Owen

Posted by Lloyd on March 12, 2014 with 6 Comments
in Family Stories

Grandson Owen was born on February 23rd around 6:00 PM to our son Brian and his wife Allison. Owen’s eight pound seven ounce birth weight, twenty-one inch length and beautiful face gave all the appearance of a healthy baby.

However, within hours the parents were told by a doctor they could hear a heart murmur in Owen, but not to worry because many babies enter the world with irregular heart beats that often are not serious.  It turns out our grandson’s heart sounds led to the diagnosis of a very rare and serious heart defect known as Shones Complex.

We live with the illusion the ground under our feet is solid and we have some control over the world around us.  And then there is an earthquake.

Owen’s life seems to hang in the balance each day he lives.  His world has been one of ventilators, feeding tubes and beeping video displays.  Skilled surgeons, nurses and technicians attend Owen every moment he lives and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  Maybe when the doctors get through all the repairing of his heart he will be able to live a “normal” life.

I would appreciate your prayers for Owen and the medical staff who are attending him.  We need nothing short of a miracle to allow his parents to take him home from the hospital.  If you are interested in following Owen’s story click here.

Our joy has been muted some since this yawning baby photo was taken, but there is still joy. It may be several weeks before I post again on Cabinwoodworks.

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Huatulco(wah-TOOL-co), Mexico

Posted by Lloyd on February 11, 2014 with 6 Comments
in Traveling

After Hernan Cortes finished conquering central America in the early 16th century, the Spanish discovered a series of nine small bays on the Pacific coast of Mexico that made an excellent vantage point for Spanish galleons to resupply and rest.  What was not to like about the average year round 82 degree temperatures, sheltered bays, and plenty of fresh water rivers in southern Mexico, near their modern day border with Guatemala.

For almost 500 years after the Spanish conquest, the beauty of the Bahias de Huatulco remained a secret to the rest of the world.  In the 1980′s however, Mexico’s department of tourism encouraged the development of resorts in the Huatulco area, and word began to spread about this great wintering refuge.  When my sister Laura and her husband Garry from Calgary AB Canada asked us to meet them in Huatulco this winter, we didn’t know where it was, but it sounded like a fun get-away to the beach.

I took this photo shortly after arriving at the hotel from the open air lobby.  Gone were all those chilly, damp winter Florida days in the 60′s and for the next seven days all we would see were sunshine and upper 80′s.  Those brown buildings you see near the blue water tower are guest room which were part of our resort complex, about half a mile from the hotel lobby.

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We stayed at a resort called Las Brisas which was built in the 1980′s and has been well maintained since, with very clean rooms. It was very hilly walking back and forth between the beach and different hotel areas, but the hotel runs a constant stream of shuttles if you don’t want to walk.  We preferred walking to view the many tropical birds and plants.  Shown in the photo is the concrete path between two of the hotel’s buildings.  Because the resort is built on the side of a hill, all rooms have a view of the water.

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Almost every morning we ate breakfast in a hotel open-air restaurant right on the bay, with this view.  There is a coral reef within twenty yards of the water’s edge for snorkeling, but unfortunately all the coral in the shallow waters of Huatulco are dead.  The fish were interesting but the beauty of the coral is gone.  I took the photo about 8:00 am which explains the lack of people on the beach, but it never felt crowded.

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About three miles from our hotel was the small town of La Crucecita, a 45 peso taxi ride away(about $4.50 US dollars.  We enjoyed visiting this fairly laid back Mexican village and walking around the town square.030

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The church on La Crucecita’s square is built like many of the buildings in this tropical area with open grills in the walls.  In some cases buildings have no walls.

We saw poinsettia decorations similar to the ones seen on these church columns in many places during our visit to Huatulco.  The poinsettia is a plant native to this part of Mexico(we saw it growing wild) and has been a part of their Christmas celebrations since the 16th century.  The USA’s first diplomat to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, brought the flower home in 1825 and has now become part of our Christmas as well.

