Sunday, March 25, 2007

Rob (left), whom I met through my friend Jason, owns property southeast of Moscow. Rob graciously let me park my trailer in a corner of his land. During our winter windstorms, he lost several ponderosa pine trees. Some uprooted, while others simply snapped. His sparse pines are particularly exposed to the winds. Anyway, Rob knew I was interested in finding some logs, and so he contacted me and offered his fallen trees, if I could come and get them.

I called up Peter and Matt, and we headed out on a rainy and cold Sunday morning. Matt and I will share the logs. Peter just came out for the fun and to be supportive.

Peter and Rob cut the fallen trees into logs and cleaned up some of the slash. It was slow and tedious work.

While they did this, Matt and I skidded logs using my Jeep and series of chains and tow straps.

Here is Peter, limbing a fallen ponderosa with his trusty Husqvarna chainsaw. Peter is the chainsaw master.

Matt is pictured here, moving chains around. There was a lot of chain hauling, and after awhile, those big chains felt pretty heavy!

Here is Peter again, cutting some "ramps" to help us guide the logs up onto the trailer. You can see in this picture, many of the decked logs from the day.

Matt is the local Volkswagen nut. He brought his super-deluxe diesel 4x4 volkswagen van and pulled a ~16' double-axle steel frame trailer that he borrowed from Mike Forbes, another palouse local who is hand-building a beautiful post-and-beam home.

This trailer rocks. Many thanks to Mike for allowing us to borrow it! It has a carrying capacity of 7000 lbs, and I bet we loaded it with 4000 lbs worth of logs.

We cut most of our logs to be about 18' long, which meant that they extended beyond the end of the trailer, causing a low backend and a high front end. It caused Matt's VW van to fishtail wildly at speeds greater than 35mph.

It was fun to watch!

The picture to the right shows Matt pulling his full load with his van.

It was a rainy, windy, cold morning and that meant mud and grime and misery. Of course, by the end of the day it was warm and sunny.

Typical Palouse spring day.

The weight on the trailer made the tires look dangerously low on air, so we added air to the tires in Troy.

Here is a better view of the load on Mike's trailer, as pulled by Matt's van.

Although not pictured here, I also hauled 3 or 4 shorter logs to the mill in my trailer, pulled by my jeep.

Those ponderosa pines should mill nicely!!

We loaded the first large pine log onto the trailer using a come-along. After that took 20 minutes, we realized that we had 12 more decked logs to load. We needed something faster.

Since we had two vehicles (Matt's VW and my Jeep), we rigged super-fast method for loading logs. We attached a large block-and-tackle (thanks, Sean!) to the front of the red trailer, threaded a steel cable through it. We attached one end of the steel cable to the log and the other end to the back of my jeep, which was facing away from the trailer. As I drove away from the trailer, this pulled the log in the opposite direction and right up onto the trailer. We used the ramps and a plank borrowed from Rob in order to slide the logs up onto the trailer. It was super-fast indeed. Definitely the way to go.

You can see Peter on the right, holding one end of the steel cable as I drive away, pulling the log up onto the trailer thanks to the block and tackle. Matt helps the logs navigate the ramp using a peavey or lever.

When we finally made it to Jon's mill to drop off the logs, we did the two car trick again. I removed my trailer and backed my Jeep up to the rear of Mike's trailer. We quickly pulled the logs off, at one point pulling three logs off at once.

Altogether, we brought in 13 ponderosa logs. Probably 2 or 3 might be too small to do much
with, but the remainder were large and straight enough to mill some nice posts or beams.

Once I get dimensions from Matt, I'll head back out to Troy and mark which logs belong to whom, and provide some instructions to Jon for milling.

Rob probably has 2x or 3x this many logs still lying on his land. We'll head out there again some weekend and see if we can harvest some more.

Although it is sad that Rob lost so many trees to the winter windstorms, its nice that instead of this wood rotting in place, its going to be custom milled and used in some nice timber-frame structures where it will be admired for a long time to come.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Our good friends and neighbors, Steffen and Nicole, have a set of large and beautiful trees behind their home. They are in the process of remodelling their home and decided to remove four of these trees, which are about as old as their house (~100 years old).

