It’s the height of summer in these parts-
Great whites continue to snack on grey seals in local waters, fireworks have been going off non-stop for 47 months, the sweet, sweet smell of lighter fluid permeates your neighbor’s backyard (that sure seems like a LOT of lighter fluid, Wayne) and the gypsy moth caterpillars have been doing their part to defoliate every tree in North America.
Dive right in folks-it’s fleeting.
So it’s only natural we should be working a project on Summer Street in the heart of America’s Hometown.
The house in question is situate between the iconic Town Brooke on one side-
and ye John Carver Inn on ye other:
It’s a busy little strip with a downtown vibe. The traffic is, shall we say, a presence. Lots of big trucks. I’m quite certain I’ve seen a few carrying pods. There’s a parade of tuned cars with subsonic bass only Australians can hear. And happy folks wearing colorful shirts and fanny packs on their way to or fro the happenin’ and must-see Plimoth Grist Mill.
The logistics of a project in this setting present us a bit of a challenge.
Kevin’s been holding down the fort while I’ve been away. His spirit is indefatigable. He lives in a House of Seven Indefatigables.
He’s been replacing sill sections, laying out and cutting new post bottoms, and doing the CSI necessary to come up with a plan of action. All this while a very nice family continues to make this their home.
But as great as Kevin’s work is, this is not a one-man job. Progress has been understandably slow.
Even the most hesitant of projects often have a turning point, though, a moment when the something clicks and fires the imagination and everything begins to gather momentum. When more things go right than go wrong. When you find something so cool you need to say HEY LOOK AT THIS to the startled tourist from Albany strolling by.
So today we opened up the east end of the house. The post, decayed, needed out. It will come out in sections.
As we cut the bottom of the old post free from its horizontal girt-
The exposed tenon proved to be in reasonable shape and fair quality for re-use in the new post’s mortise.
Every time we uncover history like this, when we open up something that’s been housed away for years, it gets me. I have no idea who the carpenter was. Even if I knew his name, chances are it would tell me less than the remainder of his work.
And despite the centuries, that connection is strong.
Check out the hewn away taper on the inside face (left as shown) of the girt down to the tenon. Efficiency trumps (did I just use that word?) beauty.
This sort of standing-house archaeology is appealing not only to the analytical brain, but also to the part which likes a good story.
We take measurements as we go, salvaging the pieces of the old to make a template for the new. Little pieces and bits are reconstructed.
And all carpenter’s marks, from whatever century, tell a story. “Finish that girt ‘ere dinner, goodman, or I shall box thee thine ears.”
It’s both familiar and comforting. It’s as if the old pieces reinforce your own technique, your own frustrations with gnarly grain, your own workmanlike approach to getting a job done well and in a timely manner.
Here’s to rolling on this project, like the brook rolls down in the hollow, like the traffic rolls through a downtown summer.
Also, these guys for no reason other than they are really good and we need some of that today: