Construction Journal Entry Week of 7/21/13

7/22-24/13 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Monday through Wednesday.

This week was devoted to purely guilty fun. If I had to make a profit at this work, what I did would be what Bill had referred to as "farting around". Since I am not running a business like he was when he said that, I don't feel guilty enough to stop farting around and do something more productive. I spent the week carving wood. I have dearly loved to carve wood ever since I was a kid and I still dream of doing it when I get old. I am starting to get old, so it's about time I spent some time woodcarving.

On the way to Camp Serendipity, I stopped and visited with Uncle Charles. Then when I got to Lake Wenatchee, I took a detour onto the North Shore Road so that I could see the evidence of the fire that had destroyed a couple cabins last week.

A guy I stopped and talked to said they had taken down the "Road Closed" sign just five minutes earlier. He also told me that the fire was "human caused" and had started on the beach. When I drove by the fire site, there were a dozen or so firefighters still there. Four or five of them were spraying smoldering ashes with backpack sprayers and the rest of them were up at their trucks having lunch and a good time. They were all super dirty so it looked like they hadn't left the fire scene yet.

The fire was just a few doors east of Earl's place and I was happy to see that it hadn't reached it. It didn't dawn on me at that time that Earl's place is upwind of the fire, which was a good thing.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at right about noon. After having my lunch and a short nap, I called Earl to find out about the fire. He told me that he had taken a kayak out on the lake to watch the fire and that the heat was so intense he had to go pretty far out into the lake. Good thing he did because he said there were many explosions from propane tanks and ammunition in the cabins that were going off. I told him that I was happy that he and his place were safe and it was then that he reminded me that his place was upwind. I also explained my attempts to fix a leak in my springbox with bentonite.

After the call, I went to work. The first thing I did was to carry two big planks, a come-along, and some chains down to the truck. I plan to get a heavy file cabinet from Priscilla's next week and bring it up with me. It is too heavy for me to load into the truck without some tackle and a ramp so I wanted to make sure that I didn't forget to bring the gear home.

While I was down at the truck, I got Buck, the bow saw, out of the truck and brought it into the woods with me while I watered all the giant sequoia trees. I brought Buck because I was looking for a bent piece of vine maple that would work as a spout for my kitchen faucet.

When you aren't interested, it seems that you see all kinds of bent vine maple in the woods because the snow bends the saplings over and they just keep growing all bent up. But when you are looking for a specific shape, they aren't that easy to find. I only found one that might be suitable and I cut that loose and took it back to the cabin with me. I also brought a small log with me for use as the faucet base.

While I was in the woods, I also checked on the spring. The dam was still intact and the springbox was OK.

Back in the cabin I started on the project Dave had suggested, that of making a wooden faucet set for the kitchen sink. First, I ripped a couple feet of the small log and then cut it to length. That made a half-log, about 3 or 4 inches in diameter and long enough to cover all the faucet holes in the granite counter top. The plan was to mount this on the countertop with the flat side down and have the copper pipes come up through it near the ends.

About the time I had that blank cut, Earl showed up. He had ridden his motorcycle right up to the front porch. He brought a box of Rockite and suggested that it might work better then bentonite to patch up my leak. I explained that I wasn't planning on trying to plug the leak anymore and that instead I was going to extend the springbox. But I kept the Rockite thinking that it might be useful in sealing up the pipes in the new springbox annex.

I asked Earl to identify the log I had chosen for the faucet base. He said that it was a bigleaf maple, Acer macrophyllum. I like to know these things and it is nice having a forestry expert to ask. He also told me that vine maples are Acer circinatum. Nice to know.

The weather was super hot, 80 at the time, both inside and outside, so I opened the kitchen and living room windows and set a fan in the living room window. That made it a lot more comfortable for us.

We had a nice visit, and after watching Earl turn his motorcycle around and drive it back down around the hairpin turn, I went back to work shaping the maple faucet base.

On Tuesday morning, I opened the windows and started the fan right at 6:00 AM. It was about 55 outside and I got the temperature in the cabin down to about 65 before the temperature outside climbed to 65. Then I shut the windows and turned off the fan. It stayed nice and cool until pretty late in the afternoon. It got to 93 outside which is way too hot for me.

The bottom of the maple base was not flat so I used the power planer to flatten it. I wanted a nice tight seal between that and the granite countertop.

