Tuesday, December 26, 2006

We had a second severe windstorm in the Pacific Northwest. This windstorm was much more severe, and caused over a million people in the NW to lose power for a long period of time. In fact, my family and I lost power for several hours during the storm.

The picture above shows my friend Peter standing by some larch logs and the trailer. Peter is holding the log carrier in this picture.

This windstorm felled a lot of trees...not just in town but all over the rural countryside throughout Latah county. Many trees were uprooted, some were snapped at the base. Some are still leaning precariously.

I've become very serious in recent days about collecting these "windfall" logs. With the help of my friend Peter, I've collected 17 logs in a two-day period!! I've collected ponderosa pine, grand fir, western larch, and lodgepole pine. Armed with a couple of Peaveys, a wood-handled log carrier, and a come-along, we managed to brute force and finesse 17 logs of different weights and diameters onto my trailer and ultimately to the sawmill. I instantly went from being horribly behind in my log-collecting status to being comfortably on-schedule again. I estimate that I now have about 35% of the total logs that I will need for my cabin. The wood is all very good quality...the sheer number of downed trees has allowed me to be picky.

To the left is my friend Peter who is marking 14' sections on two felled Ponderosa Pine trees which were uprooted in the windstorm.

I would like to get some more larch and douglas fir. I've now got plenty of spruce and pine, which will look good but have less than terrific mechanical properties. For my tiny structure, it shouldn't matter much.

My 4x4 Jeep has peformed very well as a logging truck. It's capable of hauling logs and a very loaded trailer on top of snow and ice.

Here is a picture of me using a come-along to slowly pull a log onto the trailer. The come-along is the key to manipulating larger logs or putting logs on top of other logs where there is much more friction. I'm now convinced that with a come-along, a block and tackle, and a large lever one can do almost anything!!

To the left is a picture of our first full load of 5 logs. 2 larch, 2 ponderosa pine, and 1 grand fir. I am really curious how much all of these weigh and how much my trailer can truly support..

To the left is a picture of me using a come-along to pull a large log onto the second layer of logs. This kind of situation is the most time consuming due to the height difference and the extra friction of bark on bark.

To the right is a picture of me atop the largest load yet....7 logs! We picked up some lodgepole pine at the last minute...

To the right are the 20 logs waiting to be milled into posts, beams, rafters, joists and flooring planks!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

On or around November 13th, a tremendous windstorm hit the Pacific Northwest during the night. The following morning, Jenny (my wife) called her mother who lives literally just down the street. Apparently, a large spruce tree in my Mother-in-law's front lawn was knocked down by the wind.


The Spruce tree fell down across Lincoln street. It hit a house and a car across the street, and yet did surprisingly little damage to either. I rushed out the door with my overalls and chainsaw and immediately got to work!

It took all day, but I managed to limb the tree, and cut it into two sections. City workers provided only minor assistance by carrying off limbs in their trucks and helping me roll the logs off the street. Altogether, I managed to get three 14' logs from this spruce tree.

With the help of two other guys, I was able to maneuver one log onto the trailer by hand. The heavier logs had to wait until the following day... I rented a forklift from a downtown equipment rental company, drove it on city streets all the way to my mother-in-law's home, and quickly loaded the remaining logs onto my trailer. I hauled the logs to Jon and Hannah's to be milled, probably into posts and joists.

Altogether it took 2 full days of work to fully deal with cutting this fallen tree into logs, loading them into my trailer, and transporting them to the mill. I can't wait to see how well this spruce will mill up.

Because of the species of tree, the spacing of the growth rings, and the abundant knots, I will get weaker timbers from the tree. Sufficient for posts and the occasional joist...

The best part of this tree, aside from its girth, is the story behind it. It will be fantastic to see posts and joists in the cabin and know the interesting story behind it...

I guess others find the story somewhat interesting. The Lewiston Tribune (local newspaper) published a picture of me dealing with the logs in their story about the windstorm and related damage.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I've very slowly started collecting logs for the cabin. In September, my friend Sean and I claimed two 14' long douglas fir logs while harvesting firewood. Originally, I intended to use these logs for posts, although now I think will use them for beams and flooring planks.

I purchased an Alaskan Mark-III mill and my father and I attempted to mill these logs into 7x7 beams. After spending a day struggling with the chainsaw mill, I decided to abandon that course. My Stihl MS260 chainsaw simply is not beefy enough to efficiently mill logs of this diameter (12" or larger).

Fortunately for me, our neighbors immediately to the east of our property own a woodmizer mill, and have offered to mill our logs for a reasonable cost!! What amazing luck!! Later, I found out that Jon and Hannah, our neighbors have some considerable experience with timber framing and have framed large homes (they are currently building a beautiful log home).

I also purchased a 5x14 aluminum trailer to move around logs and timbers. It has come in handy indeed!

Here are pictures of Jon (neighbor) helping me mill these logs. The woodmizer mill did such a terrific job, that I won't even consider chainsaw milling again, except for extraordinary timbers (extra long or curvy).