Construction Journal Entry Week of 3/7/21

3/8-12/21 I went up to Camp Serendipity for five days: Monday through Friday.

On the way I stopped at the post office and the tax accountant's office and then continued on a beautiful drive over the mountains. I arrived at 11:40. The snow had shrunk back so that I was able to drive all the way in and use the parking area to turn around and park at the foot of the stairs. I brought some of my gear up in one trip, hoisted the flag, built a fire, and then went back for one more trip. Then I had my lunch and a nap.

I had brought a huge amount of firewood with me from an ash tree that I cut down in Seattle. I used my trapper Nelson backpack to carry about half of the wood up the stairs to the cabin in many trips.

On Tuesday, I overslept until 7:00 o'clock. I practiced the piano and then went down to the truck with an axe and split the rounds of ash that were too big to fit in my backpack. Then after lunch and a nap, I carried all the rest of the ash firewood up to the cabin in many more trips.

Then I varnished the second coat on the last five casing legs out on the front porch.

On Wednesday, Dave called first thing and we had another great conversation. After practicing the piano, I did an experiment to see if planing the tops of the casing legs down so they would be thinner would make a satisfactory joint between the tops of the casing legs and the headers. The wood I had chosen for the legs and headers is the same thickness but by planing the tops of the legs thinner it makes a nice reveal under the header. I used 1x4 scraps to conduct the experiment and it seemed to work fine. I had a plan.

I carried all 22 legs inside the cabin and then graded them for quality on a scale from one to three. The ones were nearly perfect with no blemishes. The threes were the worst of the bunch with various imperfections. And the twos were those in the middle. After grading each one and sorting them in piles I was happy to see that the piles were of about equal size. Then starting with the very worst of the threes I assigned each leg to a location that was the most hidden, like behind a door. After working my way through all the threes, I moved on to the twos. Then I started with the best of the ones and assigned them to the most prominent visible locations. When I finished, all of the legs were standing up in the locations where they would be going.

As I tested each leg in its final location, I discovered a few snags. Five of the legs were too wide to fit. One ran into the bathroom light switch, another one ran into the wall mounted telephone, and the other three were too close to an inside corner to fit. I took those five legs out to the porch and ripped them so they would fit. The most I ripped from any of them was about 3/4 of an inch.

Another snag was that the refrigerator door could not open all the way because the casing leg was a little too thick. After analyzing it carefully I decided to plane the back of the casing leg so that it looks like a siding board: wide on one edge and narrow on the other edge. After planing the leg to this shape, I stood it in its position and the refrigerator door opened normally.

Another snag that seemed more serious was that the drywall near the bathroom light switch bulged out beyond the edge of the door jamb. I figured out a neat way two mill the backside of the leg so that it would accommodate the bulge.

With a pencil, I marked the door jamb, where it would be covered, at every one-foot interval from the top. I marked it with the number of feet from the top. Then I took a skinny, long shim and a short straight piece of wood and measured the bulge at every foot mark. I put the little piece of wood against the drywall on each of those marks so that it extended over the edge of the jamb. Then I slid the shim along the edge of the jamb under the piece of wood until it was just touching. Then I made a mark on the shim and wrote the number of feet on the shim. I did this at every one-foot interval so in the end I had 6 marks and numbers written on the shim.

Then I took the casing leg and the planer out on the porch and I set a caliper to the thickness of the original casing leg, 3/4 of an inch. Then starting with mark #4, which was the deepest, I planed the leg down deep enough so that when the shim was against the leg where I had planed it the combined thickness of the leg and the shim at the point #4 was 3/4 of an inch as gauged by the caliper. I did not plane all the way across the leg but instead left the edge that would be against the jamb to its full thickness. Then I worked my way up and down the leg planing in that way until the contour was complete. I took the leg inside and tried it in place and I was happy with the fit.

On Thursday it was 20 degrees outside when I got up. After practicing the piano, I used a sharpie to label all 22 legs with the leg's location on the inside bottom of the leg. I intended to plane the tops of each leg as I had done in my experiment so I wrote the numbers on the bottom so they wouldn't get planed off.

Among the legs that I had ripped, was the one to accommodate the telephone. But I discovered that it was still not narrow enough by 1/4 of an inch. Instead of ripping it more, I decided to move the telephone to the left 1/4 of an inch. That required moving three mounting screws and reattaching the telephone which was no problem.

Next, I varnished the edges of the five legs I had ripped and stood them against the rail at the back of the front porch to dry. Then I brought all the rest of the legs out to the porch in preparation for planing the tops.

After lunch and a nap, I planed the ends of all 22 legs so they tapered down at the top to 11-sixteenths in thickness. I set the planer to its shallowest setting and made three passes, starting at six, twelve, and eighteen inches from the end, respectively. That made a nice smooth taper.

By the time I finished, there was a considerable chip mess on the front porch, and it had been tracked throughout the first floor of the cabin. I harvested about 8 gallons of planer chips and placed them in my curly fries bin for starting fires. I now have a good supply. Then I swept the front porch, folded up the tarp, and then vacuumed the first floor of the cabin. It was good to finally get rid of that mess.

On Friday morning after practicing the piano, I emptied the ash bucket. Then I called Earl and we had a great conversation. He updated me on his plan to get a flight simulator. After we hung up, I worked on the grout at the bottom of the bathtub. Ellen had done some work trying to clean it up but we weren't sure what the dark spots were. After close inspection I discovered that the dark spots were dirt in the depressions in the grout and that it could be removed using Kaboom and a toothbrush. I spent a considerable amount of time scrubbing that joint and was pleased to find that the joint is tight and will not have to be removed before I install the cove base that we had bought. I will install that next week.

After having my lunch and packing up, I left for home at 12:45 feeling good about the week's progress.

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