Monday, May 16, 2016

Well, I Can't Say I Didn't Warn Me....

For a very, very long time now, I've been patiently waiting for that one job to come along that would kind of push me over the edge and bring in a few more projects. Well, one of them has hopefully arrived.

Not long ago, I received a phone call. I didn't know who it was, and he wasn't very forthcoming as far as an explanation was concerned. Basically, all he'd say was he got my name from a guy in a shop nearby.

One thing led to another, and it turns out Shawn, my step-son, pushed this guy to give me a call because he knew I'd be able to help him out. So, I gave him an estimate on cladding an I-beam in his lower level walk-out basement.

Now, please understand, I've never done anything like this before, so I had some serious trepidation going into even taking a look at what I might be up against. My fears were least as far as me being kind of a newbie at this sort of thing is concerned.

He wanted aspen logs. I happen to know aspen trees don't grow very big in diameter in these here parts.

He wanted a full log with a 6 1/4" deep by 3 1/4" wide channel on two of the sections, and notched half logs for the other two sections. I was concerned because good, structurally sound aspen logs are pretty hard to come by especially in the diameter he would need. They tend to get "punky" really fast, too. My woodworking colleagues know exactly what I'm talking about when I say the word "punky". For those who aren't in the know on this, it simply means they dry rot in their core really fast making them almost worthless in applications like this one.

He wanted the bark left on (character). I happen to know when an aspen tree dies, the bark starts to loosen up almost immediately.

He wanted this entire project done in less than a week. DAMN!

Anyway, the more I looked at the I-beam in question, the more I thought "you can do this". Well, not really. Truth is, I wasn't sure. This was going to take some serious self-motivation on my part.

So, here's the deal: As long as the logs on his property (three dead standing aspen trees that I'd need to drop and salvage if they can be salvaged) are structurally sound, and as long as they are big enough in diameter, this really shouldn't be all that difficult a job. Or, at least it was a job I thought I could do.

In order to help determine if this job was doable, however, I though it might be prudent to do a little experiment first. The idea was to cut a small piece and notch it to see if it would fit around the I-beam. At first, I thought halving all the logs right down the middle would be the best way to go.

And, of course all measurements had to be exactly as they would be on the logs to be milled.

I know, I know....I ain't gonna be able to notch those logs on the tablesaw, but, hey....this is just an experiment, so we're good, right? I'll just figure out how to notch the logs using my chainsaw after I get the job....that is, if I even get it!

Like cutting dadoes only slower, right?

Anyway, the finished notch:

After having determined that this looked "badass" on the I-beam according to the client, it became necessary to start thinking about pricing. I hate putting a price on this kind of stuff. Pricing is a whole nuther ballgame than actually doing the work. I won't get into that here, but giving estimates on work like this is something I've always despised. Again, those woodworking colleagues of mine who face this dilemma know exactly what I'm talking about.

When I gave him the estimate, I didn't hear back from him....well, at least not right away. I thought I'd blown it, and that he was looking in another direction.

Lo, and behold....the very next week I got a call and shaZAM, I could start working and the deadline was off (not that time was unlimited or anything).

No photos of dropping the trees. Suffice to say what should have taken 1 hour took almost 2 1/2 hours due to me being pretty stupid, and, no, I'm not going to give those of you who want to sit back and have a good belly laugh at my misfortune that satisfaction by detailing my stupidity. There's certainly no sympathy for that stupidity (as my beloved Father-in-Law, Paul Zocco used to tell me, may he rest in peace), so I ask no quarter, nor do I expect any to be sent my way.

So, that being said, here's what I have to work with:

DAMN, but I DO need me a truck!

That's it for this post. Stay tuned for....wait for it....wait....MILLING!