Sunday, June 24, 2012


We had a tree that was felled a few years ago. We thought we might like it as a landscape feature, but decided it was not going to work out.
First we cleared away the berries and brambles. I had rented a saw with a 28 inch bar to get through the thick end.  
I also had help. My son joined me with our newest farm-mate, Hank, a college friend of his who has come up to the NW to try a new direction. It was the first time for both of them being lumberjacks.
The tree had to come down because it was rotted inside. The first 10' or so was hollow. The edges were good, but the center was gone.
Pretty soon we got into full, solid rounds.
The boys spelled me with the saw. It takes a long time to get through wood this diameter and I wore out after a couple of hours.
It was their first time using a saw, but it seemed like a good time to learn. A saw like that handles like a Cadillac at 70 on a straight road. More training will be necessary before they are ready to use a smaller saw in the woods, but they did great.
A problem came as we got a little ways up the trunk. The further we went, the deeper the log was sunk in the dirt. We figured there was a lot of whiplash as it fell, causing the top to slam harder in the ground, sinking it deeper.

The worst thing for a saw chain is hitting dirt. I am not sure why it can chew through solid wood easily but goes dull at the slightest contact with soil. (If you know, fill me in.)

With a 28 inch bar and the wood 6" deep in the dirt, I was having a hard time making a clean cut without ruining the chain. I had a backup chain, but a lot of wood to get through and a long ride to the rental shop if it went dull.

After conferring with Phoebe and the boys we decided on a strategy. We grabbed a 4X4 for leverage, and some timbers to pry against. An adz was used to clear out the dirt from one side. 
I cut several rounds 3/4 through, stopping before I got near the dirt. Then we carefully dug one out and made a full cut.
We wedged the beam in and pried.
It took a fair amount of levering but we were able to roll the log a quarter turn and finish the cut safely above the dirt. It was an old school approach, and really satisfying to have such simple thing work so well.

The boys used a splitting maul and wedge to beak the rounds into manageable chunks. We will finish the splitting this fall, once the weather cools a bit and it is nice and dry.
It was really gratifying to do the work, made even more so by spending time working with the boys. It has been far too long since Jake was at home, and we are enjoying getting to know Hank.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Beauty Is In the Details

The "Art Shack" Micro House project continues.

I ended up using some "click lock" laminate we already owned, on the floor. It's very practical and I like the way it looks against the rustic wood.
Instead of having insulation under the building, which would inevitably end up full of mice or squirrels, I laid the flooring over that space-blanket-bubble-wrap stuff they sell in rolls for other kinds of insulating.

 I don't think any manufacturer would recommend this, but I did it anyway and it worked fantastically. It has a little more koosh than normal underlayment, but it made the floor a lot warmer than it was without it. I was worried about the flooring flexing too much and coming "unlocked" but after a month of use there has been no sign of any such malfunction.

That's the fun of doing a project like this. The worst that could happen is I would have to take up the flooring and re-lay it. About two hours worth of work. The small scale of it all makes it so easy to take chances and experiment.

These light fixtures were a birthday present from my super cool mother-in-law, who wholeheartedly supports anything called an "Art Shack".
I had a long debate about the best light bulb for the fixtures.
Edison bulb, which was so cool to look at, but was better at making heat than light.

Standard bulb, which was making me see dots everywhere, like a camera flash
Half Chrome bulb, Juuusst right.
I decided on the "Half Chrome" which were much easier on the eyes.

I put together these unrelated Ikea items to make a desk area. Its a shelf with drawers, mounted over what is actually a shoe cabinet.

I bought these adjustable bar stools from Overstock dot com. They are actually very comfortable and have a very small footprint on the floor. They also don't take up a lot of space visually.

Buck and I have actually been staying in the Oasis / Art Shack now and then to test it out and every time we do, it gets more comfortable and fun.
I move the furniture around a lot and add and subtract items. I think I am getting close to a comfortable mix of Ikea, salvage and thrift store coziness.

The dogs have had an adjustment period too. They were sleeping in the Art Shack
but then they discovered a major Doggie feature in the Oasis trailer. It is the spacious, never-get-stepped-on-in-the-middle-of-the-night Dog Cabinet under the Human bed. 
They really love hanging out in there. It is just a little weird to wake up in the middle of the night to Mrs. B snoring under my pillow.