The Winter Racing Series

Dinosaur Skeletons

Dinosaur Skeletons

Well we’re off for a winter VanSlam to the sunny side of the state.  We loaded up all the dude’s bicycles and headed over to Wenatchee Confluence State Park.

The weather was clear and cold, with nighttime temperatures below freezing, but the the afternoons felt downright spring like… As long as you didn’t mind lounging around in your down jacket.

Here is a little movie we made.

And as a parting shot, one more look at that sunset.

Red Sky At Night

Red Sky At Night

Thanks for following along.  Kat

Posted in Bicycle, Camping, Dudes, Music, Photography, Ukulele, Video | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wannigan

The Finished Wannigan

The Finished Wannigan

Right, What’s a wannigan?  The name comes from the Algonquian first nation people and it is a box that would hold a camp kitchen.  Traditionally they were used in canoes by the Voyageurs, but they were also used by wood cutters and winter travelers.  

I’d been exploring some pretty interesting DIY wannigan projects with my canoe restoration research.  I was thinking I might want to build one when Teresa (my daughter-in-law) asked me to go over to her dad’s house and chop up an old armoire that her father wanted to get rid off.  The chopping was going to be necessary because the giant oak cabinet was so big that they had to remove the decorative arch in the entry way just to wrestle the monster into the front room.  Now, nearly two decades later it was time to upgrade to a flat screen TV and the armoire had to go.

For my efforts I was “awarded” all the oak pieces I wished to salvage.  Perfect! I’d build a wannigan for Travis & Teresa made from all the oak scraps from her father’s old TV cabinet.

The salvaged oak

The salvaged oak

I reused the mortises

I reused the mortises

I had a bunch of oak rails with mortises to hold the door panels.  After trimming off all the fancy stuff and most of the old stain, I fabricated them into 1×2 rails and stiles, but kept the mortise to hold the new 1/4 inch birch plywood sides.  I’d have to cut tenons into the rails, and try to match them to the fancy coves in the stiles.

I tried to reuse as much stuff from the armoire as I could but I wanted to make a top out of cedar.  The top was going to be a “shoe box” style with a lid that lifted off to be used as a table or a tray.

So it was back out to the “lumber yard” to hack out another chunk of old growth western red cedar.

The lumber yard

The lumber yard

Cedar Shavings

Cedar Shavings

Once again my whole world smelled of cedar shavings for weeks.

There is something very satisfying about salvaging a slimy green log from a soggy marsh and extracting a beautiful piece of wood from within it.  It is kind of a massive effort for a small hunk of wood but in my mind, it’s totally worth it.

 

 

Cutting the tenons

Cutting the tenons

Slowly but surely I laid out and cut the tenons… 8 cuts per joint, times 8 joints…

 

 

 

 

 

The storage tray

The storage tray

I built a little nesting storage tray for the wannigan.

Smoothing up the cedar edges

Smoothing up the cedar edges

Next was the glue up

Glueing the cedar top

Glueing the cedar top

…and more planing

The top

The top

Lots of sanding and several coats of spar varnish

Varnish

Varnish

Wooden dice

Wooden dice

Susan bought a bunch of nifty camping necessities like hot cocoa and extendable marshmallow sticks, and I made a set of wooden dice for the “games and toys” section.

That’s it for now, but I’m going hiking tomorrow so who knows, maybe there is another episode of the Adventure Journal right around the corner.

Kat

 

 

Posted in Camping, Canoe, Photography, Projects | Tagged | 2 Comments

Part II of the Frontiersman Canoe Restoration

Abbotsford BC Canada Border Crossing

Abbotsford BC Canada Border Crossing

So one of the key elements to finishing up the restoration of our 40 year old canoe was the ability to get replacement gunwales and end caps.  The originals were basically destroyed by many years of sunlight and hard living.

Fortunately Western Canoe & Kayak, just north of the border in Abbotsford BC had the parts.  Just after the New Years holidays we took a road trip to Canada.

