Construction Journal Entry Week of 12/13/15

12/15-17/15 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way I stopped and played a game of checkers with Uncle Charles. Even though he got ahead of me early on, I kept at it and ended up beating him.

There was a nice break in the weather so the road over the pass was bare and dry. The snow level was below 2000 feet so it was like driving through a beautiful Christmas card. It was 34° when I arrived at 12:35. To avoid getting stuck again, I drove past the driveway to the next neighbor’s place and turned the truck around. Then I put it in 4wd and got my speed up before I barged into the driveway over the snow berm made by the snowplow and past the rough low spot where I got stuck last week. With that momentum, I was able to drive all the way up to the hairpin turn.

Instead of turning around and parking aiming downhill like I had planned, I just left the truck parked right where it was. There was about six inches of hard frozen snow on the ground with three or four inches of powder on top. It wasn’t too bad to walk on with boots because most of the time I didn’t break through on the old trail.

After bringing my gear in, I shoveled off the back stoop, brought in a bunch of firewood, and lit a fire in the stove. After lunch, I used the Skilsaw to rip the last tread blank on the mark I had made last week. Then I screwed the plywood rectangles to the ends for use in mounting it for scribing.

On Wednesday I mounted the tread blank for scribing. Then I calibrated and aligned my scriber and started scribing. Since this tread was the top one there is less room to manipulate the scriber. As a result, it couldn’t draw the lines all the way on the underside of the tread. The arm of the scriber was hitting the log before the pen point did.

So, I had to reconfigure the scriber by re-taping the Sharpie to the top arm so that it slanted and pointed up. Then I had to re-calibrate and re-align the scriber before I could go back and finish the scribing job. It didn’t take too long.

Then I used the chainsaw to cut the notches in the tread blank. I notched this tread a little differently from the others. Instead of making a shallow flat notch in the stringers, I made only a V-notch at the low point of the tread. That was so that the live load of the tread would be supported by the notch in the stringer rather than just the lag screws in shear as it would have been otherwise.

I was a happy man when I got the tread fastened down and stained. There is still work to do on the handrails for the staircase, but all the treads are done and you can walk up the entire length now. I love doing it.

On Thursday morning there was a couple inches of new snow on the ground and it was snowing lightly. I went under the porch and dragged out the two curved poles I had selected and stored years ago hoping that they would work for the handrails on the front staircase. Now that all the treads were in place, I could test to see whether or not they would work.

I took each of the two poles and laid them both inside and outside of the treads and tried them end for end to see which combinations would work, if any. I found that the skinnier of the two would work on the inside with the butt on top except that the butt end would have to be extended four or five feet by a straight pole of the same diameter. That won’t be too hard. The curve on this rail needs to be bent very sharply at the bottom to keep people from bumping their head on the loft beam overhead. The skinnier pole has just the right bend.

The fatter pole works nicely on the outer side with its butt end down. This pole is curved more than is needed, but it will work nicely by placing it outside the Grid G2 column and also on the outside of the Newell post near Grid G3. In this arrangement the pole can be fastened to the column and the post with long horizontal lag screws. That is just about the easiest fastening method there is and it will make installation of the rebar balusters as easy as it can get also. I am very happy about how the rails are working out.

I took some pictures of the staircase with the outer handrail blank lying on the treads. Then I put away all the tools I had been using and vacuumed the entire first floor of the cabin. I left for home at 1:00 a tired but happy man.

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