Tinder Table

It’s hard to believe it has been almost a year since the Tinder Fire that stormed up our hill and almost took our home.  But we are still here, stronger than ever…. and found a great way to memorialize our tenacity, good fortune, and strength.

Several years back we cut a burl off a tree (making sure to keep the tree alive).  It has been drying in our shop for the past 3 – 4 years.  We figured it would make a great table top when it was good and dry.  So we used a chainsaw to slab it, then set up a router on boards across the top to slowly and meticulously router it down to a flat even surface… then sand, sand, sand.

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With the top ready, we needed legs.  So we decided to make the legs from the Tinder Fire.  We cut all the wood from our forest, using dead burned trees or fallen logs.

jointg_IR.jpgWe decided to use a combination of oak and cedar for an ‘architectural’ highlight.  The wood was super dry, almost kiln dried.  Using the jointer we cut a flat through the 6″ – 8″ logs to clear the bark and provide a flat datum.  The jointer allowed us to make parellel sides.

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For the cedar we needed to work through the exterior white to get to the ‘red heart’ of the wood.  We used the planer to make numerous passes to reduce the wood to 2-3/4″ squares for the legs.

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Once both the oak and cedar logs were reduced to ‘legs’, we had lumber ready to process.

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We used a black resin goop to fill the cracks…. a long tedious task, which took multiple applications until the cracks were filled.

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Finally, we were ready to assemble the legs and stretchers for the base.

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With base and top ready to go, final sanding complete…. it’s time to stain.

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… and finish, ironically, as it started to snow.

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I think the finished product came out great.  The red heart of the cedar shows through, as does the tenacity and strength of the sturdy oak.  They made it through the fire to become something lasting and symbolic, and will forever be a reminder of the Tinder Fire, moving on, and persevering.

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One thing begets another

You know how you embark on a project and once you’re done,  it has created a new list of projects?  Kinda like when you remodel your kitchen and you do the cabinets… and soon as it’s done, the floor now needs to be done.

You read about my stained glass door here … https://kritterspaw.com/2018/12/10/stained-glass-door/ 

The door came out great, and is now a centerpiece in the house.  I was already planning on building a stained glass floor lamp, but something simple.  With the door completed, and the elks peering in on us…  our lamp design took another turn.  Why not use animals from our forest to grace our lamp.

So I began the task of drawing up patterns for 4 panels….

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There would be an eagle, a squirrel, hummingbirds, and a pygmy owl.

With the patterns drawn, the pattern pieces had to be made.. and glass had to be cut.

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I did one panel at a time… pattern, glass cut, grind, foil / lead, solder, pack, repeat four times.

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Once the glass was cut and ground, each piece had to be foiled or leaded.

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After it was leaded, all the joints had to be soldered, and then it was packed with a window caulking and glazed with a gypsum powder.

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All to make a final glass panels to ready for the wood working portion of the project.

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On to the next phase.

To be continued…..

 

Stained Glass Door

All good ideas start with a vision.

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It’s not like I seek out things to do.  They just come to us, with a need.  Well, maybe, need, isn’t the right word.  How about… a good idea.

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For instance… we have these doors.  They are pretty plain.  Wouldn’t they look better with a stained glass window on them.  That’s what we thought!

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So I drew up a pattern that seemed suited for our area… you know, elk, bunnies, blue jays, trees.

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And then set out to build it.  We have never fretted over the amount of work in any particular project.  I suppose if we did, we’d never get anything done.  We just think of the finished project, and how cool it might be… and set out to accomplish it.

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Once the pattern was finished, I set out to choose the colors… and cut the glass for the 6′ tall door.

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And cut glass….

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Then I began the daunting task of a combination of leading and foiling the glass pieces in a long labor intensive effort that took patience, determination and perseverance.

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Then after soldering all the joints, I had to ‘pack’ the lead channel with a DAP window caulking.

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Then use a gypsum powder to clean the flux off the solder joints and lead channel.

 

I actually made my husband a bet… I expected the project to take a year, he gave me 8 months.  Working long consecutive days at every opportunity I had available to me, I finished it in 6 months.

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Now our door isn’t plain any more.  Who knew we needed a stained glass door… but it was a good idea.

 

Rocks in our Heads

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People think we have rocks in our heads for some of the projects we do.  But the rocks aren’t it our heads… they are in our trailer.  More specifically, they start with a need (like a mossy rock wall), or just a ‘find’, like these.  We saw these rocks and couldn’t resist.  So we spent half a day moving them into the trailer…. then had to get them out.

 

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Each of the ‘small’ square rocks we figured were 200 – 300 lbs, the 9′ long monster (we dubbed ‘Big Boy’) was likely 600 – 800 lbs.  We thought getting them into the trailer was hard!  Getting them out was an equally challenging task.  Fortunately, we had the advantage of our tractor to assist in the heavy lifting when we took them out of the trailer.

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We carefully tied each one onto the tractor bucket and ever so slowly lifted it and moved it into place.

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Once we had them set into the area we wanted them, we were ready to move Big Boy.

