Friday, February 22, 2013


We have some guests due in late march and the floor of our utility room was looking nasty and saggy, so I went on a little exploration and found the whole thing to be a mass of rot. I had put in some glass wool insulation under it and that had all been hustled hither and thither by a number of inhabitants. It was all matted down by the damp that must have been present at some time. It took half a day to get all the horrible stuff out and I had time to put in a couple of pieces of the new floor underlay before it was time for everyone to use the bath.
I rebated the new timbers to lay polystyrene into the spaces between joists, on the kitchen floor I had used laths tacked onto the joists, but it seemed about the same amount of work to do the rebates. To help protect the undersides of the styrofoam I laid in some of the plastic board I had left over from cladding the dome. I can't get in under there, but it must look dauntingly neat to any stray rodent that happens to find its way in. The second day on the job is on the left as I get ready to lay one sheet of subfloor (spruce plywood) in so that the bathroom will be accessible for bath time.
I had just enough of the pine flooring planks I used in the kitchen left over to do this small space and I think the freezer, washing machine and the rest were all back in place by the end of the fourth day. I boiled up the persimmon tannin and charcoal ink mix I painted onto the kitchen floor and that seemed to loosen up ok. The persimmon part seems to bind up into lumps when left to stand too long. It seems to mature into a slightly warm grey color over time.

Saturday, February 09, 2013


Gathering cutting and chopping. There is a lot of work in getting the firewood to the stove. Some of the wood never makes it to the stack, stacking is just an extra chore, so we carry armfuls straight down to wait outside the window for its turn to enter the mystic portal.
The gas powered chainsaws do take a lot of the burden off of our shoulders with preparing the wood as does the truck. A while ago I began to think about how much fossilised material there is in each drop of gasoline I burn. Fortunately, somebody far more mathematical than me had done some calculations on this. All in gallons and whatnot, so I did have a few little sums to do in order to translate the numbers into a form I could grasp. The figures I found suggest that something in the region of 25 metric tons of prehistoric plant matter is distilled into each litre of gas. I think we burn about ten tons of green wood in a winter with a smattering of dry wood included, so if the equation were to balance out I should be able to heat my home for the winter on about half a litre of gas. That would be a neat trick.
I presume that the reason it doesn't balance is that a lot of the energy has been lost in the refining process. I wonder how much bigger the sun was all those millions of years ago when the plants used the energy from the light it gave them to pull gases from the air and form the bodies that have been liquified for our convenience. No doubt an Internet search could find me an answer to that wonderment too.

Thursday, February 07, 2013


When in the field we still do the chainsaw sharpening with a file, but when in reach of the workshop I use a little air grinder to sharpen the teeth with the bar of the saw held in the vice.

Monday, February 04, 2013


Sammy had a day off, so we went to the wood yard again. He had his camera with him and took some snaps of me getting some planks from a log of chestnut that I had investigated when I went with my daughter last week. It is hard duty for the chainsaws on the driftwood as all kinds of grit and rocks are embedded in the surface or secreted away in cracks. We had to sharpen the small one five or six times while we were there even without any major rock strikes. When you work in the evening you can see little sparks every now and then as the teeth lose some of their mass on the grit. The bigger saw has so many teeth that they each have less work to do and he managed to get through the four cuts I put through the log without losing all his keenness.
The bottom right corner shows me reaching for the aluminium wedge I had on hand to drive into the cut once the saw had reached about a third of the way along. This stops the plank sagging down and binding on the rear teeth of the saw. I don't want to jinx the little beggar, but he started on the third pull and then on the first every time, so I think the recent surgery was a success. Nevertheless I still have my left hand on the throttle to gun the thing a little if the engine sounds a little soggy in its idling. The middle shot on the right makes it look like a dust storm, but the driver side is actually relatively free from dust, the teeth pull the swarf out and then the extra elbow I welded on to the exhaust pushes it away from me, but towards the camera here. The only time that the swarf comes my way is right at the start of the cut before the bar eats its way into the wood.
The blue sheet behind is covering a mountain of the wood chips they made last year. Gradually fermenting I imagine, but they are holding them there because of the radiation risks I think.
The morning started out looking like snow, but it was really warm and sunny while we were at work. After lunch it rained in showers just like it would in April and you could feel it seeping into the ground and melting the pillar frost holding up the fake surface that forms in winter.

Sunday, February 03, 2013


Back on October 31st last year I wrote about upsetting some metal parts for brackets on a handrail. The search for a suitable piece of wood and various other tasks in between saw those struts sitting on the shelf unfinished for a while, but today I went and fitted the completed unit. The long branch had been ripped from the trunk of a slightly larger parent tree that used to grow on the opposite bank of the stream that flows in front of our house, the curvy loop at the top is the strip of trunk that was ripped away as the branch was torn off by heavy snow.
Having found this piece and shaped it I took it to the site once and used clamps to form temporary supports for it in the approximate final orientation, then used masking tape to mark it where pillars and beams intersected on the wall. This allowed me to make a mock up of the wall on the floor back in the workshop with little slabs of timber to act the part of the three areas of timber where brackets would be attached. I also used spacer pieces placed on those slabs to hold the rail about 3cm away from the wall timbers. Each of the brackets was then made in turn, bending and twisting the parts to the correct orientation and tack welding them before final welding on the bench. The leaf shaped wall plates and cup shaped plates each had large holes drilled in them, the flattened ends of the struts could be accessed through these and welded from the timber contact side by running around the rim of the holes to attach them firmly together.