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Outside the church, brother-in-law Garry is giving hard candy to the child of a vendor who was selling hand crafts.  A few minutes latter this same child brought a friend to Garry to see if he could get a piece of candy too.  Garry always had his candy ready any time we left the resort, to the embarrassment of my sister Laura.  It was surprising to see how excited and grateful children got from receiving a simple treat, and there were no reservations about taking candy from strangers.

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At first it is off-putting to shop in Mexico.  Shop owners come out of their small stores, look you in the eye and suggest they have the best products on the street and we should buy only from them.  That scenario can be repeated many times on the same block.

What I discovered after saying “no gracias” in a kind but firm tone, was the person whose marketing I had just rejected would very willingly answer questions, give directions and even walk me to another block to help me find my destination.  How much better is that than endless pop-up ads I get on my computer or television commercials or junk mail???

Here we actually succumbed to the proprietors sales pitch to check out painted ceramics.

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Cacao trees, the source of chocolate, are native plants in the Huatulco area so we found many different chocolate products being sold.  I wandered into this shop because the proprietor was using a machine to mix raw ground chocolate with sugar.  I found the wonderful aroma of chocolate and cane sugar was  the best come-on of all to get me in a store.  And yes, I did buy some chocolate, and a craft brewed beer and even some baked crickets seasoned with lime.

In the background of the photo you can see Garry giving out more candy to children. By the end of the day we had quite a following.

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Susan and I were picked up at the airport by Oswaldo and Victor whose company, Bahias Plus provided transportaion  for the 3o minute van ride to our hotel.  We became friends with Oswaldo and Victor during our van ride, and because their company had a booth in thehotel we continued to see them throughout our stay.

In the photograph below, we are preparing to disembark on a tour of a coffee plantation that Oswaldo arranged for us.  The vehicle behind us was out transportation for the hour and a half journey on a dirt track through the mountains to the plantation.  My sister Laura is to my right and her husband Garry is next to her.  Victor is standing on my left and was our tour guide to the coffee plantation and Oswaldo is standing next to him.  A big thanks goes out to both of them for making our time in Huatulco so enjoyable.

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The mountains were beautiful and not what I imagined we would see when we went to the beach in Mexico.  Because they were covered with vegetation and somewhat rounded, they reminded me of our mountains in North Carolina…except for the tropical plants…and the parrots…and the small villages on our rutted dirt single track.

Sometimes we find pulse-accelerating adventure where  we don’t expect it.  The truck we were riding in looked solid and well kept, but five times during our trip the truck engine would suddenly lose power and die for no explainable reason.  It always started again after several long cranking attempts but during that time we were stopped I would have enough time to wonder about how we were going to get out of the jungle if the truck didn’t start again.

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When we arrived at the coffee plantation we found lunch cooking in the pot.  This was free range chicken with many of their friends and relatives still pecking around underfoot.  They had electricity at the plantation even though they were choosing to cook the chicken by wood.

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On our hike down to a water fall during the plantation visit, there was a platform set up for the adventuresome to jump into the water.  The drop to the unknown water depth was about 30′ so I stood back and let others have the fun while I took photos.  It is nice to see there are still some places in the world where you can voluntarily maim or kill yourself without breaking any rules.

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The mountain stream was beautiful.

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And the cascade refreshing.  I’m guessing this is the only picture you’ll ever see of the cabinwoodworker with his shirt off.

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At the waterfall, there was a young woman named Irma selling a locally produced cream to make your face look younger.  Many tried the free samples, but I declined when I overheard a woman commenting that her fingers got numb as she used her hands to wash the cream off.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but most of the people in the backgrounds of my photographs are Mexican.  While our resort was filled with Canadians escaping their brutal winters, 80% of the tourists in the Huatulco area are Mexican nationals.    We didn’t know these tourist demographics when be booked the trip, but our experience in Huatulco has made us want to return and stay longer the next time.

