Monday, November 25, 2013

Too Cold to Work

When it's 8 degrees out and wildly windy, there are better things to do than work on the little building.  So a little pond hockey was in order.  Most of the ponds and lakes in the area are not frozen, but this one is.  The water depth is only about three feet and it's at around 2300 feet in elevation so it freezes early.  We shoveled for about thirty minutes and then played hockey for a few hours.  The photo is the departing shot at the end of the afternoon with Cascade Mountain in the background.

What was interesting about the day, beyond the normal beauty of playing hockey in such a setting, was the behavior of the ice, which had a great deal of flexibility to it.  It would compress one to two inches if two skaters were next to each other.  We ultimately attributed this to the conditions under the ice and under the water.  It is called "Mud Pond," and our assumption is that the mass of organic matter on the bottom was compressing, allowing the ice some space to move.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Buttoned Up!

It was my brother's birthday yesterday, and the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.  I actually remember the day in 1953.  I was four years old.  My father was teaching in Exeter, a prep school in NH, and we lived in an apartment in a building called Merril Hall.  I'm the youngest of four and my brother would have been turning eight.  I was standing in the kitchen and had one of those little spring loaded guns with the suction cups that stick so effectively to the smooth surface of a refrigerator when whetted correctly with saliva.  It was one of those moments in life when things change monumentally, and I knew it somehow at the time.  While I remember watching the assassination on TV, and I remember the iconic images from the funeral and other events, I most clearly remember the shift in perspective that happened towards the spring loaded gun, which was summarily removed from my hand and discarded with alacrity.

But I digress.  On my brother's birthday, and on the fiftieth anniversary of Kennedy's assassination, I went down to Keene in the midst of a very subtle rainfall and worked on the final siding of the little barn.  It is rumored that we are to get 4-6 inches of snow this weekend, so I felt even further motivated to get the building buttoned up.  And while there is nothing really new to convey on the process of building, there is on the emerging and complete sense of gratification that is starting to occur.  It's been a long process.  I think it's been three years since the idea first germinated with the tree blowing down, and I have about two full weeks of work in the building, spread out over a full year.  In reflecting back as well, the whole building seems like a gift.  The tree fell down on someone else's property and was freely given away.  Random people generously helped with the labor to get the tree in the lake.  The roofing lumber came from an old barn that got damaged by a flood during Irene.  It was sitting by the side of the road as I was driving by with my truck.  The windows were found at the dump.  The granite for the foundation was listed as free on craigslist less than a mile from my house.  The rough cut two by fours were from a renovation that was being done where I work. And lastly, the expensive part of the building, the siding and trim, emerged on craigslist for a 100 dollars.  The interesting thing on much of this was the timing of all of these things.  They seemed to fall in order as needed.  

The siding is now done.  The second gable end went smoothly.  It was highlighted by a recharging break.  I went to visit a friend of mine who is renovating a gorgeous barn.  He has power there, so I headed up and recharged my batteries for my saw, and hung out on some saw horses and visited and got the tour of his project which is exquisite.  It's a different scale at 33 feet by 20 something, but it's equally organic in process.  The recharge allowed me to get back and make the final forty cuts or so on the gable.  

I also had the opportunity, given the incoming snow, to re-stack much of the remaining wood from the train station.  This allowed for some needed consolidation and cleanliness, but it was a good two hours of work.  

The next step is to finish up the exterior trim.  This includes the ledger board around the building, the corner boards, and final window and door trim.  I also have to build a sliding mechanism for the main door, something that I assume will be fun.

As a side note, I got the first pond hockey of the year in on November 21.  Late afternoon from a friend. Two inches of ice on a shallow pond, and a whole lot of fun.  This is pretty early ice for around here.  No one went through, but the danger adds to the quality of the experience.
Leaving in the dark.  The stump on the wall ends up looking like a crawling lizard at times.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

First Gable End complete

Finally got down again today to finish off one of the gable ends. It was 10 degrees when I started and then warmed to a balmy 35 or so by the afternoon. So going up and down a ladder was a good thing at 8:30 AM.  It's been a really nice slow process.  Lots of cuts.  The window trim is old siding from the train station. I'll end up painting it in place in the future.  I'm using it for the vertical trim on the corners as well and for a splash plate at the bottom of the building.  So far I'm happy with the way it's emerging.  I'm excited to take some pictures in good light.  I always seem to wait until the sun is going down at the end of the day to pull the camera out.  Maybe tomorrow.

At the end of the day, I finally cleaned up all the cut and discarded wood.  The siding created an outlandish amount of scrap.  Went home and burned the whole lot in a nice evening blaze outside in the field.  

Over the last week, I got all of the wood moved from the old train station source.  I've sided 95% of the building, and I still have stacks and stacks of wood remaining.  I believe I've used 40% of the total.  Seems like 100 dollars well spent.  At this point, I have about 410 dollars into the building.  To the best of my knowledge, that should be the total.  It's especially good given the fact that I have about 600 square feet of clear douglas fir left over for flooring in the house, and about 1000 square feet of tongue and groove left over to finish the interior of the barn.  

Given the value of the remaining flooring, this may well be a cash positive barn.  I spent 410 bucks on it and have 1200 dollars of material left over.  I think Henry David Thoreau may have overspent on Walden.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day Siding

Every time I visit the little building I feel good.  And the progress continues.  This morning (Veterans Day), I went down and set up some sawhorses to finish one side.  I only have a few hours of battery life on the saw, so I've been working in short increments, but today I started to get the feel of what the building will look like. I worked up to the rafter tails on one side and got started on the door end of the building.  A little chain saw work was needed to clean up one of the main posts, but the rest went quite smoothly.  Now I'm getting the itch to finish it.  I may go after it this week, and try and get a full eight hours in, and just use a hand saw, or see if I can bum some power.  Regardless, it's getting close.

It's also interesting working with wood that was handled by carpenters 123 years ago.  Their writing is on the rough side.  Measurements like 56 4/5 are marked out in pencil in long looping handwriting.  I'm trying to keep as many of those visible on the outside of the building, but occasionally I'll have to discard one or two because of cracked wood or a section of rot or mold.  It's sort of cool to have some connection to the past like that.

I also am including a water color painting of the original train station that the wood came from.  I think I'll have to go to the local library to find a photo of the station, but the person I bought the wood from had this painting.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Siding is Starting

As early November arrives with occasional snow, it's time to side the building.  The materials have been found, and I started it yesterday.  It's an interesting process.  I'm putting the rough and unpainted side out. My assumption is that the paint contains lead, so I will box it in, and do both the interior and exterior in this same wood. Some of the wood is pine, and some is douglas fir, so the various textures are pretty.  I think I'm going to finish it with raw linseed oil to try and bring out the grain.

The bottom six inches will be pressure treated, and I wrapped tar paper around the first 36 inches of the building.  I have enough wood to also do the inside.  When all is done, it should emerge as a cute little structure.

The resin in the pine is still pungent.  Interesting.  It was milled 123 years ago and still smells fresh.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sisyphus and the wood pile

So the never ending wood pile just keeps getting better.  I keep driving truck loads of wood away, and the deeper I get into this, the better it seems to get.  Looks like the remaining wood is oak, must be 1200 square feet of it.  Certain things make me happy.