Tag Archives: Round Hill

before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 36 thru 41

before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 36 thru 41
written by David
pictures by Stephanie

Day 36: First Day of School! Woo Hoo!

School Days

After 3 months of children trapped in and around the house, held fast in the lazy days of summer it’s 03Sept2013 and time for Easton and Scarlett to head back to school.

0600 hours rouse (read: rudely awaken) the Sleeping Angels, 0630 hours start breakfast and prepare lunches, 0712 hours the bus pulls up out front and in a wink the kiddies are off… rinse and repeat… 179 more times.

With the children off to school it’s time for me to start my commute. I wait, and wait as 3 cars pass by. Walking across the street I open the front door! Really unhappy about the delays this AM. I could chalk it up to the start of school… or if I could find someone  to listen I’d complain! Let’s face it, pedestrians do have the Right-of-way… right? OK, so I’m not going to get any sympathy, especially after 4 days of R & R at the beach, I’ll stop!

The first thing I noticed when I opened the front door was that the construction fairies hadn’t bother to show up. I’m seriously considering sending a strongly worded letter to their union. Ya know you just can’t get good imaginary help anymore. Oh well, Numero uno on the list this week: dry-in the mud room. I noticed that while we were at the beach the new entry doors had arrived. Before they could be installed, the exterior of the space had to be wrapped in a vapor barrier. I am using that ever wonderful Tyvek House Wrap.

Tyvek Wrap

How did we ever get along without this strong and very effective barrier? Grabbing the slap stapler and filling it with T50 staples, I cut a length of House Wrap and scale the ladder. Holding the wrap in place with my left hand, I swung the stapler at the wall with my right…THWACK, THWACK…THWACK! I let go of the wrap and it drifts peacefully to the ground. What the…ahh, Crap! My hopes for a quick install are dashed! For the record, 60-year-old plaster over wire lathe is damn hard… there will be NO slap stapling! Bring on the roofing nails! I hate roofing nails! Bound to flatten a digit during this operation… only question is which one will it be this time… index or middle? (Note to Self: the time has come to a purchase a Pneumatic Roofing Nail Gun.)

The first day back is a good one, albeit a little slow. The mud room has its new door and window installed and is ready for exterior trim and siding, Won’t be long until we insulate and hang drywall.

Day 37: A Mini-me Hip Roof for the Cellar Entrance

The cellar entrance is located on the west side of the house in a “bump-out” extension of the front porch. Previously, the entrance was enclosed by a gabled roof attached to a full height wall that made up the west end of the porch. The wall completely blocked the western view and restricting sunlight to the front of the house. With the demolition of the old porch roof, the wall and the roof above the cellar entrance met a similar fate. So, starting with a clean, although out of square rhombus-like slate, it was time to design and construct an enclosure that would: protect the entrance from the elements, add an aesthetic flair to the side of the house, not restrict the western view from the porch and allow natural light to flood the living room. Solution: a knee wall at approximate rail height, finished on both sides with Hardi-Plank Siding and crowned with a wide, 16″ +, top that will double as a bar or serving area while entertaining on the porch. Above the cellar entrance, a new hipped roof keeping the profile low,. giving the space definition and interest. Once the entrance area is finished, including a water-table of El Dorado Stone with Hardi-Plank above, it should look like a small Spring House.

Cellar Roof

Day 38: So, the new painted-steel roof is going on… Saturday? Really?

It’s Thursday. The roofer is coming on Saturday. The old tin roof on the log cabin is still in place and the roof on the back of the house is still topped with shingles. A cursory inspection from below indicates that the purlins beneath the existing tin are beyond help and will have to be “decked over”. I will be using 5/8″ CDX plywood. The overhangs on the west side of the house appear to be well beyond help, they will most likely need to be removed and re-framed (Thank the gods it looks as if the overhangs on the east side are salvageable). OK, did I mention that I work alone? Well, I’m committed, or perhaps I should be, either way I must have the house ready for a new roof by Saturday morning and continuing to procrastinate will not get me or the roof any closer to that goal. With help from the Owner and working in tandem, one of us on the ridge and the other on a lower roof, we quickly and if I say so myself, efficiently stripped the old tin from the main roof. How do you get started you ask… well, using a crow bar like a large an unwieldy can opener you, for lack of a better word,  “open” the ridge. Then, sliding the crow bars up and down the seams you lift the aging clamps. Working from the end, you roll the panels onto themselves until they noisily plummet from the roof landing in a twisted heap on terra firma… BOOM, nothing but net. Once the metal was gone we were able to closely inspect the condition of the framing and the purlins. I can not begin to describe the condition of the purlins, save to say they looked as if they had been in a fire. I guess if you spent a century under tin with the sun beating down on you day after day you would be dry, brittle and what appeared to be charred, too.


Also free of tin, we were finally able to get a close look at the gable overhangs. As was evident from the ground the overhangs on the west side of the house where, in a word: HISTORY. On the north side of the chimney I lifted, by hand, the end rafter (actually a crudely shaped pine sapling) along with the outriggers and trim and casually tossed the entire structure to the ground. The south side overhang was not in much better condition although the removal of the end rafter, outriggers and trim did require the use of a crow bar.

Down on the lower roof prior to beginning removal of the shingles the Owner an I examined a chimney that had been connected to a wood stove in the kitchen. The wood stove has been removed so the chimney was no longer necessary, In fact it was a bit of an eyesore so we decided it had to go. After a brief discussion on how to remove the chimney (pulling with a truck or a coffin hoist) and how much damage said removal may cause to the back of the house I leaned on the top of the chimney and it moved. That’s right…MOVED.

Rear Chimney demo

After further examination, we cut the counter flashing at the roof and with a small push the chimney when from vertical to horizontal in 2 seconds! Best part… no damage to the side of the house because it was not affixed to the side of the house… the only thing holding it up for 60 years was the roof flashing and caulk. WOW!

Back on the main roof after removing the gable overhangs I was planning my next move while on the lower roof the owner stripped the shingles. For the record, I have something to say with regard to the homeowner, “I would work for or with him ANYTIME… ANYWHERE… PERIOD! End of story!”.

