Construction Journal Entry Week of 11/8/20

11/9-13/20 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Monday through Friday.

I arrived at about noon. The weather was clear and 30 degrees. I carried my gear up in one trip, hoisted the flag, built a fire in the stove, and then had my lunch and a nap. When I got up, I split and stacked a bunch of firewood. I spent the rest of the afternoon writing. It started snowing at about 8 PM.

On Tuesday there was about 4 inches of new snow on the ground and it kept snowing until about noon. I made a trip down to the truck and swapped my street shoes for my Sorel boots.

Since the flooring is all finished in the loft, it is time to put back all the stuff that I had moved out of the way. But rather than just piling up a bunch of boxes, like it was before, I figured that I should build some shelving and then organize the stuff and put it on shelves. After thinking about several options for shelving, I decided that I was going to try to salvage all the 2x8 risers I had used in the forms for the concrete staircase. There are upwards of 40 of the risers, each one 3 feet long, so they would make a lot of shelves.

There were a couple problems, though. One was that about half of them were stored in a stack that was out in the weather. The other was that since they had been used as concrete forms, there were traces of concrete on one side and on the 45-degree bevel along one edge.

The first step was to get them out of the weather and clean them up so they could dry. I spent the morning doing that. I used a stiff mason's brush to clean off the dirt and old impacted pine needles to clean a couple of them, and then I discovered that a wide putty knife worked better. Unfortunately, I found that the concrete on the beveled edge was nearly impossible to remove. I stacked the cleaned risers on the back porch standing on end so they could dry.

After lunch and a nap, I split and stacked all of the 8 rounds, or so, of piss fir that I had. I will burn that first because it is so nice and dry. When that was all stacked, I took the wheelbarrow and some tools up to the privy and tackled one of the big Doug fir rounds that remained up there. Once I made the first split, using an axe, a steel wedge, and a sledgehammer, the rest of it was fairly easy to split with a splitting maul. I got two wheelbarrows full of firewood which I wheeled down to the cabin and stacked. I spent the rest of the afternoon practicing on the piano.

In the evening, when Ellen called, we discussed options for making the loft shelving. We concluded that since I was going to the effort, I might as well make them fairly nice. So, I decided that I would plane, or scrape the boards clean and then varnish them.

On Wednesday I woke up groggy because I hadn't slept very well during the night. I spent the morning mostly dozing off as I listened to the radio. I did get up the gumption to run the vacuum cleaner over the floor though.

After lunch, I figured I had dozed enough so I skipped my nap. I went to work intending to make shelves out of old risers. The ones I had worked on the day before were too wet to work on, so I went down to a stack under the front eaves where there were some dry ones. But when I went to dig them out, I discovered seven 2x10s that had been used as the temporary treads on both the front and the back staircases before being replaced by log slabs. These were much better than the risers; they were a foot longer, 2 inches wider, they had never been close to concrete, and they didn't have a beveled edge.

I took the seven planks up to the front porch and set up a planing environment. I laid a tarp on the floor with half of it rising vertically about five feet, held by the two corners by ropes. Then I put the big sawhorses on the tarp. With a plank on the sawhorses, I used my DeWalt hand planer to plane all surfaces. The chips were blown against the vertical part of the tarp and they collected on the floor between the sawhorses. I really wanted those chips because they make the best curly fries, which I use as fire starters in the wood stove. My bin of curly fries was almost empty, and I needed a new supply.

After planing all seven planks, I got about a bushel of chips, which nearly filled my curly fry bin, and which should last me all winter. It was a win-win-win situation. I got some nice shelving, I disposed of some otherwise useless scrap lumber, and I got a year's supply of curly fries.

On Thursday I spent the morning varnishing the seven planks out on the front porch. The temperature was about 26 degrees, but Ellen had done some research and discovered that the minimum temperature for using Varathane is something like 30 below zero.

After lunch and a nap, I practiced on the piano and did some writing.

On Friday morning I woke up to a new 10-inch snowfall and it was still snowing. I took a picture of the truck covered in snow that I had to clean off before I could leave for home. Dave called and we had our usual excellent conversation.

After piano practice, I cleaned the steel Craftsman toolbox that I had brought up from the crawlspace and then set it up in the utility room to help organize my tools. It should be a big help.

I left for home at 12:30 but didn't get on the road till after one o'clock because of tramping out the trail to the truck and then digging out the truck and backing it out of the driveway. Even though it was still snowing I had no trouble getting home.

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