Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/11/04

1/13-15/04 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at 1:00 and was happy to find the driveway cleared again. The snow was heavy, wet, and with the snowshoes, I sunk in knee-deep. It was quite a bit of work making the trails. After moving my gear in, and while the trailer was warming up, I hauled a bunch of tree branches to the compost pile. The ice storm in Seattle had knocked a lot of big branches down in our front yard and I had brought a bunch of them with me. After lunch, I went to work planing, sanding, and scraping the logs. I was just getting over a cold so I wasn't feeling at my peak.

On Wednesday, I planed and sanded the top two thirds of the high window frames. I have decided to finish the 2x10s themselves and use some small molding strips to finish up against the windows. It will look rustic, but that will fit right in with the look of the logs.

Since I was satisfied with the finish on the top three courses and the ridgepole, I dismantled the top tier of the scaffold and lowered the frames and cross braces down to the floor. Then I planed, scraped, and sanded the parts of the purlins, PSLs, RPSL, and wall logs that I could reach from the scaffold the way it was. Before I quit for the day, I sanded the previously varnished logs and broomed off all the logs I had scraped so they would be ready for varnish in the morning.

On Thursday morning, I varnished the sealer coat on all the newly scraped logs and window frames, and I applied a second coat on the other logs. I was very pleased with how the window frames looked. This part of the work is gratifying because there is such a sharp contrast between the discolored logs I start with and the bright shiny varnished new wood.

When I was packing to leave, I realized that I had forgotten to get some clamps I needed for a Cub Scout project. I went back up to the building to get them and I was surprised at how strong and overpowering the fumes from the varnish were. At that moment, I realized how effective the respirator mask is that I wear. According to the instructions for the mask, the filters need to be replaced if you can smell whatever it is you are trying to protect yourself from. Since I can't smell the varnish fumes while I am varnishing, I guess the mask is working. Without the mask, I could hardly breathe in the building.

That confirms to me that my strategy for varnishing is a good one. I spend the first two days preparing whatever surfaces I intend to varnish, and then do the actual varnishing as the last thing before I leave. That way, the building has nearly a week to air out before I go back in. If there are still fumes at some point when I go back the next week, I have some fans I can install in the windows to increase the ventilation. But even at that, I wear the respirator mask all the time I am planing and sanding anyway, so I think I am pretty well protected.

I left for home at 1:20.

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