Family Vacation…

Its becoming our annual tradition to spend time in one of Canada’s most beautiful locations… Jasper National Park. Here’s a short video I made with the pictures from our trip. Sorry about the abrupt end. Bad editing on my part. I wasn’t paying close enough attention and thought I had the music synced to the pictures.

Possibilities are now endless…

What poor fool hasn’t had the dream of owning a sawmill? I submit that anyone with a Y chromosome has at one time or another fantasized about owning their own sawmill. Well… Through a fortunate series of events I am now the proud owner of a Woodmizer LT10 sawmill. It’s older but nonetheless exciting, and its a lot quicker than my chainsaw mill.

Even Mrs. Birch gave it a try. This is with a rather dull blade. It cuts much quicker with a sharp blade on it.

Yay renovations…

So we bought some new appliances, largely because our old fridge was failing at its primary function. Not only would it freeze the vegetables in the produce drawer but it would let the ice cream in the freezer thaw… So we pulled the trigger on a new fridge and stove. The stove was a simple replacement…20160604_223315562_iOS




This necessitated some changes in the kitchen… starting with pulling the trim and door jambs off to get the fridge through into the kitchen. Of course once you start down that route there is no turning back…20160723_231925378_iOS

But at least we got the fridge in… 20160808_180202055_iOS    20160808_191128237_iOS

Its bigger… 20160808_195410067_iOS

That’s everything from the crowded old fridge into the new fridge and there is still tons of room. Of course we opened the wall because we have some other renovations in mind, so stay tuned to see our slow progress.

New residents…

imageI should have posted this about a month ago but work has been busy. We have pigs now, free range pork is in our future. Unfortunately between the time we took this picture and now we lost a pig to a bear but he seems to have moved on.image

The vanity nears completion…

As you can see we’re one step closer to being finished. The water is hooked up and running. The most expensive part of this whole project was the 1 3/4 inch socket and the adapter I bought to tighten down the sink from below. Who knew that the hardest part of the whole thing would be figuring out how to tighten the sink down, apparently they don’t make extended sink drains for running through thicker countertops.

i think the best part about having it hooked up is being able to wash your hands in the middle of the sink. Very few things are more irritating than a short sink spout… First world problems hey?

DIY adjustable mitre saw supports…

So I had to square up and cut several long boards and I have nothing to support the ends so I found myself wishing I had some sort of adjustable roller stand. Since it was 7 o’clock at night, and I live in an area where the town shuts down at 5, I decided to see what I could throw together quickly.

A straightish stick

I started with a straight 2×2 (approximately) that I had left over from the counter top and cut a couple 2 and 1/2 foot pieces.







Next I cut a piece about 10 inches long and cut one end at a 45 degree angle and then screwed the 3 pieces together, then put a 3rd piece as a kickstand.

IMG_0094I screwed a couple of scrap pieces of OSB to the bottom for feet and then slid the remaining piece of 2×2 in between the longer pieces.

IMG_0095I screwed a couple more pieces of scrap OSB to the top along with some spacers and put some shorter pieces on as straps to keep the adjustable part inline.

IMG_0097I adjusted it to the right height and then put a screw through one of the straps to hold it at that height. As a prototype it works pretty good but you have to orient it so the kick stand is facing the saw or it has a tendency to fall over. It would be easy to use a clamp to tighten it up so you could make it more adjustable but this will pretty much be in the same place until I build a bit more of an elegant looking stand… because you know nothing says fine furniture like OSB…

Finally the bathroom vanity progresses…

So we finally got around to taking the next step in fixing our bathroom vanity. As you know we have had a fir slab ready for the project in for several months now,  and as I finally felt guilty enough to stop procrastinating I decided to do something about it. Actually my wife made me feel guilty about procrastinating. I almost feel guilty about removing the sink. Every time I look at it it just looks so excited to see me.


As you can see it is a beautiful shade of early 80’s green. It was never a good color and has not aged very gracefully.



In Pretty short order my manly helper and I had the sink removed. It was all held in by a few dabs of glue and some 2 inch finishing nails.

With the addition of a couple supports the room is ready for the new sink.


The slab has been mostly finished for a while now but I still had to square it up and cut it to length.


I used my home made track saw mark 2 to make the initial cut then a hand saw to finish up.

After cutting it to length I flipped it over and used a combination of circular saw and chisel to make a rabbet for the slab to rest on the supports.


