Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tool of the Month - October

Well, finally it happened, my Stanley Leverlock 26' tape measure finally gave out, losing it's spring and along with that it's ability to retract. How then, can I possibly award this pathetic little tool October's Tool of the Month? About five years ago I worked for 6 months with a framing crew, and for that job I used a bulky Stanley tape measure. For home use, I purchased a Stanley LeverLock tape measure, as it was smaller, lighter, and had an interesting release mechanism (the black lever on the length of the bottom of the tool). About four months into the framing job, having just bought my LeverLock about two weeks earlier, my boss was in a bit of a mood, having just lost two employees. In a bit of frustration, he started tossing out the few tools these guys had forgotten to take with them, including (you guessed it!) both of their tape measures, Stanley LeverLocks just like mine. "Useless people, just like the crap tools they used." he grumbled, and into the lightly ice-crusted pond on the lot across the road they went. Free tools, thought I, so I rescued them to provide a happy home. They had probably been used hard for a year or two, and being thrown 50 feet across the road, bouncing a couple of times on frozen gravel and dirt, and ending up underwater probably didn't help. Even then, they all get used regularly, the one I bought is pristine, and of the two I rescued, one still works fine, and as I mentioned, the other finally bought the biscuit, five years after it's rescue. Not bad all things considered!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Daddy and Rudi's Rainy Day Project

Friday was a PA day with crummy weather, so Rudi and I worked on a special little project together. A house of sorts, I will describe it's construction very simply, and the first persons to correctly guess what type of house it is will receive one (or more) nights free accommodation at the "Field House Bed and Breakfast".

Lets start with the raw materials, a couple of pieces of 3/8" ply, 3/4"x1-3/4" spacing strips, and some cedar bark (this will be five star luxury accommodation of course!)

Next the outside wall with spacers is built, and some of the cedar bark installed.

Now the inside wall with cedar bark lining is prepared, ready for mounting to the completed outside wall.

TA DA! The completed first unit of the house. This will now be duplexed (or even be triplexed, or more, for larger 'colonies' of guests) with another wall, spacers, and cedar lining to give more very narrow openings for its furry occupants!

Okay, time for the contest to begin! A last hint, the house will be painted dark and mounted on a south facing wall to keep it as warm as possible, especially through the winter. Can someone tell me what type of house this is, or what little critters will hopefully take up residence within?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bits and Pieces

A few photographs of various parts of the treehouse described in the previous post.

This is a shot of the cantileverd deck edge, with the new 2x8 end beam in place. This was the one that had to be cut at approx 65 degrees, and spans the three deck beams. Lots of fun chalking, guesstimating, cutting, and fitting to get this baby in!

A view from underneath, showing one of the pair of main beams bolted through the tree, two of the deck beams running perpendicular to the main beams (at the extreme left and right of the photograph), and some of the 2x6 floor joists which run in the same direction as the main beams. Note the joist hanger and crossjoist which had to be installed to support the floor close to the tree itself.

Finally, a close up of one of the two sheet metal sliders fastened under the main beams that rest on top of the wooden bracket on the smaller tree. The main beams will creep back and forth across the bracket when the wind picks up, and these metal strips will hopefully reduce the friction and wear on both the beams and the bracket.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dog Days of November

We had a beautiful nearly full week of weather here, Monday was wet and warming up, but Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (today) were glorious, highs of about 20 degrees each day, with sunny skies.

I finally cut and installed a 2x8 end beam which attaches to three of the four main deck beams (It doesn't span the four as I am leaving space for a suspension bridge to a third tree. Yes I am a bit crazy!) This end beam provides strength, alignment and proper spacing for the three deck beams. I decided that the deck of the treehouse would be irregular in shape, so this end beam is set at about a 65 degree angle to the deck beams, which made for an interesting couple of hours measuring, cutting, and installing. A bit of ingeneuity was required to singlehandedly install a 14ft long 2x8 (weighing about 40 lbs) seven feet above ground with no support!

More of the 2x6 floor joists have been raised and installed, and some brackets to prevent unwanted flex or movement have also been installed where necessary. The two steel sliders for the main support beams over the wooden bracket on the small tree have also been painted, drilled, and installed. It seems the weather is going to turn to more wintry conditions, so I am looking to finish the floor joists, and hopefully the main support for the platform on the smaller tree before the end of November.