February, 2012

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To stain or not to stain?

Monday, February 27th, 2012

It is finally spring here! There are lots of baby cows and poppies this spring. We have had several days of warm weather and are stucco’ing madly. Not too much fun in the 40 mph wind gusts we had today, but that is a part of spring here.

Each evening after stucco’ing, I’m working on finishing the big timbers that will go up around the doors and windows where there is adobe. The color is the hardest part to me — to stain or not to stain? I’m leaning toward leaving the vigas (round timbers that are already up) and the glulam with a natural finish and doing the rough timbers and ceiling boards with a light stain like we have for the ceiling in the guesthouse.

The first step was to trim the timbers. Then for the finish. I don’t have much experience with finishing rough wood, so any advice is welcomed.

Here’s my process so far.

  1. Belt sand the ends of the timbers.
  2. Wirebrush all the wood, removing as much dirt as possible. (There are some grey marks on some of the wood, but not everywhere. At the beginning, I didn’t know how much the varnish would cover that, but it seems to be covering fine.) It’s weird to be not to be doing round and rounds of sanding.
  3. Use compressed air to clean any miscellaneous dust, etc. off the surface.

    This is the wood before any finish.

  4. Apply Minwax pre-stain wood conditioner. (These timbers are ponderosa pine, a soft wood. Conditioner is supposed to help the stain take better.)
  5. Apply Minwax stain. I used a 50/50 mix of oak and natural, the same as we used for the ceiling boards in the guest house.

    This is after staining.

  6. Apply two coats of Waterlox Marine Sealer. (This is a pretty expensive tung oil finish system designed for extreme weather. Some of these beams will be outside, and the other finishes I’ve tried for outdoor wood haven’t lasted. I’m hoping to use this on the new outside doors as well.)
  7. Apply two coats of Waterlox Marine Finish.

With drying time and two sides for each board, the whole process takes about 14 days. This will take awhile, but so far, the results look good.

And with the final coats of sealer and finish

Stucco has commenced

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

I’m too exhausted to write any more right now.


Lights, cowyboy poetry, and lots of dishes

Friday, February 17th, 2012

It’s been a busy week here.

We’ve made some progress on electrical in the new house, which necessitated making some decisions about where lights will go and in some cases, what kind of lights we will get. For me, that meant really thinking through interior design. I don’t really enjoy the beginning stages of this — too much “blank canvas” and not enough imagination on my part. Still, it has to be done so we took a trip into town and began making some choices.

Last weekend, we went to the 19th Annual Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta in Lordsburg. We enjoyed the poetry and music, and it was also a good chance to see the Lordsburg-Hidalgo County Museum, where the event was held.

On the left, is Hook Hill, the event organizer. He's 91 years old.

This week was also Portal Rescue’s annual “Soup Kitchen” fundraiser. For three days, community members make soup, bread, and desserts, and everyone gets together to eat. This year my soups were Smashed Potato Cheese, Creamy Roasted Garlic, and White Bean Green Chile stew. Brad and I were also the dishwashers. With hundreds attending, that’s a lot of dishes!

New arch

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

We’ve been working on the new arch over the main entrance to the new house.

As you might remember, this kind of “architectural detail” is added by nailing thick styrofoam down on the exterior wall before stucco.

Last time, Brad did a great job of basically freehanding the design. This time with a wider door, we were having a harder time with it, so we decided to apply technology.

First I found an arch we liked on the computer.

Then we projected it onto the stryrofoam piece. Lots of trick size matching to do here.

Then Brad did the tracing.

And here’s the final result. Well, not quite final, but you get the idea.



Friday, February 3rd, 2012

On the adobe walls in the new house, we are going to have large timbers above the windows and doors to carry the weight of the adobe over them. And when I say large, I mean large.

Yesterday, we went to Silver City to pick up the timbers. It took an elaborate configuration of two forklifts to get them into the truck bed. Then because of the weight, the truck kind of tipped over on its back axle, and I think I heard it moaning a potentially dying cry, and we knew that wasn’t going to work. (We’d estimated the weight ahead, but you never really know what the moisture content of the wood will be.) So we arranged to have the timbers delivered by truck next week instead. (For a whopping fee of $20. Yeah. OK.)

The longest beam had already been put on the truck’s rack, so we went ahead and drove that one home. This morning we unloaded it. Man, was that thing heavy! We moved it in our normal heavily brain-assisted way with lots of leverage and small moves. Not exactly sure how we’re going to boost these things 8-12 feet in the air, but I’m sure we’ll figure it out. :)