So, it’s 3:00 on Thursday afternoon, there is no framing for the overhangs on the west end of the house, there are 18 sheet of 5/8″ CDX plywood on the ground that need to be attached to the roof by Saturday morning and my help, the Owner, needs to leave in 30 minutes. A sane man would call and postpone the roof… quick, somebody find me a sane man. None available? OK, game on! Before leaving, the Owner was kind enough to help me get the 18 sheets of plywood and a hand-full of 2″x 6″‘s to a bracket I had installed on the lower roof. With my safety harness and rope carefully stowed in my tool bag (I wouldn’t want them to get dirty and a 7:12 pitch roof is walk-able…right?) I begin the task of rebuilding the overhangs and adding additional rafters to the roof framing. Generally, the first rule of construction is: everything shall be square, level and plumb… except when working on a 200 year-old log cabin.  When working on a 200 year-old log cabin the first rule of construction is that the first rule of construction is irrelevant! What is important is that in almost every non load-bearing case the new construction will need to match the amount of out of square, out of level and out of plumb as the closest adjoining member. Keeping this axiom in mind I began my all out assault on the Western Front… that is the gable on the western end of the house, Working off ladders, inside on the second floor, or from the very sketchy purlins on the roof I move across the west end of the house with cat-like precision. I have no idea how many trips, up and down from the roof, I took to complete this effort… lots, comes to mind. For efficiency sake, if there was such a thing, I had set up two stations each with lumber and saws (one inside on the second floor the other outside on the roof) for cutting new end rafters, outriggers and blocks. I assembled the new gable ladders to hit the new chimney while matching the existing profile of the long ago settled roof as closely as possible. With the new overhangs framed I claim a small and possibly insignificant victory. Day is done. Gone the sun… tomorrow I deck!

Gable overhang

Day 39: I roof alone! Yeah, with nobody else. And you know when I roof alone, I prefer to be by myself!

Friday morning…0730 hours coffee in hand and the decking is still in a pile on the back roof of the house. Once again those inept construction fairies have left me holding the bag…damn them! Oh well, George Thorogood drank alone, perhaps I should have considered that, but it’s too late now. Now, it’s time to roof alone and that pile of plywood decking is not going to move itself up and onto the main roof. So, one sheet at a time, starting at the newly framed gable overhang I work my way up and across the back of the main roof and in relatively short fashion, the backside of the roof is finished. An item of note: saw dust on roof decking is slippery! With the safety harness and rope still in protective custody I opt for toe boards… I’m crazy… not insane! Besides, I have 9 sheets of decking that magically need to crest the ridge before firmly ensconcing themselves on the front of the house and that will require leverage (and lunch)!


Now the front/south-facing side of the roof really took the brunt of the sun for all those many years and the purlins side on that were a complete mess. Several had taken the easy way out, committing Hari Kari leaping from the roof to the floor below, leaving gaping holes in the roof line. Others, rested peacefully in place with out a nail or fastener to be found. Another note to self, be very careful what you grab onto for support!

Working from the newly deck back side of the roof I lift the first sheet of plywood up over the ridge and slide it down the front-side roof. Using the uneven nature of the existing purlins I temporarily  anchored the plywood against one of the old  metal roof clips that had not yet been removed and I climb down off the main roof. I slip out a second floor window onto the porch roof to muscle the first sheet into place. From the porch roof, the sheet slides easily down the roof into place and I nail it tight. Easy…right? One down…8 more to go! With the first sheet in place giving me a straight edge to work from I decide to try installing the rest of the plywood from the main roof, saving myself all the climbing. Once again, the sheet slides easily up over the ridge and down the front side to rest against the top edge of the first piece. I move myself into position and start to work the plywood towards it ultimate destination. My hope was to get the two sheets aligned and then slide the second sheet along the edge of the first sheet into place, were I could tap it tight and nail it. Somewhere between items 1 and 4 above an outside force tries to take control… GRAVITY. Thus began a 10 minute battle of wills between me… and the Forces of Nature! Gravity, that wily and crafty B@*#H, was using every element at her disposal: the slope of the roof, the weakness of the purlins, the weight of the plywood and distance to the ground in an evil attempt to either drag me from the roof to my death or force me let the plywood drop to the ground. What ensued was Mexican standoff of epic proportion… me refusing to give…GRAVITY trying to make me cry! In the end all I can say is that the plywood is in place (it never left the roof) and both GRAVITY and I live to fight another day. Once scorned… I will have to be on my guard.

Day 40: 8:00 AM… are the Roofers there yet? P….lease,  real roofers don’t even think about starting 10:00 AM!

10:01 AM and the white trucks from Piedmont Roofing roll into the driveway. Piedmont Roofing owner, Tim Reid hops out of the lead truck and together we walk his crew chief around the house describing the job. The rest of the crew wastes no time setting up the steel, the Roll-Former and hauling all the tools out of the truck. By 10:15 AM 3 guys are on the roof rolling out the underlayment/ice break while the other 2 are on the ground running pans.

Piedmont Roofing #1

There is no wasted motion or chatter. Every member of all his crews know their job and their responsibilities to keep the other members of the crew moving. The Piedmont Roofing Crews and Tim Reid absolutely do not fool around, these guys are good. This is the 6th roof that Tim and Piedmont Roofing has installed for me and I would highly recommend him to anyone looking for a metal, shake or membrane roof in Virginia, Maryland or Washington D.C. His crews are fast, accurate and always make my roofs look good, No matter how rough the old framing and decking might be. I can not begin to tell that having someone you can trust to deliver a product that is one of the most visible elements of a renovation is paramount… when working with very old homes it is critical! With a single crew working on this project Tim and his guys will most likely be here for the next two and a half days. For me, time to finish punch-out framing for drywall, install the windows.

Piedmont Roofing #2

Day 41: First day of NFL football!

Let them play I say, I got work to do. I thought the roofers might show to try to finish today but no such luck. Me, I have an exterior door to install in the kitchen. The new door will replace an old window and will lead out to a new deck that will provide an awesome view of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west. Additionally, I have existing windows to remove and new windows to install.  Not to mention the ever-present framing and blocking to get ready for drywall. Next week the exterior trim arrives and the outside will really start to take shape. No rest for the weary… gotta have this place ready for the Holidays!

PlanetDwell ICON 300 res

We look forward to the days and weeks to come and hope you will continue to follow us on the “Chronicles of a Log Cabin.  We welcome any and all comments on our posts.  We would love your audience and implore you to “follow” and “like” us here on our blog.  We also encourage you to “share” our blog posts among your friends.

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before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 25 thru 31

before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 25 thru 31
written by David
pictures by Stephanie

Day 25: Rain, rain go away, come again… after I finish!

Alarm is going off but it’s still dark outside? Really! What the…RAIN! Well, I guess it had to happen sometime, circle of life and all.  Hopefully it’s one of those quick downpours, over by noon things, so I can keep rolling.

Before I proceed, I forgot to mention in our previous post that our “Red Neck Summer” continued Thursday night. As a follow-up to the Bull Riding and Rodeo at the Clark County Fair, last Friday night in Berryville, Virginia,  we headed over the Blue Ridge Mountains and across the Shenandoah River, again, to Charles Town, West Virginia, this time to visit the Jefferson County Fair. Our good friend Max Bauer, of Otium Cellars in Purcellville Virginia, was competing in the Demolition Derby.  Easton and I drove the 20 or so miles across the State Line to show our support! OK, if you have never witnessed a Demolition Derby and Smash-up in person, and this was my first, I highly recommend doing so! It was AWESOME! The entire evening each time Max’s name was mentioned, Easton would tell anyone who would listen, “…Hey, that’s my friend Mr. Max!”