Now for the test fit.


Looking good, but now I need to do a bunch of messing around to get the plumbing hooked up and functioning.

Waking up grateful…


Often we get caught up in our day to day concerns and forget to stop and smell the proverbial roses. Over the last few weeks worries and concerns have been allowing me the opportunity to toss and turn all night and wake up feeling drained… It’s been great… Anyway, this morning as  we sat down to breakfast we had the blessing of this peaceful scene while we ate. I’m grateful for the blessing of being able to cook an ample breakfast made with eggs from our own chickens while enjoying this scene, all without the fear that pervades so much of our world. May we all be the change for the better so more of the next generation can enjoy similar experiences in their homes.

Installing the dishwasher…

Renovations are a sequential vortex that suck you into the swirling abyss of despair and unfinished projects. If you listen closely you can hear millions of voices calling desperately from below “Don’t do it! It’s good enough!” On the plus side we now have a dishwasher in our kitchen, so the project I commenced on is finished, however now I need to build a new kitchen countertop, finish a cabinet beside our now stacked washer and dryer, drywall the laundry alcove, and pull some new wiring. While I’m at the last one I might as well get into the attic and pull some wire for lights in our living room because that has irritated me for over a year now, and then I’ll have to do some more drywall….. Nooooooooo!!! I’m being sucked away… Let this be a warning to you all before it’s too late!

Anyway, as you may be able to tell, I have been working on installing a dishwasher. It all started out innocently enough, when we bought house I promised my wife that it would be a simple matter to install the dishwasher as the house was lacking one. It really was simple, it only took about two hours of actual labor to install the dishwasher, however dreading the inevitable sequence of events involved in any sort of renovation I have delayed for over a month in actually installing the dishwasher. We bought a  nice Bosch dishwasher on a Sears black Friday sale which has been sitting in our carport in its box for well over a month now.  Finally the guilt of trudging by dishwasher every day overcame the fear of the renovation and I commenced. Unfortunately I forgot to take a before picture but that wasn’t really interesting anyway. I started by pulling the original countertops off, which were two different heights, and rearranging the kitchen cabinets to a better configuration to suit  dishwasher.

Also unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the beautiful original flooring that was underneath the current linoleum. It is a 8 x 8 red and black spotted tile which would’ve gone really beautifully with the 80s green snowflake print wallpaper which was also behind the cabinets. It would’ve looked a lot like a strawberry garden gone wild. We gave some thought to restoring it to its original glory and then laughed wildly moved on. 

I built a birch plywood box for around the dishwasher. Now is where the sequence of events got out of hand. In order to plum in the dishwasher I had to pull out the washer and dryer on the other side of the wall. While I was doing that we decided to stack them to save space which of course required ripping off the upper cabinets in the laundry room. This now requires a new set of cabinets to be built in the space recently vacated by the dryer, and that project will be saved for later post. Unfortunately the battery on my phone has been dying when it’s cold so I don’t have any pictures of the construction of the cabinets but the install and frustrations involved with that will probably be well documented.

We decided to make a butcher block style countertop to see if we could do it and to see how it would look. Since this was our first attempt we decided to do it on the cheap and so I purchased 5  number two or better 8 foot long 2x10s. By ripping these into 2 x 2’s I essentially made a bunch of quartersawn pine. 

Quartersawn wood has the advantage of being much more dimensionally stable. Of course the center two were more flat sawn and were discarded but I still ended up with enough to lay out a 26 inch wide countertop.  

After planing everything to the same thickness we glued up the entire countertop at once. I think if I was to do it over again I would glue up three at a time and then glue them up in pairs until I got to the full dimension. There were a few gaps and it was kind of uneven overall but I ended up using my hand plane to clean it up which worked really quickly. Edit

We sanded it with the random orbit sander but I had my plane set so well that it want really necessary. 

We applied a coat of wood conditioner and followed that up with the dark walnut wood stain. The next day after the stain had dried we applied two coats of satin polyurethane to the bottom to seal it and then flipped it over. At this point we discovered a mistake that we had made by not raising it off the paper which  was protecting our table. The poly had glued the paper to the leading edge of our countertop. We then had to scrape the paper off. This turned out all right since it gave the edge bit of a nice distressed look. 

All in all it turned out all right. We made a few mistakes but since our all in cost is less than $100 including the tools and the polyurethane I think it was a good learning experience. As you can see our superspy approves.