Construction Journal Entry Week of 4/16/17

4/18-20/17 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

The temperature was 45 when I arrived at noon. The lower driveway was super muddy but in 4wd I was able to get through it. I parked up at the hairpin turn where most of the snow had melted away. The snow that remained on the upper roadway was firm enough that I could walk on top of it even though it was over a foot deep.

I carried my gear up in two trips, hoisted the flag, started a fire and had my lunch. Then, before it started to rain, I took the wheelbarrow down to the truck and unloaded a big load of yard waste and stacked it on the compost pile.

Then I went in for my usual nap. When I got up, I split a bunch of firewood and then went to work on the porch rail project. After making a few measurements and doing some thinking about it, I designed the mortise and tenon joint to fasten the rail to the Grid F.5,2 newel post.

The diameter of the butt of the rail, which will go into the newel post, is 5 inches. I decided to use a 4-inch hole saw to cut the mortise hole in the post. Then I will use a hammer and chisel to form the tenon on the rail. That should be pretty easy because I only have to cut away a half-inch of wood.

Next I laid the long pole onto the porch deck and rolled it around to find the flattest orientation. Then I measured the distance from the center of the top of the Grid F.5,3 newel post to the surface of the Grid F.5,2 newel post. The tenon will be 2 inches long so I added 2 inches to the measured length and marked that distance off on top of the butt end of the pole. That determined the location of the single 45 cut that would make both miter surfaces.

By making only one cut, it would maximize the total length of the rails I could get from that one pole. But it meant that one of the two rails would have to be rotated 180 to make the miter joint.

Before I quit for the day, I went into the woods and checked on the sequoia tree named Paul. It was completely free of snow and looked healthy enough. It wasn't very bushy or tall, but it was a nice vibrant green color.

On Wednesday, Dave called and we had a nice conversation. After breakfast, I went out and resumed working on the rails by cutting the pole into two pieces.

To make the cut, I placed the butt end of the pole on the big sawhorses and used clamps and boards to hold up the smaller end. Then I used a carpenter's square and a plumb bob to mark the sides of the pole for the cut, and then scribed the line on the top of the pole by sighting down across the carpenter's square. Finally, with the top of the scribe line drawn, I cut the miter joint with a hand crosscut saw by eye. We'll see how it fits later.

Next I had to choose which of the two poles to rotate. I decided on the basis of the checks that were present in the butt end. I decided to keep them on the underside of the railing.

The next job was to smooth the surfaces of the rails. I started with the sawzall and used it to cut off the branches and big lumps. Then I got out the power planer, a couple rasps, and a scraper and tried them all to see what worked best. The rasps worked best to work down the places where I had sawed and the scraper worked best for the rest of it. The power planer wasn't of much use. Using a scraper is tedious so I didn't make too much progress before I quit for the morning and went in for lunch and a nap.

When I got up, I went out and straightened the flagpole. The huge snowbank had pushed the pole a little bit so that it wasn't quite plumb. The snow had melted away from around the pole so that I could tamp the dirt down around the pole and straighten and firm up the pole.

Then I took Cindy, my clipboard, and a yardstick and went into the woods to measure and assess the sequoia trees. There were a lot of vine maples across the trail so I used Cindy to lop them off and open up the trails.

There were only 5 of the trees that were out from under the snow so I measured those and judged their bushiness. Then I went back to the cabin and did some more scraping on the poles. I also fastened a hose rack to the outside wall at Grid E3. We had bought the rack to hold the big electrical control wire for the porch crane because once the railing is in place, I can no longer wrap the wire around a projecting wall log like I did before. With the rack in place, I wound the control wire around it and was happy with the result.

On Thursday morning Dave called again to wish me a happy birthday. After breakfast, I had just headed into the woods to dig out the rest of the sequoia trees when I heard Robert's truck in the driveway.

I watched him make it through the mud and park. Then we had a nice conversation after he handed me the book he had borrowed. Before he left, he took a look at my chainsaw and saw that the exhaust manifold had cracked and that the bolts holding it were loose. He told me that finding a new part for such an old saw might be difficult. I'll have to have a look and see what I can do about it.

When Robert left, I went into the woods and dug out and measured the remaining sequoia trees. The results are added to the chart of progress for the trees.

I left for home at 12:50 happy about another pleasant trip to the mountains.

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