I just added a quick shelf to hold scrap building materials above the wood pile. I used 3 inch screws to attach a 2×6 board to the fence, then added 5 support arms made out of 2x4s and supported by triangular pieces cut with the miter saw. We just added a bunch of new firewood that our neighbor, Dane, finished splitting this week.
The second photo shows the back of our lot with the wood pile, worm composted bins, and the nesting box of the chicken coop. Have a safe weekend. Thanks for reading. -Robby
Making improvements to an old house is rewarding and exciting as long as everyone stays safe, right? I often find myself reminding Robby to wear a mask as he heads into the crawlspace to work on a project. No matter how long you’ve lived in an old house, you never know what kind of surprises will pop up — especially in the basement where debris and detritus from old projects easily get pushed into the dark corners and forgotten about. Black mold can fester and sporulate, and bacterial and fungal spores introduced by animals can hang around in the dirt and dust for years.
Robby and I already knew this through both our shared background in nitty gritty microbiology (we really got to know each other in a college course on Mushrooms… really!) and some unexpected experience with black mold, but I recently found this article in CDC’s weekly publication of public health information (the MMWR) that was just way too relevant to not share with all of our followers who are tied to old houses in one way or another. This is good information to know even if you just live next door to someone else with a crazy old house. Check out the story on the Histoplasmosis outbreak and make sure you’re protecting yourself when renovating any old structures. As Robby has shown us before, animals do tend to make their way into basements over the years, and almost always leave behind scat or another memento (how sweet).
Wearing a mask or respirator protects you from inhaling dirt, fumes, and potentially sickening spores hiding within. We’ve purchased our fair share of masks from Home Depot and Lowe’s over the years, starting with the summer of scraping exterior paint. Here are a couple that we’ve used and recommend:
3M Respirator for lead based paint from Home Depot
Basic Respirator from Home Depot
Thanks for reading, and stay safe out there!
We’ve got a few southern heart pine beams left over from our dining room table.
Christy and I are fast approaching our five year anniversary in April. It’s our first big one and we’re pretty stoked. It really doesn’t seem that long ago that we were married in the backyard of our crazy old house. The stress of getting everything ready for that day was nuts, and the place hardly looks like the same home today. I’m extra excited about this anniversary because the traditional gift is wood. That gives me an opportunity to build something awesome for my lovely wife.
The beams you see in the photo above are left over from our heart pine dining room table build from a while back. I had intended the two thick beams on the bottom of the stack to be a bench for one side of the table, but never got around to it. Christy has asked for a butcher block island for the kitchen and I think these beams will make a really great butcher block top. They’re 2.5″x6″ and are 66″ long, so there are a couple of different options for making them into a butcher block. First, and much more simply, I could cut them in half and sit the four boards side by side for a table top very similar to our dining table. The way I’d like to do it is a little different and I think will take more work.
I’m thinking of milling the boards into perfect rectangles and then slicing them into three inch sections. The sections could then be glued together into a butcher block with only end-grain showing, like in many of the cutting boards you see in boutique stores these days. This could be really awesome. Look how tight the wood grain in the beams is. You only get that tight pattern in really solid old wood. These beams were cut directly from the center of huge old pine trees over a hundred years ago. The trees were likely a couple hundred years old at least when they were cut. I like to think that they were growing during the great moments in American history, all the way back to the signing of the Declaration. Nerdy stuff, but I like it.
If I end up making this butcher block table like I’m planning, it will only have screws attaching the butcher block to the table itself. Everything else will be joined with glue and old-fashioned wood joinery techniques. It will be an exciting few months trying to get this done on time. Thanks for reading. -Robby