Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Brace of Braces

For the past five weeks or so I have been putting in a lot of work helping Jeff out at H2O Composites building canoes. I was working roughly 4 or 5 days a week 9 to 3, then at least 2 or 3 evenings 7 til midnite or so. So finally this weekend I got the second support brace installed, and pulled away the temporary support holding the main platform up. These two braces were fairly fussy, as I had to cut a couple of compound cuts by hand with the chainsaw to fit them in place properly. I still have to trim them slightly to improve their fit to the angled beam holding up the four floor beams, and after that I plan to install an additional cabling system for support. It is nice to see the treehouse up and supported the way it is meant to be. If you take a look at this photo and compare to one in the previous post, you should notice quite a difference with the temporary support removed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Other Uncle John Helps Out

This weekend was Rudi's seventh Birthday, and Katherine's parents and sister (Liz) were over, along with Liz's boyfriend John. I figured now was the time to jump right in and install the angle brace, which required two people, one to hold, the other to install.

The braces are made from the trunks of the two White Spruce I felled recently, cut to appropriate length using the best and straightest section of trunk. I used the Husky to make angle cuts at the base and test fit it, and then angle cuts at the top until the fit was reasonable. The cuts were done by eye, and were compound, meaning they angled off from the line of the trunk in not one, but two directions (The base was a notch cut at 45 degrees, slanting across the trunk at about 30 degrees or so).

Also visible are two of the turned finials made by my father, now stained and lagbolted in from the back. Three lagbolts each 3/8 by 5 inch were bolted in, two from the main beam, and one from the floor beam sitting above the main beam.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Deck Foundation

As most of the deck of the treehouse will be hanging out to one side of the main support tree, I had to figure out a way to support it using the tree itself somehow, and not resorting to additional support posts. The simplest and most evident manner appeared to be using a single main 'outrigger' beam to provide support for the four floor beams away from the tree. This beam would then be supported by two angled brace posts which would then be attached to the trunk of the tree very clost to the base. I decided that this support should be angled in the same direction as the support posts, pretty much 45 degrees from vertical. I constructed four small angle blocks to support this beam (one block for each floor beam supported by it). In addition, I cut a small 1-1/2 inch notch in each floor beam to accommodate a very secure attachment of the main beam to each of these floor beams. Check out the pictures, which shows the detail very well!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Uncle John's Tree House

While we were up at the cottage on March Break, John decided to repair the tree platform he had built for his children about ten years ago. It was a great time to get together for a beer, do something fun and useful, and let Rudi play with his cousin Natalie for a while. The platform was robustly built off of two white spruces, with a step ladder up, railings around, and a slide off the side. Although it was very well built, It was not designed with a foundation system that would accommodate the growth of the trees, and of course these two little trees packed on quite a bit of girth over the course of their lives. His goal was to rebuild the foundation in a manner that would accommodate all future growth of the trees without causing any futher damage to either the platform, or the trees.

The original foundation was incorporated into the floor joist framework, and consisted of a rectangular box built around the two trees. Over the years, the trunks grew outward into the box, and eventually pulled the box apart. The new foundation consists of two 2x8 beams that are lag bolted into the trunks, one at the front and one at the back of the trees. The joist framework that supports the floor deck now simply rests on these beams, and the beams are free to slide under the joists as the trees grow. The first and second pictures show the right hand tree, along with one of the old floor joists, as well as the two new main beams underneath. Notice on the trunk the depression left by one of the (now removed) 2x6 joists making up a portion of the foundation. The third picture shows both main trunks, as well as the front main beam, two existing floor joists on each side of a new 2x6 floor joist we installed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why I Have The Best Dad In The World! Reason # 23 944 813

So maybe I am exaggerating a bit on the number of reasons why I think my dad happens to be the absolute best. In reality, I (and my sisters) am very fortunate to have two very wonderful parents - the worlds best, in my opinion - and there are countless reasons for this. What follows is just one of many.

