Archive for January, 2010

I got to spend some time in the shop Friday.  I just completed the install of about 300 feet of base trim for a client earlier in the week.  He now wants me to re-do the door casings that the previous owner put in.  So after making a run down the hill to get some more lumber I Started machining, sanding, staining and oiling.  In the winter , I have to run the shop heaters a few hours prior to getting down there to keep from freezing to death.  When I fired them up Friday afternoon it was 34 degree down there…I get started when it reaches 50 or so.  I use two Mr. Heater infrared units that mount on the top of  20# BBQ propane tanks, one in each room of the shop.  When we build at the ranch…I get my wood stove in the shop…burn up some scrap…and get heat to boot.  We won’t need much since it will be passive solar designed.  Before I got started with this second round of trim, I had to stack to the side,  the 210 feet (half of the wood for the cabin ceiling) that I worked on last week..with all the ceiling wood + my clients…its nearly 850 lineal feet through or in the shop recently…sometimes I wish my shop was bigger…but heating that much space would be a bummer.

Blue Stain T & G for Cabin Ceiling

One of the challenges for this door trim project is the previous owners of my clients house (owner built home) used 5/8″ drywall inside the home for most of the walls.  The problem lies in all the interior door jambs are standard size….4 1/2″…When 5/8″ dry wall is used the wallboard sits 1/4″ away from the jamb…if the jamb is set to one side….most of them were set somewhere in the middle and were  nowhere near plumb or true.  I’ve reset them and now need to fabricate some 1/4″ jamb extensions, I’ll  install these later when I finish up the second round of trim.  Another first for me in the wacky world of half ass carpentry…done by morons, is that these doors were set with 3″ cabinet screws…through the door stops…..These are stain grade jambs…if these were paint grade…and were painted you might get away with it.  The second challenge is,  I replaced the el-cheapo luan hollow core doors with some nice 4 panel knotty pine doors.  These new doors that my client bought were slightly under sized, after mortising new hinge locations and getting them installed we had a gap of about 1/4 on the strike side…so I had to perform a little jamb surgery and reset them for proper reveal.  The original installs were crappy enough to make the top ten list.

Crappy Carpentry I have encountered over the years.

1.  Drywall  found sandwiched between a total of 7 layers of roll roofing.

2.  Lean-too addition on cabin…18″ out of square in only 7 feet.

3.  3/8″ thick  piece of cedar siding used as a ridge beam.

4.  Room Addition set 18″ below grade, back filled with dirt up along wood framing.

5.  Kitchen floor 3″ out of level in less than 8 feet.

6.  Deck footer, poured slab 2″ deep…in 48″ frost depth zone…demolition with 1 hand lift.

7. Plumbing repair to frozen pipe…8 repairs in less tan 2 feet of pipe.

8.  Toilet rough in 18″ from back wall (normal is 12″)

9.  Exterior window trim, installed with 16d framing nails

10.  Interior doors, installed with (3) 3″ gold cabinet screws THROUGH DOOR STOP…and nothing else.

I’m sure this list will evolve as I experience more projects in the future…but for now…its enough to put  a chuckle in the minds of my fellow carpenters.

Read Full Post »

I was looking through some old pics on the computer the other day and I found one from Jan 2007 that shows the “glacier”  that we get most years in the yard.  It is a by product of our mountain snows combined with our mountain wind…those that have read some of my earlier posts will remember …he who must not be named… When it blows 60 to 80 MPH the snow gets pretty dense.  Most of the time you can walk on the drifts without sinking in.  Which means that the snow blower is pretty much useless.  For those events I have to use the garden shovel and chisel it down and then “blow it”.  Its pretty labor intensive, and I ‘m glad I have not had to do that this year….at least yet.  Our snowiest months are March and April,  but our windiest months are January and February.   So as January slips away I would like to share some pics with you.

Wind packed Drift

The "Glacier" Jan 2007

Jan 2010...No Glacier!!

