Construction Journal Entry Week of 6/17/18

6/18-20/18 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Monday through Wednesday.

I moved my normal schedule up a day this week, so I would be home on Thursday to attend a Jordan Peterson speaking event.

I arrived at 12:20 and saw that the loggers had been busy while I was away. The muddy driveway entrance was now filled with a nice gravel surface and there was a bunch of logging equipment parked in the parking area. In addition to the skidder, which was still there, there was a dump truck, a log loader, and a couple big components of the jammer: an engine and the double winch assembly. I thought Robert was going to fall one of the cottonwood trees before he brought the equipment in, but he evidently decided to reverse the sequence. I don't second-guess him.

It was a hot 80 outside but a nice cool 65 inside the cabin. I brought my gear up, hoisted the flag, and had my lunch. Just as I finished, Robert called and told me that he had just missed me by 5 minutes. He passed me on the road on his way out, but I didn't see him. He was in an unfamiliar flatbed truck. He said he probably won't be back to Camp Serendipity until next week.

Then just as I got started on my nap, Bill called to ask about my Father's Day at Stehekin and to catch up on other things. Instead of going back to my nap, I put on the bug hat and gloves and went out and checked on the cedars. They are all doing well, and the irrigation system is working perfectly. I flipped the valve to water Brian and cedar #12 and then carried a bucket of water up to Andrew. I also checked all the giant sequoias and was happy to see that they are all thriving.

When I returned to the cabin, I put away all the cots, bedding, temporary lights, tray tables, and other stuff that was set up for the guests on the weekend.

On Tuesday I used the string trimmer to mow down the weeds in the parking area around the logging equipment. Robert had mentioned that one distasteful job ahead of them was grubbing out the brush around the big cottonwood tree they were going to fall so I figured I'd get a head start on that project. The brush and weeds down there were really overgrown, and they were harboring hordes of mosquitoes. My plan was to whack down everything the string trimmer could handle, and then use Cindy to remove the bigger stuff, mostly vine maples.

I ran both batteries down on the string trimmer before I finished the job and started re-charging the batteries. I have learned that it takes about a half hour of continuous use to run one battery down and then it takes five hours to recharge it. Not a good ratio.

Next, I went up and flipped the valve to water Brian and cedar #12 and then returned to the front porch to work on the rail.

The stain on the rail was not quite dry, but it was dry enough to handle as long as I had gloves on. The next step was to make the mortise and tenon joint between the butt end of the rail and the Grid G2 PSL. And for that, I needed to square up the end of the rail first. I used a rolled-up sheet of paper wrapped around the end of the rail in order to scribe it for a square cut. Then I used a hand saw to make the cut.

Next I needed to make the mortise hole in the PSL and for that I needed my 1 1/2" hole saw. I went to the crawl space where I keep the hole saws and it was not there. Misplacing tools is a chronic problem with me, so I spent a frustrating 20 minutes or half-hour looking in all my tool boxes and every other place I could think of. Of course, I found it in the last place I looked (because at that point I quit looking).

Finally, with the hole saw chucked in the half-inch drill motor, I began cutting the mortise hole. But alas, the saw was woefully dull and just would not work without severely over-heating. So, I took it apart and tried to sharpen it.

I tried various files, but the steel in the hole saw was just too hard. So, I resorted to a small bench grinder and found that there was just barely enough clearance to position the saw so that I could grind on the proper surface of each tooth and at the correct angle to sharpen it. After grinding each tooth to a sharp edge, I went back to cutting the mortise hole. Now it was no problem and the saw buried itself into the wood in no time.

Then, with a small chisel and hammer, I removed the wood from inside the hole and then proceeded to make the hole deeper by one more plunge with the hole saw and more chiseling away of the inside. The mortise hole was now ready for a tenon.

After lunch and a nap, one of the batteries was fully charged so I took the string trimmer back down and trimmed weeds until the battery was dead again. Then, back up on the porch, I made the tenon on the butt end of the rail. I used a drawknife to start with, and then when the shape got close, I switched and used Rasputin. Once the end of the tenon was able to enter the mortise hole a little, I used my usual trick of blackening the inside front of the mortise hole with a pencil. Then when I inserted the rail into the hole and pulled it back out, there were pencil marks showing me where to take off wood so that it would go deeper into the hole the next time.

Toward the end of the process, I switched to using just a 3/4" wood chisel, sometimes hammering it on the thicker cross-grain, but mostly just pushing it by hand to slice away thin slivers of wood until the tenon slipped all the way in fitting tightly all the way around.

On Wednesday morning, both batteries were fully charged so I went back down with the trimmer and whacked the weeds from the driveway and the parking area until both batteries were dead again. Then I got Cindy out and lopped away the vine maples on the margin of the driveway. I didn't finish them all, but I made a good dent in it.

In the process, I flipped the valve and watered Brian and cedar #12 for an hour. I also measured the small end of the rail to figure out the size of the mortise/tenon joint I needed for that end. It needs to be 2" but unfortunately my smallest hole saw is 2 1/2" in diameter and my largest spade bit is 1 1/2". I put a 2" bit or augur on my list to bring up next week.

I left for home at 1:00 happy to be making at least some progress on that rail.

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