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This antique woodworking bench was in front of the kitchen at the coffee plantation.  Since I built my own workbench this past spring, I have become very interested in traditional workbenches.  I have never seen one with such long wooden screws on a vice and can’t imagine what it was built to hold.  The modern metal vice mounted on top of the bench is a recent addition and does not belong on a woodworking bench.

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The four of us chartered a small boat named La Mula(the mule) one day to explore five of the nine bays that make up Huatulco.   Here we are leaving the dock in Santa Cruz, a small village near our hotel.

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The rocky coastline was beautiful and covered with more desert-like plants.  We saw a number of sea turtles resting at the surface during our travels, but no whales.

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Our boat pilot Angel dropped us on a beach with huts that served food for lunch and refreshment.

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Susan is the beach person in our marriage.  You’ll usually find me in the shade… even at the beach.   After months of cabin construction and mountain adventures, this was a well deserved break for her.

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Snorkeling was fun and the fish more varied in the bays that we visited than the beach in front of our hotel.  Angel dove down and caught this blow fish after Susan spotted it on the reef.  We released the fish right after this photo was taken.  It is amazing how much water they can swallow as a defense mechanism.

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I’ve found a good use for old tree stumps.  Turn them upside down, and with a little bright paint the roots can be turned into fanciful monsters.  This one was in the lobby of our hotel.  Now I know what to do with some tree stumps we have at the cabin…

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Mariposa butterfly eating a banana.

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This iguana spent every morning sunning himself on the rocks near the hotel beach.

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We had an amazing time in Huatulco with several other adventures that I’ll spare you from in this blog post.  Throughout our visit we felt safe and warmly welcomed by the local people of  Hautulco as well as our fellow travelers.  We can’t wait to go back.

I’ll leave you with some photos of tropical flowers I don’t know the names of.

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Couldn’t Stay Away

Posted by Lloyd on January 12, 2014 with 6 Comments
in The Cabin

During the holidays Susan and I traveled to Calgary, AB to spend Christmas with my Canadian family. Then it was on to Atlanta to celebrate the new year with our children and grandchildren.  But the desire to see what Freddy our contractor had done to finish up the Cabin exterior was too great to not create a travel plan that went through Asheville, NC.

Here is the view of the house that met us as Susan and I walked up the driveway.  Try to ignore the construction debris and focus more on the fact that the house is no longer smaller than the shop.  I can quit being defensive about why I had a woodworking shop bigger than our cabin.

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We now have a home with two front doors.  The original door centered in the log cabin will continue to be our primary front door.  However, the new front door on the right has a foyer behind it and a laundry room adjoining.  We are planning for water and mud resistant natural slate floors behind the new door and expect to use it as our bad weather entrance.

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One of our primary reasons to view the cabin over the holidays was to see how the stain color on the board and batten siding blended in with the logs of the cabin and the surrounding woods.  Even though we had spent hours applying stain to the siding, it was impossible to completely visualize the color working until it was installed.  Susan and I really like the blend of colors.  Can’t wait to get a pine ceiling covering those trusses up.

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Since going on a hunting trip was a higher priority than finishing our chimney, the onset of freezing weather has kept our mason from applying the last five feet of stone.  After this photo was taken a tarp was placed over the unfinished chimney to keep water from collecting and freezing in the unprotected areas.

The white Tyvek you see is also waiting for spring and Susan reopening her shingle laundry so we can get enough shingles stained to finish the job.

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The master bedroom end of the home probably shows the best mix of the colors and textures of the cabin: terra cotta roof, spice chest colored shingles, river birch hued siding and black alder trim.

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Close up of the support brackets under the master bedroom bump out.

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Another view of the master bedroom bump out taken from my shop porch.  Our architect’s plan did not have the trim details worked out so what you see is the result of many discussions between me and head carpenter Tim…and of course final approval by Susan.

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I should have gotten a hammer and knocked those temporary braces off the porch posts before taking this photo of the rear of the cabin.  If anyone is inspired by looking at this photo as to what the porch railing should look like I would love to hear from you.  The pressure is on to finalize the railing design because the grandchildren are coming to visit.

