Cleaning as Christmas

I am not especially proud of condition of the basement (first floor) of The Barn.  Perhaps I am unique, but over the seven years of construction on the project has led to a state of near total entropy in the lowest space.  At first it became a repository for a lot of building supplies because it was convenient.  Then it became the holding bay for all those scraps that “might be needed real soon,” finally it just sat there, full of construction detritus preventing the space from being better used simply because cleaning it out just never percolated to the top of the priority list.


Once we decided some months ago to permanently relocate to the Fortress of Solitude in the mountains, I knew I needed to address the state of chaos reigning in the basement, if for no other reason than I needed to install a more potent heating system than a single kerosene heater for my workshop space.  Fortunately my pal Tony had acquired for me a superb used cast iron and ceramic wood stove, but I did not want to put it in my shop, I wanted to put it under my shop.  Hence the need to clean out the basement underneath so there would be space for the stove to sit and gently radiate the heat up into the work space.


With Tony’s assistance I arranged to hire two sturdy lads, Chris and Jamie, for a day to get the basement cleaned out and ready for further configuration.  What I had been delaying for several years, they accomplished in five hours!  The basement was emptied of all the debris, and the good stuff was hauled down the hill and stacked neatly in the lower log barn.


Here are the two great discoveries I made (well, maybe three.)  One, there was a great pile of what could best be described a waste wood.  To deal with this we had a vigorous burn pile roaring through the day and the following day, with still a pile more to go.  Since this was mostly coniferous wood it was inappropriate for burning in the wood stove for heat this winter.  Second, there actually was a whole lot of useful material still in the piles, just needing sorting and stacking, to be processed further.  All that material I needed to finish the battens on the siding of the barn is now stacked neatly , awaiting my attack with a circular saw and a fence.  Also, I found some really spectacular materials underneath the piles of debris!

Since the barn is now configured differently than it was originally, there are several large timbers now available for some other purposes.  Most notable among them are several full dimensioned 6x6s from select grade southern yellow pine.  They are so dense it is almost like picking up a slab of concrete.  These will almost certainly become part of a workbench at some point in the future.  Combined with other stacks of SYP and white oak timbers I had already stacked in the lower barn I am pretty well set.  Until the next pile becomes available…


The real treasure at the bottom of the pile was a vintage hand-worked southern yellow pine 13-foot 8×10.  I had been wanting a new, longer planing beam and I think I have found my material for that.  The beam was so huge that Chris and Jamie were unable to lift it from its perch on pallets.  That will require a bigger crew than just the three of us.  But it certainly was like a surprise gift under the Christmas tree.


Of course the most important thing to learn (again) that eager, younger, stronger backs are a bargain for us almost-60-ers.