Sunday, July 10, 2011

A week OFF work = a week OF work

I had all intentions of sneaking back to work last week and surprising my co-workers when they returned with a brand new upper frame beam and some repaired vertical beams. “Had intentions,” that is until I was asked (which translates into “informed without room for argument”) that I should stay home and complete some of the tasks on my own to-do list around the house.
            The to-do list (or honey-do list as it is also known) is never full of glorious and wonderful jobs that want to get done. In fact, the majority of the to-do list is so boring that it remains on the to-do list for a very long time. My list is no different with tasks like: change the direction of the track lighting that is 12 foot high, take down these curtains, put up these other curtain with a different rod. I’m not being completely fair; however, most of my to-do list currently consists of enjoyable woodworking type projects constantly shuffled to the bottom of the priority list. I think that perhaps my week off won’t be that bad.
            Now fast forward to the end of the week. Some of the completed projects this week include: a cat tree for the hoard, a litter box made from a Tupperware container and an impromptu tray for the smallest cat. The tray project became a necessity when the youngest cat, who suffers from a medical issue that prevents him from walking, cut his way out of his mobile kennel and rolled himself around the floors. The tray neatly contains all his items and an accessible personal litter pan and prevents him from hurting himself.
            I also spent much needed time on non-cat projects: cleaned the workshop, installed a clamp hanger, hung a French-style hand plane shelf (which was originally made for the clamps), and threw up a dart board. Additionally, I spent the last two days fighting with a huge blanket chest that I have been semi-avoiding due to the size and my inexperience such a large piece. Oh, I have stories to share on the building of the chest, but I will save that for another post.

            It’s now the last night prior to returning to work and I feel quite accomplished. I even changed the curtains around (with some extra prodding)….but sadly, the track lighting will have to wait.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Saving for a Rainy day

Rotted beam
My parents always told me to save my money for a rainy day. On the Norfleet project, this cliché actually means to hold all the really fun work until we literally get a “rainy” day.  My current rainy day project is to replace a section of rotten horizontal beam that was discovered when we were getting one of the roofs ready for the cedar shakes that are coming this fall. This section is also tied into three ceiling joists, but is completely accessible with the roof intact, making it a perfect rainy day project.

            The 5-foot section is located on the rear side of the main house and spans from one of the window frames to the corner. Our first concern was to brace the ceiling joists to make certain the whole place wouldn’t come down when we cut it out. We installed dual braces: one uses a partially milled portico column some and some face-nailed 2x4s beneath the ceiling joists and the other uses a couple face-nailed 2x6s fastened to the top of the ceiling joists with large timber framing screws. These two systems combined with the perpendicular exterior wall and a beefy 1-inch kick plate on the rafters completely ensures the building will remain a building and not a demolition sight.
Rotted section removed!

View of the half dovetail joint the the corner tenon
            I made the initial cuts into the rotted section and began to remove pieces in order to get a more detailed picture of what the replacement would have to look like and discovered a half dovetail lapped joint where the beam met the corner post. This is a common technique for the time period but left me a bit puzzled as to how I would get a beam up there that would have to notch into three rafters, mortise into three tenons on the vertical beams and add a half dovetail. (Actually, the half dovetail was the least of my concerns at the moment.)

Rot from the inside, the other side is completely blown out

 As we continued to ponder the beam, we discovered a huge area of rot on the bottom of the corner post that would have to get replaced. This can be considered a stroke of luck as we can now remove the vertical beams, reinstall a new section of the horizontal beam and then reinstall the repaired vertical beams…but I guess we’ll have to save that for another “rainy” day. 
All posts removed for repairs