Day 23 #1

But I digress, so back to reality. The Electrician is plowing toward rough-in completion. This meant it was time to tackle the “mud room”. The room had served as the back entrance to the house vis-à-vis the kitchen. The room is roughly 6′ x 6′ and is accessed, through an exterior door, by a flight of stairs, with no landing, running along the side the house. Once inside the room, there was a right angle turn with an additional step and another exterior door just to enter the kitchen. The current layout basically rendered the room unusable. The reconfigured mud room will have a new door at the gable end, aligned with the kitchen entrance. Gone is the second door and the kitchen entrance now features a wide cased opening, making the space a more welcoming part of the house. We raised the floor of the mud room to match the floor height in the kitchen and we raised the ceiling height into the gable to create spaciousness and interest.

day 23, #2

The new mud room will contain a stacked washer and dryer and a custom bench with cubbies and storage. As a final touch, the new tile floor will come complete with electric radiant heat. Oh no, I gave up some future details… call it a lure! You’re all  gonna have to say tuned now to see how the finished product turns out. But for now, back to framing.

Lonely afternoon…no Masons! Damn rain! I argued that mortar can cure under water… they laughed and hung up on me! How’s that for respect.

Knocking off a little early today. We are going to Otium Cellars to see Max to celebrate his WIN in the 4-cylinder Smash-Up and to have a glass of their newly released 2011 Dornfelder Reserve. Hasta manana!

Day 26: Is it a bulkhead or a valance?

In the master bedroom, on the second floor of the cabin, we have some exciting things planned. Originally, the ceiling height was lower than 6 feet and the cramped 2nd floor space was accessed by a narrow steep staircase. Now, a new wider open stairway graces the cabin leading to a second floor with nine and one-half foot ceilings following the pitch of the roof line. The old collar ties that were removed are to be re-installed as decorative elements and the collar tie tails, along the wall edge, are to be cut back and re-framed as a “valance” that will contain recessed lighting to illuminate the newly re-pointed log walls. After finishing up in the mud room, I was off to the master bedroom to begin work on the valance. I truly LOVE working with reclaimed materials and this is no exception. Even in its rough form, without drywall or finish, it is clear that the valance will be one of the defining elements in this amazing space.

Day 27: The shed-style porch roof has to go and the art of squaring a half-hip roof against a 200 year old log wall.

…and just when I thought the demolition work was finished! Not so! After much deliberation and many banged heads later, it was decided to remove the low-beamed shed-style front porch roof in favor of a much taller hipped roof version. Time to break out the crow bars, pry bars and sawzall. Time to make yet another mess.  Actually, it’s turning out to be quite a day around the cabin for a Sunday. The front porch is coming down, the new brick chimney is rising at the hand of Mason Dave Ratcliff on the side of the house, Mason Alan Cochran was inside the cabin pointing up the new stone fireplace and the Owner was busy playing in the septic tank!

day 25 #1

Inside, on the fireplace profile, Alan was using a traditional clay-lime mortar that he was troweling into the joints in a projecting “vee” . The mortar he was using is an age old mix that dries to a creamy light yellow and tan straw-like color; a color that is quite complimentary to both the stone and the log.  The same mortar will be used to chink the logs. Out on the chimney, Dave was setting the brick with a clay-lime mortar prepared with the deep red-orange Virginia clay. The chimney mortar dries to a rich patina matching the beautiful deep colors of the brick, making the new brick crown look as if it had been there for generations.

day 25 #2

Back on the porch, the metal roof was off along with the purlins and the rafters laying in a pile on the ground. Now, to remove the beam and the posts. During the demolition, I noticed that the beam and posts had been wrapped.  As we stripped away the wrap, we were greeted with an awesome and unexpected surprise, the original porch roof framing. The beam, actually a hand-hewed log, squared at 6″ x 6″ and 20 feet long. The wrap was also hiding four beautiful hand-shaped posts that had been mortise and tenon joined to the beam held in place by hand-carved wood pegs.  WOW! The salvaged posts and beam will be re-purposed as framing for the eat-in bar in the new kitchen.

Day 28: The reality of attempting to square half of a hipped roof against a 200-year-old log wall.

The porch roof is gone! You know that dropped to the ground, loaded into the back of a truck and hauled away kind of gone! Actually, it was gone yesterday, so with a relatively clean slate it was time to set the new posts, construct and hang the new beams. For the record, the porch is approximately 6 feet wide… that is to say is 6 feet – 1 3/4 inches on the left and 6 feet – 3 inches on the right. So, that’s approximately 6 feet…right? More on that later. First, we needed to set the posts. Regarding the posts, we always use 6″ x 6″ cedar. Yes, cedar is more expensive than treated but the benefits far out-weigh the cost. Cedar will not rot, twist and it is more dimensional and stable than treated posts. Seeking the maximum amount of head room, I notched the corner posts so the beam top height would be at 8 feet. I then set the posts in place with temporary bracing to hold them plumb. After I had constructed the doubled 2″ x 8″ beam, it was time to place it on the posts. Since I work alone, I had to position a ladder at either end of the porch and set the ends of the 20 foot long beam on the top rung of each ladder. I had blocked across the notch at one end to safely hold the beam secure while I lifted the opposite end into place. Once the beam was set and nailed, it was time beam over to the wall… and then the real fun will begin.

Day 29: Another day of the reality of attempting to square half of a hipped roof against a 200-year-old log wall.

Day 2 of porch framing and I am 100% certain that I think I might just know what I am planning to do. With only the beams in place, it’s still not to late to make changes. After today and once the hip framing is in place, there will be no changes so, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” that’s just how we are going to roll. Oh yeah, almost forgot… to further complicate things, it’s raining.

Since this is only half of a hip roof, the ridge and square rafters will act as a ledger attached to the house. These elements will be installed first followed by the hip rafters and the common rafters across the front. The front log wall is not square to the beams so I am saving the creeper rafters until last. In order to install them square, they will have to be individually cut and adjusted so that I can match them on either side of the hip rafters. I am planning to finish the underside of the porch roof with beaded tongue and groove fir following the invert of the hip. So, matching the framing is imperative. Working alone, this is going to be a slow process…two ladders, one at the house, one at the beam, up and down…up and down.

