Summer kickoff

Busy weekend! We are kicking off this summer with a lot of outdoor work, including finally installing that second railing:

And a whole lot of digging (KJ was a monster with the digging bar and pickax)! 

This is only the beginning of many ditches and excavations. We were stoked that the buried ‘treasure’ (aka garbage) is down to just an old penny and an allen wrench at this point. No more buried inflatable rafts or couches. 

The area above will soon host our new porch side stairs, already in progress:

We also snuck in some gardening and of course dog walking. And Bisbee inspected the garage roof from the nearby boulder:

More to come later this week after gravel is delivered.

Guess what? More log stuff

Log work seems never ending. Which is good, because it’s the most fun part of this house rebuild, in my opinion. Over the past week or so, I’ve peeled a pile of log slabs we bought for $10 (yes – $10 for a pickup full!) from a guy with a mill last fall. Since I was on crutches and they were very difficult to peel, they basically sat out all winter and waited, becoming far easier to peel after being subjected to snow, rain, freeze, thaw — all that good stuff a Maine winter throws at you. Blogged about these guys last time:

And log slabs at the ready for final garage trim next weekend.

Once peeled, it was a pretty quick job to clean them up, cut to length, and use them to first trim out the garage door (couple weeks ago – we did this with live-edge boards that came with the slab pile), then today, nail up the rounded log slabs to form the corner trim of the garage. A little trompe-l’oeil, it makes each corner appear to actually be a log. In each set, we were able to use a slab that had had a long rip cut on one edge, and a fully rounded slab, mated at the corner. We then planed or chiseled away any extra to round it over, put a line of log caulk down the seam, and voila! Ready for stain the next time we have a good long stretch of warm weather.

Finally, we went out to the muddy field again where the log guy has a big pile of cedar, and picked up the last long skinny log we’ve been waiting for, to finish up the second stair railing. Project for next week.

One long, skinny log!

Ready, set, spring!

It warmed up quickly – it was over 70 degrees today! We are turning our attention to finishing some last leftover winter jobs, and planning for summer. In addition to a nice short hike this weekend, we also checked out the lake, started cleaning up the yard, killed two mosquitoes already, picked out a few damaged trees for cutting in the coming weeks, and finished up trim around the interior rafter tie logs – a last area of the ceiling that had a really rough transition with the drywall. After looking at the ugly, jagged holes for a couple of years, I finally figured out how to cover them up: I made leather ‘boots’ custom fit to each one. Inexpensive, forgiving, and it turned out to be a quick job. Much quicker than trying to carve something out of wood or custom creating a metal strap. Finally, I got to strip bark off a bunch of log slabs we picked up last fall, that we’ll install on the garage corners to make it look more at home with the cabin. With any luck, we’ll install them next weekend. The goal is to finish up a number of jobs before I go on my summer schedule and have much more time to devote to the big jobs.

Live edge

Today we snagged a couple of hours to finish up the garage door. Forgot to get the weatherstripping on the first trip to the local lumberyard, but after two trips (first one to pick up three lovely rough sawn hemlock boards), we did it! We had some great live-edge slabs from a $10-per-load craigslist find last fall, and used them for the outer trim. We just need to hit it all with some stain once the weather is warm enough. Nice to cross this last bit of carpentry off the garage punch list.


Where did winter go?

We had a ton of snow! All at once, then it was gone the next week. This was a totally crazy winter – cold, warm, cold, warm. We’ve mostly been busy with lots of little projects, and then picked up a couple of side projects too. Here’s the update, for those who are keeping track.

  • Finished wiring the garage, and we have lights! We found excellent motion-sensor lights that can take an LED bulb, and K re-wired some lights for inside that he got for free from a friend. We added LED bulbs to these too. Photos next time…
  • Played in the snow, while it was here! Dogs loved it, and K got a new (old, 1982) snowmobile. The garage worked great as a workshop (duh) to get it in good running order. Sadly, snow disappeared as fast as it came, so no major rides yet (boo!)
  • Got a pinball machine. Project for summer – too cold to do dainty little wiring right now.
  • Worked on finishing up our huge punch list in the house. There aren’t pictures – it’s pretty boring stuff! A bit of missed caulk here, a paint touch-up there. But it’s good to get this stuff done before it warms up and we get going on summer projects.
  • Marched! In Augusta, Maine.
  • Got all our stuff out of storage. We gave ourselves a year to do this. Almost met the deadline – I think if I hadn’t been on crutches, we’d have made it. Done now – no more stuff in a wallet-depleting storage unit, thanks to just a bit of space in the loft and some in the garage. So many tools were hiding in that storage unit! Funny story, though – we arrived to get the very last piece of furniture out, and the storage facility had changed owners – they moved our furniture out and we arrived to find it empty! After a panicked phone call, we found our item, loaded it up, and off we went.
  • Finished the loft! Did we ever post after pictures? Will do that next time. It’s a snug little hideaway.


