Construction Journal Entry Week of 2/5/12

2/7-9/12 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way I stopped and visited Claude McVey in Woodinville. The drive over to Camp Serendipity was gorgeous. The sky was blue and cloudless and the tops of the mountains had a fresh coat of snow on them. I arrived at 1:30.

There had been only an inch or so of new snow so I had no trouble parking. I brought up my chainsaw which I had picked up from the shop on my trip home last week, and I brought up a bunch of bar oil and engine oil I also bought. When I brought my gear in, I was disappointed to find the mousetrap behind the stove was missing. I spent some time looking for the trap and the mouse but I didn't find it. The other two traps were still set and the peanut on the hearth next to the missing trap was still there so there was evidently only one mouse. I sure hope that the final installation of the ceilings will stop these intrusions.

After a brief excursion in the woods, I went to work getting the cap off the ventilation pipe inside the soffit and fishing out the electrical cable. I had to cut some of the drywall away to get the job done, but I eventually did. I spent the rest of the afternoon scoping out the cabinet installation job, making some measurements, and laying out some markings on the floor. The real question was whether the log wall was exactly square with the soffit, and exactly how the cabinets needed to be set into the log wall so that they ended up in the proper place at the end of the soffit.

On Wednesday I woke up to about one inch of new snowfall and it was still snowing lightly. Unfortunately it stopped snowing before there was any more accumulation. I went back to work making careful measurements and planning out my strategy. I decided to start with the corner overhead cabinet unit. The four units attached to the soffit and one more along with the corner that attach to the log wall are independent from the rest of the cabinets so I figured they were the ones to start with. And, among them, the corner needed to be first because it would determine the position of all the others. Its position was critical.

After a lot of careful measurements, I learned that only one log in the wall had to be cut away to accommodate the cabinets. This one, which is second from the top, needed to be cut away about 3/8". I made two vertical kerfs 3/8" deep at the ends and used a hammer and chisel, and later a block plane, to work the wood down between the kerfs.

Once that was ready, the next problem was to get the corner cabinet unit raised up and held in position under the soffit. The corner unit is very heavy so it took some doing. First I built a scaffold using my two big sawhorses with a sheet of plywood on top. Then I set two concrete blocks on top of that and finally a bunch of small 3/4" boards on top of the blocks.

Then I was able to muscle the unit up onto the sawhorses, and from there up on top of the short boards. It was front heavy and wouldn't stay on top of the boards so I clamped two 1x2s to the end of the cabinet so that the 1x2s formed table legs that reached down and sat on the plywood. That held the cabinet in place but it was still an inch or two too low. I made this up by forcing small boards and shims between the sawhorses and the plywood.

As I worked the unit up against the soffit, I had to continually check and adjust its position to make sure it was plumb, square, and level and was where it was supposed to be. That was a long tedious iterative process but I got it in place and took a picture of my scaffold rig before I quit for the day.

On Thursday morning, I removed the top shelf in the cabinet so that I could get my drills in there and I drilled the holes in the cabinet top and drove the screws up through the holes into the soffit. This too, was a tedious iterative procedure. Just drilling the first hole knocked the cabinet out of alignment. After re-aligning it, which meant several trips off and back on the scaffold from one side to the other, screwing in the first screw also threw it back out of alignment.

I extracted the first screw, and went back through the alignment process. This time I knew about how much "windage" to apply so that the next time, when the screw was drawn up, that corner of the cabinet went where it was supposed to go. The opposite corner, however, was out of alignment and needed adjustment before it could be screwed in.

Once two screws were in, there was no more freedom of lateral adjustment but the unit was not perfectly plumb. It needed to swing in toward the log wall about an eighth of an inch at the bottom. The cabinet was touching the second log from the top where I had milled it and I could see that it was riding on a relatively small high spot. I figured that if this spot were worked down just the kerf width of a handsaw, that would bring the bottom over enough to plumb the unit.

So I stuck a handsaw in between the log and the cabinet back and sawed a kerf all the way through. This allowed the cabinet to be pushed into a true vertical position. After driving the remaining four screws through the top of the cabinet into the soffit, and two more screws through the back and into the log which I had just cut, the cabinet was solidly fastened and was exactly true and plumb. I was very pleased.

I removed the scaffolding from under the cabinet took a picture of the work. Then I had my lunch, packed up, and headed for home at 1:00, very happy with the week's progress.

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