Covering the Beams

These were the last uncovered remnants from removing  the walls with a cutting torch.  Two 2.5″x5″x18′ beams on the ceiling of the cabin – not a pretty picture.  Maybe if the walls had been cut with a plasma cutter they could have been used as is, although I think there are better options.  The easiest thing to do in my mind was to just build some fake wood beams around them.

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I decided to use cedar for the beams since it’s lightweight, easy to work with, and is naturally moisture and rot resistant.  The latter is just in case some condensation forms on the steel beams and gets on the wood.  A small amount did form on the back corner of one of the beams the last time I was there, although that’s probably due to the insulator not foaming the steel beams on top of the containers correctly.  I’m confident that when I get to properly insulate the beams this spring it shouldn’t be a problem.

I wanted to keep the height of the beams as small as possible, and I’m lucky that a 1″x4″ cedar board was the perfect height as is.  The boards need to be cut out in a few places as you can see, and the back sides also need their upper edge removed to clear the welds that are present.  The nice thing is, since this is cedar, many of the minor adjustments can be made with just a utility knife.  To attach the boards I just used some countersunk flat head self threading metal screws.  BTW, I did have to pre-drill the beam with a cobalt bit first.

The bottom board was a 1″x6″ with about 3/8″ removed from one side.  While a table saw would have been useful here, I was able to do an acceptable job with just a jigsaw.  I do plan on filling in all the cracks and screw holes, sanding, and painting when everything is done, so I doubt anything will show.  The bottom board is held in place with horizontal 1 5/8″ trim screws screwed through the side boards.

Just so you know, what I really wanted to do was get a pair of faux wood beams from (get this) FauxWoodBeams.com.  I especially like their custom hand hewn beams, and am seriously considering trying to duplicate the look of them with my cedar beams.  The only negative to these is their price, about $375 (excluding shipping) for an unfinished 6 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ x 20′ beam.

14 thoughts on “Covering the Beams

  1. Carl

    Great job so far!!!! I too have been doing research for building a cabin with shipping containers. My long term goal is to have property in a remote area and was very worried about vandalism and theft. This really does seem to solve the problem. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    Reply
  2. Cepik

    Steve,

    I followed a link from the “Tiny House Blog”, this is a great site. This is EXACTLY what I was thinking about a week ago . . . I wanted a secure cabin that no one could mess with while I wasn’t there. I was thinking of a metal Quonset hut or metal A-Frame (smaller scale, like a shed size) but this is another option.

    I’ll keep reading and checking your old posts. Please keep posting.

    Reply
  3. William Ottley

    wow… pure awesome. your website alone saved me countless googling!
    very logical, and useful site for anyone who’s interested in building a cabin.
    I do hope you plan on showing us what the “inside” would look like: bedroom/kitchen, etc…

    Reply
    1. Steve Post author

      William:

      I will definitely show everything, including the inside, as it gets done. My “Initial Design” post shows a Google SketchUp drawing of the interior which is still pretty close to what I will be doing. I hope to have everything done by this summer.

      Steve

      Reply
  4. Jeff

    This is a great blog…just read it from the beginning. Thanks for posting!

    One security question. Shipping containers are obviously made to keep keep people from getting in…but the latches also keep people from getting out. While the chances are very low, what would you do if one of those partiers saw your place and latched the doors while you were inside?

    Reply
    1. Steve Post author

      Jeff:

      This is a common question, and even my youngest son was concerned about it the first time he spent the night there. While I’m not too concerned that someone would try to do it, there is a very simple way to prevent it. If you re-lock the padlock to the primary (left) door when the doors are open, the secondary door cannot be closed and locked. If you wanted even more security, each individual door handle could have a lock attached to prevent the rods from locking into place. A total of fifteen locks could be attached to the doors IF you really wanted.

      Steve

      Reply
    1. Steve Post author

      Steven:

      More is coming, it’s just that the weather this time of year keeps me away for longer periods. I should have some more posts in a couple of weeks though.

      I do consider myself lucky for getting the land that I did. I’m not sure I could find something like it again. In regards to the time and money, I never seem to have both at the same time.

      Steve

      Reply
  5. jon

    how does cutting the walls affect the structural integrity of the roof? i’d like to place 2-20’s together and open them up by cutting the walls, but i am concerned with snow load, etc.
    thanks

    Reply
    1. Steve Post author

      Jon:

      Removing walls from a shipping container will severely impact the structural integrity of the container. Before my walls were removed, I had two 6″x3″x1/4″x19′ steel box beams welded the entire length of the containers. If you look at the pictures in my “Raising the Roof” post, you can see the box beams in place under the roof. My beams were specifically chosen for my design by George Runkle of Runkle Consulting. I would recommend that you speak with him before attempting to remove your walls. Snow loads, roof design, etc. can have a dramatic effect on the size and placement of any reinforcement.

      Good luck with your project, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

      Steve

      Reply
  6. vivien johnston

    Steve, I dont see the bathroom how you design it. Can you post something of it? Thanks for all you comunicate in your web. Vivien from Uruguay.

    Reply
    1. Steve Post author

      Vivien:

      I haven’t started work on the bathroom yet, probably sometime this spring. I will definitely have some posts on it then.

      Steve

      Reply

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