grooving the pillar
Sunday, November 3 2002
Louis had left his tools at our place for the weekend, so today I was making good use of them while they were still around. I did things like cut molding with the chop saw, a task that I'd found extremely frustrating armed only with a cheap Black & Decker skilsaw.
I thought about perhaps beginning the process of wiring the attic master bedroom suite, but the only problem was figuring out what circuits to use. There were plenty of unlabeled wires protruding from the insulation and there were a few also terminating down in the boiler room. Through an experimental process, I eventually found one set of wires leading from the boiler room all the way to the attic via the boiler's chimney shaft. I labeled these wires and set the project aside for the future.
At that point I turned my attention to a different task: the creation of a pillar to replace part of the load bearing wall near the stairway. The biggest complication here was a set of electrical wires running from floor to ceiling. Somehow I'd have to run these through the new native lumber pillar. My solution was to cut a channel down the length of the pillar using a skilsaw. I set the angle to ten degrees and the depth to about an inch and then went to work, down one side of the groove and then up the other. It was trapezoidal in cross-section, wider near the surface than at depth. Oak splits so easily that the stick of wood isolated in this groove snapped out nearly intact, running aground only at knots. The pillar is still fairly green, and I generated a huge amount of damp sawdust which I later had to clean out of the carpet upon which I'd done the cutting (duh). For those curious about the wisdom of using green lumber for construction, let me reassure you that, while green wood does shrink as it dries, it does so only in the dimension perpendicular to the grain. A green support pillar does not shorten as it dries.
I stayed up well into the night working on this project because I couldn't leave it in an unfinished state. I'd already cut out part of the two by four wall whose load this pillar would assume, and I couldn't leave temporary supports in place for tomorrow - it was too tempting to grab onto these for support as one walked around the corner or climbed the stairs.
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