Little Refinements

1.12.2019 – Saturday

The cabin is a continuing work in progress. This past year there were several upgrades and refinements. The first began late Monday evening on December 4, 2017. The road was still torn up from logging and impassable without a 4×4. The Honda Civic simply wasn’t up to the task. The Ol’ man picked me up in the Honda Pioneer SxS and hauled me and my gear to the cabin. By the time I finally made it to the cabin it was 11:00pm.

The next morning my alarm sounded and by 7:10am I had a nice view of a food plot. It was a cold and windy day. In my journal I noted that it hit 22°F and wind gusts approached 45mph with sustained wind hanging right around 18mph. The morning hunt was not successful. When 9:30am rolled around I was ready to head in. Back at the cabin a project awaited. I headed to the basement and took inventory of my supplies and tools before starting. Installing the stair edging was a straightforward task. The metal chop saw made short work of the stair edging and an angle grinder with cut-off wheel was used for some of the more complex cuts. The installation went well. Immediately upon completion, the Ol’ man and I tested out the steps and were pleased with the results. The dark stair treads were no longer difficult to navigate. No more sharp edge. The metallic edging made each tread visually well defined and comfortable when traversing barefoot. With wet shoes, there was now suitable grip to prevent a catastrophic misstep.





The next upgrade comes via Ask This Old House. It’s probably not too surprising that Ask TOH and This Old House are two shows that I enjoy. While watching one night they showcased a nifty tool for those of us who burn wood and require kindling as a fire starter. A quick search on the internet and I found it! After briefly contemplating which model to buy, I ordered The Original Kindling Cracker from Northern Tool & Equipment. This was late April 2018 and in the wood shop I had just added a lathe to my collection. If you recall, I have no shortage of basswood firewood from the windstorm of 2017. A quick walk to the woodshed was all that was required for some material. In short order I had tested out my lathe and made up a small stool for the Kindling Cracker to mount to.

The Kindling Cracker works lovely. When we run low on kindling it takes only a few minutes to make more. It actually is easy and safe to use. In an armload of firewood there are usually one or two knot free pieces; these are the best kind for splitting into kindling. A tap or two with a 3lb hammer is all it takes. Keep on splitting until the kindling is appropriately sized. The basswood base I built is light-weight and sturdy. The wood is at just the right height for splitting without bending over, and unlike mounting it to a block of wood, the unit is light easy to move around. The Ol’ man is in love with it. My kiddos are also interested and my oldest two cracked a few pieces with the help of an adult.


Up next, the cabin’s Roman shades. Mom made sure to install high quality shades in every window suitable. The shades insulate and save energy when we are not at the cabin. Upon arrival we raise the shades, and when we depart they are lowered. While the shades fulfill their purpose to a high degree of satisfaction, the experience of raising and lowering had been fairly unpleasant. The old mechanisms were plastic and the mounting bracket was poorly constructed. With normal use, a few were broken, bent, or functioned so poorly that in order to open and close the shades a short training course was required from a senior shade operator.

After a little planning and some measuring, I drew up a plan and ordered some parts. The list was fairly short and the materials were less than $20 overall. The plastic mounting bracket was removed and appropriately placed in the trash. The brackets I built were made from soft maple, finished with a clear varnish, and featured upgraded hardware. Small screw eyes guided the string and a much higher quality cord catch was used. After the installation, the shades raised and lowered smoothly with minimal effort and the requirement of a training course in roman shade operations was removed. The Ol’ man approved heartily.



Sometimes it’s the little things that make life better. I get great satisfaction from solving problems and making simple tasks more enjoyable.



1 thought on “Little Refinements

  1. Fabiana Brownell

    Your talents never cease to amaze me. I love your blog and following your projects with much interest. I appreciate the detailed explanations you provide as well as the pictures to support them. Your stories are inspiring and I really appreciate the time you take to explain why you’ve chosen to buy a particular item or why you chose to handle certain tasks/projects the way you have. The reviews and your feedback are so helpful. Part of why I’m drawn to your style of explanations is my love for understanding the “whys”. Which is probably why one of my favorite TV cooking guys is Alton Brown because he explains the science (hence the “whys”) that make cooking work. Your blog has helped me move forward with some of my projects/purchases because of the research you’ve done. Your family will benefit greatly from the time and love you put into the cabin even if it’s just from their observing how you go about tackling your projects. I learned a lot from my dad, and then my husband, by just being privy to the conversations they would have trying to figure out challenges they ran into with projects. When I actually participated in the projects, I learned even more. Before my father passed away a year ago. I worked with him on just about every project that I tackled. He was always willing to lend a hand and our projects ended up being a big part of our relationship. He was a hard working man that showed his love through his work. He didn’t express how he felt with words, but his acts of service were how he was comfortable expressing himself. I miss him greatly, but I see that your family has the opportunity to work together and experience the closeness and pride that is the result of it. More than the projects themselves, the memories that result from working together is priceless. Just thought I’d let you know that the time you spend on your blog posts does make a difference to at least this reader. I wish you and your family much happiness in your visits to the cabin, as well in life in general.


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