Thursday, March 29, 2012

Roof Work Pics

To date we have repaired the most egregious of the roof leaks and have primed the roof.  Before you know it, the Blacksmith Shed will be the prettiest girl at the dance.  Here are some pics of Jay and Byrd priming the difficult side of the roof.

Safety First

Here's a good idea of the roof pitch.

These windows are going to be installed pretty soon if all goes well.
You can tell what part's been primed and what hasn't yet.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Excuses, excuses...

I'm sorry to report that we haven't made a ton of progress on the shed this week.  It appears that as sure as spring has sprung so has the social season that seems to accompany it.  My notebook is filling up with measurements on parts and pieces that need to be made, so the shop work should be heavy in the coming weeks.  Updates will certainly follow as time allows.  In other exciting news, the kerosene lanterns have shipped and they have already made their way from Germany to Canada, and from Canada to California. As of tonight, they are somewhere between the purple needlegrass state and the City of Fredericksburg.

One thing that has kept us busy/distracted is the readying of the Tiki Bar for its summer sojourn on the river.  The party barge will spend most of its time stationed at the boat ramp, standing proudly as a welcoming landmark and comparable in grandeur to that of the gateway arch in St. Louis.  However, much like the men who gathered in 1775 on a township green located in the heart of the Massachusetts's Bay Colony, it will be ready at a moment's notice.  Unlike the Lexington Minuteman, it will be ready for a boat drink and a possible disco party.  I've attached a few photos of the progress.  Feel free to take a gander.  Hopefully we'll be back on track with updated Blacksmith Shed pics by next week.

Front Access Bridge added for, well, access.
Closer Pic of the Access Bridge.
Byrd and I installed some more ceiling art.

She's a mess but thats part of the process.

Wednesday Zen 3

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't get it drunk."

-Anyomous via Natasha

Friday, March 23, 2012

Two Windows Installed!

We managed to dig up two sets of window sashes for the workshop room.  We installed the first set with unprecedented ease.  This of course doomed us for the second.  The weight pocket of the second workshop window had been the long-term residence of some pesky rodents.  These same creatures were nice enough to chew through one of the sash ropes.  We were able engineer a fix, in situ, using some rope that we had hanging on the wall of the workshop.  Future architectural historians might classify this solution as that of a venacular remedy.

Mouse Home in the Weight Pocket.
Installing Recycled Window Sashes.
First Window Installed.
Second Window Installed.
Two Doors.  Two Windows.  Roof Primed. High Fives.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday Zen 2

"You can't rush it - I don't want these logs looking as though a boy scout was turned loose on them with a dull hatchet." 

-Dick Proenneke, from his journal documenting the construction of his cabin in the Alaskan Wilderness.
For more information on Dick Proenneke and his Alaskan odyssey, visit:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Kerosene Lantern Hunt

I was going to post on some more action from this past weekend but it is getting late.  Tomorrow is Zen Wednesday so any of the real production photos on my part won't be up until Thursday at the earliest.  I did splurge on a purchase today which I felt might be of some interest.  After exhaustive research, I settled on, and bought, two kerosene lanterns for the workshop area.  There is a vast amount of nuance to kerosene lantern design, construction, and manufacturing history.  I would point you to this website if you were really interested:

Instructions for a Dietz brand Kerosene Lantern.  Unfortunately, Dietz lanterns are now made in China and are not constructed like they once were.

The Blacksmith Shed is fully primitive (no power or water) so the plan has been to light the workshop area using kerosene lanterns.  Lighting this space falls in line with the flow chart priority of getting the workshop area ready for use by next hunting season.  This isn't a crucial item at this point but it does adhere to the "Bang Factor" school of design (future blogpost).  Also the lanterns that I liked had been really difficult to find in stock so when they finally became available, I went ahead and pulled the trigger.  To hang the lanterns, we are going to try our hand at blacksmithing and attempt to bang out a few scrolls.  Jay and I have a friend who has offered to let us use his forge for this task.  Once completed, the scrolls will be driven into the posts that support the workshop table.  The lanterns will illuminate both the table for task lighting and the workshop as a whole.

