All I Do is Copy Other’s Work

Posted by Lloyd on June 13, 2014 | Subscribe
in The Cabin

If you’re a writer and copy other’s work you are called a plagiarist, lose your job and have all kinds of nasty things said about you.  However, if you are a woodworker replicating other’s work, you are called a craftsman.  Good thing I chose the path of woodworking and not journalism because I look for woodworking inspiration everywhere I go.

The time is quickly approaching for the insulation contractor to arrive at the cabin so I needed to get busy replacing the front door of the cabin.  I was looking for an Arts and Crafts style door that would compliment the other front door I built last fall, but with some differing details.  In a visit to the Buck House Inn I found my inspiration.

Instead of purple paint, imagine quarter sawn white oak and the raised panels exchanged for flat panels and I think the resulting door will fit right in with our home.  The selfie was unintentional.

photo (17) (960x1280)



I start with a stack of rough sawn quarter sawn white oak that looks like this.




Next I flatten the boards on a joiner, plane them, and work a little mortis and tenon magic and end up with a door frame that is starting to look similar to the Buck House Inn door.  Next I need to cut some flat panels and glue the whole thing together.




But with the plumber and electrician both working in the house at the same time I have been pulled away from my door building duties to add additional stud walls when the existing walls were not thick enough to hold all the plumbing, cut channels for wiring in log walls and remove chinking to run the wiring.

For those of you not up to speed on log cabin nomenclature, chinking is the substance found between the logs to keep the wind from blowing through the cracks.  In the old days the cracks were stuffed with small pieces of split wood and then coated with mud and lime on both sides of the wall.  Our “modern” cabin was chinked with expanded wire lath and two coats of mortar.

Since I had to remove some of the chinking to run the electric wiring, and were gaps were left in other areas of the chinking from taking out the staircase, we decided to remove all the chinking and insulate the area between the chinking with expanding foam.  After several days of hard work I’m shown here removing some of the last chinking.

Hopefully this is the last of the demolition of the cabin and everything from here forward will be rebuilding.




Oh yes, there is one other area of demolition that needs to be taken care of.

When I helped my father-in-law build the cabin in 1980 we used the sill log, which traditionally supported the floor sills, as an additional log for the walls to give us better ceiling height.  Unfortunately we did not think to trim the sill log to the same width as the wall logs, so there was a 6″ intrusion of the sill log into the room’s living space.  Not only did we lose living space with our decision, it also kept furniture from being set flush against the walls…not the best look or use of space.

This photo shows how the sill log sticks out further than the wall logs.




When we started the cabin remodel, one of the top must haves on Susan’s list was removal of the the intruding part of the sill logs.  I very confidently told her we could cut the sill logs off while leaving log itself in place and then had some sleepless nights as the day for cutting approached wondering if I could really cut them off.

Besides avoiding damage to the log above the sill log while cutting, I also needed to keep the chain saw blade away from the concrete block foundation, which was directly beneath the sill log.  And then there was the carbon monoxide poisoning I needed to avoid too while running the chain saw inside the house.



I attempted to cut the log sill log to within a half inch of the foundation by marking a depth line on my chain saw bar.  The occasional eruption of sparks would tell me I when I got too deep, but no damage was done that a file couldn’t fix.

After a little work with a giant pry bar, the intruding part of the log split off.  I’ll cover the chain saw cut with baseboard molding and level out the gap next to the subfloor.  Now that it is over I can relax and enjoy the additional space.




Susan’s big job at this stage of the rebuild is to put a finish on all the interior window and door surfaces.  Our windows are vinyl clad wood, with the wood being pine.  In anticipation of the cherry lumber we are going to use to trim out the windows, she is using cherry stain to hopefully match the trim wood.

Also Susan gets to clean up the piles of debris left by the chinking removal, the plumber and electrician’s drilling chips and the chewing tobacco spit cups left by the plumbers.  In her spare time she bakes chocolate chip cookies in the shop wood stove.