Next I finalized the valve assembly by extending both vertical tubes. Then I teflon-taped the threaded joints and tightened them all up so that all the pipes lined up correctly. I made sure that it fit in the holes in the granite, and then I used it as a gauge to locate and drill the holes for the vertical pipes in the maple base. I decided to leave the base round on top rather than try to embed the pipes and valves in a groove. That was so that any water would run off and not collect anywhere. The pipes and valves, being visible, would just be part of the "feature". I really liked the way it looked.

Next I went to work on the spout. I had brought a piece of holly wood from home that had been drying for four or five years. It was bent in a nice spout-shape and I had brought it as a possibility. Since the only vine maple piece I had found was clearly inferior to the holly piece, the choice was clear. I had never worked with holly wood before and I was curious to see what it was like. It is truly wonderful to work with. I'm glad I have a nice supply of it at home.

The wood is pure white with no distinct grain. It looks like white pine. The wood feels sort of waxy when you cut it and it does not split easily. You can cut across grain almost as easily as you can cut with the grain. It is very nice to work with using a knife or a chisel. I used a 1/4" chisel and Gus' razor sharp hunting knife for most of the work.

I set up shop in the dining room where there was plenty of open floor space. I had moved my eating location to the living room when the countertops were being installed, and it was still there. I brought in the sturdy sawhorse I had gotten from Uncle Charles and used it as my work stand. I used clamps to hold the wood to the sawhorse and keep it still while I worked on it.

This reminded me of my childhood. I did a lot of woodcarving as a kid and I remember constantly getting into trouble for carving inside the house and making a mess on the floor. I used to do it anyway, and try to clean up the chips before my mother found out. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't. But I always felt guilty. Now, I had that same sense of guilt, but now nobody was going to scold me. I could just let the chips fall where they may, so to speak. It was delightful fun. Before I knew it, it was time for lunch and a nap.

I didn't sleep long because I wanted to get back to my woodcarving.

I started out using Rasputin and a scraper to remove the bark and the first dark layer from the holly branch. Then I used the hunting knife to clean up the entire outside surface. I love to whittle and I had a great time.

I got a length of 3/8" flexible copper tube for use inside the spout. I found that I was able to bend it into the approximate shape of the holly branch. I first thought I would cut the holly vertically over its entire length so that I could hollow out the inside and glue it back together with the tube inside. But then I realized that it would work better to cut it horizontally because of the tee at the bottom. Since the horizontal cut would have to be curved to follow the centerline of the branch, I had to use a jigsaw to make the cut.

With the holly branch cut in two, I proceeded to cut a channel in each half that would fit the copper tube. It was great fun cutting the grooves and bending the tube little by little so that it would fit inside the grooves. I soldered a 45 elbow on the end of the tube which protruded down through a hole in the lower part of the branch an inch or so from the end. That would be where the water will come out.

The afternoon was spent clamping one of the two pieces or the other to the sawhorse and using the 1/4" chisel to dig out some more of the the grooves. Then unclamping the piece and trying it for fit with the copper tube. I got into the "flow" experience, having a great time and being totally oblivious of the time or the outside world. It was great fun and I loved it.

On Wednesday morning, I continued work on the spout and got it to the point where the tube fit inside the two holly pieces if you squeezed it hard enough. I also cut the old 1/2" spout off of the valve assembly and left a stub for a 1/2" to 3/8" reducer so that the 3/8" tube could be connected. I didn't solder the joint, however because the exact angle was dependent on the final fit inside the spout.

Since my schedule at home was going to be relatively open for the next couple days, I decided to take the project home with me and try to work on it there. I got a box and packed up the faucet parts and most of the tools I had been using.

I left for home at 1:15 feeling a little guilty, not about making a carving mess but because I had spent so much time on the wooden spout. Since Ellen isn't too fond of the rustic look, I thought she might not approve of this wooden faucet set. On the other hand, Earl, Dave, and I like the idea and we think it might add to the Camp Serendipity ambience. But the plan is to deem it only temporary and if she really objects to it, then I can always install a more formal-looking fixture later on. In the meantime, once the kitchen sink has a working faucet system, the pressure will be off, so to speak, and the rustic faucet might be there a long time. It might become more acceptable to her as she gets used to it. If she gets to like it, then it might be a permanent "feature" of the place after all.

7/25/13 (Thursday) Finalized the fit of the copper tube in the wooden spout, soldered the last two joints in the copper tube, glued the spout back together with the tube inside, varnished a couple coats on the maple base, drilled a hole in the center of the base to take the base of the wood spout, carved a cylinder in the base of the spout, and fit it into the hole in the maple base. The faucet set is almost ready to install.

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