Day 30: I will finish this… in much the same way an ant eats an elephant…one bite at a time!.

day 28 #1

Today is the day to finish the roof framing, run the sub-fascia and get set up to deck in the AM. Intermittent rain continues to slow the framing process so I shift gears and “dry set” one of the new windows. I can not begin to tell you how far out of square the existing window framing inside the logs is…suffice to say at a minimum it is INCHES out. Luckily it looks as if the windows will fit and with a little effort I think I will be able to get them plumb, square and possibly aligned. Even still, we are definitely going to have to be very creative with the window trim.

Finally, the rain has stopped and the roof framing is complete and if I have to say so myself… damn tight. No rain tomorrow so decking and felt. I sense victory from the jaws of defeat!

Day 31: Victory is MINE!

What a start to the day, over-cast but no rain and heading up to 90+ degrees…a stack of 5/8″ CDX plywood decking is sitting on the ground, the porch deck 5 feet up and the roof deck another 9 feet above the porch. Now, how do I get 6 sheets onto the roof by myself? I have an idea… just like the ant eating the elephant, one sheet at a time! But first, I’m gonna need another cup of coffee. The best part about Day 31 was that I had a little help today, and I do mean little…my 9 year-old son Easton decided to join me on the roof. I honestly cannot tell you how proud I was of him when I turned around after setting the second sheet and found him standing on the decking without a trace of fear. He was actually quite a bit of help handing me the circular saw and the nail gun or by running down the ladder to get racks of nails. With his amazing help we finished the decking by noon and we were ready to roll out the felt. VICTORY is mine!

day 29 #1

day 29 #2

After 31 straight days on this project time for a few days off. Our family is heading to Bethany Beach, Delaware for a long weekend of R&R. Don’t be surprised if you see a post from the beach!

PlanetDwell ICON 300 res

We look forward to the days and weeks to come and hope you will continue to follow us on the “Chronicles of a Log Cabin.  We welcome any and all comments on our posts.  We would love your audience and implore you to “follow” and “like” us here on our blog.  We also encourage you to “share” our blog posts among your friends.

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before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 20 thru 24

before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 20 thru 24
written by David
pictures by Stephanie
dbd days 20-24

Day 20: People in glass houses should not throw stones… but it’s OK if they do ’cause people in log homes use them to fill the voids!

Back in the 18th and 19th century building materials were, how shall I say… limited. You had your hand-hewed logs and beams, your hand-made bricks, your field stone and with Janney’s Mill, just over in Waterford, VA., you could even get some rough sawed-lumber. I know, I know… it’s hard to believe that you couldn’t just hitch the horse to the buckboard and make a quick run to the “Early American Home Depot”, or simply pick up the phone and call in an order for delivery but such was life in the wild west. Yes, before there was a WEST… this was West. As we are working with an 1820 log home, each of the above referenced materials is present and accounted for, Sir! None more so, pound for pound, than the lowly field stone. To begin, the two-foot thick, six-foot tall foundation is solid field stone and the “chinking”, the fill for the areas between the logs, is packed tight with field stone providing a solid base for the lime mortar scratch coat and clay-lime mortar top coat. If you look closely at the photographs you will see that there are literally 1,000’s, maybe 10’s of 1,000’s, of flat field stones wedged on an angle and packed into the voids between the logs.


Just thinking about the amount of work that went into placing all of those stones exhausts me! Most of the stone on the interior walls are staying put. The looser stones will be “re-wedged” and then finished in the traditional method of a scratch coat topped with a skim coat of clay-lime mortar (I mean… can you imagine the work required to remove them all?). However, since we are going to be using a more modern form of chinking on the front of the home, where we exposed both the interior and the exterior of the walls, the stones must go! Remember back on Day 1 when we removed the stucco façade under the porch to expose the log? Next week we will be raising the roof line of the porch substantially, subjecting the newly exposed logs to more weather. After removing the stones and repairing any rotted or damaged areas on the logs with wood petrifier and filler, we will be insulating the gaps between the logs with an expanding foam insulation by Foam-it-Green, installing a rigid cement backer board and then completing the chinking with skim coat of Perma-Chink, a modern polymer-based chinking product. Stay tuned… this could be fun!

day 20 #2

day 20, #3

Day 21: Is the Electrician coming today… NO, Tuesday… we be there Tuesday! How about the Plumber? The Mason?

No Electrician today but that’s OK… a little extra time for me to get more framing in place. The Plumber is in and out. Shower valves are set, shower liners and drain connections soon… ready for rough-in inspection by Friday? It’s possible! The Masons show like clock work, every day at 4 PM there is a rumble of diesel engines on Williams Gap Road. Today, the flue liners and the inner chimney will rise like a phoenix from the ashes of the old chimney.

day 21 #1

day 21 #2

Day 22: Framing and Plumbing and Block-work…Oh my! Electrician….”Wednesday, Wednesday morning bright and early”

Another day in paradise! Framing like the wind to ensure that the Electrician, once he shows… if he shows, can keep moving! All jokes aside our electrician, Jeff Trump of Premier Electrical Services and his helper Dan, will be here on Wednesday and will roll through this job like a hot knife through butter. In fact, by the end of this week the plumber and the electrician should both be finished with rough-in and inspections called in for next week. Drywall can not be far off!

Day 23: “An Electrician, an Electrician.. .my kingdom for an Electrician!” vs. The search for the elusive distribution box.

Wednesday morning, bright and early… and what to my wondering eyes did appear but a white van with a lightning bolt… the Electrician is HERE! After a quick walk through of the house, with a tape and Sharpie in hand, marking the locations of lighting, outlets and switches, Jeff and Dan were off and running. By day’s end there seemed to be miles of white and yellow wire dangling from the ceiling, routed through holes in the framing and spilling out of blue boxes mounted on the studs. Our little place was eating through some wire. The Plumber was chugging through his rough-in… the next areas to fall were the kitchen and the mud room. I can almost taste that drywall dust now! Oh yeah, not to be left out, the stone masons arrived promptly at 4 o’clock pm. The block work on the outside of the chimney was quickly completed and the new brick crown began to rise!

day 23 #1

day 23 #2

At some point during the afternoon the new PlanetDwell yard sign arrived!  We think it looks really great and with all the traffic on Williams Gap, maybe we will land some additional work.  Actually it would be awesome to have more folks follow the blog and just see what we are doing and maybe, just maybe it will help someone see that you don’t necessarily have to tear a structure down to create something wonderful.

Day 23 #3

So, has anyone seen the distribution box? It’s not that big… about 2′ x 3′, concrete… with a flat top? Well, if anyone sees it, let the owner know. We dug a bunch of gopher holes the back yard until it was too dark to see… no luck! Tomorrow is another day.

