The 2005 Summer Shed Project
A lesson in the comparative advantage in everything

In the summer of 2004 our well went dry, and in the process of digging a new one the drill went through a major root of a large
cedar tree in my yard. I took this as a Heavenly sign it was time to buy a ride on lawn mower.

In order to have a large mower, one needs a place to put it. In order to have a nice shed for a mower, one needs some nice cedar
lumber ... you see where this is going ... the logic is impeccable.

And so, the tree came down: 

  I'd like to say it is me up in that tree, but it is my friend Brian Henderson. At first I thought I would climb the tree, and starting from the top cut the branches down with my electric chain saw. My reasoning was that i) it would save Brian a lot of work, and ii) I could take my time and get rid of the branches slowly. What I didn't count on was ... the trees were 110 feet tall!!   I got about 1/2 way up and suddenly found myself not so worried about the effort of my friend. 

So, from 1/2 way up I started cutting branches and working my way down. In principle, it still seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately I was using an
electric saw, which meant I had an extension cord running from the house up the tree. As I wiggled and moved around the tree to get at the various branches (which were about 2 inches thick and about 20 feet long) the cord slowly started to wrap around me. This wouldn't have been too much of a
problem if the branches had simply cooperated and fallen one at a time. Instead they had a tendency to pile up on the uncut branches below.  Eventually I would cut the critical branch, and they would all fall in a group to the ground.  On one occasion I cut the critical branch, but failed to notice that the cord was caught among the branches. The branches went, the cord went, and, given that the cord had become wrapped around me, ... I went.

There are moments in one's life when you face sheer terror, like when your wife finds out you spent the vacation money on a new table saw. This was a moment like that. Fortunately I was able to grab a branch on the way down, and hold the weight of the branches for a moment as the cord started to
strangle me like a boa constrictor. I couldn't shake the branches loose, and my loving family members were inside watching a Simpson's rerun. Eventually I managed to unplug the saw, drop it, and unwind the cord. Most of the cord burns have now healed. I was a little more careful after that.

Once the tree was down I cut it up into 7 foot logs with the help of my logger daughters.

 I think they broke some finger nails posing for the picture..

Next I had the stump removed. This machine was made by a fellow down the road from me. It has a 305 V8 engine that drives a small blade. Quite an ingenious contraption. It can eat up a stump in under 10 minutes.

Once the stump is gone, I borrowed a friend's band saw mill to cut the logs into lumber. What an improvement over an Alaska chain saw mill! It was a lot of work to get the logs on the bed, but once on the machine does all the work. As you can see, I got a nice pile of cedar boards from the tree.


Once the lumber was made it was time for construction. I went with a simple "pole" construction. It is easy, cheap, and I didn't have to worry about
hauling in heavy concrete. The only trick is to get all of the poles square right off the bat.

Unfortunately, there were two tricks. I took the dimensions for the walls off of my little shed I'd made before. However, when I got to this stage I notice that I barely cleared the doorway ... and I'm not that tall. Going back to the front
shed I then noticed the walls were sitting on 8'' of concrete foundations. I had inadvertently built a hobbit hut! No worries, I just added a pony wall to the top, which you can see below.

My goal with the roof was to make sure I didn't fall off, and I'm proud to say I managed to stay on ... although I did almost back off one time.

After putting the battons on, the final job was the door. In milling the wood the band saw leaves behind a plank of about 21/2 inches, and I decided to use these. Given their size, the size of the door, and the wetness of the wood, the door ended up being well over 200 pounds. It is a sliding door, and I first tried putting it on the rail from the window side. Unfortunately the ground was high here and the door got stuck, wedged between the ground and the roof. Of course it was raining, and the door got quite wet, adding to the weight. Eventually it made it on, and here are some final shots of the finished project.


Start date: July 2005.
Finish Data: November 2005.
That's comparative disadvantage!