February 14, 2017

Milling A Mantel

Sometimes I have no doubt the people around me think I'm crazy. An innocent  shade of crazy of course, but crazy none the less. I'm not. I just come up with these ideas that people think are ridiculous and have very little (to no) faith in. I think I just believe in myself and some of the people around me more than they do. For example:

"I wanna build a house for $50,000."

 This one got a lot of laughs and enough doubt to last a lifetime, but we ended up building a nice quality (yet unfinished cosmetically) house for under $57,000.

"I want chickens and ducks, and maybe a goat and some version of a homestead."

 Everyone wondered why I would want any of this since I can get what I need at the store. They also mostly thought it would be a passing phase. NOPE! :) Sans the goat because I want to travel and a goat would make that difficult.  Poultry not so much. Or more recently...

"Hey George, lets pull a big log from the pile leftover from clearing the property for our house and mill our own beam for over our fireplace."

 I say things and I get the crazy look.  Sometimes from George, sometimes from our parents, neighbors or friends.  There is always someone who gives it to me. The way that I want to live and the things I value are sometimes just a step further than any of the rest of them or in some cases completely different and folks end up in a combination of doubting my commitment, doubting my process and not understanding in general why the hec I want to do the things I want to do.  BUT none of that makes me crazy...just misunderstood. ;)

None of it should come as a shock to anyone though. I have a mom who has always collected everything and nothing at the same time always trying to create whatever she could. My stepfather is the strictest of strict do-things-yourself kind of person that led him to be a man of many trades.  I grew up in a house built by my dad and PawPaw (and my mom and over the past twenty something years modified by my stepdad). My dad does a lot of tinkering and is also known to tackle projects himself and greatly appreciates old things. And my Paw Paw was always working...always. He was moving and grooving and gardening and mending fences and feeding chickens and building things he needed around his home to make it function better. And even my neighbors Julie and Greg who for many years were like another set of parents since I practically lived at their house with their kids had a profound influence on me as I watched them DIY and garden and such. When you look at my influences, it should be no surprise that I would randomly let George know we were going to tackle this project.

...And of course Clayton's influence too. Every way in which he he molded our lives has made all of the skills and lessons about working and creativity and DIYing from those around me growing up even more needed and wanted.

Now if only George can believe in the crazy as much as I do! Bless him, he follows me even when he's full of doubt. Of course sometimes I think it is just so he can prove me wrong...which he usually doesn't. Because I have more faith in his abilities than he does!

So anyway... this weekend my crazy led us to milling our own fireplace mantel. Bless my soul, I am in love.  Milling my own mantel ranks up there with one of the coolest things I've done.  Whether it's food, furniture, lumber or whatever, our society just goes to the store or orders online, etc. to get what we want. Most of us never take part in the "start to finish" or any part of the process for that matter.  So to stand there and participate in and watch this log become my mantel was awesome. It humbles me and makes me so appreciative for what I have. It makes me so appreciative for the values I hold dear and for the way I want to live. It leaves me longing for that kind of high everyday. More DIY, more growing our own food and raising our flocks, more being involved and being a hands on part of all that goes into our life. I never expected to be here...in this place...but I am so blasted thankful I am and I wouldn't trade it for anything.  The last decade has been super tough with high highs and low lows, but it has led me to this amazingly beautiful place. So far 30 has freaking rocked my socks off! If things keep up like this I will be the happiest old woman ever! Pray it's true!

Back to my mantel...We pulled the log from the pile nearly a year ago (at which point the log had been cut down for two years) and immediately attempted a straight edge cut using the chainsaw.  Well, George will tell you it was tough as nails to do and the result was more than a bit wonky.  So we left it. For months, I would peer over at the log wondering if it truly would be transformed into my mantel. Finally I reach a "$&@? or get off the pot" point.  So, for $25 I ordered a chainsaw accessory off Amazon that was going to make or break my mantel idea. The idea is that you use a milled piece of lumber as a guide for a straight edge. The accessory slides along the milled lumber while connected to the chainsaw in a way that allows it to mill a straight line.


I didn't even tell George until it arrived in the mail because I knew he would be doubtful. But like a champ he gave it a try... And it worked!!! It worked like a charm. We will be using this accessory all
the time now.


Now my mantel has made its way to the back porch to dry for a long while.  Because it's heart pine and I want it good and dry so I'm not putting lighter knot over my fireplace. Yes, people do use heart pine for mantels. Google it. I am just in love and cannot wait to get it up down the road. We even left a tiny bit of a live edge on it. Just beautiful.  It already has dried out so in the few weeks it has been on the porch and the color is changing. Just love it!