Below is a picture of the Feuerhand #276 Black "Baby Special" Cold Blast Lantern.  It's the BMW of kerosene lanterns and as such, operates with the smoothness and reliability of a German sports car.  I finally settled on this lantern for it's size, fount capacity, light output, and quality construction.

Two of these bad boys for the workshop space.
I've also included the following review on this lantern for your reading pleasure:

There are storm lanterns, and then there are storm lanterns. But you already know all that… Sure, you can buy the cheapest crap, made in China these days, and hope it’ll work when you need it. Hell, who knows, mebbe it’ll work just fine. Or, the wiser choice would be this fine German-made, brand-new Feuerhand lantern. The original. Been making ‘em since 1878, when Hermann Nier made his first one. Since then, over 250 million have been sold. This is the “mil-spec” lantern for the German Bundeswehr, NATO, the Austrians, and god knows who else. Hell, Feuerhand Lanterns are the primary illumination in West Africa and elsewhere in the fourth-world. Made of high-grade 0.3mm sheet steel and hardened wire, completely tin-plated, they include a long top carry bale, self-venting hood, bottom fuel regulator. The glass globe is made of legendary Schott-Suprax glass! (The same glass Zeiss makes lenses out of). The bottom reservoir with 11.5oz capacity, is easily filled and will burn kerosene or any other cool-burning lantern fuel for up to 20 hours, with optimum brightness with no flickering or sooting. No sharp edges and no leaking! This is a handy little item for not only the end-of-the-world doomsayers or the merely well prepared, but the romantically inclined. Take it from me, this is a most welcome gift. People love ‘em! Why jack around with anything else… height w/o handle 10”, weighs 19 oz.
From : 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dutch Door in Action.

The upper dutch door appears to be a concept that will prove a handy addition the Blacksmith Shed.  The lower section of the door will remain fixed the majority of the time and will keep people from falling out into the great abyss.  We can open the top section of the door to let fresh air into the bunk room or give someone using the nearby privy a good heckling.  Byrd demonstrates the usage as follows:

Upstairs Door Installed!

We had a pretty big weekend this past weekend.  Installing the bunk room door took longer than expected but I think it turned out well in the end.  Jay and Byrd helped with the install - which was handy since it was on the second floor.  There is some talk about adding an ipe (the wood species used as the inlay on the interior of the dutch door) bar sill on the inside of the door.  This would provide a place to set a glass of ice cold lemonade while you had the top half of the door open.  I will update with any developments on this front and they occur.

Byrd cleaning out the corners of the hinge mortises.
Byrd checking the hinge fit.
Making some final tune ups.  Door hung.
Door still needs casing - but she's in.
Hardware installed.  This bottom section will remain locked most of the time.
Scroll surface bolt on the upper door is what keeps this part of the door in place.  There is bulb weatherstripping between the two door sections where they meet - making for a snug and weather-tight fit.  This type of weatherstripping is installed using a slot cutter and by pressing the bulb into the created groove.

Upstairs Door. Shop Work 2.

A few more pics of the upstairs door while it was still in the shop... 

Fitting the door in the jamb.

Marking the hinge locations.

Mortising the hinges.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Project History. Post 2 of 3.

Fast forward to late winter 2012.  The lull that follows hunting season had set in as we braced for the wintry weather that never seemed to come.  Short hours of daylight provided ample opportunity to daydream about the next great project.  With my son, Macon, having recently arrived on the scene and Byrd's son, Hudson, soon to follow suit, talk resurfaced about the necessity of having a hunting cabin.  The requisite planning meeting was arranged and after copious amounts of beer and wings, we felt that we had what we needed to move forward.  A flow chart.
Flow Chart.

