Construction Journal Entry Week of 5/15/16

5/17-19/16 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at 12:15 and took my usual weekly picture of the rhubarb plant. There is a new unusually big tall stem among the big leaves. The tall stem is loaded with buds.

After hoisting the flag, having my lunch and a nap, I turned on the valve to water Brian and Paul, the giant sequoia trees. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon whacking weeds from the hairpin turn to the privy. I had to use my left hand a lot because my right shoulder is still very sore.

On Wednesday it was about 40 outside so I started a small fire in the wood stove. It was 65 in the cabin when I got up but the fire brought it up to a nice cozy 72.

After breakfast, I went to work on the stair tread. I had bought some new blades for the reciprocating saw so I tried one of them out on the tread and stringer notches. It worked great. After several tries, I got the tread to fit.

This tread gave me trouble because of an error I made on the previous tread: I had cut the notches in the stringer up too high. That meant that there was not quite enough wood below the stringer to form the bump for the tread to rest on. Instead, the tread could slide down the stringer. I had to hold it in place with a concrete block while I was trying the fit.

As it turned out, there was barely enough wood to form a bump which would hold the tread but I think it will end up strong enough. But I won't make that mistake again.

The mistake I made was to cut the vertical kerfs in the stringers in the plane directly above the back edge of the tread blank rather than in the plane directly below the nose of the tread above. Since the tread width is 9.5 inches and the tread blanks are about 14 inches wide, the kerf was cut 4.5 inches too far back.

I did learn a new trick though. When trying the tread for fit, it is really hard to determine where it is riding so I can cut into that part of the tread and/or stringer. The main tools I use for that purpose are a strip of aluminum and a sheet of carbon paper. I use the aluminum strip as a feeler gauge, but it is hard to pinpoint the points of contact. The carbon paper works but it is hard to get it into place and it soon gets shredded and useless.

The new trick is to pick a bunch of new leaves from the bushes that are growing too thick anyway, and put the leaves in the stringer notches before I try the tread. When I put the tread down, it smashes the leaves where the members come in contact, and when I lift the tread back out, the green stains show me where to chisel, saw, or rasp wood off. I think that trick is going to speed up my work on the remaining treads. By the time I install the last one, I should be an expert in the job, but again, I will be done with that job and be moving on to some other one.

My plan was to keep working on the tread as long as the staircase was in the shade and then go in for lunch. But as it turned out, the weather stayed overcast so it stayed cool until I finally got the tread to fit, drilled the holes for the lag screws, and treated the tread and stringers with Board Defense by 2:00. I wanted to get the parts treated before I stopped for lunch so that they would begin drying out so I could stain them.

After a late lunch and a short nap, I watered the two sequoia trees again and then dragged the next tread blank from the woodshed down to the staircase. Then I used the DeWalt hand planer to plane the curved side of the tread blank and to chamfer the curved edges. Then I screwed the plywood pieces to the ends of the tread blank to get it ready for mounting on the scribing suspension structure. The weather stayed cool and overcast so it was very pleasant working outside.

On Thursday morning it was 40 outside again, so I built another small fire in the wood stove. Then I went outside and stained the stringer notches and the ends and bottom side of the tread. Then I lag screwed the tread to the stringers. Since the bumps in the stringers were not very big, the tread could rotate a little to the front, taking it out of level. To fix that, I drove four 3-inch screws through the back end of the tread and into the stringers. That drew it down tight and level. Finally, I stained the top of the tread.

After I had cleaned out my brush and put my tools away Earl stopped by for a visit. I took a few pictures of him. We had a nice visit until noon when he had to go down to his car and take his Parkinson's meds. I walked to his car with him, and then came back up and had my lunch. I left for home at 1:30.

Go to Next Journal Entry
Previous Journal Entry

Index to all Journal Entries
Go To Home Page

©2016 Paul R. Martin, All rights reserved.