Tag Archives: poplar

Summer 2018

I realize it has been over a month since my last post and people must be wondering what the heck is going on. The best answer to that is “a little of this and that”.

Some friends of ours bought a house in the area so they could move up here full time, but it had been abandoned for five years so it required some work, to say the least. I volunteered to go over and help them with whatever they needed. By that point they had finished much of the heavy stuff (replacing the drywall, wiring, redoing the kitchen, painting, etc), however they had this large pile of rough cut poplar that they were going to use for trim around their doors, windows and for their baseboards. They had bought it from a friend and there was quite a bit of it sitting on two pallets.

When I got there the first day, they had me working on this and the method they were using was to sand each piece so it looked nice and then cut to the 3″ (7.6cm) width that they wanted. To give you some idea, this is what we were starting with.

I managed to get five and a half sanded down by the afternoon and then I was helping hanging doors and putting up shower curtain rods for the rest of that first day. I did realize very quickly though, while sanding those boards that had I known that this is what I was going to be working on I would have brought my planer.

So the next day I did. I set it right beside the table saw.

By early afternoon, I had the entire pile of lumber planed down looking quite nice.

That was about 50 boards, give or take a few, of varying widths. Needless to say, it sure saves time when you use the right tool. If we had kept up with the sanding, it we’d still be working on it two weeks later.

After all of the planing was finished I stared running them through the table saw to cut them down to size. They also wanted a 45° bevel cut on one edge, so I did that as well.

All in all, I think they turned out pretty nicely. They certainly weren’t factory perfect, but they were a far cry from what we started with. Kat showed up after I had made a large pile of the trim pieces and got to work varnishing them.

They chose to go with completely transparent varnish so it was a little difficult to see which ones had been varnished and which ones hadn’t, but luckily we were fairly organized and just kept those piled separately. Here are some varnished ones.

Yup, they look exactly like the unvarnished ones.

Anyway, all this work turned out to be quite a boon for us because our friends also decided to pay us for our time, which was very welcome.

In other news, I have a few other things going on around the trailer. I have been using the brush saw quite a bit, trying to clear out the area up at the top of the hill where we plan to put the Earthship. I also worked on the plan for the pantry we want to build for the trailer. I found we already had enough materials so I can build the drawer at the bottom of it, so I’ll be working on that. The front steps also need to be refinished as they have been turned mud brown from us tracking in and out over the winter. We only managed to get one coat of varnish on them when we put them in last year so I’m hoping to plane off the mud stands and put multiple varnish coats on them this time.

I was also up at the cottage on the Canada Day long weekend and we had a lovely sunset on Canada Day.

It was great weather to be up by the lake as it was so hot. If you were in the city… well, you probably suffered if you were outside.

That’s all for now. Hopefully I’ll have some more updates soon.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Why, you might ask, is this the most wonderful time of the year? Because it is warm enough to be outside in just a t-shirt and there are no bugs. It’s a great time to be outside doing things and we have not been slacking in this regard. This is largely why I haven’t updated the blog in over a month.

As you know from my previous post, we now have working appliances that have made our lives so much easier. Unfortunately, we haven’t done much more than that on the kitchen as outside activities have taken precedence. However, I did get the hood vent reinstalled. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just a matter of putting it back in the hole where it had been. If we had done that, it would have been way to close to the top of the new stove.

Here you can see a picture of the hole where the vent had been. The blue you see is the tarp covering the north side of the roof posts. You can also see the new hole above it.

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After some measuring and consulting the photos we took while we had the trailer stripped down, I figured out where to cut the new hole. It was pretty straightforward and the outside vent flap that was in the old spot worked fine in the new one.

I covered the old hole with some plywood and then filled the hole with spray foam. Here you can see the results with the new hood in place and the old hole filled.

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There is one downside to spring, and that is the part where your driveway turns into a mud hole. This is bad enough, but the propane delivery truck left some huge holes in our driveway while attempting to deliver propane. Unfortunately, we weren’t here when he came by or we could have warned him.

Here are some pictures.

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In this one you can see the big, two-tire wide ruts with the water in it that the propane truck left.

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On to other things.

What has been occupying most of our time is firewood processing. This is a great time of year to cut firewood for the next winter as it has a chance to dry out all summer. To help with this job, I built one of these.