Before we get into the flow chart, some general knowledge of the site is helpful.  The Blacksmith Shed is comprised of three main areas; an upstairs bunkroom, a living room, and a shed-like area that housed the actual forge.  It was determined that our approach would be two-fold.  The forge area, or workshop, was to become the run-in shelter post hunt.  It would be well suited for this task, especially once it had doors, windows, siding, and we got the accumulated junk out of the way so that we could actually walk around.  We would first focus on this area while attempting to simultaneously deal with the most egregious issues concerning the overall envelope of the building. 
Workshop after half a day's cleaning efforts.
The flow chart identified the project's short term goal as having the workshop area operational by next hunting season.  The hope is that the natural momentum generated from this space being usable will in turn breathe life into the rest of the Blacksmith Shed.  Work commenced.  After a long day's labor, Byrd and I had the workshop area clean, relatively speaking.  There was much debate over what relics to keep for future use as I would set aside items to save and Byrd would then set them in the tractor bucket.  I managed to retain a handful of cool artifacts and some important hardware like the barn door hinges.           
Finally, room to move.

Forgoing other glaring issues, we decided to next deal with the floor situation.  The workshop floor consisted of century-old dust that would form a suffocating, noxious cloud at the slightest disturbance.  It was decided that some sort of paver situation would be ideal given the future goal of one day having a mechanism for fire in this area.  We dug out the floor using the small Kubota and then backfilled with farm sand placed in compacted lifts.  I made some calls and struck a deal on some reclaimed bluestone with one of our masons.  Using some bricks we already had on hand, Byrd and I built a hearth one Saturday and laid the bluestone the following Sunday. 
Sand swept joints as the finishing touch.

We then encountered a stroke of luck during the next phase of the project.  I had been agonizing about the heat source for this space since the project's inception.  An open fire would likely burn the building to the ground.  Building a masonry fireplace would entail a great deal of work and a better foundation than what we had already built the hearth upon.  The old woodstove in the living room would be too small for the workshop space - and besides then we wouldn't have one for that room.  And on and on.  I expressed my consternation over the issue to Bryd.  He pointed out that there was an old barrel stove in the barn up the hill from us.  We negotiated our way to the back of the old grain barn and that is where we found her.  Dust particles danced in rays of sunlight streaming through cracks in the old white oak siding.  Like a vision from the mist, there she was...  the most bad ass woodstove I had ever laid eyes on.    
Wood stove at the shop for prep and paint.

We had taken the stove back to the shop after obtaining JoJo's permission for use.  The stove had belonged to Uncle Byrd and was used to heat his 3,000 square foot house.  I had no doubt that it would take the chill off the 300 foot workshop space where we planned to relocate it.  As I began the prep work on the stove, Jay put a bug in my ear about a minor deficiency in that the stove lacked an appropriate cook surface.   The more that I thought about this, the more that I knew that he was right.  I loaded up the stove and took it to City Welding where we encountered a second stroke of luck, of sorts.
 I had gotten to be good friends with Jean at City Welding in the process of doing business with them.  For those of you who haven't met Jean, she can be rather intimidating at the first impression, and the second.  She is tough as nails as you might expect someone who runs a welding business to be.  As I said, though, we had gotten to the point where I felt we enjoyed a mutual friendship and both spoke candidly to one another. "Jean, have I got a special treat for you," I said, pulling up with the woodstove in the back of the truck.  She explained to me in no uncertain terms that I didn't have a special treat for her and that they were done taking on work.  I thought that she was pulling my leg and persisted.  She continued to reiterate her position.  I then realized with a real sadness that she wasn't kidding; City Welding was closing its doors.  I hate the thought of such a local treasure going away; City Welding had been in that same location for over 50 years and was a family business.  I backtracked explaining my situation  in an effort resembling an apology of sorts given the news.  Somewhere through my stammering, Jean cut me off and told me that they would install the cook surface piece I had envisioned.  It was the last job City Welding would ever do.  Good ol' Jean.
The following weekend, Gordon and Fitz met me out at the farm to help unload the freshly painted woodstove complete with the newly-installed cook surface.  Fitz mostly worked the sand pile and left Gordo and I to do the heavy lifting.  That afternoon, following a thorough inspecting of the chimney, we lit the first fire in the woodstove.  The Blacksmith Shed had a heart beat. 

First Fire.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Upstairs Door. Shop Work.

I'm hoping to install the upper door this weekend.  This door is the door that goes from the 2nd story bunk room out into the great abyss.  We decided to convert this door into a dutch door so that the bottom section could remain more or less fixed and act as a railing of sorts.