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Our mountain neighbors Willie and Debbie invited us to stay with them during our cabin visit.  We enjoyed their warm fire and gracious hospitality.  I took this photo from their back deck as the winter sun set behind us.

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Back In Florida

Posted by Lloyd on December 20, 2013 with 2 Comments
in The Cabin

With fall temperatures staying below freezing many days on the mountain, and my completing most of the projects I had planned before leaving, I used our family gathering at Thanksgiving as the deadline to return to Florida.  Our contractor Freddie and crew have continued working on a few minor building tasks (like the roof and exterior siding) to get the cabin fully dried in before winter sets in in earnest.

I didn’t realize how much my whole world had turned into re-building the cabin until I got back to Florida.  In spite of the warm temperatures and sunshiny blue sky covering the golf course, my mind is 500 miles north wondering how the construction project is going, almost every minute of the day.  Freddie is a friendly but rather taciturn guy so he may be thinking of changing his phone number as I make up almost daily reasons to call him and check on the building progress.

Fortunately I did need Freddie to take some photos to satisfy my insurance company and our neighbors the Romeros walked by with their cell phone so I have a few new pics you might enjoy.

Here is what the cabin looks like with its terra-cotta colored roof.  The electric line hanging across the middle of the photo runs to the temporary power pole and will be removed at completion of construction.

(The photos on this blog entry are from two different sources.  I am having difficulty getting them properly sized.)

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For contrast, here is what the cabin looked like in March of this year.  I’ll understand if some of you would argue that we have not made an improvement on the cabin, but this tranquil blanket of snow is concealing the ravages of age, weather and critters.  We also needed space for grandchildren.

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The master bedroom end of the cabin with board and batten siding installed.  I know it is difficult to see through the scaffolding shadows to see the wall details.

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View from the rear of the cabin.

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It isn’t often that we are able to get our whole family together in one place.  Thanksgiving was a special time for Susan and I to be in Atlanta with our children, their spouses and our grandchildren.

Thanks to all of you who have visited Cabinwoodworks this year.  May God bless you during this holiday season and in the year to come.

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You Can See It From Outer Space

Posted by Lloyd on December 4, 2013 with 7 Comments
in The Cabin

You can’t really see our house project from space but you can see it from Big Bald Road.

A few days ago a friend stopped by the shop to visit, and during the course of the visit mentioned he was driving down Big Bald Road recently and saw something he was not used to seeing had emerged through the denuded trees.  White Tyvek is not a very subtle color in a forest that’s lost its leaves so we are hoping the cabin will blend in a little better when it get it’s terra-cotta colored roof and grey board and batten siding.

For 35 years our cabin couldn’t be seen from the road we live on, much less Big Bald Road, so we are having to come to grips with its new visibility.

I was glad Gene stopped to report our home appeared from the forest because the view gives a bit of perspective on the project and how it relates to the shop.  The reddish brown roof seen in the lower front of the cabin is the shop.  A stack of metal the same color as the shop roof was delivered on the lot yesterday so hopefully soon there will be a finished roof protecting everything.

Photo was taken about a mile away from our home and at 400′ in elevation above it with a 200 mm lens.

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I dipped and hung out to dry the last four bundles of shingles we had ordered to allow our workman to finish the master bedroom end of the cabin.  There is about 10 square feet of shingles needed to cover a couple of spots on the other sided of the house with shingles but the weather has gotten so iffy that we closed the shingle laundry for the winter.  I’ll have to apply the last of the cedar shingles next spring.

Our contractor is covering the exposed Tyvek with grey board and battens currently.  My shop porch intrudes into the left side of the photograph.

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Why pay skilled labor to do mindless work when I can do it for free?  Here is a photo of me ripping the batten strips for the siding.  Two hours later I had a big pile of battens that needed their edges stained.  Instructions on the Woodscapes stain can warned not to apply below 35 degrees, which is what the thermometer read as I applied the stain.

