Lamp of Sacrifice II

For the duration of this deck and fence project for Germaine, my ‘palatial shop’ space was to be this pair of sawhorses:

After stripping the old deck boards and hand railing off, I found that the existing main deck joists were in decent shape, so as a cost-cutting measure, I decided to build part of the new deck using the existing structure, including the main joist carrier beam:

As you can see in the above photo, I have already managed to cut a few of the perimeter beams for the added-on deck section.

Unlike the mad rush and inadequate site survey accompanying the construction of the power shed on my property, this time I was able to do proper foundation points for the deck support posts. I dug down to the hard pan, filled up the hole with rocks and gravel, and then set a large river boulder on a bed of concrete. The boulders I salvaged off the beach, some of which had to be carried quite long distances:

I prepared the ground under the old deck and put in some landscaping cloth. Then I cast the pads for the therapy pool:

It’s not visible in the photo, but the client wrote a poem by Pablo Neruda into the wet concrete.

After a bit of work, I had a tidy pile of Yellow cedar components all cut:

Here’s a scarf joint – this particular variant is called O-kake-daisen tsugi:

Here I’m tapping that scarf joint together:

I positioned the deck extension before the pool was installed, here is one of the central posts, with stepped tenon:

I paint the end grain to retard it’s ability to transfer moisture in and out.

Here’s another joint in the lower deck, a housed 45˚connection using a single sliding dovetail, a form of connection I generally avoid, however in this case the load on the connection was minimal- it merely allowed for support for the deck boards to be as close to the therapy pool as possible:

Then the tub was put in:

I couldn’t help but notice that the company that supplied the tub took but a week to make it and installed it in a day, yet they charged more for that than I had for the entire deck and fence I was building. I thought, hmm….

While chewing that over, I continued to assemble, here I’m sliding a nuki into place:

Finally the upper deck and fence started to take form. All of the fence was pure joinery, no metal connectors, and I fitted a bamboo lattice into the top opening, scribing mortises for each individual rod of bamboo:

The weeks rolled by, and little by little it came together:

Each post was individually scribed to fit against its supporting river boulder:

Here’s a view of the tub and deck from the far end:

The summer began to draw to an end:

I didn’t have a jointer to quickly produce dressed square-section timber, so I elected to use layout techniques on the rough-sawn material to determine the fit of the joinery, and here you can see one of the crossing points:

One of the other big mistakes I made in relation to this deck project was in the grade of material I used. I knew the budget was limited, and i had managed to find some salvaged Yellow Cedar for the dirt-cheap price of $1000/1000 bd.ft.. This material however, proved to have brash grain, numerous checks, and spiral grain in a number of places. In one case, I had prepared a fence post with all it’s joinery, set it aside in my pile and didn’t get to install it until 6 weeks or so later. By that point, the spiral grain issue had manifested, and the post had rotated a full inch around! Having no extra material or budget, I had to do a lot of re-adjusting and fiddling around – this added 4 days of work all by itself, which was in fact 1/3 of the budget which allowed for 12 days of work. Lesson learned: when doing highly labour-intensive joinery work (that is, high value added), the material should be as good as possible.

This is a view of the deck extension as the rear fence and connecting beams are fitted:

I needed to build two sets of stairs, one from the deck to the pool, and one from the deck to the ground. Here’s the set-up for the latter, also showing the Purpleheart threshold:

The client was really enjoying seeing the project unfold – me too, and I had resigned myself to ‘not making much money’ on this job, already having well exceeded the initial hoped-for time frame of one month.

The deck project, once largely complete in terms or the timber frame, fence, and deck boards, then devolved to three smaller projects: the two sets of stairs, and the door for the exit. I’ll detail those projects in the next post.

Anything to add?

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