Door jamb pieces and heart pine threshold.

 Jamb Assembly. Header unprimed.

Cutting a perfectly good door in half.

Rabbiting the door for some righteous dutchness.

Ipe inlay.

Glue up.

Project History. Post 1 of 3.

I find it hard to believe, but apparently not everyone watched the full ten minutes of the Hudson Video that was posted last week.   For those out there dealing with spotty internet connectivity resulting in poor video streaming, I’m submitting a three part post to get you caught up to date on the origins of the Blacksmith Shed project.  Here’s the first:
Documenting the start of the Blacksmith Shed restoration entails going back a few years.  Jay and Gordo were the original visionaries of the project.   The idea of a post-hunt shelter dedicated to the sharing of libations and stories seemed enticing to both and work commenced.  Repairs to siding, flooring, sills, and the installation of the interior hearth all took place.  During this phase of restoration, Byrd was introduced to the catalyst theory  (future blog post).  He embraced it whole-heartedly and participated as well.  All three brothers saw the uniqueness that this particular building presented; a structure that had sheltered generations of both farm hand and family in their stewardship of the land.  JoJo used the forge area as a workshop and recalls when the blacksmith actually lived in the blacksmith shed.  Over the years, the structure has served as both a home and a workplace. It’s been used for storage and as a deer stand.  It’s stood watch over countless cycles of soil preparation, plantings, and harvests.   Although time has passed since the first big push, chatter about the potential for greatness has never dwindled.

Grounds Work

Well the carpenters decided to take the week off and attend to their real jobs so I spent some time cleaning up around the job site.  I had only a crying newborn and a frazzled wife to worry about so plenty of time to make some good headway.    The first order of business was the elimination of two ground hogs that had taken up residence too close to the house-then I did cleanup work so we could have a nice grassy area around the shed. 

Pic of burning brush pile.

Pic of site after thorough raking, trimming, seed, and straw.  Now just waiting for rain!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday Zen

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time"

-T.S. Elliot

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tree Work Video

Here's a quick video of some recent progress at the Blacksmith Shed.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

BigPerm's first blog post

Another productive weekend on the shed.  We put several dump truck loads of sand and gravel on the driveway and made good headway on the roof painting.  I hope to have the lot seeded this week.   

Hudson's Video

In addition to working on this project, our families are also growing and building the next generation to enjoy the farm for decades to come. We were blessed to welcome our newest member, Hudson Byrd Holloway, February 26th 2012. We are sure that he, like his father and namesake, will grow to love and cherish this piece of land. Andy, loving uncle, made this video for his new nephew so that Hudson would be caught up to speed on the project so far. It is suitable to catch you all up to speed as well, so enjoy!

The Introduction to Our Journey

Blacksmith Shed 2012

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks missing my husband and wondering what was so enticing with this project. After a lot of frustration and sadness, I figured the best way to get Andy back was to embrace the madness. So here I am...

I am sure Andy will fill us in on the project to date with absurd amounts of pictures, videos and words of beauty. I, on the other hand, will interject randomly to remind those interested of the real progress and overviews from an on-lookers point of view. I figure the best way to help him fulfill the dream of the restoration is to support him in the background.

So, how did we get here?

What does this project mean?

To a passerby, it appears to be run down shed by a field on an old farm, neglected by man and worn by time and weather.

 To Andy, it appears to be symbolic of some man code.  A place to come together to toast and converse post hunt is almost a sacred thing. A timeless place of pure male bonding. A reprieve from the stress of the "real world" and an outlet away from wife/baby/house/career duties.

To me, the project means a family bond and progress.

Forge: To form, make by concentrated effort
            To progress steadily

The blacksmith shed is definitely being formed (or re-formed) by a concentrated effort and is progressing steadily towards greatness. Some may say that the project is years from being complete. Some may also say that this blog is too late. Maybe the progress is already complete. Maybe the bond has surely been made and the goals clearly achieved just by the project existing. One cannot visit the project and view all the men working hard without realizing that we are viewing something special.

The purpose and goals of this project are different for each player, but regardless the story should be interesting. So here we go....Let's forge on together and follow along.