While we have been working on the inside of the cabin installing pipes and wires, the electric company dropped by to install new underground electric service to the house and shop.  Not long after the electric utility finished their work the propane gas company tore up the rest of the driveway and yard burying the tank and installing gas lines.  It will be a while before we get the yard and driveway back in order.

It’s tough being the contractor.  I almost got the gas lines installed before the electricity, which would have been a big problem since the electricity is installed the deepest.  Building is a learning experience.



It’s not been all work and no play.  Our friends Bill and Barb spent Memorial Day weekend with us and we did all kinds of fun stuff.  We golfed at Wolf Laurel Country Club, saw the sights in Asheville and toured Biltmore Mansion.  Here we are posing on one of the par threes at Wolf Laurel.

If the green looks like a small island in a sea of trees to you, it is not an optical illusion.  I think I lost a dozen golf balls in the woods while playing the course.



Bill and Barb stayed in the Buck House Inn mentioned earlier in this post as the inspiration for our new front door.  Innkeepers Debbie and Sam have been taking care of our visiting friends since we tore our cabin down.  The Buck House Inn is located about three miles from our cabin and is the historic home of the Buck family, who used to own all the property Wolf Laurel occupies.

If you are looking for a place to stay in Western North Carolina, like to hear the sound of a rushing creek outside your bedroom window, enjoy high thread count sheets on good mattresses and savor gourmet breakfasts, then you should check out the Buck House Inn.



For most of the thirty five years we have been coming to Wolf Laurel the Buck House sat deserted.  At some point vandals had sat the building on fire and a hole was burned through the roof leaving the house open to the elements.  We would drive our kids down to the buck house where they had fun touring the spooky ruin.  In my judgment the house was beyond the point of restoration.

About eight years ago the developer/owner of Wolf Laurel set about restoring the house to use as a guest house for potential property purchasers.  No expenses were spared in the restoration.  Sam and Debbie later purchased the Buck Houses and turned it into an inn after the developer went bust in the crash of 2008.



There has even been time for some shop fun.  Friend Bill built this slab table to go between two chairs in their cabin at Wolf Laurel.  Here Bill has leveled the table with pieces of wood and is scribing lines around each leg to have the table sit level.  With the monstrosity house remodel project ongoing it is fun to help on a two night project.



Roses were on exhibit in Biltmore gardens when we toured with Bill and Barb.  I’ll close this post with a photo I took of one of the roses on our tour of the garden.  If you want to know what kind of rose this is, all I can say is that it is a pink one.




I have got a few moments today so I’m adding some additional photos taken during our visit to Biltmore Mansion.  The estate was built in the late 1800’s as a summer residence by George Vanderbilt and is the largest private residence in the US.  Touring the mansion this time with Barb and Bill I was struck by one thing our cabin project shares with Biltmore – both construction projects are going to take over five years to complete.



The bees were busy in the estate gardens.



There is always a dazzling display of blooming orchids in the green house.



More orchids.


This rose is blessed with an over abundance of petals.



  • Michelle says:

    I love to read of your adventures in building and elsewhere. It was also great to see Bill and Barb. Lovely flower photos, too.

  • Lloyd says:

    Hey Michelle, great to hear from you. I didn’t mention in the blog post but the girls beat down the guys playing Rook during Barb and Bill’s visit.

  • allyson says:

    Great reading and pics. Love the analogy of the plagiarist vs the craftsman! We first misunderstood and thought you had painted your new door purple. Whew!
    Though personally, I love purple. Amazing project you two have taken on.

  • Jonny says:

    I really like how you compared woodworking to journalism in the beginning of this post.. I never though of it that way until you pointed it out.. interesting way of thinking about it for sure!

  • Dave Woodhead says:

    Door looks good hope all is well Drum sander is working good working on a plant stand made from wormy chestnut I like the pictures I use your cabin as inspiration for my basement

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