Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tung oil application to logs

Milly did a lot of research last year on what kind of stain to use on our logs. After much debate and agony she decided on Tung oil. It’s supposed to be less toxic than other alternatives although the Citrus Solvent (which I like sniffing out of the bottle as it smells like oranges) is supposed to cause deformities, blurry vision, extra hair growth on the end of noses and on top of ears, and bad fashion sense.

We bought in bulk last year and dozens of these bottles have been sitting around waiting for us to stop being lazy.

Chicken tractor and tung oil staining 091

You can see the Tung oil looks like it’s shrinking. I’m not sure if it’s evaporating but it seems fine even after sitting for about a year.

Chicken tractor and tung oil staining 092

We mix roughly 1 part Tung oil to 1 part Citrus solvent. You can do more or less but that was how we started and I haven’t deviated. Seems to work fine.

The thing with Tung oil is it takes a long time to apply and about a month to really cure. After apply a coat of oil you wait for about forty five minutes to an hour then reapply. For the floors and railing in our house we applied about five coats of oil then wiped them with old T-shirt I have accumulated from business conferences. Milly was gleeful when she pulled out all my old pink, orange, and advertising labeled wardrobe to use for this duty.

It has been about a month for our loft floors and they are finally looking like we can walk on them on a regular basis. We did the same thing to the stairs last year and found it was a month before they felt like they were cured and have found the same with the floors.

Here are some pictures of the process. One of the pictures shows the difference of before and after Tung oil really well. I ended applying the oil just after the corner of a wall and you can see the distinct line of sanded log to oiled log.

We applied oil to the cedar ceiling in one of the upstairs bedrooms and it turned out like below.

Chicken tractor and tung oil staining 119

Some people like our kids like the look. Milly and I think it’s too dark so we are going to skip applying it to the ceiling in our main area. It was really good news for me so I don’t have to apply it to 1000 square feet of cedar while hanging from a scaffolding.

Chicken tractor and tung oil staining 117

Here is the finished floor in the loft. We applied two inch milled, planned and shaped Douglas Fir planking in the loft. It was supposed to be dry but you can see by the gapping it wasn’t. I tell people that is the look we were going for. You know the “olden time planking look”. Really its just because we (OK, I) didn’t want to wait the required time of acclimating wood to the house. 

Chicken tractor and tung oil staining 118

Here’s a picture of the railing that’s done. I sanded and stained for a whole week while Milly and the kids were at a family reunion this summer. During that time I questioned my sanity about this whole house building, sacrificing now so we don’t have to go into debt lifestyle. If you ask me now if it was worth it I’d probably say no. In ten years when the house finally gets finished I’ll let you know if I change my mind.

We still need to mud and tape the walls and finish them with Clay plaster. I’m not looking forward to that job. Maybe I’ll cheat and get the folks from Dirtcraft.ca to come and help out.

Chicken tractor and tung oil staining 040

Obviously Ringo has been sniffing the Citrus solvent too much as you can tell by his fashion sense.

Chicken tractor and tung oil staining 051

We have kept these cuties away from any toxic fumes as you can tell.

campground and comfrey 131

I think Grey Beard has been sneaking a whiff of the solvent as well.

campground and comfrey 117campground and comfrey 119

OK, the cuties did sneak in the house and look what happened to them.

new house 047

Notice the glazed look on my face and the appearance of facial hair. I just shaved my head and face that morning.

Any of you bald guys should really try applying Citrus solvent. I have several bottles still to apply if any of you are interested in learning how to apply Tung oil or growing facial hair.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Old persons reunion

It’s hard to admit I’m as old as I am. Actually, I’m not even going to discuss the years that have gone by since I graduated.

Let’s just say “Thunderstruck” was newly out on the radio. The internet was just barely being used in our high school. If you had a personal computer your family was rich. I knew of one person that had a “Cell phone” and it was the size of a three hole punch and could only be used on the top of hills. I was addicted to super Mario and Duck hunt on an awesome new thing called a Nintendo. (That was an upgrade to the old Caleco we used to play Donkey Kong on, right Jeff?)

Our television options were three fold one of which was the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation channel that still has the same hockey analysts they have to this day. Girls wore big bangs and rolled up tight fitting acid wash jeans. Levi’s and T-Shirts were cool. Entertainment included cliff jumping, shooting gophers, and playing sports.

Our teachers were old but now that all of the current high school teachers are the same age or younger than I am now I have a little understanding as to why our old teachers pretended they were cool and understood what we were going through.

I was dating a really awesome girl and it just so happens I got to go back to the reunion with her as Millie and I dated all the way back to those prehistoric days. Yup, we are high school sweet hearts even if we separated after high school for three or four years.

A few comments about the reunion.

It surprised me how nice everyone was. I liked everyone I talked to. There was a really good feeling with everyone that came. I hadn’t seen many of my old friends for like a century and it was hard to recognize some but it was really fun catching up with everyone.

I got to talk to a friend that works for a chemical company that is similar to Monsanto. Very interesting conversation. I kept Millie monitored as I didn’t want a fight to ensue. ha.

Some people were bald, some had either gained or lost weight. I have stayed about the same as high school but the proportions are somewhat skewed. A few were missing from our ranks that had passed on. We still miss you Neil and are feeling very sad about the passing of our good friend Val just recently.

I was surprised to hear that a lot of people actually read my silly blog. No one comments on anything here so I’m always thinking I am just writing for the sole benefit of the far away readers in Africa. One long lost friend even said this blog was mentioned in her church Sunday School class in a distant village. I’m not sure why. I’m not too holy in these posts.


944 - Copy

Millie hanging out on the float for the community parade. I think they made us sit up on the float so everyone could laugh at how old we are.


To all those old people that didn’t make it to the reunion. Hope to see you at the next reunion in another century. To those who did make it to the reunion. It was great catching up. Everyone looked great considering the decrepit age we all are.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Clay plaster on drywall

Millie and I went on an eight hour drive over to Saskatchewan a few months back for a clay plaster workshop with Dirt Craft. We have been looking for a way to cover our walls in a fairly original, natural, and non toxic way and have decided on clay plaster. The problem is the cost. If you have someone come in to apply clay plaster it usually ends up between $6 to $10 a square foot. We are not willing to pay that much so I was going to do it myself. Millie told me I couldn’t just go ahead and do it and signed me up for a hands on workshop. She then reconsidered letting me go alone and signed up for it as well.

I’d like to say it was because she likes spending time with me but in reality it was because she didn’t want me stretching the truth about how to do things. (AKA she wanted to know when I was lying about what’s important and what’s not).

The workshop was great as we finished the inside walls of a straw bale home. We also did clay paint which is nice but we don’t like it nearly as much as the clay plaster.

Millie took copious notes and is now the professional clay plasterer herself. Here are a few pictures of the event.

Ashley and Heather from Dirt Craft were great. I gather that their philosophy with the courses they put on is “Learning by doing”. It was nice to actually apply product to a real house.

Applying clay plaster

Here’s a video of Ashley teaching us how to apply the plaster.

The video above shows the compression process that is done after the clay is applied and dried.

In the course we went through making our own recipes of clay that can be used as an alternative to American Clay which is the Cadillac of the clay plaster product. We will probably do the make your own clay for most of the house. Maybe a few showcase walls will get the good stuff.

It’s been a few months since we did this course and now I’m questioning all that I learned in the course. I’m thinking now I’ll probably either offer a course here at our place and have a bunch of amateurs come and do all the work or I’ll get Ashley to come down and work with me. In either case we were pretty happy with the hands on class and we are sold on using clay plaster in our home.