Is that Bill Mason?

Is that Bill Mason?

Pretty easy to spot the canoe shop with this big mural.  I think it is a likeness of Bill Mason,  the dean of the modern day canoe traveler.

PVC lined tie down points

PVC lined tie down points

One little improvement I added to the boat were PVC pieces epoxied into the hull.  This will allow for a line to be tied through the stem and stern for lashing the canoe to the van or securing it on shore for the night.  (Yep, we did have a canoe camping trip back in the day, where a wintery storm rolled in at night and blew the canoe away… fortunately we found it up in some trees).  But I digress…

I made a little video of the project.  Lets have a look at that now:

 

That was Delbert McClinton providing the musical background, with a cover of the Otis Redding song I’ve got Dreams. 

Here are some Before and After images for you:

Before

Before

After

After

Now before you start gushing over how pretty the canoe is I should explain – I’ve been a photographer all my life, so I’m instinctually going to always look for the best light and the most flattering angle of my subjects.  When you get right up close this old canoe stills looks like a 40 year old beauty with some lipstick on it.

Launch Day

Launch Day

So after many months of labor it was time to get out and put the first scratches on her new paint job.  We headed over to Lake Cassidy.  It is a small little tannin colored lake with a wonderful marshy shoreline and very few houses.

The weather was brilliant for a January day.  I had a chance to test out my bent shaft paddle for the first time as well.  While nothing will ever completely replace those big Sawyer Voyageur paddles, I was really pleased with the laminated bent shaft paddle I made.  It was light and nimble, and it was made from cedar that I’d salvaged from a saltwater marsh.

Susan - enjoying her day

Susan – enjoying her day

Kat - goofing off with the GoPro

Kat – goofing off with the GoPro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well thats a wrap for this one.  Thanks for following along.  Kat

 

Posted in Canoe, Photography, Projects, Video | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Building The Laminated Canoe Paddles

The Lumber Yard

The Lumber Yard

Hiding in this log are several 1 inch x 1/4 inch cedar strips just waiting to be crafted into a laminated bent shaft paddle.  All I needed to do was cut em out, glue em up, and slap on some varnish.  Nothing to it, really.

The Blue Clamp Collection

The Blue Clamp Collection

Ok, there may have been a few more details that needed sorting out.

So I made a little movie of the project in case you want to follow along.

Let me share a few photos with you and I’ll drop the video in at the bottom.

 

 

 

 

The Dude's paddle

The Dude’s paddle

I was building two paddles at the same time.  A bent shaft big dude sized paddle and a straight shaft dude sized one.

some of the parts and pieces

some of the parts and pieces

After the blades were glued up I started to craft the handles.

The handles

The handles

There was way more “art” than “science” to this project.  I’d cut, plane, or shave for a bit.  Put it in my hand and pretend to paddle along, then cut, plane, or shave off some more.

The finished handles

The finished handles

Finished paddles

Finished paddles

I guess the paddles are finished… But I really won’t know until we get a chance to try them out in the canoe.  Ah, yes the canoe.  The restoration of the 40 year old fiberglass canoe is progressing as well.  Stay tuned for an update on that in the future.

A note of thanks to my brother-in-law, Jimmy Stone.  He was a wealth of information on all things “boat” and supplied the fiberglass cloth for the paddle blades.

 

 

Here is the video:

 

Cut, plane, shave, sand, sand, sand

Cut, plane, shave, sand, sand, sand

Thanks to Boz Scaggs and the late Duane Allman for playing the background music on the video, one of my all time favorites, the 1969 classic “Loan Me A Dime”.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for following along.

