Saturday, May 18, 2013

Milling Timbers: First Batch

Today, Kyle and the boys and I started milling up some of the timbers for the studio. We made pretty good progress but didn’t get the whole load finished. We have more work days planned. It was a tiring day and I am ready for bed.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Antique Tools and an Appletree

Yesterday I had to make a tool run up to my backyard antique tool shop. Since Eden had plans to be watched, we decided that Julia and I would make a date out of it. I don’t know if it’s because we haven’t had an official date for months now or if she really is coming around to be a tool lover, but she remarked several times during the shopping trip, “This place is awesome!” Oh my. I am a blessed man. I never thought I would hear my wife sing the praise of antique tool shopping!

But she’s right. This place is awesome. Owned by the same owner of the legendary Liberty Tool Company, the Hull’s Cove Tool Barn is not to be missed. I’ve been coming here for the past years to purchase most all of my tools. The condition of the tools varies but most are usable after a quick sharpening. The prices are amazing and the inventory turnover is regular. This shop is smaller than the three story 19th century Liberty Tool company building, but the items in stock in Hull’s Cove are all high quality.

Julia and I really scored this time. We got some great garden tools and a load of woodworking tools for a few dollars apiece. To cap off the morning date, Julia and I continued down the road a few minutes into downtown Bar Harbor and got lunch at Geddy’s, always a good stop.

In homestead news, we have been hard at work on seed planting, mud oven and beehive constructing, and we have been working out the kinks in our sourdough baking. We spent the other day over at our friends’ place, Tinder Hearth Bakery. Tim and Lydia were gracious to help us fine tune our recipe for our soon-to-be-built mud oven.

Finally, we planted a Winter Gravenstein apple tree from Five Star Nursery this week. We had been planning to plant a fruit tree in commemoration God’s faithfulness and goodness to us during that rollercoaster of a pregnancy four and a half years ago.

We dug the hole, filled in the fish emulsion and compost and followed the planting recommendations from Five Star. We also were happy to thaw the placenta from Eden’s birth, patiently waiting in the freezer for four years. Many cultures have used the placenta rather than discard it: everything from planting it under a fruit tree to indigenous peoples eating it. Since we are weak-stomached westerners, we left the place settings in the cupboard and opted for the spade shovel.

Okay… so maybe you suspected we were hippies. Consider your suspicions confirmed.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Using Small Amounts of 2 Part Epoxy

Whenever I find myself needing epoxy for a project I usually only need a very small amount. Mixing these two parts with a stick on a piece of cardboard is not very practical or efficient. A technique used by some boat builders as well as colleagues of mine in the furniture restoration world is to mix both parts in a disposable pouch which functions as a dispenser as well.

The simplest, cleanest way I know to do this is to use small Ziploc freezer bags cut into quarters. Take one of the corners and open it up like a cup so that so can place equal parts of A and B into the pouch.

After they are dispensed, twist the bag right above the epoxy and begin to knead the two parts together. 10-20 seconds of regular kneading is about all you should need.

Now that you have a fully mixed epoxy, make a small hole at the tip of the pouch, and you can control the adhesive application easily without any mess.

Once you have the area glued and clamped, you can use this bag to refer back to feel if the mix is hardened yet. If it hardened in the bag, it’s hardened in the repair.

One caveat here: I do not recommend using non reversible adhesives like epoxy in joinery! Do not squirt epoxy or gorilla glue or super glue, etc where tenon meets mortise or the like. This has serious implications for the ability the object to be repaired in the future. For joinery in antique furniture, do yourself and the object a favor and go get a little brown bottle of Franklin’s liquid hide at the hardware store before you reglue your grandmother’s rocking chair.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Timber Harvesting: Day One

After working the most gorgeous week of the year on the most gorgeous private island in Maine (no seriously… check this place out > Nautilus Island), Mike and the boys came over on Saturday for some tree felling fun. Mike did most of the felling, Casey did the limbing, Kyle ran the excavator for brush and lifting the logs onto the trailer, and I… well, I walked around with a tape measure and cut list directing traffic. I worked through my plans several times over making sure I had a complete list of all the pieces I need. There are about 150 pieces to the frame including braces, purlins, joists, etc. Having not done a project like this from standing trees to complete finish, I was a bit nervous about knowing just which pieces to select for each timber.

Jon Ellsworth has been helpful to me in our discussions about what to look for in size of tree. I trust Jon’s advice. He takes his draft horses up into the woods behind my current studio pretty frequently and takes down trees that he brings to a local sawyer for all the frames he builds. He’s been doing this a long time. I will truly miss hearing the clack clacking of the horses on the road and the subsequent chainsaw in the distance while I am working.

Julia had been busy all week preparing food for the big day. After french press coffee and country store donuts in the morning, we devoured her burritos for lunch, and grilled barbeque chicken with homemade macaroni for dinner. It was so amazing. Thank you Julia!

On occasion throughout the day, Julia would bring Eden up to watch the work from a distance. He, of course, loved it. He frequently talks about how he wants to be like Kyle and run an excavator or like uncle Mike with a chainsaw.

I think the first highlight of the day (besides the sweet fellowship of my brothers) was the take down of the large spruce tree for my 24’ 7 x 7 tie beam in the center bent. All the rest of the 24’ spans I will end up scarf jointing, but this beam is a little more critical. It was pretty cool watching these guys take this down so efficiently. After a little struggle, Kyle’s excavator finally loaded that beast onto the trailer. Cheers abounded as he laid it in place.

The second highlight was the take down of the smallest tree. First Mike, as a professional arborist, put on his climbing gear and worked his way to the top. We had a crew of three guys pulling on the rope from below as he cut the top off. Finally, Casey notched and took down the rest with a little help from the excavator. It was nothing short of ridiculous. And good fun for the end of a long tiring day.

We got the trailers loaded to capacity and only had about a third of what was needed. The plan from here is that Kyle and I will very soon mill what we’ve got and we’ll schedule another work day to get the rest. Next time we will have more hauling capacity so that we can hopefully get the remainder in this second load.

I am so thankful to have such an awesome family. Mike, his brother-in-law Kyle, and Kyle’s brother Casey were so generous to offer their help on this project. I am indebted greatly to these dear brothers and I look forward to helping them fulfill their each of their dreams someday. Thank you, guys. Thank you.