Wednesday, August 15, 2007

woodshop 101

as we considered leaving port townsend and our house here we realized that the only physical part to which we had an emotional attachment is the inner walls of our sauna. we did fence in a lot of the yard, maybe an acre. there was also that shingling project and some other little exterior enhancements.

the gardening has been where we exerted the most effort in the most fun and rewarding way. we have created, enjoyed, and passed on many nice gardens in our collective pasts. here goes another. we hope, of course, that the as yet unknown future owners will use and add to the fruits of our labors: a surfeit of annual flowers, herbs, and food plants; fertile beds aplenty for anything that grows; a greenhouse in the sun. and if those putative future owners fence the area and put a horse in there, well clover and grass will grow there too. eat well, silver.

but i digress. about the sauna walls......many years ago i did a major remodel of a family home. the house was so old (how old was it???rimshot!!) that the exterior walls were vertical planks with facing on the inside and shingles on the outside. two inches thick at most of wood. no insulation, indeed no space for it. the interior walls were the same vertical (full one inch by twelve inch) redwood planks. so i put modern two by four stud and plate walls everywhere, with sheetrock on the interior. the planks i removed were mostly usable only outdoors, being quite rough and knotty. the facing though was 3/8" by 12" inch redwood. mostly painted! i kept it.

when robin and i bought a house in santa cruz there was a space for our own sauna. i ran those already thin boards through the planer pictured below to clean them, and found out that old, hard paint is very tough on planer knives. life-ending even. the reward was a small stack of aged, old growth heartwood redwood boards. okay. one quarter inch isn't real thick. but still. we built a sauna and sweated in it for seven years. in preparation for retirement and moving from that house we decided to move the sauna and to buy new wood for the interior of the rebuilt sauna and store our nice redwood for our future sauna.

when we arrived in port townsend at our newly bought home our first project was our dream sauna, with that wonderful redwood. so now you're up to date, almost. now that we want to move, we want to take our redwood. so i bought the same sort of cedar that i had used for the ceiling, door, and anteroom of the by six fence boards. nominal. an important word that...nominal. a two by four is really one and a half by three and a half. so the fence boards are really 5/8" by 5 1/2". was that another digression? anyway, i planed and trimmed and notched those rough sawn fence boards and replaced our beloved redwood. it is still, if i do say so myself, a very nice sauna. we have tested it and found it hot.

this is a belsaw planer, powered by a five horsepower electric motor. it will plane a board twelve inches wide and 9 inches thick. i bought it new in 1972 and i have run miles of wood through it since then. this is an action shot as the 1" by 6"cedar fence boards, two at a time side by side, are actually being planed. note the chips coming out the back end to the left. the boards are pulled through by two rubber rollers.

this is a cedar board going through a table saw to make lap joints on the edges. the near edge has gone through and the other edge, on the down-facing side, is being cut by a dado head, essentially a 1/4" thick blade, to make the same sort of edge on the other side of the board. the two pieces pushing the board against the rip guide and down on the table, held by all those clamps, are called finger boards. there is no power feed so i am the pusher. i turned off the saw to take the picture. i am my own safety committee.

i added this railing to the side of these steps. there was no railing when we bought the house, though it is required by the building code. we thought it would be a nice finishing touch.


in other is a chart of the dow-jones industrial average to help put the current "fall" in the larger perspective of 1989 to now. that's a fairly steep upward trend eh?

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