Saturday, May 28, 2016

Measure Twice.....The End is HERE!!!!!

Yep! The end is HERE! The journey is over, but it ain't necessarily what you might think.

After having determined the other channeled log wouldn't work, it became necessary to find something else that would. Problem is most aspen trees don't grow big enough in diameter to meet the needs of this project. I probably already mentioned that in one of my previous posts. If I did, then my apologies. But it's true, dammit! Plus, the client wanted the bark to be left on which presents all kinds of obstacles of its own.

There are only two logs left in the inventory from Mark Guthrie, but there are also two problems with those logs that can't be overcome.

The first one is too small in diameter (see, told ya aspen don't generally grow big enough):




The second one is too split to begin with to be usable:




Bottom line? I don't have anything on hand that will work. Time to look in another direction.

A few years back, a friend of ours, Lorris Smith, my son Bobby, and I went over to Evergreen and harvested some aspen trees. Lorris saved some of those logs for me for a time I might need them for a project. I'd almost forgotten they were there, but lo and behold, Jodi was home and said there were several logs that were large enough to meet my needs.

Off to Lorris and Jodi's to get me some logs that I know...I just KNOW, will work!

Well, let me clarify that a bit....might work. That's right. Might work. The reason? Bark. Damn bark.

After having been outside in the elements for a few years, those logs did what came natural to them. They started drying out, and, as they did so, the bark started peeling. Only three of the logs in that pile came close to having at least some of their bark intact. The largest one had the best bark (farthest to the right in the photo below).




Home and unloaded in front of the shop:




Now all that remains is to decide which two out of three might work for what I still need to do. Truth is, none of them truly met the criteria. The largest one with the best intact bark would actually be problematic because I'll still need to find a couple of more logs about that same size. Otherwise, everything will be disproportionate, and that would simply not do! No sirree!

So, before I actually cut into that large log, I decided to try one more thing: take a hike! Well, at least take a hike that actually involves walking and look more deeply on our own property for something that might work. There are still about 20 acres that need to be thinned out for fire mitigation that I haven't really looked at very close for woodworking possibilities.

Luckily, our friends, Mike and Iris, asked me to watch their dog, Pagan, overnight. I love that dog. Plus, she's really big and really well trained to stay close. I think I'll take her on that hike I was contemplating. Yep! Hadn't done any hiking for quite some time because it just didn't feel all that comfortable not having a dog along....you know, the wildlife thing?

Anyway, way up in the hinterland corner of our property, I found what I was looking for --- three dead aspen trees that might work, one of which was already down. Is my luck about to change?

Nope. The next day, I drove to the meadow as near to the site as I could get (Pagan went home -- imagine my sad face here), and began cutting into the trees. The results were more than disappointing as you can see in the photo below. I even contemplated trying to use one of the rotten core trees by hogging out the core with the chainsaw, cutting the "slit" on one side, and finally leveling the bottom of the cut, but, alas and alack! The core was too off center, plus there simply wasn't enough "good" wood around the outside to allow me to do this and have confidence it would be structurally sound enough to wrap that I-beam.




Guess I'll be forced to use the biggest of the logs from over at Jodi and Lorris's after all, disproportionate or not.

Setting it up on the router planer:




Clamping it so it wouldn't wobble or roll during planing:




 Making some sawdust....actually, making a LOT of sawdust!!!




Taking it down to where it needs to be, and looking good so far!




Setting up to cut off the ends so they're perpendicular to the planed surface. Yeah, that's a handsaw on top. Trying to set it up to slice it off with a chopsaw didn't work the last time, and I'm pretty sure wouldn't work this time either. The only other option available was to do it by hand. Not optimal, but certainly realistic.




Y'know, even though this log has been drying out for what seems like forever, the damn thing is still wet enough in the core to close that kerf as the cut was being made. What to do? What to do? The only thing I could think of was to put a spacer, in this case a large flathead screwdriver, in the gap to keep it pried open enough to allow the back and forth movement necessary for the saw to keep cutting.

Almost through:




 Now for the other end:




And it only took 45 minutes to lop off both ends. I'm either out of shape, or I'm getting too old for this s**t! Lots of breaks while sawing to catch my breath, so I'm thinking it might be a combination of the two.

Draw out the lines marking where the channel will be cut, and use the angle grinder to cut chainsaw guides:




Looking good....or so I thought:




Two things happened here that helped determine my next move:

1. I hit a soft spot in the wood, and before I could pull back on the chainsaw, the blade went all the way through. Yep! The wood looked (and even felt) solid, but on the outside of the log that wasn't part of the planing some rot had set in that I couldn't see under the bark. That's grass on the ground you see in the gap in the photo. Damn, damn, damn!




2. The log split at the perpendicular rendering this log useless (along with the hole created when the chainsaw went all the way through) for this application. More damns, damns, damns!!!!




I QUIT!!! The end is HERE!

That's right. This job got the better of me. I'm going to call the client early next week and return his downpayment.

Lessons learned, and there are a few, include:

* Trust your gut feeling first and foremost. My gut told me channeling these logs might be problematic. It was. I should have insisted on going with my own suggested method which was to mill every single log right down the center and seamed them after notching to clad the I-beam.

* Avoid using aspen for this kind of application. It doesn't grow big enough in diameter, and even after years drying out is still too wet to prevent it from splitting and warping during preparation. That wetness is also a pre-cursor to rotting from the inside out. Not a good thing for sure.

* Make sure all, and I do mean ALL, logs are already on hand before beginning any part of the project. I didn't factor into the bid the possibility the trees the client had on his property might not work. As a result, I spent an inordinate amount of time and effort tracking down something that would work (and virtually none of it did anyway) before ultimately deciding to pull the damn plug.

And there you have it. Bruised ego? Yup! Shaken confidence? Oh, yeah! Embarrassed? Just a tad.

But, the end is HERE!!!! On to other things.