In the construction of the treehouse, I needed a way to keep the four floor beams lined up at 90 degrees to the main beams that support them. I decided that in the back a metal framing bracket would do, and although the appearance was ugly, it would be hidden from view. On the front however, I opted for wood blocks, as they would provide excellent strength, perfect alignmnent, and nice aesthetic appeal. I decided that the 'post blocks' (short lengths of 4x4 post) would look nice if they were designed to resemble an ornamental 'hanging' finial, like you would find on a staircase or the like. Who better than to contract this job to than my father, master of all things creative, and an experienced home woodworker. Giving him nothing more than the specific dimensions of the total length of post block, length of finial carving, and a general idea of what I wanted, I let him get to work.

As usual, his work far exceeded my expectaions! Not only did he source a length of cedar post at no charge from his neighbor (who was removing a deck and giving away the scrap), he produced four absolutely beautiful turned finials, each with distinctly different designs. And not only were the designs different, they were all extremely detailed, and very creative in their appearance. To top it all off, the dimensions and fit were also absolutely perfect. as evidenced by the photographs of one of the four in place.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Eh tutch of Neh Moan Ya

My apologies for the late posts, lack of pictures, links, and the like, but I finally went to my doctor a week ago, who diagnosed me with pneumonia. I really wasn't that surprised, but what got me was the realization that I probably picked it up when I first got sick in late november, as a virus I imagine, then either got rid of it or dealt with it, but finally around New Years a secondary bacterial infection joined the virus, and had me coughing up gobs of green crap for a week. I have really had no energy for the last two months, and unfortrunately, though the antibiotic prescribed has done a wonderful job of killing off the bacteria, I still seem to have the pneumonia!

Katherine left me without a baby seat to take Alexander to the sitter this morning (January 19) so I decided to bundle both him and me up, and jog him over in the running stroller. That way, as I work my butt off running, breathe in the cold air, and push myself to the verge of death, I might persuade the virus that my lungs are not a pleasant place to live at all, so they may pull up stakes and leave. At least that's the plan.......

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tool of the Month - December

Unfortonately with me being so ill, and all of my tools either snuggled up tight for the winter, or busy at work in the attic or basement, the Tool of the Month contest has been cancelled for December. On a happier note, the weather seems to be getting mild for the next week, and Dan has two of his shipping crates that need breaking down and cutting up next door, so maybe i will get over there with my chainsaw and a hammer on the weekend....

Friday, January 2, 2009

Treehouse Construction "Beer of the Season" For Winter

Well, after much thought, but a decidedly insufficient amount of sampling, I have to declare a tie for the Treehouse Construction "Beer of the Season" for Winter! The winners are Mill Street Brewery's Coffee Porter from Toronto, and Maudite, by Unibrou Chambly of Quebec. Click on the pictures to link to their respective websites, links will open in a new window.

The Coffee Porter is a delcious american porter brewed by Mill Street in the Brewery district near downtown Toronto, with coffee from Balzac, a local importer. It is very dark brown, with a nice coffee smell, and a more subtle flavour of well roasted coffee and dark chocolate. There is also a hint of rich dark fruit, like plum and dark ripe cherries, with a clean, slightly bitter finish. I can't stop thinking now of an espresso with some of Mom's homemade chocolate cheesecake, the recipe from Mrs. Tucciarone of course! The bottles Mill Street uses are absolutely beautiful also, with heavy embossed lettering and painted labels, rather than the typical paper labels of most other brewers. 5.5% alcohol, easy to drink and enjoy! Mill Steet has a brewpub in its Toronto location, and has a generally vast selection of Beers, many of which are only available there. Check the site, and if you find yourself in Toronto, check them out!

Maudite is a Belgian strong dark ale, 8% alcohol a dark amber or ruby-orange colour, quite cloudy as it is refermented on lees (yeast base in the bottle), with a nice light cream coloured head. It is rich yet very smooth, rather spicy, with a nice hint of yeast and citrus. Kind of like a breakfast of red grapefruit followed by nutmeg and cinnamon on homemade buttered toast. Unibroue's beers are generally inspired by Quebecois folk tales, and Maudite (the Devil) is no exception. In this case it tells the legend of "Chasse-Galerie", a tale of eight woodsmen who conjured up the devil to return them home to their village for the holidays. In return for their souls, the devil agreed to fly them home in their canoe. Alas, one of the eight invoked the name of god to break their pledge, the canoe fell from the sky, and they were never seen again! An absolutely delicious beer, so if you can get your hands on some, do it! Just make no pledges with the devil....