Off the rails

Busy week. I am back at work now, so we are an evenings-and-weekends type of operation for most projects now. But, we did manage to install the railing in the loft this weekend, and did some other detail work to nearly finish it up. The railing seamlessly integrates with the steel downrods we used to help support the large logs in the living room, and we think it looks pretty sharp. Kee Klamp is really the best place for railing fittings, in case you are ever looking!

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Zero car garage

So, we built a garage, but not to park our car in it. Rather, we needed a place to store a lot of tools and materials, since we have no storage in the house and no workshop space. We’ve been steadily going through all our tools and various other stuff to finally get the workshop in order, and finished up today! Our goal was to go through every single drill bit, chisel, saw blade, screw, and staple and only keep the best and brightest, organizing it in a way that would make Norm Abram proud. I think we did it! Here are the glamour shots, before we make a bunch of sawdusty-mess in there.

Lofty goal

One of the last big to-do items on our list for the cabin has been the loft. There was a terrible, awful, mouse-pee-filled loft that was barely accessible and shoddily built when we moved it. It so ruined the flow of the house that one of the first things we did was cut the wall open to let the light in. But, even in its gross state, it was a cool little hangout, and well-situated over the bedroom as a good potential storage space. So we’ve always figured we’d build a loft – just not sure when or how. Before photos:

Two years ago, we picked up a load of 2×6 T&G flooring at an outdoor salvage yard and have kept in stored in tents and the carport, moving it around the yard seemingly a dozen times. Next we needed to figure out how to create joists that didn’t take up much headroom and went with the character of the house. Logs, of course. At the time, there weren’t any copies of this book available, so I had to get one via interlibrary loan from the Fairbanks, AK public library – the only copy I could find in the country! We learned that even with soft cedar or spruce logs, we only needed logs that were about 4″ at midbeam for this application, which allowed us to consider using a small, simple ledger system that could fit in the header between two log courses on the back wall of the house. Now we just needed those logs!

It’s tough to find relatively small diameter, good logs – most people try to sell giant trees, or skinny fenceposts – in-between stuff is scarce. So when I saw a Craigslist ad where someone had a set of antique rafters removed (and denailed!) from an 1800s barn, located near K’s parents’ house, and for only $10 a log, I called immediately. Turns out, the logs were also flat on one face – ummm, perfect! K had to make a trip down that way anyways, and picked up 9 logs (we needed 6, but with old material, you always need extras for insurance). They are actually hemlock, gorgeous, heavy, rock-solid logs! We spent a cold afternoon giving then a quick scrub, then they looked like this:

Awesome worm trails everywhere. We ordered some rough-sawn hemlock (total cost: $12) from our local lumberyard for the ledgers. Then we got going on putting together the floor/ceiling framing. Because of the limited vertical space we had to squeeze it all in, we notched a bit of each log and the ledger. Then attached the ledgers with Timberloks and dropped the logs in the pockets. Seriously, they fit right in – we only had to re-cut one. Here’s the framing:

Finally, we planed all the floorboards – which are a mixed old un-used salvage lot including pine, fir, cedar, hemlock, and oak – to as close as we could to the same thickness. The goal was to have a rustic, attic-plank-y floor, so perfection was not needed (or happening). Of course it started snowing while we planed them, but luckily we have the carport to work in now. Yesss!

And we attached the floorboards yesterday. Now it’s all of the trim work, paint touch-up, decor, and building in some storage and we’ll have a nice little guest sleeping loft/hideaway/storage solution. We’ll wait until summer to urethane it all, when we can sleep outside and let things air out.


Winter break has begun! What could we possibly be building this year? Hint: today’s prep tasks included washing these lovely antique logs outdoors in the barely-above-freezing weather.