Construction Journal Entry Week of 4/9/17

4/11-13/17 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I stopped to visit with Marilyn and George on the way up and I arrived at Camp Serendipity at noon. It was a beautiful, clear, 45 day. After moving in, I hoisted the flag, built a fire, had my lunch, and then took my usual nap.

When I got up, I went to work drawknifing the log I intended to use for the Grid F.5,3 newel post. There were still quite a few soft spots which were somewhat easier to work now that the log was dry. I still wasn't absolutely sure I wanted to use that log.

Before I quit for the day, I carried the 23' pole up from the upper roadway and stored it on the porch deck. It didn't quite fit so I propped it up against the Grid E1 corner of the cabin where it will stay nice and dry.

On Wednesday, Dave called first thing and we had a nice conversation, mostly about sailing. After breakfast, I went out and did some more drawknifing on the log. I made a decision about the joinery of the newel post and rails. I will miter the two rails, join them fast, and set the joint on top of the newel post and fasten it down with a single lag screw. That way the newel post will be shorter than if I had mortised the rails into it.

With the design decisions made, I cut the newel post to length and cut the bottom halfway through for 7 inches so it would fit over the edge of the porch deck and could be lag screwed into the Grid 3 joist and the porch deck plank. I first tried the sawzall and then a hand rip saw, but it was going too slow so I got the chainsaw. I had to take up two more turns around the starter rope pulley to get it started but once it started, I cut the log pretty quickly. When I finished, the saw made an ominous rattling sound that I am going to have to investigate later.

With the help of a bridle rope, I maneuvered the newel post into its place on the corner of the deck and marked the four spots for drilling the holes for the lag screws. Then I hauled the post back up onto the sawhorses for drilling.

Next I drilled the four half-inch holes for the unthreaded shanks of the lag screws, chamfered the top of the newel post with a hammer and chisel, and then applied a liberal coat of Board Defense solution all over it, especially in the checks, the soft spots, and the end grains.

Then I set the post back on the edge of the deck and aligned it into its final position. I lashed it in place with a rope and then drilled 3/8" holes into the joist and the deck plank with an 8" augur.

Unfortunately, one of them hit a screw and dulled the augur bit. That slowed me down a bit. First I had to get a file and sharpen the augur. Then I got a 3/8" dowel, drove it into the hole to plug it up, cut it off at the surface with a hammer and chisel, and then drilled another counterbore hole with the same center but angled slightly so it would miss the screw. Then, with a 1/2" twist drill, I drilled a hole for the lag screw shank through the newel post. Then with the 3/8" augur back in the drill, I made a new hole at the new angle for the threads of the lag screw and missed the screw in the deck.

Then I took the newel post out again and laid it on the deck. I needed to deepen the holes in the joist and the deck plank because my augur was too short to make the holes deep enough with the post in place.

Again, unfortunately, I discovered that with the new angle on the hole, two of my 10" lag screws were going to run into one another. After sizing the situation up, I decided to cut one of the lag screws short.

That was about all I got done on Wednesday except that I had my usual lunch and nap somewhere along the line.

On Thursday morning, I called Robert and left a message that Marty had asked that we change our meeting from April 18 to April 25 at 12:00 instead of 10:30. Then after breakfast, I hacksawed through one of the 1/2" lag screws and used a grinder to fashion a point on it.

Next I reamed out the four holes a little more using a 3/8 augur and I fastened the newel post to the porch using the four lag screws. They were hard to turn so I set the extension ladder up against the deck from the roadway and had a comfortable place to stand while I turned the screws in with a box-end wrench. It was a good feeling to get all the screws tightened and have that newel post secured. I took some pictures of it before I quit for the week. I left for home at 12:50 happy with the new newel post.

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