk about Step 3 of How to Build a Hoop House - let's frame it up!

Let's get to framing! We need to build a centerline beam. We can do this!

Our goal for this part of the project is to add some stability and rigidity to the hoop... and solve that 'wonky hoop' problem from Step Two. In order to achieve our goals we are going to add a main beam down the top center of the hoop (henceforth "centerline beam"), provide a framework for it, and build out the door.

Before you think this is too complicated... it's not. And rest assured I won't be providing any of those complicated measurements. The worst part is finding the center line, then just grab a pencil, and we'll do some marking. If this is going to make you cringe or start screaming the "You're Doing it Wrong" song then just look away.  Here, look at Little Mo. He's very calming and you need to relax.

Find the centerline, add some blocks, put the 2x4 into the blocks, screw it all together. Easy.

First, find the center point at both the front (door) and the back (closed) ends of the hoop house. That's easy enough. Next determine the centerline of the hoop. I just counted the squares and found the center mark (I think it was 12 squares on each side). You might have to find a helper or a tpost to lean up against the first hoop to hold it in perfect hoop shape with the center mark at the very top.

Cut the 2x4 to be as tall as the top of the hoop, add a block, and that is where your 
centerline beam is going to rest. Easy!
Then grab a standard sized 2x4 and a couple of odds and ends to use as blocks. Find the center line of the 2x4 at one end and match it up with the center line of the base at the closed end. Then mark the outside edges. Affix your blocks on the outside edges, then put the 2x4 between the blocks and see where the top of the hoop meets the 2x4. That's how tall you want that end 2x4 to be. Mark it. Check it twice, then cut it. I have a terrific miter saw but use whatever you've got. Then hold a stray 2x4 up at the top of that board (up- n-down, not flat) and mark it. Find another black and affix it to the 2x4. Your top center beam is going to rest on that. Easy peasy.

Then "toenail" the perfectly-cut-to-fit into place between the blocks. Voila - you are framin', baby!

 Where is your level? Level it, square it, toenail it it place. Easy.

The only fancy cutting that I did was to use two short-ish 2x4's cut at 45* angles to hold the closed 2x4 upright in kind of an A-frame like configurement. (Hey! I think I just made up a new fun word!)  At this point your closed end should be about finished.

The door end is only slightly more complicated but don't worry it's easy peasy. Just take your time, think about how it should work, and if you need to go and look at your garage doorway a couple times so you have a better idea of what we'll be doing.

Again, find your center line on the box of the hoop house. Go and find a couple of standard sized 2x4's. You'll also need a cross piece for the top and a couple shortish pieces for the fancy 45* cuts. Ready?

The centerline beam rests on top of the door frame on this end. Match up the centerline of the door frame with the centerline of the..um... centerline beam. Perfect!

Here is the one measurement you need to take - remember that the centerline beam is going to rest on the block at the closed end. The centerline beam needs to rest on top of the cross piece for the doorway. So you need to measure from the bottom of the closed end 2x4 to the top of the block, make sense? Because you've been extra careful with your leveling and squaring you know that using that measurement should give you a level crossbeam. Ready? Go measure it. Measure again, mark your door end 2x4's, and cut them. If you want to be extra fancy you can put both of them on your miter saw (squared up at the ends) at the same time to make sure they are exactly the same length. OK, that was the hardest part!

Now find a cross piece for the top of the door. I determined how long it was by holding it up to the perfectly-in-place hoop (remember to count the squares to find the center!) and I marked, and cut it,  to fit inside the hoop. Easy. Now find your centerline for that piece too and mark it. Line up the centerline for your cross piece with your centerline on the base of the hoop, mark the outside edges on the base, and that is the opening for your door. How fun is that?

Next affix the cross piece - squared up - to the top of your door 2x4's. Now you have a big, wonky, three sided, hard to move "door frame." You might need a helper for this - or some foolishness and determination - that's all I had. Carefully maneuver the door frame into place. Use the marked lines on the base to line up where the 2x4's should rest. Toenail them into place - but don't screw them in the whole way just "tack" them into place. And don't bonk yourself on the head. In fact you can tie the door frame to the hoop to make sure it doesn't tumble over on you. Or just have someone hold it for you.

Cut a couple of shortish 2x4's to help secure your doorframe and the 2x4 for the closed end. 
Cut at 45* angles and screw into place. Easy!

Check to make sure everything is square and level. Then screw the door frame in the rest of the way. Use your short-ish pieces and fancy 45* cuts to really secure the door frame. Are you kidding? Look! You have a door!

Look! You are almost done! Just get that centerline beam screwed into place. Easy!

If you have your act together then you also purchased a 2x4x12 and then you can maneuver your centerline beam into place so that it rests on the block at the closed end and the top of the door fame, square it up, and screw it all into place. Unless you are me and I only thought I had one in the garage. It turned out it was only 10 feet long. So I had to wait a couple days until I could get one. But then all I had to do was move the 12 foot beam into place, square it up, and screw it all into place. Look! how fun is that?

The centerline rests on the block a the closed end. See how the top of the centerline beam 
is level with the top of the 2x4? Easy!

Now you should be able to line up the hoop centerline with the centerline beam and you have a perfect hoop! I had to wrestle it into place just a little and held it there with a few of those fence staples. You should also use some zip ties and secure the hoop to the centerline beam - this holds it in place and gives it rigidity and strength.

That wasn't too bad, was it? Think you can do it? I think you can.  But...but what about complicated measurements? Fractions? 43 15/32s and all that? Nope. None of that here. Sorry. How tall are the beams? I dunno. Remember thru this whole thing I only took one measurement. Aren't I doing it wrong? Nope. Here is the thing, I can't process information that way. If I had to give you a detailed (with measurement) materials list I would probably just start crying because I couldn't do it. I use "materials on hand" and so should you. Or not. Do what works for you.

Who knows - maybe you want to use 2x4's as a base because that is what you have. I used 10 inch boards so if I provided exact measurements then it wouldnt work for you - and it wouldn't make sense to me. Hopefully these instructions will give you a good idea of how the theory of this works so you can apply it to your own needs. Maybe you are only going to use 2 hoops, or maybe you want yours to be taller, or shorter - whichever is best for you.

For all I know there is someone out there with a math affliction who is calculating the exact hoop radius and will have all their measurements, pre-cut boards, and to-the-exact-number of staples laid out on a tarp and will perfectly construct a hoop that way. Great! Fine. Super. But I can't do that.

One of the thing that was holding me back was all the right fighters telling me that I had to use charts and graphs and measurements... none of which made any sense at all to me. I used to feel very bad about this and I believed all the naysayers that I couldn't do it.

But one day I was watching a master furniture maker make a complicated drawer with a bunch of complicated miter cuts and do you know how many measurements he took? None. Not one. He just marked all of them. It finally clicked for me that there is more than one way to build stuff. Honestly it was kind of freeing. So now that I am free of the "right" way I just do what works for me.

So what do you think? Are you ready to tun right out and give it a try? Sure you are! Get your tools and get out there - frame it up!

Editors note:
Part 1 here
Part 2 here


David said...

Awesome job! Can't wait for the skinning and seeing how effective it is!

Maths are fun! When you said the panels are 16 feet and the base is 8 feet I immediately calculated and thought I can't stand up in there. But then if you add 20".... yay.

Awesome job!

MT Dreamer said...

Configurement! Makes perfect sense to me! =)

Rebecca said...


Ohiofarmgirl said...

thanks Dave but you are making my eyes bleed with all that math talk...ha!

thanks MTD! *gives hugs* :-)

hi Rebacca! and thanks! :-)

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