It’s nice having an over-the-blade dust collection system on my table saw.  At the end of this ripping experience there was almost no dust on the saw or shop floor.

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The front door stops, weather stripping, threshold and temporary glass have been installed.

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Shop Tip:  If you need to close your E. L. Fudge shop cookies bag to keep them fresh, use a small spring clamp.  I think this has been the best use of these clamps (that’s cramps if you are a Brit reading this blog) since I purchased them.

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About once a week through the course of the summer I have taken a pickup load of building debris to the landfill, a 20 mile drive through the mountains  past this mailbox.  Even though I know it is there I usually smile when I pass Airmail road and see this mailbox sticking about 20′ in the air.  I’m guessing some old geezer lives here who put the mailbox up back in the day when there was an airmail rate.  Later, when the 911 system was being installed and all rural driveways had to be given a street name, Airmail seemed to be a pretty good name for the street.

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Fall Work

Posted by Lloyd on November 16, 2013 with 4 Comments
in The Cabin

Wednesday morning I woke up with a dusting of snow on the ground and the mercury stuck at 15 degrees.  While the sun was shining, I was glad to have indoor shop work to take care of.  A door jamb needed to be built so I can get the front door, laying finished on my workbench, installed.

The frosty/snowy peak of Big Bald can be seen in the middle center of this photo.

After my last post I received a question “where are you staying Lloyd with the motor home in Florida?”  My plan, when Susan left with the RV in advance of a cold front bringing sub freezing temperatures, was to sleep in the shop, grabbing an occasional shower from a neighbor.  However, when my builder offered a one bedroom condo .6 miles from the shop, I didn’t argue.  The side wall of my condo can be seen on the left side of the photo.  I have great views, ten times the space of the RV, washer and dryer but miss my partner and shingle laundry manager, Susan.

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Today it is 50 degrees and the clouds are hanging low in the valleys, making the mountains look like islands in a lake.

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The extension on the kitchen window has been framed in and the support blocks I wrote about in my last post are installed.

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With the bump-out framed in, the kitchen is taking shape.  We tried to keep the floor plan as open as possible so here you can see how the kitchen flows into the dining area.

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After all the exacting work of building and finishing this door my palms were sweaty as drilled the holes for the door knob/lock set.  Get the holes wrong and it is difficult to correct.

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Whew!  The hardware fits.  Door handle was manufactured by Emtek and is their Arts & Crafts model.

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Even bigger whew, the hinge mortises all matched up and the door fits the jamb!  The 300 pound door is hung on four ball bearing bronze hinges, also made by Emtek.  I still need to install the sill under the door and the door stops within the jamb.  Good thing I finished the door before hanging it.  Rain started shortly after I took the photo and wind blew a fine mist onto the door.

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The master bedroom end of the cabin had not been touched in more than a month, leaving the cantilevered bump-out without a roof.  With all the exterior finishes and trim finished on the upper level the carpenters have turned to the ground level.  Friday they framed and decked the roof of the bump out and installed the bedroom window.  It is great to have a couple of more big holes sealed in.  I’ve got to finish the support brackets that go under the bump-out this weekend for installation on Monday.

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Sunshine, Sleet and Rain

Posted by Lloyd on November 5, 2013 with 4 Comments
in The Cabin

It is late fall here in the mountains.  At 4,300′ elevation, most of the leaves have fallen from the trees and temperatures drop below freezing almost every night. Some days the weather has gone from sunshine to rain to sleet and back to sunshine within an hour’s time span.  Facing our first hard freeze  last week we disconnected the RV, our home for the last five months, and Susan volunteered to drive it to Florida.  I have stayed on with house building duties because there is much to be done to get it closed in for winter.

The cold weather is not bothering me near as much as the harassing phone calls from the beach in Florida.  After dipping ten thousand(may be a slight exaggeration) cedar shingles in stain and hanging them up to dry, I guess Susan deserves a little beach time, but does she have to rub it in?