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That’s a saw buck and I have to say, it has made this work a whole lot nicer. You don’t need to bend over all the time trying to cut logs on the ground and you save the wear and tear on your chainsaw by completely avoiding hitting the ground with it. As you can see from that picture, we had already put it to some use.

That was fresh maple that we had cut. We usually don’t cut live trees, but in this case, we had some trees that are were the way of our sun view during the winter, so we removed them to improve that.

Any day where it has been sunny, we’ve been outside working on the firewood stock, in some form or another. Here you can see me selecting some more victims. We were cutting dead elm trees that day.

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We cut them into logs and then load them into the truck.

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Bring them back to our processing station and cut them down to size using the sawbuck.

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Kat and I have a pretty good system going with the sawbuck. She does the loading and holding and I do the chainsaw work. We can go through quite a few logs pretty quickly, depending on the type of wood and the diameter of the logs, obviously. It’s way easier to cut white pine (softwood) than it is to cut the elm (hardwood).

With all of this wood processing, we obviously need somewhere to put it. This is where we were lacking at this point last year. However, this year, we have the roof and large sections at the back that we made specifically for storing firewood. We have three, ten foot sections, separated by palette walls. Here is a picture of the middle one, that has the first row mostly complete and the second started.

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That was all hardwood in that picture. We have a section we created for softwood too. Here you can see it with its first row.

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Now some of you may be wondering why we are processing softwood. After all, isn’t hardwood supposed to be the optimal burner? That is correct, hardwood is optimal for long term burning during the cold months of the year. However, our only source of heat is the wood stove and it can push out a lot of heat which at this time of year, will bake you. You can always put a piece in and close the draft on the wood stove a lot so it doesn’t burn as hard, but if you do that, the chimney doesn’t heat up enough and you end up with creosote buildup.

We had this problem this year as we didn’t have any softwood processed and we ended up having to the replace the chimney cap because it was so encrusted with gooey tar. I have the cleaning brush for the chimney so we do that about every six weeks or so. This is how we discovered the state of the chimney cap.

To get around this problem, you can burn softwood, which burns fast and hot. It gives you a nice heat boost for a while, but it won’t cook you over the long term and it works better with the chimney in terms of the buildup.

So that’s why we have a section for softwood. It’s mostly poplar and white pine.

Move forward a little while and you can see how the middle section has increased.

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A little while later and we’ve completed both of the back two rows and we’re on the third.

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This is what the softwood section looks like now. That’s two full rows with a third started.

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We even built a boxed section out of some palettes and scrap wood so we have somewhere to put all of the bark and sticks that we get. Dead elm sticks are awesome for starting fires. They burn way longer than other stuff.

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Today was yet another nice day so we were out again. However, before most of the trees we cut down were fairly small. If you need to split it at all, it’s just a few of the bottom pieces. This is especially nice if you are dealing with elm as it is supremely difficult to split by hand.

Well, today I cut down probably one of the biggest trees I have dropped yet and it was a dead elm. How big was it? Well, I’m glad you asked.

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That may give you some indication. The tape measure says just under 56cm (22″). What makes it more interesting is my chainsaw only has a 46cm (18″) bar on it. There was a lot of work involved in getting this tree to drop and the saw was not happy about it either. There were a couple of times I had to let it rest and cool down before continuing.

Fortunately, I took my time and tried to do it as well as I could. It probably took me a good fifteen minutes to get through the base of that tree but it fell exactly where I wanted it and I didn’t have to fuss at all. It was a text book drop and I was pretty proud of myself for that one. I can’t say all of my lumberjacking has been that successful.

I went through two and half tanks of gas to buck up that tree and then we had to load it into the truck and take it back to the trailer. That one tree took us two loads in the truck to get it all. I had cut some others a day or so before and we have quite the pile of elm to be split going on.

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That would be a LOT of work to split by hand, but we’re hoping that a friend of ours who has access to a splitter will come by and give us a hand with it. That would save me several days of work. Unfortunately, Kat can’t split the elm so it would be just me working on that pile. However Kat did some great work splitting all of the white pine and poplar.

We do what we can. Hopefully we’ll get the pile processed before the bugs arrive in force. That won’t be too much longer though. There are a lot of trees that are ready to burst with leaves so we probably only have about ten days or so before they arrive.

Once we finish with the firewood, I can get back to working on the kitchen.