sticks and stones…

This weekend I’ve been working “old school.” Saturday, struck by a similar notion as Philly, I decided it was about time to make something completely by hand… so I’m making a bench, from scratch.

A year or two back my father-in-law, a moonlighting arborist, helped me take down an ash in the backyard. It grew up straight, and was handy with a birdfeeder, but had the annoying habit (along with some similar sized maples) of keeping the sun from hitting the backyard, (an otherwise great spot to grow some veg) until LATE morning… its days were numbered.

If I had the patience to wait another decade or two for it to grow, I’d have liked to take it to a mill, and eventually turn it into a nice big table for the dining room. As it was, I saved this 4 foot section, and a few other logs for “playing with”. The rest is slated for the woodpile… especially with the oil prices this year.

I grabbed some old tools, and in about 15 minutes time I’d cleaved off the first piece. Unfortuantely, the grain was twisted a bit, so this piece tapers a little too thin to serve as a seat.

Not sure if I should just leave well enough alone, or attempt to split the board into 3 pieces, as was my original plan to have a seat, legs and back all come from the same log… I plunged ahead naively and figured I’d be done in another 15 minutes or so.

Maple beats Ash. At one point I had all wedges stuck in the wood, so I improvised with some firewood.

After 45 minutes, (1 hour into the project) I was exhausted, but I had broke through the log. A huge blister had just appeared on my thumb, and broke as well (wore off actually, just as I became aware of it).

This is where I left it…. I was too tired to continue to actually separate the (now virtually useless) center portion of the log.

I really should have practiced with smaller pieces before attempting such a large log. I’m determined to keep at it, and finish the process as if I was making a something in colonial times.

Despite barely being able to lift my arms, wondering how tight my back and shoulders would be, and if I’d be able to get out of bed in the morning, I’m eager to keep at it. Thankfully, I’m going to the chiropractor this week.

Too tired after a mere hour of wielding a sledgehammer, you ask?… well, I did spend the morning moving some more stones into place for the patio and walk on the side of the house…

Some of this granite was salvaged from an old foundation, and some was unearthed on the other side of the house – apparently the remaines of a previous dwelling to my 1880’s home. (This view is from about 10 feet up. To give a sense of scale – the second piece up from the bottom on the left was probably a front step – these are big, heavy buggers). All moved into place with a rubber mallet, pry bar and sheer will. I thought I’d have this done in May… the rain had other plans.

Sunday, I spent a somewhat more “relaxing” afternoon putting up clapboards, wielding a smaller hammer at least… Tomorrow I’ll “relax” at the office, wielding nothing heavier than a mouse and keyboard…

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4 thoughts on “sticks and stones…

  1. Are you saying I bit off more than I could chew, or should have gone deeper?
    Thanks for letting me know about ‘da froe. I’ll be sure to drop your name if I’m caught “stealing”

  2. No need to steal just ask.. And yeah, the “bit off more than you can chew” answer.. Although now that I think about it maybe an exact half may have been the way to go, at least that way the grain would have shown itselt better and perharps both pieces would have stayed together better. We need a time machine.

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