Day 24: The more things change, the more things LOOK the same! …except the backyard which looks a lot like the Caddie Shack golf course. Hello there, Mr. Gopher!

day 24 #1

As predicted the flotsam and jetsam following the Electrician and Plumber through the house is EPIC. You could fill numerous contractor bags with the wood chips, trimmings and cut-offs… oh yeah, I did. My idea of issuing brooms was scoffed at, in an almost Monte Python-like fashion. All present had a great laugh when I mentioned the condition of the house when they started and the Electrician replied, “…the house was clean when I started and I am sure it will be clean again… AFTER I leave!” Both Jeff and Mike the Plumber think they are funny. Maybe they could give stand-up comedy a shot if the whole electrician/plumber thing doesn’t pan out! Oh well, I will keep trying and I am certain that at some point in the future I will make some headway, until then it is a good thing their work is top-notch and they sail through inspections or I would have to find another way to deal with such hubris.  Damn, 4 o’clock pm already… here’s the Masons! One thing is for sure, I can count on them to clean up after themselves!

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We look forward to the days and weeks to come and hope you will continue to follow us on theChronicles of a Log Cabin. We welcome any and all comments on our posts. We would love your audience and implore you to “follow” and “like” us here on our blog. We also encourage you to “share” our blog posts among your friends.

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before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – day 16 thru 19

before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – day 16 thru 19
written by David
pictures by Stephanie

Day 16: “…at least Dave has some supervision this time…when he built the fireplace at my house we drank all my MOONSHINE”.

Another rocking day on Williams Gap!

day 16, #1

The plumber continued churning through his rough-in and he just might finish soon if the right-angle drill and the 200-year-old framing doesn’t kill his helper! (Heard today;  Mike says, “Paul, careful, those knots are killer, you gotta use them logs to brace that drill!”  Paul replies, “I know,  I know… it’s already HIT me in the face, TWICE!”)

day 16 #2

Well, with the plumbing rough-in complete on the first floor it was time to head upstairs.  So, when working with true 3″ x 8″ hand-hewed ceiling/floor joists, how do you make sure that a toilet drain can run over 9 feet, with slope, and not come out of the ceiling?… a 25 year-old HP 11c Reverse Polish Notation Calculator… that’s how! Oh yeah, and a plumber willing to take his time, core drill ACCURATELY and trust that my calcs are correct. Anyway, it looks as if  we will be able to gang all the plumbing from the second floor into one bay between the joists in which I can trim out to look clean.  This will enable me not to have to frame up an area-eating chase at the corner of the staircase.

Mid-morning and the HVAC crew from Mannix Heating and Cooling arrived and hit the ground running. We had met with Mannix Heating and Cooling owner, Jerry Mannix, at the house last week and marked the sizes and locations for the new ductless mini-split air handlers. After a brief discussion about the line-set, drain locations and drain discharge points, his guys started their rough-in with very little added instructions or hand-holding (damn, that’s nice). Shortly after noon they were finished and I could check one rough-in off my list en-route to drywall.

Late afternoon the stone masons arrived… I’m beginning to think these guys have day jobs! Today is going to be an exciting day with regard to the new fireplace. It’s time to re-build the firebox and start the profile. After a discussion on the distance to set the new profile off the logs (movement in the logs over the last 200 years had pushed the right side logs a bit further away from the hearth stone than the left side, so we had to cheat a little), Alan and Dave began the careful task of removing the stone corners of the original firebox and moving them forward to set the site for the new profile.

day 15 #3

An early evening phone call from the owners (away at the beach for a week) helped end the day with a bit of humor. When asked how things were going, I gave him the run-down on all that was happening including the status of the fireplace restoration. When I mentioned to him my collaboration with Dave and Alan about the site of the profile, he replied, “…at least Dave has some supervision this time, when he built the fireplace at my house we drank all my moonshine.”

day 16 #4

Day 17: … did I say something to make the everyone mad?

The house is quiet without all the Trades running around, the plumber is off in Washington, D.C. on a service call and the stone masons won’t post until about 4 PM, perfect time to start the stair stringers. What’s the old adage? … measure twice, cut once! Ha, I can tell you one thing for certain…that old sage would never work in a 200 year-old log cabin. In this house it was more like: measure 3 times in 4 different locations, layout and cut ends, set in-place, scribe, cut again, set in-place again, shim, level treads, shim, scribe, cut… you starting to get the idea! Stairs function as rise over run, well that’s all fine and dandy if the surfaces you are rising and running from are generally level and plumb. Not so here, grasshopper! The rise at the landing is different from the rise at the end of the stringers, the floor beneath the stringers, “rolls” from right to left like an ocean swell and the log wall on the right side of the stairs is, how shall we put it… less than plumb. OK, now that I got that out of my system I finally have my stringer pattern… Victory while not complete, is in sight!

day 17 #1

Like clock work… 4 PM equals STONE MASONS! What do these guys do all day? Is this a side job? Nah, just juggling multiple jobs and we are damn thankful they worked us in on very short notice! Today’s plan: finish the back of the firebox, run-up the profile and set the lintel… nothing but net! I am truly amazed at how these guys are able to create ART from a pile of rocks!

day 17 #2

Day 18: Virginia is a “Right-to-Work” State and this is a non-union restoration! … and, this is a broom, Trades! Learn how to use it!

Holy crap! The stone masons clean-up after themselves, I keep the site and my general areas free of cut-offs and broom swept… but the flotsam of shrapnel that followed the plumber and mechanical contractor through the house was prodigious. Can’t wait to see what the electrician leaves in his wake. How do these guys work in these conditions… I mean, hell just grab a broom and sweep it into a pile! Oh well, two hours into the morning and the site is clean, apparently I am the site laborer… from now on I think I might issue brooms to the Trades as they enter or maybe just hold a cleaning deposit!

All alone today… finishing cutting and installing stair stringers on main stairs and prepping header for short run from the landing to the second floor. With all the stringers in place, treads level and risers aligned, I can finally claim complete VICTORY. Just a little framing so the plumber can finish his rough-in and time to put another day in the books. Tomorrow, the stone masons will be finishing the fireplace on the inside of the cabin and I will set temporary treads on the stairs…yay, no more ladder!

day 18 #1

Day 19: Now THAT…is a fireplace!

Bright and early… mud mixer spinning! The stone masons are ready to set block in the back of the chimney, set the form for the smoke box and throat and finish the inside front of the fireplace… and what a fireplace it is! Somehow it is rustic, traditional and slightly refined all at the same time. The sandstone lintel and corners are a perfect complement to the Virginia field stones that complete the face. The reuse of the original firebox corners are truly fitting. The fireplace, beautiful as is, will be stunning once the stones are pointed and a thick mantle shelf, milled from a matching log, crowns the top.

day 19 #1

day 19 #2

It may take some doing, but I am confident that the stairs with their planned open profile, maple newels, maple rail and wrought iron stiles will be a fitting compliment to the one-of-a-kind fireplace.

day 19 #3

This little cottage is going to ROCK!

