Some men with sufficient capital can afford to build brick walls on stone foundations, and when the stonework is two feet six inches or three feet in the ground and dry work to near the surface of the ground it makes an excellent drain, keeping the surface of the house dry, which is an excellent state of affairs. I doubt whether an 8-inch brick wall is much warmer than two thicknesses of boards, and a 12-inch wall is quite expensive. However, with those that can afford it, it is certainly to be commended. Wooden posts will for a long time be used, and if of the right material outlast any other portion of the house.
Locust is the nearest to cast iron of any wood we know of, but good locust ' posts are difficult to obtain and very hard to work. Red cedar is most durable, light to handle and easy and pleasant to work. Next in quality comes cypress, which, when of good quality, will last in the ground many years, and the only other wood I know of suitable for posts is what is generally known as white or yellow cedar, which for the purpose is far inferior to the red cedar, although one-half the cost of the latter.
A post that is dressed 5x5 or 4x6 is large enough for ordinary houses. It is well to have all parts set firmly in the ground, especially the outside ones, although the posts must not be trusted to keep the walls plumb, however well set. If the posthole is dug a few inches on all sides larger than the post and when the posts are set perfectly true and straight by the aid of two lines, one near the top and one near the bottom, and the excavation filled in with concrete, gravel and cement, which should be carried above the surface as high as possible, you have fastened the posts as firmly as it is possible to do.
The tops of the posts should be cut off square. Now, how do you get this line so that the plate shall be a perfect line? Not with a swinging line, surely, for you can never get a perfect line by any cord, however taut. With a 10-foot straight-edge and level you first get a level on the two end posts, the two extreme ends, then if you wish to drop two or three inches to the shed, or the same from the shed, you measure down the number of inches on the end that you wish to drop, tack on a strip of wood a few inches broad with a straight top edge, and when it is nailed on the post temporarily let it project a foot or so outside the line of posts and perfectly level. Nail a similar piece on the post at the other end and the height you have decided on, dab a little black paint on one of the strips and on the other some white paint.
Model Greenhouse, Showing Iron Gutter and Cypress Construction.
Then a man (two men are better) with a 2-foot spirit level held to the side of all the intermediate posts will give you an exact line. One man should hold the spirit level, level and raise or lower by order of the boss, who is sighting over one of the end strips. "When the top of the level is exactly even or in a line with the tops of the strips make a pencil mark on the post and move to another. You will have a line when your posts are cut off that is not pretty near a line, but correct to a hair. The reason the strips of wood should be white and black is to help you sight, and it would be difficult to sight truly if it were just the ordinary planed pine.
I have described this operation seemingly at some length, but twenty posts are marked quicker than I have described it. It is the only way to get a true line, and when established it is a guide for your pipes and benches, or you can level across to another run of posts if need be, although with your corner posts once correct this sighted line is much truer than any straight edge.
The top of post should be cut off square and on it spiked the plate, which should be broad enough to project an inch over the post on the inside and four inches outside of the posts, then when the matched boarding and novelty siding are nailed on there is still a projection of two inches.
The plate should be beveled both ways and the heel of the bar being cut to the bevel, it affords good solid nailing. The outside bevel should be the same as that of the slope of your roof. Posts that support a gutter should never be more than four feet from center to center. For outside posts we have got along very well with posts eight feet apart. There is no great weight on the outside plate and the two thicknesses of siding help support it.
The posts for partitions, or those that will support the gutter, should be sawed at the same level as the corresponding posts outside, and the gutter plate should project equally on either side. If the center posts are of red cedar 3x6 is just as good as square.