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We were going along pretty well until Big Boy fell off his log rollers and crashed sideways into the side of trailer.  (We now have a new project – trailer repair!)

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Since he was too heavy to move manually we were forced to drag him out the rest of the way.  Unfortunately in a lesson of physics, the weakest link gave way.  Our tractor didn’t have the strength to lift the monster rock, and the rope tied to the end snapped… and Big Boy crashed and burned, breaking the 9′ rock into two pieces.

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Darn!

Oh, well.  No one got hurt… except Big Boy.

But we’ll patch him together and finesse the rocks a bit more.

But our heavy find makes for a fine rock bench.

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Fall Trees

People call us ‘crafty’.  I actually resent that term.  When you’re using jackhammers and shoveling rock, building pizza ovens and garages, ‘crafty’ is the last thing you feel you are.

But yesterday, I must even admit, I practiced ‘crafty’.

I saw this little project, I got a wild hair, and decided to make some myself.

It’s a little ‘crafty’ table ornament made with readily accessible resources – sticks, twigs, and branches.

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We started cutting branches into little rounds which I then brushed with Thompson water seal, and then drilled a hole in the center (but not all the way through).

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I cut little tree-like twigs and fired up the hot glue gun.  I think when the hot glue gun comes out, you are squarely in the craft zone.

And cut tons of little paper cut-outs of oak leaves with our handy leaf punch (doesn’t everyone have one of those laying around – available at Michael’s and JoAnn’s).

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With glue gun in hand, I glued the little twig trees into the branch bases… and the paper cut-out leaves onto the trees.

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And, wa-la.  Fall tree table ornaments.

Ok… maybe I am a little crafty.  But just today.

 

Mossy Rock Wall

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If you have followed a number of the posts on this blog, you would find that we have been doing front yard ‘landscaping’.  We built a paver stone pad for our corn hole games… and then got completely carried away and built a pizza oven.  You can see the posts on that here (Part 1), here (Part 2) and here (Part 3).  If you take a look at these, make sure you click on the videos to see the videos – the best part 🙂

To complete this section of the yard we decided to build a little pony wall and ‘decorate’ it with solid rock face made from mossy rocks we would collect in the forest.  Little did we know when we took on this project how much work it would really be!

Once we dug and poured the footer, laid the block wall and filled it with concrete we were ready to begin the real work!

First we collected a number of trailers full of hand selected flat mossy rocks from the woods.

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Then we carefully put a large rock base layer along the bottom.

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We chiseled rocks that were too roundy or large, down to a more flat even size.

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And proceeded to build up the wall with stone.

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Because they were such large stones we used screws anchored in the wall to hold them in place, mortared the back side, and used large metal ‘sticks’ to clamp them in place while they dried.

We worked side to side every day, picking the perfect rock to fit into its given space, trying to maintain as small of grout lines as possible.

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When all the rocks were in place, we used die to color our grout and custom applied and finessed the grout between each rock.

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Finally we made a cardboard template for the rock top.  The rock top will be custom cut to our template from rock we pick from the rock quarry in Drake, AZ (about 3-4 hrs from our home).

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Whew!  A lot of hard work pays off with a beautiful detail wall.

Riding the Log

Some people go to the gym for exercise.  Some people are adrenalin junkies and go white water rafting or bungee jumping.  Here on the mountain, or abroad for that matter, we don’t subscribe to such extreme ‘sports’.  Our work around the house pretty much suffices for our exercise… AND adrenalin fix.

When we were away on our road trip we had a tree fall near the house.  It was only 6′ from the house itself, so we were lucky it fell the right direction… particularly since we weren’t home at the time in case it fell wrong.

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Now for the task of getting rid of the fallen tree.  The tree measures about 50′ long, 30″ around at it’s base.  We limbed the tree to rid it of all the scraggly branches, and cut the root ball off.

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Most people would cut it on the spot and carry up logs for firewood, one at a time.  But that would be too easy.  For us though, this beautiful cedar tree can make great lumber for projects.  We can slab it and make shelves with it, or lathe it and make salt cellars.  The possibilities are endless…. particularly if it is kept whole.

The tree sits down a fairly steep incline, so the task is to get it up the hill … without of course hitting the propane tank, pizza oven, or rocks.  We have a 2′ space we’ll have to thread it into.

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So we rig up snatch blocks in a tri-pull configuration to snake this 50′ long tree around several trees to thread it between the propane tank and rocks, using the winch from the truck parked up hill.

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We use tree branches as rollers to help finesse it up the hill.logride_IR.jpgtripull2_IR.jpg

When the truck starts sliding over the chalked tires and lumber toward the hill we have to stop to chain it forward to a tree on the top of the hill.

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John winds up having to ‘ride the log’ jacking it away from the propane tank to situate it through our small opening.

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As a fire fighter with chain saw and sawyering skills, he looks like the poster dude for what NOT to do in those Forest Service training video’s he watches.  All is fine until he is bucked off the log as it makes an unexpected turn toward the propane tank.

We turn to steel ‘rollers’ to get it up the rest of the way.

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Whew!  What a chore.  But we got it up the hill, rode the log, and got enough adrenalin to spare.

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