Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/12/20

1/17-19/20 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Friday through Sunday.

The pass had just opened up after being closed for a few days. The going was slow because of the snow, but I made it OK. I stopped in to visit Earl, but I think he was napping so I left after leaving a note. I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 12:55. There had been a lot of snow, but the earlier snowfalls had been plowed from my driveway and there was only about six inches of new snow since then, so I had no trouble parking. Shoveling off the steps and stomping out the trails was another matter. It took me over an hour to reach the cabin.

When I reached the cabin at about 2:00, I started a fire, hoisted the flag, and then went back to the truck and brought up my gear. There was a phone message from Earl, so I called him back. He was sorry to have missed me, but I was glad he was OK.

On Saturday morning it was snowing and there was another six inches that had accumulated overnight. I went down to the truck, shoveling off the steps as I went, and got my DeWalt tool bag. Then back in the cabin, I went to work and made the last section of the loft balustrades.

Unfortunately, the bottom 2x4 had warped pretty badly and was airplane-propellered. Instead of lying flat on the floor, one corner was raised about 1/4" while the other three were on the floor. I tried twisting it flat with some leverage and found that I could do it. Now the problem was getting it flat while I drilled the holes.

To do that, I found another 2x4 that was also twisted but in the other direction. By clamping them together, with the top 2x4 rail between them, I took the twist out of both of them and all three 2x4s were flat and the two rails were lined up for drilling.

After drilling all the baluster holes, I placed the lower 2x4 into its notch in the log wall. That notch was tight, so it held that end of the 2x4 down flat. The other end, which butted up against a 4x4 newel post, was the one that had a corner up off the floor.

The plan was to take the twist out of the 2x4 and hold it flat with three screws in the corners that wanted to come up off the floor. I drilled all the pilot holes for the screws through the 2x4 and then screwed down the corner that was in the notch in the log wall. Then I placed four rebar balusters into the holes next to the newel post and rigged a rope harness that allowed me to pull the tops of the balusters so they would act as levers to torque the 2x4 to make it lie flat. I had an adjustable knot in my harness so that I could control the force on the balusters. I started by tensioning the harness almost to the point of bending the rebar balusters which torqued the 2x4 almost all the way. Then, I started driving in the three screws. I used an impact driver and I staggered the driving of the screws, a little at a time, along with increasing the tension on my harness. That way, no single screw, nor the harness, had to do the whole job of holding the 2x4, and I was careful not to strip out any of the screws.

It worked slick and soon all three screws were tight, the 2x4 was flat on the floor, and the harness could be removed.

Then it was a simple matter to place all the rest of the balusters in their holes in the bottom rail, and then place the top rail down over the tops of all the balusters. I started at the log wall end, and as soon as the first two balusters were in, I pushed the end of the rail into its notch in the log wall. Then I lowered the rest of the rail as I inserted balusters as I went along.

When all the balusters were in, the rail butted snugly against the top of the newel post. Then I screwed the top rail to the log wall and to the newel post. It was done before I stopped for lunch and a nap.

When I got up, I decided to make a snowshoe trail up the upper roadway. I usually make a trail up there during the winter, but this year I have never gone up that way so there was no trail. Ellen had said that if we go up there, she would like a trail so we would have the option of using the trail or the staircase to get to the cabin. So, I went down to the truck, shoveling the steps off as I went, and got my snowshoes on.

It took me about an hour to make the trail from the parking area to the cabin and then walk back down to the truck and take off the snowshoes.

Back in the cabin, I cut the notch in the log wall for the 2x6 that goes on top of the new balustrade.

On Sunday morning there was only an inch or less of new snow and it wasn't snowing. The temperature was 24°. I went to work in the loft and cut the 2x6 rail to length and screwed it in place on the top of the new balustrade. Except for some touch-up varnishing, the railing project for the loft was finished. I was very happy, and I took some pictures of the result.

After sweeping up the chip mess and putting away some of the tools, Robert called to find out how I was doing. He brought me up to date on his activities and plans. He said that there was still no market for pine. After we hung up, I vacuumed the first floor of the cabin. Then I had my lunch and left for home at 12:00, happy that the loft railing project is done. I can now concentrate on the loft stair rails.

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