Some of my 60+ year old friends had been recounting what they and their friends had done to mark the passing of their 6th decade. I too, wanted to accomplish something significant as I approached that milestone. Since I am not a sports/exercise nut, hiking the Appalachian Trail or biking across Canada, or doing a 5k run was definitely out. Besides, I wanted something more tangible than a trophy or pictures. The idea of a Bistro came both from need – we had no out door grilling/smoking facility (and we love to cookout), and from opportunity – a local lumber dealer had purchased a load of cypress timbers, which was quite unusual both for the lumber dealer and for me. One cannot just go to a lumber yard and pick up 16′ long 8×8’s, 4×16’s, or 3×12’s. The idea of a Post and Beam Bistro was very appealing to Chris and myself, and so began my 60th year endeavor.
I love “Post and Beam” construction and do it when I can. The first step is to work up a design. It did not need to be too big, we did not want to include a table or lounge chairs, we already have several pleasant places to eat and relax. We figured that 12′ x 12′ would work well to accommodate a grill, burner, sink and smoker and leave some room for a few to mill around while food is grilling. Orientation was also important to keep most of the wet weather out.
With Post and Beam construction, all the main parts are laid out, measured and cut. For this Bistro I decided to plane the beams smooth and square first. Mortises and tenons are then made and their fit is checked. The pieces are labeled (tenon A goes into mortise A – I kid you not) and then transported to the construction site and assembled. Mind you, the pieces are heavy, 150 -200 lbs. in some cases, so the assembly requires the help of a friend of mine. His name is Archimedes; he was a Greek mathematician, engineer and inventor who lived in the 3rd century BC.
After setting the first side (aka “Bent”) by hand, the prudent course of procedure seemed to be to hire a crane and get on with it.
Once all the timbers were in place, I could plumb the structure and drill holes for the wooden “pins”.
Then the rafters.
Then make and install the tongue and groove ceiling, again in Cypress.
Using 1/2″ foam panels with reflective foil (to send the heat of the sun back up) and a layer of 1/2″ OSB as a base, I nailed shingles on to match the house.
The masons laid the brick. We talked to the tile guys we know and asked them if they could work in a small stone “river” within the tile floor. They loved doing it. Granite counter tops were next. And then the grill, burner and sink installed. I added LED lights to see at night. We finished the week of my birthday.