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
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
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
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
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
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
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!