Kat

 

 

 

 

Posted in Canoe, Photography, Projects, Video | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Years VanSlam 2015

Kingston clowning it up for the GoPro

Kingston clowning it up for the GoPro

It has been said the one should try to spend New Year’s Day the way you would like to spend the rest of the year.  Well, if that’s the case, then we’re off to a pretty fabulous 2015. Beautiful freezing blue sky afternoon, followed by an evening campfire under a star filled, moonlit night, hiking, bicycles, dudes, Puget Sound sunsets…

New Year’s Day found us headed to Fort Casey for a brief little winter VanSlam. Susan and Leane had worked out most of the important details, like the food, and I was left to manage the camping arrangements. Of course Fort Casey has traditionally been a perennial favorite for us so it was one of the first places I thought of.  It has a nice little paved drive looping around the camp so bringing the Dudes’s bicycles was gonna be part of the plan too.

A day on the beach

A day on the beach

When it looked like Richie was going to be delayed with that unmentionable 4-letter word (work), Susan suggested that we roll out early, run down and pick up Kingston (it was his turn for some Grandpa and Suzie time) and get up to the camp early to secure two campsites. And that turned out to be a winning move because the place filled up just after we arrived.

Kingston - giving me the "Look"...

Kingston – giving me the “Look”…

As soon as we got our camp set up Bubba and I were on the bikes, racing around the loop.  We also got in a little hike up to the WWI era artillery bunkers where we scrambled around for a bit.  When it was time to get a fire started Kingston was all over the fire steel and birch bark combination.  It took him a few tries but he actually did get the tinder bundle burning.  What a great little bushcrafter.

Suzie at the bunkers

Suzie at the bunkers

 

 

 

 

"FIRE"

“FIRE”

More "FIRE"

More “FIRE”

It was well after dark when Leane and Richie and the other two dudes rolled into camp. We braved the freezing cold temperatures and kicked it at the campfire for a while… But eventually the cold drove us into the warmth of our camper vans.

 

 

 

The Dudes

The Dudes

Blustery Morning

Blustery Morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning we were in for a fairly drastic change in the weather.  Mother Nature clocked the wind around to the southwest and cranked up the volume.  Our day was very blustery and with the wind chill factor… it was downright nasty outside.  So, what could we do?

Ride our bikes around the loop a few hundred more times of course.

 

 

 

 

 

Duke, practicing the "look"

Duke, practicing the “look”

Kingston zooming by

Kingston zooming by

Cade - getting started on two wheels

Cade – getting started on two wheels

This was slated to be the trip where Cadence was going to learn to ride his little bike without training wheels, brought on by necessity – since Richie had removed his training wheels and chucked them in the trash.

Well, before long Richie got Cadence balancing and pedaling under his own power and that brought all hands out of the vans, standing along the loop road screaming with excitement.

Take Off

Take Off

Flying Solo

Flying Solo

(Author’s Note: As I was typing these words at about 1700 hours Richie called to show us, via face time, Cade in the dark at their schoolyard just pedaling around like this was No Big Thing.  Kind makes this next thought even more inspiring…)

"We can go anywhere"

“We can go anywhere”

As a finale thought, when Cade and I were loading his bike on my bike rack we couldn’t help but notice that the two machines just seemed to nestle together on the rack perfectly.  Like the Yakima trailer hitch rack was specifically designed for just these two bicycles.  I looked to Cade and said, “Man look at that perfect fit.  You know Cade, once you learn to ride a bicycle we can take off and go -Anywhere!

Kat

Posted in Bicycle, Camping, Dudes, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Tool Chest

Grandpa's Tool Chest

Grandpa’s Tool Chest

Ok, now I’m the first guy to say that there is very little on TV that is worth watching, but one of the remarkable exceptions is a PBS show called The Woodsmith’s Shop.

When I saw the host with his 93 year old father, replicating the 100 year old tool chest that used to belong to the host’s grandfather… Well, I decide that I’d have to make one too.  I immediately thought that I would build one for my son-in-law, Richie, as a way to salute or honor his expertise as a tradesman.  Richie is a journeyman residential and commercial plumber, and has devoted many years to perfecting his craft.  I knew he would appreciate the timelessness of this classic tool chest, and maybe someday pass it down to the next craftsman in the family.

The next craftsman...

