How much wood …?
What’s the primary building material when you live in the woods? Wood, of course!
Where do you get wood for projects when you live in the woods? At the local sawmill! There is always one nearby.
When wood is locally sourced, it’s significantly cheaper than from a corporate home store. Plus you are supporting the economy in an area where jobs and opportunities are in short supply. And there is no shaving of truth. A 2 by 8 (2×8) is the full two inches by eight inches.
But there are trade offs. Handling the truth can be painful since potential slivers have not been milled off. And more importantly, freshly sawn boards are heavy! Due to water content acquired while being part of a living tree, a locally sourced “green” board is easily twice as heavy as its kiln-dried corporate counterpart.
So to prepare for the fall shed-building project, it’s a good idea to get the wood ahead of time and let it dry a bit. Or buy a very large kiln.
18-foot-long 2x8s would have done the job, but the sawmill had 20-foot logs, and you can’t blame the owner for wanting to sell the extra 2 feet. And the eventual overhang will provide additional living space for all the critters who don’t take up residence inside the new shed.
Since there was no long trailer available, the plan was to put the 20-footers on top of the truck to get them from the mill to the “camp*.” A previously constructed rear support (canoe carrier) would be used, and a new front support would keep the wood from scratching and crushing the cab of the truck.
Supports in place, it was off to the sawmill on this hot and humid day. There was some hope that there might be some help in loading, but the owner and single worker were quite busy creating boards with the big bandsaw. It’s fascinating to watch, if you aren’t busy loading heavy boards.
Applying certain tenants of physics, the first layer of boards made it to the top of the truck. Then the usual contrary voices piped up.
“Maybe leave it at that, and make two trips.”
“And take all that extra time?”
“It’s a lot of weight.”
“Don’t be a lazy wimp. Get that second layer up there.”
So the second layer went up. Only once did an unruly board decide to make an unplanned descent, banging into a leg and the ground, but avoiding dinging the truck. The bottom layer was screwed to the support and the second layer to the first. The plan was coming together nicely.
But sometimes the best laid plans of moose and men go awry.
The trip started just fine. With flashers blinking, the wood-laden truck headed home at 30 MPH. All was well until we were on the final road.
Stewarts Landing Road is five miles of curves and hills. The farther one gets from its intersection with County 119, the more the road surface transitions from pavement to potholes. Close to the camp, it’s hard to tell it was ever paved. The road is reminiscent of “Don’t Let it Bring You Down” by Neil Young, which he characterized by saying, “It sorta starts off real slow and then fizzles out altogether.”
Halfway home, unsuccessful bump avoidance provided unwanted thrust to the superstructure. The upward view out the windshield showed that the boards had repositioned themselves. A stop for inspection revealed a broken 2×4.
Without any means of reinforcing the brace, the best course of action was to creep forward even more slowly and try to get home without hitting any more bumps. Half a mile from the goal, this proved impossible. Too many potholes.
A loud CRASH announced a further change of position.
The inspection stop revealed less-than-perfect support. But the good news was that the tailgate, now acting as a support, was keeping the wood off the ground.
Mike, taking his usual morning run, arrived on the scene. “Do you want to unload some and come back for them?”
“Well, not really. It’s going to be a problem since I screwed the boards to the front support. So I think I’ll see if I can make it.”
“I’ll run alongside.”
After a few minutes of creeping along while Mike watched for disaster, I yelled out the window, “I’m going for it,” and gently stepped on the accelerator. Mike’s pace was somewhat less than 10 MPH, so he soon disappeared from the side view mirror. Luck barely held, with the supports disintegrating just as the truck stopped.
Soon after, Mike ran up the driveway. “Need some help unloading those?”
It’s good to admit when you need help. Seeking help (perhaps psychological?) prior to the entire escapade would have been the proper course of action, but in this case, late was certainly better than never.
We got to the business of unloading and placing the boards in the kayak shack for drying. The smashed superstructure was an issue. Screws that hold well in normal conditions hold exceptionally well when bent, resisting all efforts to withdraw them.
But after some persuading, the screws were removed.
Partway through, Mary brought water from the house, knowing that dehydration is a serious problem for sweaty old men. We took a break and were entertained by a Monarch butterfly.
With Mary adjusting the position of the boards at one end, and Mike and I hauling and heaving, we had all the boards unloaded and stacked in due course.
No worse for the wear? Not really. Disregarding the condition of the author, there was a bit of damage to the truck. It now sports both the requirements for a Backwoods Badge of Honor. Rust on the rear fender was already present, and now, as the result of the weight of the boards on the smashed support, the tailgate is bent.
The working truck really belongs here in the Adirondacks. And I’m a member of the club, having recently moved in, full-time.
Maybe I’ll do something about the rust, but the tailgate seems right just the way it is.
*Mimicking the terminology of the “Great Camps” of the fabulously wealthy of the early 1900s, Adirondackers fondly call their abodes “camps.” And why not? Every man and woman’s house is their Great Camp.
And if you’re curious about just how much weight broke the support, here’s the bathroom scale result for one board.