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We look forward to the days and weeks to come and hope you will continue to follow us on the “Chronicles of a Log Cabin.  We welcome any and all comments on our posts.  We would love your audience and implore you to “follow” and “like” us here on our blog.  We also encourage you to “share” our blog posts among your friends.

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before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – day 15

before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – day 15
written by David
pictures by Stephanie
 dbd day 15

Day 15: “… he’s like the Tasmanian Devil in a Duck Dynasty t-shirt”.

The plumber, Mike Langley of Total Plumbing, started rough-in today.  He arrived mid-morning in classic Mike Langley fashion, a coffee-fueled bolt of lightning! Quiet would not be a word to describe Mike, Starbucks cup in hand, he stood in the middle of the downstairs bedroom shouting instructions and barking orders at his helper Paul. Mike is the first “trade” in and the house is awash in plumbing fittings, blue and red PEX water pipe and Schedule 40 PVC drain pipe. If today was any indication, by weeks end the plumbing rough-in should be nearing completion and ready for inspection early next week.


As promised, by mid-afternoon the masons, Dave Ratcliff and Alan Cochran arrived causing a mini-traffic jam in front of the house. A pair of over-sized pick-ups loaded with scaffolding, boards and laborers trying to park while two neighbors in their own vehicles were looking to pass. With one headed east and the other west, it was more than enough to create a “Mexican Stand-off” on the very narrow Williams Gap Road. Once the trucks had parked and the road cleared, the scaffolding was set together like an adult-sized Erector set. In very short fashion the scaffolding reached height, walk boards were set in place, the existing metal roof was cut back and… cinder blocks and rubble soon rained from the sky.

day 15 #2

day 15 #3

day 15 #4

As the sun set, the chimney was stripped, prepped and ready for the re-build, the firebox cleared and ready for its new profile, lintel and facing in general, all is well with the world… for now. Tomorrow there will be another full house! More framing, plumbing rough-in and the Mechanical Contractor, Jerry Mannix of Mannix Heating and Cooling, will have his guys on site running the line sets for the ductless mini-split heating and air system. I can almost smell the drywall dust!

It’s time to turn out the lights and call it a day.

day 15 #5

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We look forward to the days and weeks to come and hope you will continue to follow us on the “Chronicles of a Log Cabin.  We welcome any and all comments on our posts.  We would love your audience and implore you to “follow” and “like” us here on our blog.  We also encourage you to “share” our blog posts among your friends.

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before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 10 thru 15

before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 10 thru 15
written by David
pictures by Stephanie

Day 10: Veni, Vedi, Aedificare (I came, I saw, I framed)

…and so it begins. After the dirty work of the last 9 days it’s finally time for some fun to begin. It’s time to start working with clean materials, time to see the plan take shape. We hope you are ready! First, there was still a little demo, of the “load bearing” variety, in the downstairs bedroom. The old bedroom door framing need to be removed and replaced in-line at the common wall with the kitchen. Thankfully the new door framing, with a solid header to carry the roof load, could be installed while the existing framing remained. The work went fairly quickly and the new in-line doorway location really opens up the bedroom. In dealing with a small house, it’s important to maximize convenience and amenities wherever possible, ergo, a private in-suite full bath with a window and in-floor radiant heat.


Days 11 and 12: Veni, Vedi, Aedificare II (I came, I saw, I framed II)

With the first floor framing complete, it was time to move upstairs (about now I wish the stairs were finished… they’re not, so for now it’s “up-the-ladder”). Well, framing the second floor is going to be interesting; tight space, 9 foot ceilings, two ladders and one… me. That can only mean one thing: cut… climb… nail, repeat!! Thank God there are only four walls in the master bath, I just might be too old for this.  (Details on the master bath will be revealed at a later date and they are spectacular!) Once I finish framing inside, the next exercise… a new hipped front porch roof with plenty of head room and lots of light. Since I have to get everything ready and select locations for the trades, in breaks between framing, I set the plumbing fixture locations. The plumber starts rough-in next week, along with electrical and mechanical. But the coolest is tomorrow morning when Dave Ratcliff, of Ratcliff Masonry, starts working on the first floor fireplace repair. If I were a betting man, I’d bet on that being an adventure.


Day 13: Papa, how’s Santa gonna get down that chimney?

The fireplace on the first floor had been bricked in many years ago.  The chimney had been fitted with thimble and an oil burning heater had been installed. During demolition we exposed the fireplace, found the original firebox, and discovered that sometime in the 1940’s the chimney must have  fallen away from the house and had been rebuilt using cinder block. The new chimney had been fitted with a flue liner and back-filled with ALL the rubble from the collapsed chimney. Now it was time for the mason’s to go to work clearing out the rubble, finding all the firebox, blocking the existing flue liner in place, rebuilding the throat and smoke shelf and connecting the new fireplace to the existing flue liner.


day 12 #4

What could possibly go wrong you ask? Well… plenty! After completely exposing the firebox and cleaning out all the loose rubble, it was time to cut out a log to make room for a stone lintel and to give the mason’s a little extra room to work.

day 12 #2

After the log was removed the mason’s started to chip away at the last of the rubble. Our hope was to be able to block the flue liner in place then build the throat and tie the new fireplace to the old flue liner. Just one last piece of old mortar… and… a rumble, a pair of masons diving to the side, and in a cloud of dust, half the contents of the chimney was belched out and onto the floor.  (Stef missed that picture as she was ducking underneath the stair landing, pulling Easton with her!)

day 12 #3

Now THAT was exciting! After the dust cleared my daughter Scarlett stuck her head through the door and looking a bit depressed asked, “Papa, how’s Santa gonna get down that chimney?”

Day 14: This is gonna require a second opinion!

Yesterday’s excitement passed and was followed by hours of shoveling rubble into buckets, dumping them into a wheelbarrow and rolling them to a pile in the yard. Not much fun but the day ended with the original firebox exposed, cleaned up and ready for rehab. Only one problem remained… what about the remaining flue liners and the rest of the rubble wedged just above the level of the second floor? Day 14 started with Dave Ratcliff and Alan Cochran, two local masons, looking up the chimney trying to decide what to do next. As I mentioned, just above the second floor, wedged in the chimney were the remaining flue liners and presumable the rest of the rubble… a party waiting to happen. One idea involved a steel plate and two lolly columns and working from inside the chimney.  A second, removing the upper 6 feet or so of the chimney and working from the top down. Option #2, the safer option, is a go. Scaffolding goes up Tuesday and work will begin soon after. The bonus… a new chimney with a stepped-in brick crown at the roof rake, AWESOME!

day 14

Day 15: No banging in the house until the chimney is stabilized.

