Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cabin part 11: Making visible progress!

The cabin finally has been caulked and stained, and we've finished the face of the dormer; it is starting to look like the real deal. Just for fun, I'll post a few shots from earlier in the process, so you can see the changes; all were taken from roughly the same position. The two just below the big photo were taken the day the cabin was moved onto our lot at the beginning of October 2013, and at the end of October 2013, when we put a temporary tarp roof on the cabin to hold it through the winter. Below that are two shots from March 2014, when the rafters and dormer frame were added; a door was also cut into the side. The last set of shots are from May 15 and May 29, when the peak over the door was added and the soffits and roofing were completed. (As always, you can click on a photo to see an enlarged version of it.)

We just returned from several weeks up there, to oversee the installation of the actual windows, and also the caulking and staining of the exterior. The stain is a little darker than we'd anticipated, but overall we like it a lot.

The cabin now has four windows in the log level. Two were cut into the logs when we bought the cabin shell: the square one on the north wall of the cabin (visible in the first photos above), and another on the east wall, which is opposite the wall with the door in the photos above. We also added a double casement next to that side door on the west wall (you can see the new window in the large photo), and a single casement on the south wall, which is where our deck is (that's the side that overlooks the lake).

Bruce and I had installed two windows in the dormer face in July, and on September 7 and 8, we put up the board-and-batten siding and window trim. Next year we'll finish the gable ends; right now they are covered with plywood.

At right is a photo of me working on the dormer face. I did most of the work on the scaffold, while Bruce ran the saw on the ground. I had figured out the dimensions and spacing for the window trim and board-and-batten siding, so I measured for each piece and then installed the boards Bruce cut. I also caulked around the windows and along the board edges where needed, and did some sanding and staining on the big cedar logs. Two days on the scaffolding is enough for me!

We had gas lines run to the two stove/fireplace appliances in mid-September; now all we need is a propane tank to fuel them for cold weather. We're in a race to get this stuff done before the snow flies, and we may--or may not--get it done before we have to close up for the winter. We're also waiting for the actual doors to be delivered; once they are in, we'll be close to buttoned up for winter. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cabin part 10: Adding windows and other work in July/August

It's been a busy, busy summer, but I've finally gotten around to some new posts. In this one, you'll see the preparation we did before staining, as well as the actual cutting of window openings in the log level in August. We also had some fun, relaxing times with friends, and I did a guided field walk at a local nature center. (Click on any photo to see an enlarged version of all photos.)

In mid-July, Bruce and I installed two windows in the face of the dormer. This gives a lot of light and ventilation up there, and the larger window is also a legal egress window which can be used to crawl out onto the roof in case of fire below (heaven forfend!).

At the end of July, we hired McMillan Tree Service to remove some trees in front of our deck ... some were sick or beginning to die off, while a few others were just blocking the view from the deck. We also had them clear trees for the septic installation. One of the McMillan guys, Mike (also known as Boogie), was part of the crew that helped to re-assemble the cabin on site back in October 2013, so it was great to see him again. Tree trimming up north is a very physical, difficult job, and these guys really work hard.

We also had our first overnight guests in late July, when Bruce's niece Carey and her husband Kipp came up to stay with us for 3 nights and helped us get ready for staining. It was great fun to have them, and they were awesome house guests. They spent a lot of time sanding the logs on the deck side, as well as other helpful things such as clearing and hauling brush.

Carey and Kipp were also there on Sunday, July 28, when I led a nature walk at Chik Wauk Museum and Nature Center, at the end of the Gunflint Trail. The topic was "Wild Edibles of the Gunflint Trail" and I led 20 to 25 people on an hour-long walk through the Chik Wauk grounds, pointing out various edibles, non-edibles and other natural curiosities. Afterwards, Carey, Kipp, Bruce and I hiked up the very steep, rocky Saganaga Corridor Trail, which leads to a high overlook of the water corridor that leads to Canada (the background of the photos in the second row below is Canada; we were about a mile from the border at this point). We also enjoyed fabulous blueberry and serviceberry picking/munching up there ... although there are many berry pickers on the Gunflint Trail and at Chik Wauk at this time of year, very few venture up that steep, difficult trail we hiked, so the berries were largely undisturbed.