The Alley between Trailer and Shed 2007

Summer time shed (8'x12' with 8' high side walls)

Read Full Post »

Sunshine has Returned

We woke to clear skies and a fine view of the divide.  We have been in and out of some cloudy, foggy type of weather for a few days.  Yesterday I made a run down the hill to pick up some lumber, as I left Nederland is was fairly sunny, but as I descended the canyon I could see the cloud bank near Boulder Falls.  This is the typical stratification level for those inversion days when we have some sun up here in the mountains and the flats are socked in.   I wish I had brought my camera along as the foggy / cloud cover paints every little twig and branch with a delicate layer of ice crystals.  Here is pic I shot a couple years ago that can give you an idea of what this looks like.  What this pic does not show is the scale of the phenomenon.   To see an entire landscape frosted this way is truly breathtaking. 

Read Full Post »

While I was rustling up my second Maple Cappuccino this morning, I heard outside Maybelle with her “Wild Animal”  bark….it is uniquely different from the “Hey, my boyfriend Rufio is here” bark or “Is that the UPS guy?” woof.  This is the drawn out bark with the kind of howl at the end.  We have heard this same bark when Mr Grrrr. (the bear) gets in to the trash.   I looked out the kitchen window and I saw her walking briskly down the edge of the road, up above the drive.  I grabbed my jacket and headed out,  just as I rounded the corner of the house,  I spied a good-sized Coyote behind Tori’s car heading down the drive.  This is the first time I have actually seen one in the yard.  My guess it that Maybelle wanted to keep this bully out of our yard…but perhaps she was running him off  for the sake of her two small, relatively, defenseless sisters,  Miss Greta and Cracky…both of them together, weigh maybe 16 pounds…what we think would be a nice appetizer for a Wile-E-Coyote.

So Maybelle, Tori and I, thank you for keeping our home safe from wild predators, and other such creatures.  Since we gave away your favorite little green couch, you can spend some extra time on the big couch, and as always, you are more than welcome to sleep at the foot of the bed.

Read Full Post »

When I pulled down the tree last week, I had the great Idea to use the blue LED lights as a sort of night light.  During the holidays the light from the tree in the library would stream into the bedroom and it gave off a friendly blue glow.  When you would look at the tree there were a few lights that would line up directly with your sight and be fairly bright, I did not want to have that brightness again so I came up with a solution.   I remember seeing some trucks tricked out with LED rope lights in the undercarriage and it gave me the idea to put them under the bed.  They do not shine is your eyes yet provide ample light so you do not step on the dog in the middle of the night on a trip to the can.

Yes, the picture looks a bit like space aliens have arrived under the bed, and are about to devour our souls, but this is a timed exposure photo of about 20 seconds or so, so it looks brighter than it really is.   At night the light is quite subtle, here the warm pink light is the glow from the bathroom door being ajar.  The steps next to the bed allow Cracky, our short legged wiener dog, to come up for a visit.

Read Full Post »

We lost sight of the divide today.  A light snow is falling and we are back below 20 degrees.  Our arch enemy (Mr. W  or He who must not be named) was rattling the windows most of the night.  He was blowing at half of what moves the house…which is better than what we normally get this time of year.  The wood stove is purring along and we are getting  our 4 th cord of the season delivered later today.  Hopefully when the wood guy arrives, He must not be named, will be taking a break.

Read Full Post »

I packed up the Christmas tree last week…and saved the blue lights for another project..I’ll post soon on that.  We fell in love with the Giant Blue Tree a few years ago.  It is a huge 60 foot tall monster that was completely covered with just blue lights, it is part of the annual light show at the Denver Botanic Gardens…last year they did not have it due to some construction projects and this year we did not get a chance to head down.  Tori had a bout with pneumonia for Christmas and gave me a good cold to boot.  We did not miss it so much since we had our own mini version right in the house.  I found a deal of some blue LED Christmas lights so we got to have a “blue Christmas”

Our own Blue Tree

Also last week I got to play with a new cookbook I got just after Christmas…its all Thai, and I worked up a few dishes since then.  The other day I made a green curry with coconut milk, fresh peppers and shrimp….it was great over the rice noodles but still my favorite has to be the panang curry beef I made when I first got the book….I used some boneless beef ribs and they were so tender they melted in your mouth.

Green Curry Shrimp with Peppers

I just got back up from the shop, continuing to oil the 6″ T&G for the cabin.  I have about 210 lf sanded and oiled with 5 coats….still have the other 210 feet to sand yet.  I could not get it all sanded as I had 300 lf of trim I’ve been working on for client still in the shop, I delivered it Friday,  and I start to install that next week.  Once this final coat on the T&G is dry I can rack it aside until it is time to take to the cabin…Its going to look Sweet!…There is a nice mix of blue stain, clear, and reddish.  It was  a great deal at 41 cents a foot…and I’m looking forward to getting another 400 feet or so for starting on the walls at the cabin.

