I got 99 problems

but a ditch ain’t one…

It’s good to put a tail on a project sometimes.

You take the good, learn from the not-so-good, and move on.


It was a learning experience for all of us, this bridge between multiple worlds.

Once the bottom framing elements of our covered bridge had been raised, we worked on several thousand rafter pairs back at home base.

This required adzing–


and detail work with a compass plane and spoke shave–


to get the flourishes just right.


Our scraps were made into a puzzle by an inquisitive and inventive mind-


Back at Mirbeau, pairs were plumbed…


Pears and plums–it was a fruit fiesta!


And once the roof boards and fascias were put on, all looked palatable.


We moved onto railings and other finishes…


It’s good good good…like Bridge(itte) Bardot!


The man’s shirt said “NO PICTURES” on the front.

We also collaborated with Jim Cricker’s NY State crew.

Who says Sox and Yankee fans can’t get along?


They framed the flume outboard of our bridge…


…with locust and white oak. Locust is bizarre and amazing stuff which deserves more treatment than we can give it here.

In time, strange wood, in time…


The flume carries water which flows under our bridge to a little fall which drops into a shallow, man-made pond. This is then pumped back into the holding pond above the bridge to flow all over again.

(I’m going back under cover of darkness to fish out wish-quarters).


Niagra Falls-lite. Slowly we turn…

The guys from NY needed to get home–


so the guys from MA finished up the flume.


Note to self: Leave the nail guns at home next time we’re nailing 4-quarter white oak boards to locust.


Sad trombone sound.

And so, our timber-framed bridge project at Mirbeau Inn & Spa was brought to its fruition.


And after the aliens were dispatched with our sexy sexy laser beam–


we could finally pause to breath in the fresh diesel of a new day, ditch our hard-hats–


and take a little pride in a job done and done well–


Until the next project comes around…


à bientôt!

Or as we say,

I’ll be on toast.



*Drawings by B. Kliban

Two Guys Fooling Around with the Moon and Other Drawings 

Workman Publishing, 1982


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16 thoughts on “I got 99 problems

  1. Marie Pelletier says:

    bridge looks cool, still don’t get the flume–

    • Rick says:

      Think Canobie Lake log flume ride, only more affluent! We’ll all go back and get a spa treatment, Marie, once the place opens.

  2. graemeu says:

    Ha finally I get it, up on a hill like that I thought it was just a bridge between the two buildings, once the pond is full the bridge will be the best part. They should have you return and put in a jetty off the bridge. Anyway come back in a couple of years and show us how the flume works out. If I had to have a flume I’d put it to good use with a wheel in the style of the Plymouth mill, only make it overshot so as to still get the visual drop of a clear sheet of water.

  3. Linda Master says:

    Very well done indeed! This was so interesting and looks beautiful—

  4. John Wolf says:

    Really nice work on the rafters! On the whole thing really. Could you please tell Ms. Marcoux that I got her fabulous book today, and got so interested in it that I did something I haven’t done since I was 17 – forgot to pick my Dad up from work. I was only a little late, and he takes it much better now than he did then.

  5. pine duBois says:

    heyMen! huge Congratulations!!

  6. jackbaumgartner says:

    Good work!

    • Rick says:

      I know a lot of people who have an irrational fear of finishing, myself included. But it feels good to check it off the list when it’s done. Thanks Jack!

  7. Richard Law says:

    That’ll keep the snow at bay in those frosty NE Winters, then the horses won’t be slippin’ & slidin’ as they cross the bridge tugging those enormous timber wagons behind them. Covered bridges never caught on over here. We seemed to prefer fords in notoriously tight-fisted Yorkshire.

    Looks great! Well done chaps.

  8. I got a bunch of locust from my landlord one time (cut on his farm but never used). The brought the tree here to France to plant along the rail rights of ways, and to be used for ties when the trees matured. I’ve read that it is almost rot-proof and very strong. They mostly use it here for fence posts, for the trellis wires in vineyards, for gardening, etc where the wood is just pounded into the ground. I found it to be difficult to work, splintery and splits very easily, when chopping mortices for instance, and difficult to glue using PVA, at least after I split a leg for a desk I was making. The stuff I got was very old though, had been sitting in a barn for donkey’s years. It is pretty wood though, and can be found, I’d be interested to hear your experience with it if you do a blog on it sometime.

    • Rick says:

      Good to hear from you, Brian. They must have brought that locust to France many years ago-I can’t imagine they’d allow it now. It sends out those runners and gets pretty invasive.

      It is something brash, isn’t it? We had good success hewing (and pit-sawing) it for framing parts for a side project a few years back. It was green and worked much better than it looked. Out here, it has a knack of being lived in by carpenter ants, who exploit the middle of the tree while the rest remains strong. There’s nothing quite like pit-sawing through a massive nest of carpenter ants–especially for the pit man!

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