A self-imposed day of rest until the chimney is stabilized! Oh well, everything should be clear after tomorrow.

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We look forward to the days and weeks to come and hope you will continue to follow us on the “Chronicles of a Log Cabin.  We welcome any and all comments on our posts.  We would love your audience and implore you to “follow” and “like” us here on our blog.  We also encourage you to “share” our blog posts among your friends.

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before + after: chronicle of an 1820’s log cabin – day 9

before + after: chronicle of an 1820’s log cabin – day 9
written by David
pictures by Stephanie
dbd day 9

Day 9: Twelve Oaks it’s not, but it will be an impressive staircase for a log cabin nonetheless!

It is hard to see now with only a landing and some framing in place, yet inside my head I can clearly visualize the open staircase and the maple newels and handrail paired with wrought iron stiles as if they are already exist. Long before any of those elements are in place we needed to determine the size and height of the landing. As with everything planned for the cabin the finished dimensions and construction methodology will be driven by the 200 year-old framing, and the stairway is no exception. The actual width and length of the landing are being driven by the existing second floor joist layout and the squareness, or lack there of, in the log walls.  As luck would have it, there is an existing joist 42″ from the exposed log wall, with just one intermediate to be headed off, this creates an almost perfect stairway width. Now, to determine the landing height we once again need to look at the joists for the second floor and the elements in the planned layout. The plan is to install a powder room under the stairs so we need sufficient height, width and length to accommodate the fixtures. So, lots of math and head scratching later (let’s face it, the walls of the cabin are no where near square or plumb and the floors are not level…not a task for the fainthearted) we set the landing height and built the landing. The powder room is going to be a little tight on headroom, but hey not everyone is 6′ 7″ and it’s a cabin after all…and really, how many log cabins even have a powder room? Now that all the stairway dimensions are nailed down, it’s time to order the material for the stair stringers and finish the framing on the rest of the first floor. It was a little slow going today but totally necessary to assure that everything will work in this very tight space.

day 9 #2

As the day waned and I cleaned up the site, the new owners arrived for a brief design meeting…followed by a glass or two of wine at our log cabin across the street.  I’d like to take a moment to thank the new owners. Not only are they are great friends and super to work with, they have been unbelievably kind to me, Stef and our family over the last couple of years. Additionally, they both spent the entire first week as part of the “zombie” demolition crew covered in sweat, grime and 200 year-old dust. As for the results of the design meeting…well let’s just say an adjustment has been made that will make the master bedroom, upstairs in the cabin, one SWEET space so everybody get ready to “PIN” it on Pinterest. More to come as the framing progresses.

day 9 #1

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We look forward to the days and weeks to come and hope you will continue to follow us on the “Chronicles of a Log Cabin.  We welcome any and all comments on our posts.  We would love your audience and implore you to “follow” and “like” us here on our blog.  We also encourage you to “share” our blog posts among your friends.

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before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – day 8

before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – day 8
written by David
pictures by Stephanie

Day 8: Look Ma…no stairs!

day #1

Quiet, that’s how Day 8 was shaping up. The noise and dust of full on demolition had subsided, gone were the crews of helpers, it was just me…time to create. But first, there was one last item to remove, THE STAIRS. Working in a 200-year-old structure you never know what is tied to what, so removing a stairway is a sketchy task, double for this structure. You see, this cabin once had a switch back stair to the cellar that had been removed and covered over.

day 7 #4

The bracing and header framing in the cellar was inadequate and two of the headed floor joists had seriously settled causing a significant sag in the floor. So, now my homage to the simple shim: With a well placed hardwood shim and two-pound hammer you can literally lift a house, with five well placed softwood shims, I can lift a header and two sagging  joists long enough to slip a post on a footing, under solid blocking lag bolted between the two. Another twenty or so shims driven between the joists and floor will level the flooring prior to adding sisters to the joists to carry the newly leveled floor. There you have it, a stabilized floor, more level than not, good for another 200 years. Well, back on the first floor the stairs were still standing. Before removing them, we needed a wall to carry the load of the second floor transferring that load to the newly stabilized floor and post in the cellar.  Now, getting the wall into place was no easy task; I mean, what do you square from or to for that matter. Well, even a blind squirrel can find a nut every now and then…me, I managed to get the wall in, plumb and square.  As I cut away the framing around the stairs, I was careful to watch the connections of the ceiling joist to the logs in the proximity of the stairwell. As luck would have it, nothing moved…a good sign, load transfer working, OK to wail away on the old staircase. An hour later the stairs lay in a pile on the floor.  The floor had been cleared and the dust was settling and it was time to call it a day. Day 9…construct landing, complete framing for under stair powder room and prepare new stair chase. 

For now…  there’s a glass of wine calling my name.

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We look forward to the days and weeks to come and hope you will continue to follow us on the “Chronicles of a Log Cabin.  We welcome any and all comments on our posts.  We would love your audience and implore you to “follow” and “like” us here on our blog.  We also encourage you to “share” our blog posts among your friends.

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before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – day 7

before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – day 7
written by David and Stephanie
pictures by Stephanie
Day 7: …having finished their work, on the seventh day they rested.  
Like HELL, we’ve got miles to go before we sleep!

Okay, so maybe we didn’t start at the crack of dawn (it was more like 9:30 am) and maybe we did knock off a little early (sometime around 3:30 pm) but hey, we still banked a full seven days and made awesome progress. With seven days in the rear view, the cabin is a shadow of its former over-finished self. The place has been stripped down to the bare bones and ready to move into Phase II, the “Re-Build”.

day 7 #4

The day began by stripping away three layers of flooring from the main level of the cabin in search of the original floors. You could see them from below, in the cellar, so we knew they were there. After a couple of hours of scraping, pulling and splintering we found it…the original wide plank heart pine floor along with an insane number of nails (it will literally take days to pull them all!). There is no doubt the floor is in rough shape now but I am positive it will finish beautifully.

day 7 #2

We finished the day pulling nails, removing log chinking, loading trash into trucks and trailers and sweeping up copious amounts of dust.  By the time we left the house, it was “broom clean” and in great shape to begin framing and welcoming the trades.

day 7 #3

day 7 #1



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We look forward to the days and weeks to come and hope you will continue to follow us on the “Chronicles of a Log Cabin.  We welcome any and all comments on our posts.  We would love your audience and implore you to “follow” and “like” us here on our blog.  We also encourage you to “share” our blog posts among your friends.

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before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 1 to 6

before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 1 to 6
written by David, pictures by Stephanie

Day 1: Gentlemen…and Lady, start your Sawzalls and let the demolition begin.