My days are spent staining the rough-sawn knotty pine siding boards that will be used to make our board and batten siding on the lower levels of the cabin.  One coat of stain on the backs and sides and two coats on the front of 288 boards takes a while.  Also there are trim boards to be painted.  I’ll spare you the painting photos because who likes to watch paint dry.

Our stone mason has finished one of our two fireplace chimneys and we really like the way it looks.  Unfortunately, the second chimney has to wait for our mason to return from a hunting trip.

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Our carpenter crew is busy finishing the upper level of the cabin with cedar shingles so the metal roof can be installed.  The wall shingles go on first because they are working from the porch roof decks.  The metal roof will be attached to the 2×4′s seen on the roof decks.

These three small windows were not in the architect’s design for our home.  Susan and I added them to bring more natural light into the upper level of the cabin and to add some architectural interest to what would otherwise be a cedar wall.

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After several heavy rains we came to the conclusion that water dumping off the large central porch roof on to the uncovered sun deck was not a good design.  So this is a photo of a remodel of the remodel.  We decided to cover the sun deck with a roof(lower porch roof on the right).  In order to get the porch roof to line up with the dining room room, it required us to tear off the dining hip roof and change it to a shed roof.   With the tall trees surrounding the deck it wasn’t going to get much sun anyway.  We hated spending the additional money but we knew this was going to be one of those things we would always regret if we didn’t fix it right the second time.

You can see some of the grey siding boards I’m painting leaning on the wall to dry.  I’m sorry, did I just write about paint drying?

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The carpenters didn’t frame in the kitchen’s bay window when they framed the rest of the house, so for the last couple of months we have had a 12′ wide hole in the kitchen.  It’s been great for the masons to bring rock and cement through the house, but there are drifts of leaves inside because of the large opening.  Today they started framing in the opening and it is changing the whole feel of the kitchen.  It seems so much smaller…

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To prepare for the kitchen bay window I worked on support blocks to go under the window over the weekend.  Using a Douglas Fir 4×12 I made a couple of sample blocks to determine what might look the best under the window.  While the block on the left is similar to the design of the exposed tail rafters I thought it would be good to change things up and went with the curve on the right.

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Evan has been working on a Little Journey’s Table off and on all summer.  Saturday he came up and finished the last details and put the table together for the first time.  With it’s mortis and tenon construction and tusk tenons held by wedges, this little table is great for learning much about building furniture.  While I gave him some instruction, Evan made every cut on his table.  He is going to use wipe on poly to finish the quartersawn white oak table.  In the background you can kind of see the finished front door of the cabin.

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There is one big job I must finish before I can go South to sunnier climes.  Evan and I took out the flooring and beams holding up the second floor of the cabin.  The floor was very unlevel, almost crazy fun-house unlevel, and the beams were undersized making for a springy crossing of the room.  In the photo I am taking a short cut getting the beams out with a chainsaw.  I’ll reuse these beams somewhere in the ceilings of the new construction.  A new floor needs to be installed this fall so we will be ready in the spring to install the HVAC, plumbing and electricity.

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Even though there is much work to be done at the cabin there is always time to stop and smell the mountain wild flowers.  Susan got a call from friends since high school, Mary and Judd to come visit them at their cabin near Waynesville.  We packed a picnic lunch and hiked up the Appalachian Trail to Max Patch bald enjoying the fall colors.  021

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More fall colors from near Max Patch.

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Powered By Mountain Dew

Posted by Lloyd on October 21, 2013 with No Comments
in The Cabin

Last week I spent the day with our stone mason and his crew moving an antique limestone chimney we purchased back in the spring.  The crew is made up of brothers, cousins, uncles and other odd relations too complicated for me to understand.  They are excellent stone masons, work hard lifting heavy stones to the top of shaky scaffolding and get a lot done with very few tools.  Amazingly, they do all their work fueled by Mountain Dew soft drinks and snack cakes that come packaged in cellophane wrappers.  Well maybe chewing tobacco plays a role too.

