Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ken: Workmanship

If you look at the pages of a magazine such as Adirondack Life, you’ll see (as in these first two photos) that the rustic Adirondack style has been put on steroids and elevated to either high kitsch or high art, depending on your point of view.

The real deal is what Ken has been building all his life. It’s not an affectation with him. It's rustic, and it's Adirondack, but it's not a style. It’s how he’s made do with what was available, cheaply, creating rough and rugged beauty.

In the case of the boathouse, it buckled at one corner. Over the years the logs had softened until the notches no longer could resist the outward force of a roof covered with snow.

In fairness to Ken, he knew of the potential problem and swept the roof clean of snow until he became too old for the job. He also tied the opposing sides of the building together with a heavy chain every winter to brace them. In recent years, nobody swept the roof and nobody set the chains as winter approached. And the wall started to buckle. I’ve repaired it by building an inside brace out of 2x8’s and bolting them to the logs, making use of Ken’s jacks, my favorite tools, to lift the corner while I braced it.

Ken's a hammer and nail guy.
You rarely see anything bolted, screwed, or glued that he built.
I’m the opposite, rarely using nails when there’s an alternative, but I can’t argue with his results. What Ken makes, stays. I wish I could say the same for everything I’ve built.
You'll find Ken's work all around Silver Lake, from a stair rail to a split rail fence.
I’m still learning from Ken. This summer when I was photographing his work shop, I noticed two jugs, side by side. One was marked "Linseed Oil" and one was marked "#10"
Later, when it was too late to ask him about it, I learned that Ken sometimes used motor oil as a wood preservative instead of linseed oil. When he built this cabin 40 or 50 years ago, he used motor oil on the cedar shingle siding, and it still looks okay:Next summer, I hope to ask him why he did that.

Does anybody know anything about the practice of using motor oil as a wood preservative? Is it a bad idea?

Update:  My question about motor oil has been answered at this link.

No comments:

Post a Comment