Construction Journal Entry Week of 9/15/19

9/20-22/19 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Friday through Sunday.

There was no answer when I tried to call Earl, so I didn't stop in to visit him. I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 12:24. The temperature was a nice cool 60° under an overcast sky. The ground was soaking wet from a recent rain. (A bug in Microsoft is adding the funny A in front of the degree symbol like this: °. We'll just have to put up with it.)

I brought my gear up in one trip, hoisted the flag, and started a fire in the stove. Then I had my lunch, and a nice long nap. When I got up, I went into the woods and checked on the trees. They looked like they were all happy about the recent rain and I was delighted to see that the ram pump was still running.

Before I quit for the day, I went out on the front porch and finished cutting the two kerfs for the outside of the notch in the new stair tread.

On Saturday the temperature outside was 42°. I started a fire in the stove and warmed the place up. After breakfast, I used the Bosch bulldog with the wood chisel bit to cut the notch in the tread between the two kerfs I had made. Just as I was finishing that, Robert and Tom drove up. Robert had come for his dump truck which he needed on another job.

Robert came up on the porch to see what I was doing, and he advised me to glue the crack in the tread, which was now more open after having cut the notch. I agreed that he was right. Then I walked down with him to the parking area where he drove off with his dump truck.

Back up on the porch, I clamped the loose piece of the tread to hold it tight. Then I bored and drilled two holes edgewise into the tread as pilot holes for two big screws. I drove the screws in with my impact driver and released the clamp to prove that the screws would work. Then I backed the screws out again, brought the tread inside where it was warm, and proceeded to glue the crack as deep as I could. Then I drove the screws back in for the final time to squeeze the glue out of the crack and hold the piece in place.

Then I cut a couple of short pieces of 5/8" dowel and glued them into the counter-bored holes before I left it to dry while I fixed my lunch and had another nice nap.

When I got up, I took the tread back out to the front porch and used my new 3" hole saw to cut the mortise holes in the ends of the tread for fastening the newel posts. Unfortunately, I had not planned well enough and halfway through one end, the saw hit one of the screws I had just installed. That was very poor planning and it made me feel a little foolish.

After mulling over several options, I decided to cut the screw out of the mortise hole. That would still leave about an inch of screw thread holding the screw. Since the glue would probably be strong enough by itself, I figured that inch would be enough.

To cut the screw, I used a 1/2" twist drill to cut a hole down into the tread an inch or so right at the intersection of the screw and the wall of the mortise hole. Then I used a Sawzall poking down into that hole to cut through the screw, so it didn't extend into the mortise hole. About two inches of the end of the screw came out pretty easily.

When both mortise holes were bored, I brought the tread back inside both to protect it from UV and to help the glue joint cure all the way.

On Sunday morning, the temperature outside was 42° again and I started another fire in the stove. I was surprised and disappointed to discover two mouse carcasses in the traps. One was upstairs and the other in the crawlspace. Now I have two mysteries: how do they get into the crawlspace and how do they get upstairs? I hope I find out some day.

After disposing of the mice and resetting the traps, I decided to see if I could get my chainsaw running. First, I had to take up a few turns of slack on the starter rope, which involves dis-assembling the starter rope mechanism. Then I gassed and oiled the saw and cleaned the air filter. I wore myself out trying to start the thing and never got it to kick even once. I gave up on it. I am going to ask Robert's advice about whether to replace the saw or somehow fix it.

I wanted to cut up a bunch of branches that were lying about at my firewood station. Since the chainsaw wasn't working, I tried using an axe. It worked fine for the smaller branches, but when the diameter got to be about 3", it was too hard to cut them with an axe. I decided to use the Sawzall instead. But on the first cut I tried to make, the blade of the Sawzall broke and it is the only blade I have. Cutting through that big screw had evidently been the final straw. I was glad it waited until after the screw was cut before it broke. I put a couple of new blades on my shopping list.

Next I went up on the front porch and scraped and sanded the tread to make it ready for varnish. Then after cleaning the dust off, I varnished the first coat on the tread and cleaned out my brush.

Back inside the cabin, I vacuumed the first floor, had my lunch, and left for home at 1:00. I was reasonably happy about the week's work, but disappointed about the mice and the saws.

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