Construction Journal Entry Week of 5/17/20

5/18-22/20 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 5 days: Monday through Friday.

I arrived at 11:45. The ground was all wet, but it was not raining. I brought my gear up to the cabin, hoisted the flag, built a fire in the stove, had my lunch, and then took my usual nap.

When I got up, I went to work building the loft stair handrail upper termination following my 29-step work plan. I completed items 15 and 17. All the wood parts were connected together without glue and I was happy to see that it looked like I had been imagining it would look for all these years.

On Tuesday, I went back to work on the railing and discovered errors in my work plan. I also discovered some design flaws that caused some of the rail-bolts to interfere with some of the balusters. Each case required some work-around. In addition, I had some logical errors in my workplan so that the rest of the plan had to be scrapped.

Making up the plan as I went, I ended up gluing and fastening all of the joints. The balusters were also in place, but I wanted to make each baluster a load-bearing member in order to strengthen the structure, and I had worked out an elaborate method for doing that. I planned to temporarily slide the two 2x4s, that would anchor the balusters to the floor, halfway up the balusters so that I could place shims under each baluster to snug the baluster up against the railing. I planned to use knockouts from metal electrical boxes, that are about the size of a nickel, as shims. Then when all the shims were in place, slide the 2x4 back down to the floor. I had cleverly bored holes in the undersides of the 2x4s that were intended to receive the shims so that the 2x4s could lie flat on the floor.

Unfortunately, none of that scheme worked. I could not keep the shims in place and worse, even if I could, the bored holes were not deep enough. After struggling with it for quite a while, I abandoned the idea and turned my attention to something else while I worked out a new method.

I got a rasp and formed the seats in the tops of the lower newel posts to hold the copper caps. Robert called and gave me an update on how he is going to deal with the jammer. Then I had my lunch and a nap.

When I got up, I went outside, brought 5 gallons of water up to Andrew, and then used up two batteries worth of charge on the string trimmer whacking the weeds between the hairpin turn and the cabin.

When I went back inside, I vacuumed the first floor.

On Wednesday the power went out at 9:30 AM. I started working on a new method of supporting the bottoms of the balusters instead of the shims. I decided to use wood screws. I chose screws whose heads were no bigger than the balusters so they wouldn't need an over-size bored hole like the shims. I thought it was an excellent idea until I discovered that the first one needed to go right into a crack between a floor joist and the header at the top of the stairs.

To fix that, I got a machine bolt stud, drove that down into the crack, with the help of a tap, and then put a washer and nut on top to bear against the floor. That way, the stud could be set at the correct height to hold the baluster.

The rest of the balusters didn't present any problem so I soon had all the screws driven in and adjusted to the proper height.

The power was still off at lunchtime, so I had to eat my bread untoasted. After I got up from my nap, I went outside and used up 2 batteries on the string trimmer down at the hairpin turn. Then I decided to walk to the school bus turnaround to call the PUD and find out when power was expected back. I wanted to know how to plan for fixing my dinner.

When I passed Bartholomew's, Dave and Nancy came over and we had a nice long chat. He told me that power was due to come back at 4:00, so when we were done talking, I went straight back to the cabin and the power was back on by the time I got there.

On Thursday, I finished screwing the 2x4 bases to the floor which completed the entire structure of the handrail upper termination. I was very happy with the results and I took a couple pictures. Then I put away all the many tools I had brought up to the loft to work on the railing. Then I glued all the wood plugs into the holes on the underside of the railing before I stopped for lunch and a nap.

When I got up, I watered Andrew and whacked the weeds up to the privy.

On Friday morning, Dave called, and we had another delightful conversation. When we hung up, I went out and brought another five gallons of water up to Andrew. Then I unscrewed Dr. Dick's rebar cutter/bender from the front porch deck and brought it down to the crawlspace. then I brought all the rebar scraps and left-over rebar down to the crawlspace and stored them.

I tried giving Earl a call, but he was busy and didn't call back. I got a start rasping the first glue joint on the handrail termination before it was time to quit. I left for home at 1:00 very happy with the week's progress.

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