Read Full Post »

I put a bigger battery in the laptop station and reconfigured the wiring in the control panel to accept additional panels or batteries…I also now have the charge controller hooked up. I was a little concerned about the high charge voltages without it. I also put together a little video about it. You can watch it on youtube.

Read Full Post »

Built to last

I have put some comments in over at the Walden Effect Site on robust building.  I’ve duplicated the post here and also included a pic of the Picnic table I mentioned.

I agree with some of the beneficial aspects of building codes,  some code aspects however seem over bearing and limit artistic expression…more on that later.  As an ICC certified (International Code Council) builder / carpenter for the last 7 years,  and with a back ground in Engineering, I look at projects with a different eye than most.  I have seen, and repaired, collapsed roofs, rotted wooden foundations, and all around shoddily built stuff. I have to tell you from experience that repairing a rotten wood foundations with the house still sitting on it, is 10 times harder than building it before the house goes up. In most cases like that, only the bottom has turned to mush, and the material from the knees up is great, worth keeping. With materials and labor costs what they are it only make sense to built it ONCE. You may have the vigor and strength of youth now but in 10 to 15 years do you really want to do all that work again…. with an aged body. There are days now that my near 50 year old body complains…Can I still do it when I’m 60 or 70…maybe?  But do I want to bet on it?   We recently put 2000 pounds of concrete into the footers for our cabin…80 pound bags carried 100+ yards to the building site, hand mixed and poured. I can say with confidence that I will …NEVER… have to do that again.   In 20 years I hope to be sitting on the deck sipping a nice glass of Cognac, not rebuilding a foundation.  10 years will slip by faster that you think, and you will think back in your mind……damn this it work…..didn’t we just do this?

So, some code issues that I don’t agree with…Deck Railing Spacing is one that comes to mind…code says you can’t have a gap of more than 4″ between rails or to the deck itself…(this is to keep baby heads from getting stuck) even it you don’t have baby heads around,  you still have this limitation.   I intentionally set my bottom rail height at 7 1/2″ to allow for easier snow removal…I just push it off the deck rather than lift it up and over the rail…it makes perfect sense to me.

An example of of robust building, last year when we were getting things together for our ranch (before the cabin build) we wanted to camp on our land. For camping a picnic table is a pretty handy thing, so I knew we needed one.   I saw some “kits” at Home Depot for a bout $150, decent enough for the average suburban backyard…but still just some cheap 2×6 con common lumber and cheesy brackets.  Having seen hundreds of tables lasting decades  or more, in a harsh abused environment throughout our park’s system.   I decided to build a robust one…one that could still be enjoyed by my girls (or even their kids..should that happen).  The end result is a 600 pound 4×6 timbered masterpiece that you could park a bus on.

Read Full Post »

I imported a handful of these a few months ago, I had tried a bunch of others  from various sources on E-Bay, but they were all junk.  This one is great, well made, useful with the USB ports and LED flashlight…figure I would share my findings with you.

This great solar charger can recharge your phone or Ipod and a host of other devices.
It features 3 way charging…

by using the 120 volt wall Adapter
by using the 12 Volt Car Adapter
or with  SOLAR POWER

Now you can tell your friends that your Ipod is charged by Nuclear Fusion!!  (aka : Sunshine)

This handy folding unit has a built in 2000 mha Battery, that stores the suns energy, or the energy from your house or car. Also included are adapters for many common cell phones like the Nokia 8210, Motorola V3, Sony Ericsson T28, and Samsung A288.

*Solar panel:Power:1.1W      Voltage:5.5V    Current:200MA
Battery capacity :2000MAH/3.7V
Output voltage:4.5V~9V(can be adjusted)
Output current:180mA~1A

With two Standard USB ports and the Mini USB Adapter you have nearly limitless options what this can power.
It Also has a Built in LED Flash Light.

Other LEDs on the unit tell you the charge state, and that it is on.

Next time you take a trip into the back-country, you can recharge your ipod for weeks and weeks of enjoyment.

Its open size is 5″ x 6″, unlike some other solar chargers this has a more powerful battery, and when its folded it protects the Solar Cells.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »