Construction Journal Entry Week of 5/21/17

5/23-25/17 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

It was 80 when I arrived at noon and it was dry enough so that I made it across the muddy patch in the driveway in 2wd. The rhubarb is getting huge! I carried my bag and cooler up to the cabin and hoisted the flag. It was a pleasantly cool 65 inside the cabin which felt good.

After lunch and a nap, I whacked the weeds down on the upper roadway with an old-fashioned weed whacker and I dug out a couple more thistles that I had missed before. Then I repaired a couple smaller leaks in the irrigation hose with duct tape and turned the water on to irrigate Paul and Brian. I was going to check on all the sequoia trees but it was so windy I figured that it would be too dangerous. I only checked on Paul and the water was running fine there.

Next, I took the wheelbarrow down to the truck and unloaded a big load of yard waste and stacked it onto the compost pile. Then I wheeled the rest of my gear up to the cabin in the wheelbarrow.

Before I quit for the night, I spotted a small lizard on the porch and watched him for quite a while. He didn't seem to mind my presence but just crawled up and down and around some concrete blocks and onto the porch deck and the dirt bank.

On Wednesday, I was awakened at 5 AM by the mousetrap in the bedroom going off. I got up and took the dead mouse outside and reset the trap. I got up at that point and had just about finished my breakfast when Dave called. We had our usual pleasant conversation.

I decided to stain the new rails and newel post as well as all the places that I had cut into previously stained wood like the knuckle notch. That way the stain could be drying while I worked on making the balusters. I didn't figure on getting the balusters made in time to install any of them this week so that would give the stain a week to dry before I had to handle the rails. And it would be easier to stain the rails without the balusters.

Before I started staining, I sanded all the rough spots on the rails, finishing with a fine grit paper so the result was very nice and smooth.

When the sanding was finished, I stained the wood and then cleaned out my brush. Then I installed a bench grinder that I had gotten from Priscilla by screwing it down on the workbench on the front porch. My plan was to use the grinder to dress the ends of the rebar balusters instead of using a hammer and anvil as I had done before. I was curious to see how it was going to work.

After installing the grinder and trying it out, I was delighted to find that it worked very well and made the job quick and easy. I went in for lunch happy about that.

Just as I finished lunch, Bill called and we had a delightful conversation. When we hung up, I took my usual nap.

When I got up, I went to work improving my baluster painting rack. The rack is a 2-foot 2x6 with a bunch of holes drilled into it. With all the holes holding balusters, I have to pick the 2x6 up with the center of gravity of all those rebar 18 inches above the 2x6. That is sort of tricky to balance.

To fix that problem, I took the two 2-foot pine 1x8s, that had served as the hole saw guide I used to drill the Grid F3 mortise holes, and cut a handle on one end of each one with a jigsaw. Then I screwed the other ends perpendicular to each end of the 2x6 painting rack. That put the handles on the pine boards above the center of gravity of the loaded rack so I should be able to handle it a lot easier. I also fastened a loop of rebar tie wire between the tops of the pine boards using 4 drywall screws. The wire will catch and hold any of the balusters that might try to fall over. I was happy with the result and I think it will make the painting job much easier.

Next, I measured for the length of the balusters I will need and started cutting a batch of them. I only got a couple done when Earl drove up on his motorcycle. He came up and we had a nice visit. He gave me a book describing a beautiful replica of a two masted sailboat that was somehow in the family of the people we bought the property from.

After Earl left, I cut ten balusters before I went in for the night.

On Thursday morning, I cut up all the rebar I had and made 39 balusters. Then I carried them over to the sawhorses and started dressing the ends of them using the bench grinder. It worked great. I even tried the wire wheel that is on the grinder and found that it cleans up the rust on the rebar really nicely. I did about 10 balusters when all of a sudden, the grinding wheel worked loose.

I spent some time figuring out how to re-attach it, which I finally did. When I got it working again, I took some pictures and then took two fertilizer spikes I had brought with me and drove one into the ground next to Paul and the other one next to Brian. I have enough spikes for the rest of the trees but I didn't have the time to do them all. Those two trees are having the toughest time so I wanted to fertilize them right away. I left for home at 12:50 very happy with my progress.

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