Humble Beginnings

Two years ago in the immediate aftermath of the Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench exhibit in Cedar Rapids IA, my brother and his son came for a week’s visit at the cabin.  As is almost always the case we had a project outlined for our time together.  That year the candidate was the dismantling and salvage of an old shack (1920s?) up on the hill about 100 yards from the cabin.

So we went at it.  It turned out that all of the roof structure, including sheathing, was chestnut in remarkably good condition.  I am not a huge chestnut wood aficionado, but it is a local favorite so into the barn it went.  By contrast the wall structure and sheathing were white oak.  Primo!  The lap siding was also chestnut, and we saved that.

Then I decided to quarrel with a gravel-filled wheelbarrow, and you know the rest of that story.

Flash forward 18 months.  Late in winter Mrs. Barn mentioned that she really liked chestnut, and that for her birthday she would REALLY like some custom made frames for the mylar-encased matted art photos we had sitting on the mantle for several years.  I said, “Uh-huh,” and left it at that.  She of course assumed I had forgotten the incident and request entirely.

What she did not know was that I had retrieved a 2×4 from the lower barn, milled it, and fabricated frames to fit the photos.  Some fussy miter jig work on the table saw followed by a little polissoir and wax action and then shellac and steel wool and the deed was done.  Then while she was at Bible Study and yoga one day I finished their framing and glazing and replaced them on the mantle.  The next day she had not noticed them so I casually pointed them out.

She was pleased.

From derelict shack to place of prominence; not bad.  I’ve still got big piles of chestnut and oak from the salvage project, so who knows what will be coming next.  Well, she did give me a list…