Day One

Lately my pull has been toward finishing up major projects. I keep a running to-do list in Notes and only add the next 2 or 3 items I need to do. I woke up Sunday and wanted to make a push to get closer to completion on the portico project. When I’m focused on projects, my running miles plummet. I can’t go for a long run, then eat, change and reset to start working. I’m not sure what fitness value I’m getting from being on my feet for 14 hours, moving back and forth between saws, kneeling down to measure, lifting work pieces and nailing over my head. I can tell you I’m exhausted at the end of the day and the next day my body hurts.

Saturday I wrapped the 4×4 posts in cedar. I could have simply boxed them with 1x boards. but I wanted them to appear solid, with no seams. I mitered the corners by cutting a 45 degree bevel, then glued and nailed 2 pieces together forming a symmetrical L, did the same to the other 2 pieces, then placed them around the post, clamped and nailed them together.

I took care to trim the base of the post around the stone – it’s an aesthetic I’ve taken from Japanese construction where the form of the object flows from one medium to another – in this case, cedar post to stone.

I think about the design process as I’m working. I watched a documentary about Philip Glass years ago and he described the creative process as a river that’s always flowing under the surface, and sometimes he’s able to tap into it. I can only say that I, like many designers – see things that don’t yet exist and set about to make them real. Composers must be able to hear the music before the compose.

Sketch I made on the iPad before I excavated the base for the stone wall.

Sunday I set about installing the tongue and groove ceiling. Much of construction is comprised of little tricks you learn as you go and the sequence those tricks are executed. In hindsight, I would have done things in an alternate order – if there’s one trait I have that hinders my work, it’s that I lack patience and move too fast. I miss my long runs, and early ski days, I want to get back to the mountains, but at the same time, I can’t leave projects like this incomplete. So there’s tension. I try to keep in mind that perfection is the enemy of done, and sometimes it’s good to be done.

The most difficult part of this project was the final tongue and groove board at the peak, and cutting the pieces where the light attaches. In these images, there is still a gap at the peak where I’ll cut a piece of trim. I tried to finish this at the end of the day and confidently adjusted my saw to cut a 17 degree bevel on two pieces. When I placed the trim over the gap, I just laughed. It’s not 17 degrees, it’s the opposite. 2 bevel cuts at 163 degrees. I paused for 30 seconds to think through how I could cut 163 degree bevel. The light was fading, I still needed to clean up – it would have to wait for another day.

Remaining to-do:

  • trim at the peaka
  • front placard to cover the fascia peak seam (like my sketch)
  • trim along the front edge. I have 45 degree off cuts from the cedar posts that I’ll use to affix a bevel to the front edge of the fascia. In hindsight, if the tongue and groove was done first, I would have increased the width of the fascia to cover the seam of the tongue and groove. This is what I mean about sequence of events.
  • paint the fascia
  • go skiing (I’m going to try and take a couple of weekends off and get outside to play).
Making up for working outside all day.

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