Floating Mantel Shelf

cherry treesOur house has posts, beams, and siding made from Douglas fir milled on our property. I decided to employ another kind of wood for a fireplace mantel. Bitter cherry, also called Oregon cherry (Prunus emarginata) is a native tree that popped up in our woods when it was replanted in 1988. I wondered what the grain and color would look like when it was milled. It has an interesting bark, that much I knew.

So I picked a tree I liked and thinned the woods by one cherry tree. I parked it in the barn to dry for about five months, then had it milled to about a five foot 5-1/2″x7″ with bark edge on the 7″ width. mantle-sawmill

As control against splitting, I scored slices on one side in varying depths, the deepest being the middle cut over the tree center at about 1-1/2″ deep. Then I primed the sawn sides and left it to dry, standing up, for about 3 more months.

frontgrain-joint
I was hoping to preserve the bark, so cutting and fitting the corners was tricky. I sanded down the precautionary slices (which were on the bottom) and cut the pieces. I sanded, splined and glued it all together, then applied a clear finish. The bark is threatening to peel, but underneath looks pretty cool so I really don’t care.

barkless

de-barked Oregon cherry

I used a bracket system to install the 35+ pound mantel. I hollowed out two slot holes at 9/16″ depth on the backside that corresponded with metal brackets that screwed to the wall studs.
wallbrackets

Metal straps, which were recessed so that the mantel would fit flush with the wall, were screwed across the hole slots. Taping their location on the mantel top,  I could line them up with the marked brackets.

backconnection

finetune
hammer

A bit of hammering with someone else holding on, and the mantel was up.

finish2

I have 3″ metal posts that I had intended to install on either side, not for support just for looks, but for now we’re seeing if we like just having a floating mantel. Eventually there will be a wall sculpture underneath. I’m just waiting for my spousal unit to come up with something…
finish

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our bridge book if you’re thinking about a DIY suspension bridge. Here is the link: Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2016 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.

Dealing with the Tedious

Let’s face it, a lot of construction work, any work, can be tedious and boring. There are things that you can accomplish while your brain is elsewhere i.e. digging a ditch, stuffing envelopes, cleaning horse stalls. But some mundane tasks need you to be thinking about what you’re doing, no matter how boring the tasks are. Those are the worst.

There were roughly 600 Douglas-fir siding boards to stain for our house project. I stained all the surfaces: front, back, edges, and ends. And as I worked, I sorted the boards according to quality and thickness so that when I’m ready to nail them to the house, things should go pretty fast. So, it wasn’t a task I could just do brainlessly. I had to pay attention.

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But my mind could wander a bit as I brushed on the stain. One of the things I pondered was a similar mundane task I had in my childhood: shucking and shelling corn. We had animals on the farm that thrived on dried corn. Ears of semi-dried corn got tossed into a 20x20x6 foot bin and my job was to shuck and shell the stuff. The bin was full: a bottomless pit of corn cobs all summer long. The job couldn’t be done in an hour, a day, a week, a month. It seemed endless. And summers were long in Texas.

Add to that the satisfaction of a finished product: there was none. When I shucked the corn and put each ear into the sheller and turned the crank, the product went directly into a bucket which went to the feed bins. I never got to look over a nice pile of shucked, shelled corn and think about how productive my day was, shucking and shelling all that corn. The results of my efforts were gone. Well, there was milk and meat on the dinner table, but that wasn’t the same thing to a kid who had sore fingers from shucking countless ears of corn.

So this mundane task, that took me about a month to finish, at least has something cool to show at the end. Neat piles of stained fir are lined up in the house, ready to install. Here’s a photo of the piles, a few of them anyway.

siding

While a tedious task, I’m glad to have something to show for my efforts.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out my book about building a bridge. It includes some cool ideas that apply to other projects, like how to put a really tall post into a deep hole when you aren’t that tall. Amazon has the book on sale for about $12.00 right now. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.

Do-it-yourself Siding

I’m milling up the siding for our new house from roughly 1-inch thick Douglas fir that we harvested from our property. Each board goes through the saw several times:
Rip the board in half
Rip to width x 2
First tongue cut x 2
Finish cut to create the tongue x 2

That’s seven cuts, if you’re keeping track. I cut all the shorter pieces by myself, but when it came to the 300 or so nine-foot boards, it was nice to have someone on the other side to grab each piece and hand back to me for the second cut, then add to a pile while I started on the next.

One issue I was confronted with was keeping the longer board against the fence. I came up with a system for the task using an old spring hinge that I found in the barn and a production artist’s burnisher that hopefully my wife won’t miss.
SawGizmo2

I started off with the set-up pretty close to the blade, but found that it worked better to move it further away. Close in, it sometimes it trapped the cut-off from the tongue and the blade wanted to grab it and throw it backwards. This only happened when a knot or void caused the piece to break early.

SawGizmo4
The system is working pretty well, though the spring is not as tight as I’d like it to be. I’ll go search around the barn for something that might work better. Or maybe, head for Jerry’s.

Be sure to check out my new book, Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge. There is a link to purchase it here: http://www.wildcatman.com. There is also a link there to contact me.

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.