Steffen and Nicole graciously agreed to give me whatever logs were recoverable, and they hired Caleb for their tree removal services. All four trees are fir: 3 douglas fir and one grand fir.

Below is Caleb's old truck for hauling away limbs:

Below is Caleb, doing what he does best: risking his life on a daily basis!

Below is a picture of Caleb felling the first douglas fir tree. The goal was to drop it onto the concrete pad which was the foundation for the old detached garage that was recently removed to facilitate the home remodel.

Below are the logs, lined up along the edge of their driveway.

Below is Steffen and Blake, helping my little winch get one of the shorter logs onto my trailer.

Because of the species, size, and convenience of these fir trees, I decided to try and keep the butt ends of the trees as logs that were at least 20ft in length. This would allow me to use these logs as continuous 7x9 top plates. This introduced a whole new level of complexity into moving and transporting these logs: their incredible weight and long length proved to be too much for my little 14' aluminum, single-axle trailer. After loading one such log onto my trailer with a rented forklift, I drove it to the saw mill very slowly on gravel backroads. I could not travel faster than 25 mph pulling the log, since my jeep would start to fishtail wildly back and forth. Needless to say, it was a bit scary. My trailer sustained significant damage from the whole fiasco, and I'll be visiting an aluminum welder here in the coming weeks to get it repaired.

I called up Nils, who happens to own a large diesel truck with a 16' steel bed and an articulated boom with a winch. I helped him get a load of recently felled logs at the Washington State University campus. Below shows a picture of Nils controlling the boom, and lifting a large log onto his truck. That boom truck is a beautiful thing. The logs we recovered from the WSU campus were some kind of exotic japanese hardwood. He plans to mill it into flooring.

After I got back to town with the boom truck, I dropped the hardwood logs into my trailer and went to Steffens and Nicole's to get my logs. That boom truck turned an otherwise nightmarish and intractable problem of transporting huge, long, heavy logs into something very simple. I delivered the logs to Jon for milling.

Below you can see me loading the largest log onto the back of the truck. How trivially easy with a truck like this!

But before I borrowed the boom truck from Nils, I tried loading the large logs into my trailer with a rented forklift. The forklift could easily lift these massive logs, but my poor trailer has some serious issues with the weight and the size. :-(

Sunday, March 04, 2007

On my 35th birthday, my friend Peter gave me a commander mallet that he made himself from an 8x8 piece of western larch and a hardwood handle. Below, you can see me holding the commander while standing next to Peter.

My dad also sent me some really cool tools: a complete set of 3 very nice calipers: interior, exterior and a point-to-point. He also sent me a nifty centering ruler for quickly finding the center of a timber. Thanks, Dad!!!

Below are some pictures of my workshop. You can see that I haven't stacked all of the timbers on stickers yet. I'll probably get to that next week.

Jon has been doing an excellent job milling, and every week or two I've been picking up 10 or so freshly-milled timbers. Immediately below you can see a pile of hastily-stacked timbers, mostly 4x7s of various species, including a couple doug fir 7x7s.

Below, you can see a hand-made carving bench made by Nils Peterson. I've been making pegs from Birch and Tamarack using the carving bench. Here, on the bench, you can see some roughed birch pegs that I am about to shape with a spokeshave.

Jon has been making nominal 2x4 and 2x7 boards and planks when he mills. Below, you can see them up on stickers in my shop:

Jon has been doing a great, great job milling these timbers. Below, you can see some 7x9, 4x7, and 7x7 fir and pine timbers on stickers. The ends of these timbers are a bit grimy, since I didn't cover them properly when I transported them from Troy to Moscow, and they got road funk on them. I have since learned my lesson, and have employed tarpology to protect them from road grime.

Below, the unstacked/unstickered timbers to the left are the most recent. These were made from the spruce that we recently removed in our backyard. The timbers are beautiful, although a bit knotty. Spruce is light: light in color and light in weight. Its amazing how insubstantial a spruce 7x7 is compared to fir and even pine.