Permaculturing in Portugal

One family's attempts to live in a more planet-friendly way

Dinner time

We have been living on the quinta now for over a year with a severe lack of convivial eating furniture. Last year a slightly decrepit foldaway camping table and some slightly decrepit foldaway chairs did the job, but barely. 6 people to a meal meant there was only enough room on the table for the food. Plates on knees didn’t make for easy enjoyment of the fruits of our labour in the garden, and neither did the occasional chair collapse, so a workshop on lashings at Easter weekend’s Encontro Verde provided both inspiration and skills to remedy the situation.

A few days ago I went up into the woods to cut pine poles for the purpose with Valeri, our new WWOOFer, and today we started work.

Lashing poles to make tripods

Lashing 3 long poles together to make a tripod. The middle pole lies in the opposite direction to the outside pair.

Lashing poles to make tripods

Close up of the lashing. A timber hitch attaches the cord to one of the outside poles followed by loose figure-of-eight pattern over and under the 3 poles. This is finished by frapping turns between the poles and and a final clove hitch. The middle pole is then flipped over, tightening the lashings, and the tripod is formed.

Lashing poles to make tripods

One complete tripod. The bark has been left on the poles. Purely for aesthetic reasons: it will make them more prone to being eaten by wood-boring insects, but since the whole thing is constructed from pine and pine isn’t a particularly durable outdoor timber, it will likely rot just as fast. By the time it does we will probably be ready for something different.

Two tripods form table framework

Second tripod completed and table supports in place secured with square lashings.

Checking spacing

Checking spacing of the 2 tripods to make sure the 2.5m planks for the table and seats sit right.

Testing table height

Lunch time: an opportunity to test the table height.

Seat framework

More square lashings and a longer pole create the supports for the seats.

Table in place

Table in place and checking height of seat. Table top comprises 6 planks which are screwed onto two short planks forming cross pieces underneath. The cord strung between the 2 tripods is for hanging lights and has no structural purpose.

Nearly complete

Almost complete. Seats need cross pieces to hold them together. Each of these will be propped by vertical poles to prevent sagging. Then seats and table will be sanded and treated with linseed oil. And runner beans will be grown up the legs …

We now have a table that can seat 10 in comfort and 12 at a squeeze for the price of 10 planks of wood, a roll of nylon cord and a couple of days’ work. Many thanks to Leen van Melle for the workshop and Valeri for her help.

The lashings I used are detailed in this information sheet from the Scout Information Centre.

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4 Comments

  1. sophie May 4, 2011

    Fantastic! Love the idea of growing beans up the poles! Think this could be one of the first projects we do at our new place!! x

  2. joao May 5, 2011

    hi
    nice structure
    would suggest you remove the bark of the pine and the wood may last longer …
    best
    Joao

  3. Quinta do Vale May 5, 2011

    Hi João! Yes I know this very well. But as I said in the post, the structure is not designed to last very long. It’s OK! It will last as long as it lasts and then we’ll build something new :-) It will be interesting to see how quickly the bichos are able to dismantle it!

  4. Quinta do Vale May 13, 2011

    Addendum:

    The table finished and undergoing rigorous testing with the full complement of 12 plus large quantities of food. It passed with flying colours … literally! Celebratory bunting by Sarah Whitehead. Thanks Sarah!

    Table testing

    Table testing

    Table testing

    With this number it could actually do with being 7 planks wide rather than 6 – not quite enough room for all the food in the centre. A modification for when we have to renew the tripods …

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