The next craftsman…

Reusable Resource

Reusable Resource

Of course one of the things I wanted (needed) to do was to keep the cost of the project at rock bottom, and try to construct most of it from scraps left over from other building projects.

Much of the trim would be made from these 1×2’s that began their life as the internal structure of a queen sized bed box frame, then were used for various garden sticks and had served as temporary supports (pounded into the ground) for some 4×4 fence posts during the concrete pour.

Planing down the sticks

Planing down the sticks

The top and the bottom would be oak plywood scraps from the Murphy Bed project… and for the rest of the material, well we’d just have to see what I could scrounge up along the way.

The Plans

The Plans

I downloaded a copy of the plans on my iPad and made a material list.

The first steps were to make a box, simple enough.

A little measuring, a little cutting, a little sanding… Ok, a lot of sanding.

The Box

The Box

 

 

The nice thing about being retired is that I had plenty of time to just kick back and let the glue dry on each piece as I went along.

Likewise for fitting the various trim pieces, shaving each one down just a little at a time to get a perfect fit was no problem.

The Top

The Top

After making the top I added a little molding detail using left over trim from the desk we built for the dudes.  Of course every step of the way sanding and more sanding was the order of the day.

Found on RR tracks

Found on RR tracks

The next step was to make the “till”.  Think of a till on a cash register and you’ll get the idea.  A small sliding box that fits into the tool chest for little odds and ends.  For the moment I was stumped as to what to make the till from, the wood needed to be kind of thin and light.

Well, I took off for a ride on my mountain bike, and as I was bouncing across the RR tracks near my house I spied a small wooden box abandoned on the train tracks.  Score!  I pedaled that home, took it apart and salvaged the oak side panels.  These became the new ends and divider for the till.

The "till"

The “till”

Next up – the hinges.

Hinge Mortise Jig

Hinge Mortise Jig

I was fairly pleased with this little router jig I fabbed up for the hinge mortises.  A bit of work with a chisel and the hinges dropped in nicely.

A look at the tool till

A look at the tool till

Fitting the handles

Fitting the handles

I drilled the holes for the handles, but left them off until after the finishing was completed.  I gotta say though, that I kind of liked the look of the “unfinished” wood…

But in the end I went with a nice rich brown stain… because it was left over from another project :-)

So, at this stage of almost every other project we’d undertaken, this is the place where Suzie would usually step up to do the painting.  But she decided to leave that to me and just direct traffic from the sidelines.

I’ll let you be the judge.

The paint locker

I added 2014 to the back

Here is Duke attaching the handles

Here is Duke attaching the handles

I used my wood burner to add the date to the back of the chest, so that a hundred years from now, in case anyone’s interested, they will know how old it really is.

I got some help from Duke who expertly attached the handles.  Thanks pal.

So now the only challenge is to keep the thing a secret until Christmas.  And as the weeks wore on that became more and more difficult.

 

 

Another Old Tool Box

Another Old Tool Box

I saw this cool old tool box being refinished on Instagram and wanted nothing more than to share my project with the craftsman, but I knew that Richie would see it and the Christmas surprise would be ruined.  But it did warm my heart to think that maybe 100 years from now somebody will find ‘our’ old box and say, “hey, let’s clean this old beater up and see what it looks like”.

…and finally the day arrives.

Merry Christmas Richie

Merry Christmas Richie

For a final thought I’ll just say:

“Craftsmanship isn’t expensive – Craftsmanship is priceless”.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Photography, Projects | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Christmas – Baby Please Come Home

Just wanted to share a little Christmas fun with all my friends on WordPress.  Susan and I are blessed to have these beautiful girls in our lives.

… in case you missed it, 7 year old Kingston was running one of the video cameras for this production… and of course, his footage turned out to be the best shots of the night!

Yikes, I am “so five minutes ago”.  Merry Christmas everybody.  Kat

Posted in Dudes, Music, Ukulele, Uncategorized, Video | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment