Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/27/19

1/29-31/19 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

The drive over was beautiful, sunny, clear, and cold. On the way, I stopped in and visited with Earl for a while. Then I proceeded on and arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:50. There had been no new snow since the previous week, so I had no trouble parking or walking up to the cabin on the frozen snow. I brought my gear up, hoisted the flag, built a fire in the stove, and had my lunch and a nap.

When I got up, I brought a stout rope down to the truck and used it to drag the lumber I had brought with me up to the front porch and stack it on the bench on stickers so it will dry out. It took two trips.

The lumber is for the railings at the edge of the loft. Building those railings will be my major project for the rest of the winter, and I'll start on it as soon as I finish the back-porch stair rail that I am currently working on.

On Wednesday the temperature outside was 15 when I got up. After breakfast, I chiseled the notch in the rail to accommodate the middle bracket. Then I went outside and deepened the seat in the log wall where the middle bracket attaches. That log was a little fatter and the rail stuck out a little too far as a result. If I didn't deepen the seat, the rail would either have to bow out or it would stick out into the staircase too far. Neither was acceptable to me, so I deepened the seat.

Next, I took the rail assembly outside and attached it to the two brackets, after re-installing the middle bracket.

I was a little surprised and disappointed to see that by deepening the middle bracket seat, it moved the vine maple extension at the top so that it no longer fit snugly against the log wall. There was about a half-inch tapered gap now.

After thinking about several options, I decided to fix it by making a tapered block of wood that fits into the gap and screwing it to the wall with the vine maple screwed into the block. It looks a little tacky, but that's too bad. At least it made the top of the rail feel very sturdy and strong. I went inside for my lunch and a nap.

When I got up, I went out and began working on the third bracket and its seat. It needed to be fastened to a concrete block wall, so I went to my inventory of parts and found four quarter-inch anchors. Then I selected two small pine boards that had been cut out of vent holes in the ceiling eaves. They were just the right thickness to make the bracket seat. The plan was to fasten one of the boards to the masonry wall using the four anchors, and then screwing the second board to that one. After selecting four screws for the purpose, that is what I did. The Bosch Bulldog works great for drilling the holes in the concrete blocks.

Next, I screwed the bracket to the seat and marked the underside of the rail for the two screw holes. Then I removed the bracket again and went to work chiseling the recess on the underside of the stair rail for the third bracket. I didn't want to disassemble the rail to cut the notch, so I did it by sitting on the stairs and looking up at the underside of the rail.

I started by drilling a shallow hole at each mark with a 3/4" spade bit. The width of the flange is 3/4" so those two holes removed most of the wood needed to make the recess. I used a 3/4" chisel and a 1/4" chisel to square up the recess until the flange fit. Then I drilled the pilot holes for the screws and finally screwed the bracket to the seat and the rail. The whole rail was now nice and sturdy, but it still stuck out too far at the bottom end.

On Thursday morning, the temperature outside was up to 21. Dave called after breakfast and he gave me some detailed instruction and advice concerning my email. When we hung up, I made a gauge and then went outside and used the gauge to mark two logs in the wall for knuckle notches that will need to be cut so that your hand can pass along the rail without hitting the logs.

Next, I selected a crooked vine maple stick and proceeded to scrape and sand the bark off in an area I plan to use for the curved bottom end of the rail I had just installed.

When I finished that, Robert came in for a visit. He told me that the market for pine had disappeared indefinitely so it put into question whether or not we would be cutting the big pines down this year. He also filled me in on what he has been doing. He left about noon.

After having my lunch, I left for home at 12:50. It had been a fun week.

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