Construction Journal Entry Week of 8/13/17

8/15-17/17 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

This was an absolutely delightful week. I arrived at 12:40 and found no mice in the traps. That was the first delight. After moving my gear in, I turned on the valve to irrigate Brian and Paul. Then I had my lunch and a nap.

When I got up, I went down to the blackberry patch to see if there were any ripe berries. There were just a few small ones and I couldn't even cover the bottom of a cool whip container so I gave up on the berries for the season. While I was down there, I got Cindy out and cut away a lot of vine maples from around the rhubarb. Then I went into the woods to check on the sequoias and I cut a lot of vine maples away from them too. I noticed that Brian was not getting much water at all out of the hose. I needed to find out why.

On Wednesday, Dave called first thing in the morning and we had a delightful conversation. After breakfast, I turned on Brian's and Paul's valve again and went into the woods to check for leaks in the hose. I found a big leak up by the sequoia named Bill. It looked like some animal had bitten the hose nearly in half. I suspect either a bear or a coyote.

I returned to the cabin, shut the valve off, brought a roll of duct tape back to the cut hose, taped it up, and then returned to the cabin and turned the valve back on again. Then I went to work on the second front stair rail.

I positioned the rail by suspending it with small ropes and then marked it for length. Using my Sawzall, I cut the rail to length allowing four extra inches to serve as a tenon. Then I drilled the hole in the Grid G3 newel post for the half-inch lag screw that would secure the butt end of the rail to the post.

Then, after carefully measuring and marking the Grid G2 column for the mortise hole, I drilled the mortise hole using a 1 1/2" spade bit. I also used a plumb bob and an old-fashioned protractor to make sure I drilled the hole in the column at the correct angle.

After lunch and a nap, I used the same 1 1/2" spade bit to drill a hole all the way through a scrap piece of 2x4 which then served as a gauge for making the tenon on the end of the rail. The end of the rail wasn't quite round and it was just a little bigger than 1 1/2" in diameter so I fashioned the tenon using only Rasputin and then some coarse sandpaper to finish up.

I rubbed a pencil point all around the inside of the 2x4 gauge so that when I tried putting it over the unfinished tenon, it would leave black marks on the high spots. Then I would rasp those down with Rasputin until the marks were gone and then try the gauge again.

Gradually the gauge went further and further over the tenon until it went the entire four inches. At that point, I was ready to try it for fit. It was very close on the first try, and after just a little additional work, it fit perfectly on the second try. At that point, I just left the joint engaged and went down and lag screwed the butt of the rail into the Grid G3 newel post.

I felt an overwhelming sense of delight as I gripped the newly installed rail. It was super firm and steady. I had expected more trouble getting it installed but I was delighted that it went together so smoothly. Feeling very happy, I took a picture of the new rail and then went into the woods to check on the irrigation hose. The duct tape patch worked and the trees were getting plenty of water.

On Thursday morning, I realized that a lot of the work I needed to do on the stair rail was going to be in direct sun. That was unacceptable. So, I decided to install a shade.

I set the 20-foot extension ladder up against the Grid G3 column and then used two small ropes to keep the top end of the ladder from slipping or twisting around the column. Then I climbed up the ladder with a drill, a long light rope, a fairly big screw eye, and a short piece of rebar. I drilled a hole up through the lowest ceiling board and into the rafter flange above it. Then with the drill hanging from my belt on a cord, I used the rebar as a handle to turn the screw eye up into the hole.

Then I threaded the long light rope through the screw eye and descended the ladder bringing both ends of the rope with me. Then I put the ladder away and got a big tarp. I tied one corner of the tarp to one end of the long rope and then used the other end to raise the corner of the tarp all the way up to the corner of the roof.

After tying that rope off, I installed a second screw eye under the eave in the same way at Grid G2. I used a second rope to pull the tarp over to the screw eye so that the edge of the tarp was drawn right up against the eave, and then tied the second rope off. I now had a tarp shade hanging all the way from the roof to the ground. I was delighted at how it turned out.

With the shade blocking out the morning sun, I went to work with a sheet of fine-grit sandpaper and sanded the rail smooth cleaning up any dirty or marred spots. Then I stained the rail with TWP and cleaned out my brush. The rail looked beautiful and I was very happy. I took a picture of it after taking down my tarp shade.

I left for home at about 1:00 very happy with my progress for the week.

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