I have never seen the crew drink water, eat a sandwich or anything green while working on the job site. These guys get their work done on high fructose corn syrup and sugar.

Shown below we are taking a Mountain Dew break while tearing down the chimney near Gate City, Virginia.

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Here is what the chimney looked like before we started tearing it down.  These limestone rocks were beautifully worked by the pioneers who built it so the stones have a lot of relatively smooth surfaces and square corners.  It wasn’t a tall chimney, but every stone is a keeper.

You may be asking yourself why someone would sell the chimney to their house.  Unfortunately the roof has leaked for years on this home and the structure is very rotted.  The stones may be the only thing salvageable.

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As a designer, I have difficulty putting ideas down on paper.  So I usually design while I’m constructing.  Here you can see two options I considered for decorating the front door I am building.  I went with the bottom option.

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Gluing up the dental molding took some creative clamping.  Fortunately I have a flat, granite topped sharpening table to glue things to.  After gluing the dental molding with marine epoxy I screwed each block to the backer board.  Wax paper under the glue-up prevents the dental molding from becoming a permanent part of my sharpening table.

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And here is what the dental molding looks like installed on the door.

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While I was working on the door, son Evan was busy building a pair of cutting boards for some friends of his who were getting married.  Evan took some walnut and maple Lexus steering wheel blanks a friend had given him and cut them into strips and then glued them up.  The wood was quality control rejected by a factory that made inserts for Lexus automobile steering wheels, but it was perfect for a cutting board.

 

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After ripping the glued up strips in the opposite direction and gluing them up again, here Evan is with the finished product.  I wish I could get my projects completed this quickly.

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Meanwhile our work crew finished the front gable of our home with its architectural details.  The grid of 2×4′s on the porch roof have been installed to hold the screws that will hold down our metal roof.  Our contractor has found that metal roof screws loosen up if they are screwed directly into OSB roof decking  after a few years of temperature changed and wind shake.  Once screws loosen in OSB they cannot be re-tightened.  The solid wood of the 2×4 solves the problem.

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Our stone mason is making great progress on the retaining wall.

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Like Hauling Coal to Newcastle

Posted by Lloyd on October 6, 2013 with 10 Comments
in The Cabin

Just as the town of Newcastle was known as the source of coal in Victorian England, North Carolina is recognized as the origin of much of the US’s hardwood lumber.  So why did Susan and I leave North Carolina and drive to Sunshine State of Florida to pick up a 14,000 lb load of lumber to haul back to North Carolina?

This journey of questionable sanity started four years ago when I met Bob Gruner, who runs a three person custom sawmill North of Eustis, Florida. Bob mills, kiln dries and processes his own lumber in an operation whose sheds surround their family home.  The “heart pine” floor that Bob ended up cutting for my shop was high quality, looks great, was easy to lay and cheap enough that bringing the floor from Florida for my NC shop made sense.  As the cabin remodel got underway I returned to Bob to see what he could do for pricing on oak flooring and pine ceiling material.

The oak floor Bob ended up cutting for the cabin is a mixture of Florida native oaks that you may have never heard of like water oaks and laurel oak.  Planks were cut 4″ wide in random lengths up to 16′ long.  The beauty of the flooring is its character, including wide color variations, curly grain,  worm holes, spalting, knots and so much more.  You are going to have to wait to see the finished floor because taking a picture of a few board doesn’t do it justice.  I think it will be perfect for the cabin.

In the photo below Bob and crew are loading half of the 16′ long, six-inch wide, v grove ceiling boards.  The fork lift is holding the load in front of the truck while the Bobcat is pushing the stack of lumber in the truck.  They are rolling the wood on the truck bed floor with 6″ PVC pipe.  Very inventive loading!