While at Chik Wauk, we found a number of very nice wild lobster mushrooms (Hypomyces lactifluorum), which we picked and brought back to the cabin. I made a delightful appetizer for dinner that night, sauteeing the cut-up lobster mushrooms in butter, then adding some half-and-half and cooking it until it reduced to a thick sauce. Delightful with a glass of wine!

Carey and Kipp also helped us build a boardwalk on our path to the lake, which was badly needed. The path goes over a low area that is often quite wet, and it's been difficult to walk to the lake without getting a wet foot (or risking a twisted ankle because the terrain was very uneven). They also gave us a charming set of "cabin rules" which we hung up on one of the logs by the door. Finally, we all enjoyed watching the antics of the local ruby-throated hummingbirds, who fought to defend the hummingbird feeder we have hanging off the deck.

In August, the team from Higher Mark Construction came up to cut openings and install four windows in the log level. This is very specialized work because the logs are still likely to settle, so the windows can't be attached to them; a special buck has to be built that allows the logs to settle without disturbing the windows (explained further in part 8 of this cabin-building blog).

The first step was to put up framing to use as a cutting guide for the windows. The photo at left shows the framing for the new single casement window that overlooks the deck, and the double casement window that looks out over the parking/entry area. (The door to the parking area is barely visible to the right side of the photo; the gas stove/fireplace in the corner is covered with the grey tarp in anticipation of the sawdust that will be created by all the log cutting.)

Cutting the logs to create the openings is, as you might imagine, a very messy job. The floor of the cabin--and the arms of the workers, as well as everything else in the cabin--were covered in a thick layer of sawdust. In the first row of photos below, Casey is cutting the opening for the window that looks out to the parking area. After that, you can see Casey working the window opening while Matt is squaring up the framing for the door to the deck. What a mess! (For the best view of this crazy process, click on a photo to enlarge it so you can see the detail.)

After Casey was done cutting the window from the inside, he went outside to complete the cuts. Then, they simply pushed the logs from the inside, allowing them to fall out of the opening and crash to the ground below. The other three windows were cut in the same way.

Casey then did some touch-up trimming from the inside, while Matt started cutting the slots for the bucks in the openings.

Once all the openings were cut, the team installed the windows. Below, you can see Matt and Kyle setting the window in the frame, while Casey is on the scaffolding outside making adjustments. Below that is a photo taken from the deck at the end of the day ... what a beautiful evening. And with our new windows, we can see this view from inside the cabin!

Once the windows were installed, the team of Casey, Matt and Kyle caulked the cabin inside and out, and put two coats of stain on the outside. The east side is very high above the ground, and the scaffolding they used was pretty scary to us ... a narrow aluminum plank stretched between a board nailed to the front of the cabin and a pump jack at the back of the cabin. The height from the scaffold plank to the ground is about 18 feet at the front of the cabin, so it was pretty hair-raising to watch the guys scamper around on it. Thankfully, these guys are pretty accustomed to such heights and no one fell off!

We also had new cedar deck posts installed; I'd never cared for the spindly pine posts that came with the cabin, and the log guys were able to come up with two lovely cedar logs from nearby Swamper Lake. You can see the westerly post in the photo at left. I'll stain them a light golden color later this year, if there is time; otherwise this step may have to wait until next year, as it will soon be too cold for staining.

Thanks for hanging in and looking at this very long post ... as you can see, a lot happened in July and August! I'll post again when something interesting happens. In the mean time, thanks for visiting my blog, and if you're interested, check out the earlier posts by clicking on the links in the column at the right of this page.