Day 1

The dumpster arrived promptly at 1:00 pm and the demolition began promptly at 3:00 pm! Well, actually the part demo, part sleuthing began at 3:00 pm. We had been told that beneath all the layers, yes layers and there were three, there lived LOG! So, we began our quest, our search for the Holy Grail. With the first wall we hit pay dirt. LOGS! As we stripped away modern drywall, 1950’s era wood-grained corrugated cardboard paneling and 1880’s era horse-hair plaster on hand-split lathe, we were rewarded with the pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow…an 1820’s log cabin. The logs where in great shape with most of the chinking and stone filler still firmly affixed. The fireplace and chimney unfortunately had suffered a worse fate. They must have collapsed at some point as the chimney had been reconstructed using cinder block and firebox bricked in solid. The good news is the fireplace can and will be saved. The day ended in a cloud of dust with the kitchen empty and the west wall of the cabin both upstairs and downstairs stripped down to log.

Day 2: Gentlemen…and Lady, start your Sawzalls and let REAL the demolition begin.

Day 2

Day 2 dawned with a crew of six (6), fit and ready to do battle.  I can not begin to describe the carnage, only to say that by the end of the day the dumpster was FULL! FULL! FULL!  As was a stake-side equipment trailer and the bed of a full-size Ram 2500 pick-up truck.  As for the house there were exposed logs throughout the first floor, exposed hand-hewed ceiling rafters and walls removed from the second floor of the cabin.  Time to let 200 years of dust settle and plan for Day 3.  We left the job looking a bit like zombies as our skin was ashen colored from all the mortar debris and we were shuffling about  from being tired and weary.

Day 3: What do you mean you can’t get me a new dumpster until noon!

Day 3

One lady down, the crew of 5 began the second day of all our assault (read: demolition) on the cabin at 0730. While waiting on the delivery of the new dumpster, stripping of the walls on the second floor of the cabin began in earnest. By the time the dumpster arrived the pile of rubble on the floor was 2 feet high and the dust so thick you couldn’t see the far side of the room. Additionally, the closet walls in the first floor bedroom where down as was most of the drywall in the kitchen and bedroom leaving another pile of shrapnel. After lunch we began loading the new dumpster and by the end of the day the second dumpster much like the first was FULL! FULL! FULL! Two dumpsters…2 days, now that’s some demo! The end of Day 3 yielded some excitement. After removing the parquet wood tile floor and luan backer that had been installed over the 1940’s era wood floor on the first floor of the cabin, we discovered the original hearth stone showing slight cracks but otherwise intact . In cleaning the stone we noticed that someone had etched, by hand, a date in the stone. I wonder what was significant about “dec. the 6 1927”?

Day 4: Pulling out the chinking and haul it in a bucket.

Day 4

With most of the heavy lifting out-of-the-way, we were down to the laborious task of chinking removal while waiting on the arrival of our first material order. The space between the logs had been “chinked” with flat field stones packed with a lime-mortar plaster scratch coat then finished with a lime-mortar plaster top coat. Due to the age and the state of the plaster chinking, re-pointing was out of the question so, out the plaster must come. The plaster has to be removed carefully as to not disturb the rubble filling, making it time-consuming as well as a labor intensive job. Day 4 also brought the plumber to remove all the existing piping as well as any remaining fixtures.

Day 5: To frame a crooked ceiling.

Day 5

With the ringing of my phone at 7:15 am, Day 5 was off and running. It was the lumber delivery driver wanting to know where to drop the framing material. Hot damn…to be honest, 4 days of demolition had me itching to build something. Before we begin, an item of note… apparently the folks of the 19th century where vertically challenged. The ceiling height upstairs was barely 6 feet and for me at 6′ – 7″ I’d had it with 4 days of banging my head on low hanging timber, it was time to raise the roof, so to speak, on the second floor. The cabin’s gable roof had been framed in the style typical of the early and mid 1800’s; semi-straight young pine trees skinned of bark set as the framer saw fit with 1″ x 4″ ridge pole on an 8:12 pitch. All of that crooked goodness made complete with the use of the second floor ceiling rafters as collar ties. My plan…leave the existing roof framing in place, install a new 2″ x 8″ ridge pole, sister new 2″ x 6″ rafters to the existing pole-rafters and install new collar ties 3 feet above the existing. Easy, right? Not so fast! No rhyme or reason to the spacing of the existing pole-rafters. Then, several of the pole-rafters on one side of the roof did not match the diameter the opposing pole-rafter on the other side, one rafter had rotted away and had been replaced by an out of twisted rough cut 2″ x 4″ and in several cases the rafter tails did not line up with the collar ties. A real nightmare. Needless to say, with lots of pushing, pulling, lifting and blocking, we managed to get all the new rafters and collar ties in place. Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention we lost about 5 lbs. each! It’s damn hot in a gable beneath the metal roof.

Day 6: Cutting collar ties and playing with logs.

Day 6 #1

Day 6 #2

We started Day 6 in a shed atop Mount Gilliad, just south of Leesburg, Virginia. We were there to pick out a log to be used as a post in the widened kitchen entrance. Once the perfect log, also from an 1800’s log cabin, had been selected, we headed to the cabin to let the fun begin. Arriving back at the cabin, time had come to cut the collar ties on the second floor and see if our new framing would hold as planned. Holding our collective breaths, I set the sawzall blade on top of the first rafter and pulled the trigger…seconds later, the blade had sliced clean through the 200 year-old rafter and nothing happened. The roof held (I knew it would, LOL) so we cut away the remaining 8 rafters.  We left the remaining rafter-tails long, out of the wall, as they will be boxed out during finishing and fitted with recessed lighting. Once the rafters were cut, it was time to go downstairs and play with logs and a chainsaw. The connection between the log cabin, the kitchen and bedroom, added to the house in the 1970’s, was the original cabin’s back door.   With an opening width of less than 3 feet and a height of just over 5 feet, it had to be adjusted…a lot, and in both directions. We were looking to get an opening of 6 feet wide and 7 feet tall.  To achieve an opening of those dimensions, it was going to need the removal of some existing logs and the addition of a log post. After marking the existing ceiling joists at the notch in the logs to assure that there was no movement, we began to disassemble the wall. After the first log was removed we were off to the races and in no time we had removed the wall and fashioned a post out of the reclaimed log. Just like that… POW! an opening 6 feet wide  and 7 feet tall really opening up the space. Day over…time to let the dust settle once again.

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We look forward to the days and weeks to come and hope you will continue to follow us on theChronicles of a Log Cabin.  We welcome any and all comments on our posts.  We would love your audience and implore you to “follow” and “like” us here on our blog.  We also encourage you to “share” our blog posts among your friends.

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