Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/29/12

1/31/12 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way I stopped and visited with Uncle Charles in Monroe. We went outside and walked around the grounds of his retirement complex and stopped at my truck so he could see the Adirondack chair Dave had built and given to us. I arrived at Camp Serendipity at about noon. Mike had the driveway and parking area cleared of snow and now there was a layer of glare ice over all of it. I had no trouble parking.

I had quite a bit of stuff to carry up, so I started out by clearing the ice and snow off the concrete staircase. It came off pretty easily. Bert and Ernie showed up during the work so they got their hugs and then we went up to the cabin for biscuits and more hugs. Then I carried up the baseboards, the Adirondack chair, the can of varnish, the planer, and my usual gear.

The Adirondack chair looks great and natural out on the porch and I relaxed for a while trying it out. Then I took some pictures of it in its new home. It makes a great addition to Camp Serendipity.

After lunch, I went to work on the flooring and cut and fit the pieces to surround the Grid C3 RPSL and the Grid D3 PSL. From there it was an easy job to finish laying all the flooring in the living room except for a small strip along the Grid 3 wall. It is not really necessary to install this strip because I think it will be covered by the baseboards, but I did about a quarter of it anyway because I had enough scrap pieces to do it. I didn't want to cut up any full panels just to get edge strips, so I left the rest of it for later. I may or may not install the rest of the strips

On Wednesday morning there was about an inch of new snow on the ground but it had stopped snowing. Snow had been forecast for overnight but it didn't amount to as much as predicted. It was nice and sunny the rest of the day.

After breakfast I started out by clearing the snow from the back porch and the back staircase. Then I went to work on the baseboards in the kitchen and dining room along the Grid A wall.

In my "proof of concept" installation of the baseboard in the bathroom, I had cut the receiving notch in the wall log entirely with hammer and chisel, after trying a couple other tools. This time I decided to use my new Bosch oscillating cutter to make the top horizontal kerf for the notch.

To gauge the position for the kerf, I simply placed the 2x4 baseboard up against the wall upside down and rested the cutter blade flat on the 2x4. It didn't matter that the blade marred up the 2x4 since it was upside down and the marred up edge would be installed down against the floor. The finished top of the baseboard was underneath and didn't get marred up.

Cutting the kerf was pretty easy except that I had to do the work kneeling down. I used knee pads and I wore a respirator and ear protection. With the vacuum and the cutter both running, it was too loud for comfort.

Chiseling out the rest of the notch is a lot harder. You can't really do it from a kneeling position because you can't see the work. In order to see what you are cutting, you have to lie on the floor with your head pretty low. This is awkward in itself, but it is even more awkward to run a hammer and chisel in that position. You either have to lie on your left shoulder or your right shoulder. With the chisel in the left hand and the hammer in the right hand, either position is awkward, especially if you use a big hammer. I used both a 16 oz. hammer and a 3 lb hammer. Your muscles aren't used to having gravity act on the hammer in a direction perpendicular to your spine.

I tried a lot of approaches to chiseling the notch in every position I could think of and I got the job done. But it took nearly the entire day. For future baseboards I am going to see if I can't buy a wood chisel that will fit into my Bosch Bulldog and use the hammering setting. That might work.

As the notch got cut, I fitted the baseboards in until they seated back nicely into the notch. I used a yardstick to see where the notch had high spots that needed to be worked down. To do that, I inserted the yardstick edgewise into the notch and watched how far back into the notch it went. If it was hung up someplace, then it would rock or pivot over that spot and I could see where the high spot was. Then I would use the hammer and chisel, or a scraper or gouge, to work the spot down. Big knots typically gave me the most trouble with this.

My body was pretty sore by the end of the day. I have tender spots on the sides of my pelvis and on my shoulders from lying on the floor working like that. It felt good to take a hot shower.

On Thursday morning I cut some strips of fiberglass insulation from the edges of a new roll. I was able to get the insulation out of the plastic bag it came in without destroying the bag. I left the paper band around the roll so it wouldn't come apart and I cut the strips from the outside edges on both sides of the paper band. I used Gus' super sharp hunting knife to cut the insulation and it worked very well.

As the strips were cut, they immediately puffed up to their 9 1/2 inch size. I cut an eight-foot strip from each side of the roll which was about one circumference of the roll. With these removed, I was able to get the remainder of the roll back into that plastic bag. I like to keep fiberglass insulation confined as much as possible.

I separated each of the strips into three so that I ended up with six strips about four inches square and eight feet long. That was more than I needed to do the Grid A wall in the kitchen and dining room. That was all the baseboard I intended to install for a while because the objective is to get the kitchen cabinets installed and I needed to get the kitchen baseboards in before I can start on the cabinets.

The strips of insulation worked perfectly. I used a wooden shim to poke the insulation down between the floor and the wall and to get it below the notch in the log. Then the baseboards snuggled right up against the insulation. After I had one baseboard installed, I made a video of me installing the next one. Then I finished installing and nailing the three lengths of baseboards it took to cover the Grid A wall in the kitchen and dining room. I stuffed the rest of the insulation along the Grid 3 wall as far as it would go. It will be a while before I get around to installing baseboards there.

The kitchen was now ready for cabinet installation which I will start next week. I turned my attention to the discharge end of my plumbing system. I decided to install an empty hose to replace the hoses that were full of ice and to rescue the valve that was frozen in between them.

I filled a gallon jug with hot water from the bathtub and took that, a hose, and a shovel down to the creek. I didn't use snowshoes but post holed instead. The snow was fairly firm so it wasn't too bad getting around. The frozen hose was covered with about six or eight inches of snow so I had to do some digging to find the valve. When I found it, I poured hot water on it so that I could unscrew it from the hoses and get the ice out of it.

I fastened the valve to the empty hose and strung the hose from the creek behind where the trailer used to be over to the end of the copper water line. I connected the hose to the water line and then went back and positioned and adjusted the valve. I cracked the valve enough to let a thin stream of water squirt out. The trick is to let enough water flow to keep the hose from freezing up again but yet provide enough water pressure at the cabin for the shower.

After testing the shower, I found that there was plenty of pressure. When I left for home, at about noon, I opened the valve all the way so that the water would discharge full-stream into the creek while I am gone. The water system is back to normal.

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