Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/30/11

2/1-3/11 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

The drive over was clear, sunny, and beautiful. It was 26 degrees out when I arrived at 11:45. There had been no new snow and the concrete stairs were clear. I parked at the foot of the stairs and used them to carry my gear up to the cabin. Bert and Ernie were soon there to greet me and to get their hugs and biscuits.

As soon as I had my gear moved in, I called Ron Scollard and talked to him about doing my drywall job. He said he would be able to come to the cabin the next day after work to take a look at the job.

After lunch, I started thinking about how I would rig up a water sprayer on the Skilsaw for cutting the marble. John had given me some ideas and I brought a length of small tubing with me that I had previously connected to the cap of a soymilk carton for an experiment. I figured that I just might use that as it was with the carton serving as the water reservoir. I just needed to mount the end of the tubing onto the saw somehow.

While it was still light, I decided to hang up a hammock Paul Van Hollebeke had given us. I had brought it up to the loft and planned to hang it up there, but it was so dusty that I decided to bring it outside first to dust it off. I also wanted to know whether it might work out on the porch.

It is pretty long so to hang it up, I used the Grid F2 and F3 PSLs. It stretched the entire 14 feet between the two columns. I hung it there just because it was in the sun, but it would work just as well between the Grid F1 and F2 PSLs. It is a nice big hammock made in Honduras.

I beat the hammock with a broom for quite a while to get the dust off and then I took some pictures of it hanging there. Then I took it back down and brought it up to the loft. Knowing that it takes a 14 foot span to hang it, I got a tape out and checked out what the options for hanging it in the loft will be. The best one looks like hanging if from the Grid B2 PSL to the Grid A wall or the Grid 1 wall somewhere near the A1 corner. That will allow for traffic all around it without blocking any part of the loft.

Next I went to work dismantling two wooden stairs that I had built to get from level to level on the scaffold system I used during the building of the log walls. These stairs had been stored in the bedroom closet ever since I took the scaffolds down and I figured this was the time to take them apart. I need to clear everything out of the closet in order to drywall in there, and, more immediately, I needed some flat boards in order to make a sawing table for cutting the marble.

After taking the first stair apart, I took a picture of the other one before I took it apart also. I took the boards outside and stacked them on the workbench on the porch so they would be ready for making the saw table.

On Wednesday morning it was 15 degrees and sunny outside. It warmed up to 24 degrees by midday. After breakfast I built the water sprayer for the Skilsaw. I made a mount for the end of the tubing from a short piece of strap steel and connected the mount to the saw with a small C-clamp. I made a sling of duct tape around the soymilk carton so that it could be suspended from the hook on my porch crane. I used a compass to punch a small hole in the bottom of the carton to let air in so the water would run out of the tubing. I tested it in the bathtub to make sure the water flows out at a reasonable rate. The rate can be controlled simply by raising or lowering the carton. I took some pictures of me making the contraption and connecting it to the saw.

Then I went out on the porch and made the sawing table by screwing boards down on a couple of sawhorses. By the time I finished, it was time for lunch and a nap.

After lunch I started cutting marble. I was apprehensive because I had never cut rocks with a saw before and I didn't know exactly what to expect. I had read that I needed not only hearing and breathing protection, but I needed a full body apron and a full face mask over the top of safety goggles. I didn't have the apron but I figured my jacket would do. I had a full face mask on a hardhat but my respirator wouldn't fit under it. I decided to just hold my breath and see how it worked without the respirator.

I also read that you shouldn't make the entire cut on one pass but instead you should score the piece and then cut deeper with successive passes.

After I got the table all set up and the milk carton hanging from the porch crane, I cautiously made the first scoring cut on the first small piece of marble. After making two or three successive cuts, I learned that my rip fence, that I had made of a 1x2, was too thick. When the saw was lowered deep enough to make the final cut, the wing nut for lowering the saw ran into the rip fence. I replaced the 1x2 with a strip of masonite that was thin enough to miss the wing nut.

The water spraying rig worked like a charm. I used the remote control buttons on the porch crane to raise and lower the soymilk carton and that controlled the water flow from a dead stop to whatever volume I wanted. It kept all the dust down so I didn't need the respirator at all.

On the second cut, I got a little more daring and made deeper cuts so I only needed a couple passes. On the third cut, I tried cutting all the way through in one pass and it worked like a charm. I think that multiple pass caution was for harder rock than marble. The marble cut as easily as a regular blade cuts through wood.

The momentum picked up as I successively marked additional pieces of marble and brought them outside to cut them. In no time I had cut all the pieces and had them laid out on the floor ready to install. I was very happy it worked so well. I took some pictures of the work as I went.

With the marble all cut, I dismantled the saw table, put away the tools and sawhorses, and swept the major blobs of water and marble dust off the porch. Then I went in for a shower happy that the only questionable part of the job of moving the wood stove was done. I already have experience doing all the other things involved in moving the stove but I had never sawed rocks before.

As soon as I finished my shower and was drying off with a towel, I heard someone at the door. It was Ron Scollard. He waited while I got dressed and then we walked through the rooms discussing the drywall job. I told him that he could have the job if he wanted it. He will check with his brothers and with his schedule and let me know. The job will have to wait until spring in order to get the material up to the cabin so there is plenty of time. I told him that I just wanted it to be done by around the middle of summer.

On Thursday morning Ellen called first thing and told me that the battery on the van was dead because she left lights on all night. I told her that I would bring a battery charger home with me and charge it back up. She took a bus to work.

The temperature outside was 24 degrees and there was a freezing rain. It was treacherous walking outside on a layer of wet ice.

I gathered up all the leftover marble and stored it under the porch again. Then I swept the porch again. Most of the marble dust was dry so I was able to sweep most of it away. There were still some patches where the wet dust had frozen so I'll sweep that later after it dries out.

After lunch, I loaded up my gear and the battery charger, scraped the ice off the truck, and headed for home at about 1:00 feeling very good about marble and drywall.

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