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The twelve-hour Budget truck ride from Florida to NC was miserable.  The ride started badly when we picked up a dirty truck with love bug guts pasted all over the windshield.  At highway speeds, vibrations that randomly pulsed through the truck frame had the ability to make your butt burn and your nose itch at the same moment, leaving me the constant dilemma of which irritation to deal with.  After it got dark, somewhere in South Carolina, I thought the truck we had rented had no headlights.  Then I noticed the right headlight was pointed straight down at the road and the left headlamp must have been adjusted by a NASCAR mechanic since it pointed left.  But the important truck stuff worked so we arrived safely at the cabin with the lumber.

Five guys from our stone mason’s work crew labored with me for five hours unloading the floor and ceiling boards and storing them in our cabin’s new basement.  The hand unloading made us very thankful for the Egyptian log rolling, bobcat pushing mechanical help we had on the Florida end of the project.

Here we are near the end of our reenactment of the Bataan death march.

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Rooster stopped to pose for this photo of the pine ceiling boards when he saw Susan with the camera.

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Work got started on the new fireplace chimney while we were in Florida.  We found Phil and his crew hard at it on our return.

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After getting the new chimney underway our mason also got started replacing the stone on the fireplace Susan and I tore down and had rebuilt last year.  Here Phil and his crew are wrestling with a 200#  limestone rock.

Already the big pile of rocks we had collected in the spring is looking insufficient so next week we will be tearing down an antique limestone fireplace in Virginia and hauling it to North Carolina.  More coal must be needed in Newcastle.

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Susan has faithfully been running our cedar shingle laundry.  Here grandson Jack hands “Mimi” a shingle to dip.

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Grandson Truett helped out too by taking dry shingles off the line.

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Seeing the look of the front of our house being transformed by the newly stained shingles is motivating us to keep the laundry going a few more days.  There are more details to be added to this gable end so expect another update when the gable end is finished.

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Susan fired up my grandmother’s wood cook stove in the shop to reward her laundry helpers with fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

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Meanwhile, the new front door is glued up and being “fumed” with cookie aroma just a few feet away from the baking activities.  The darker white oak panels were finished with exterior poly before gluing the frame together.  Floating panels expand and contract with the weather so pre finishing avoids unprotected lumber from being exposed to the elements.

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I took a wrong turn on our way through Greenville, SC to pick up our grandsons and ran accross this interesting mailbox.  It looks like the mailbox holder is an early 60′s Honda.

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Cedar Shingle Laundry

Posted by Lloyd on September 19, 2013 with 2 Comments
in The Cabin

The upper level of our remodeled cabin will be covered with sawn cedar shingles.  True to mine and Susan’s refusal to work from great heights form (and also refusal to pay for someone to do it for us) we have started staining the shingles before they are installed.  We are using Woodscapes by Sherwin-Williams semi-opaque stain, color Spice Chest.

After much discussion and head scratching we decided to dip the shingles to apply the stain.  Advantages to dipping include a heavy, even coating with great grain penetration on the butt end of the shingle.  Disadvantages mostly surround the constant back bending required to dip and laundry elbow syndrome resulting from the ergonomics of our setup.

The process is simple.  Dip shingle in white stain bucket, place in green or grey drain bin, hang with clothes pin to dry and repeat the process a million times.

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After a morning of dipping, the knoll in front of our house started to look like a mini Cristo art exhibit.  Unfortunately with the temperatures in the 50′s over the last couple of days, it takes a long time for the shingles to dry.

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Finally, our work crew framed in the front gable of the cabin.

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With the porch roof in place and the gable framed in, we can get a better perspective of what our remodeled cabin will look like.  Clouds rolled in in the afternoon and then the rain started.

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Our windows were delivered today and four got installed before quitting time.  It is exciting to see the large holes in our house being closed up.  These windows are in our dining room.

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With the cool fall temperatures leaves are starting to fall, adding color the forest floor I’m strolling across to hang shingles.

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And the cool summer has our Christmas Cactus totally confused so that it is blooming in September.

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