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Cabin Porch Railing

on November 9, 2014 with 5 Comments
in The Cabin

Back during the summer I was having an end of day staff meeting with my friend and electrician Tim Donovan.  As we sipped our micro brews and discussed events of the day, the words of our friendly county building inspector were weighing heavy on my mind.  To get an occupancy permit I needed to have front and back porch railings.

I mentioned to Tim I was hoping to find a source of rhododendron branches to provide a rustic element to the railing and he replied that he had four large rhododendron plants that needed to be cut down at his home to make room for a bathroom remodel.  Aah, front porch staff meetings are the best for solving problems!




After a little chain saw work by me and a lot of loading of the truck by Susan, we had a pretty good pile of rough material to work with on the knoll in front of our cabin.




I spent some time on line looking at rhododendron railings and came to the conclusion that we wanted a railing that was both rustic and refined.  The start of the railing system was a simple screwed together 2″ x 4″ frame of stained western cedar.




The frame was then placed on an old pallet in front of the rhododendron pile and I would start laying branches across the frame, cutting the ends to match the angle of the frame.  The branches are screwed in through the outside of the frame with exterior screws.

I tried all kinds of saws to cut the angles on the rhododendron branches and found the Japanese saw I had purchased at a woodworking show several years ago worked the best.  Overall I am most comfortable using Western style saws, but after cutting hundreds of branches at all kinds of angles I am really impressed at what this thin, whippy, Japanese saw can do.




After my first section passed through our quality and aesthetic department, I only had nine more sections to make randomly uniform to match but not copy this first section.




Here is how the front porch railing has turned out.  I think each section got more difficult than the section before as I learned planned randomness is next to impossible.  Each section took about three hours to weave the panel with branches.

The rhododendron railing turns out to be very rigid and strong.  Rhododendron wood is heavy and dense and as branches crossed each other I would screw them together with small headed screws.  You’ll have confidence as you lean against these rails.


Chain Saw Windows

on November 5, 2014 with 7 Comments
in The Cabin

If you live in a log cabin and want to let more light in, just crank up the chain saw.  There are no worries about where the wall studs are or the need for headers, just start cutting.  Susan caught this view of my chain saw artistry as I was cutting holes for a pair […]

What’s in That Barn?

on September 9, 2014 with 7 Comments
in The Cabin

I’ll bet I’ve passed this barn a thousand times and never pondered the question “what’s in it?”  The barn is located just three tenths of a mile from our cabin and years ago was used as stables for Wolf Laurel.  As I have come to find out in recent weeks, since the stables closed the […]

All I Do is Copy Other’s Work

on June 13, 2014 with 5 Comments
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 […]

Getting Back in Fighting Shape

on May 15, 2014 with No Comments
in The Cabin

After a sedentary winter, the first few weeks at the cabin are always physically challenging.  We arrived on April 25th and have been running hard since.  Susan and I have been the building project’s clean up crew, so when we left in late fall and the contractor continued to work through January, we found mountains […]

Reflections on Owen’s Life

on April 30, 2014 with 6 Comments
in Family Stories

  “Owen Thomas Parker went to be with Jesus on April 7, 2014.  Born to Brian and Allison Parker of Lawrenceville, GA on February 23, 2014, Owen lived his short life in Egleston Children’s Hospital, Atlanta where he was being treated for a congenital heart defect known as Shone’s Complex. While on this earth just […]


on March 12, 2014 with 8 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 […]

Huatulco(wah-TOOL-co), Mexico

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 […]

Couldn’t Stay Away

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 […]

Back In Florida

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 […]