Dogtrot at Hightop

Started by Redoverfarm, November 25, 2007, 08:34:07 PM

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Quote from: MountainDon on December 02, 2009, 08:34:48 PM
Quote from: Redoverfarm on December 02, 2009, 05:04:52 PMAs an experiment I am gluing a couple back together and see what happens.  

It might work?  ???  Don't try to staple them, though.    ;D ;D ;D

Be like using a metal plate to patch a car tire.   The original bonding material Don was a re-enforced type tape.  The only thing I will be out is a little epoxy and a few minutes time.  We will see tomarrow.  If they don't I have 14 new ones to destroy tomarrow.


Poppy  Thanks for the info.  I didn't go to the cabin today but worked at home on the stairs.  I will measure it up and let you know exactly what it is.  It is more conventional in nature.  The masons that I used which are about the only ones left in the county and are young.  They learned from their dad who is a decent mason but he apparently failed to teach them properly on fireboxes and some other things as well.  I am sure in time that I can get something that will work better (insert).  For now the quick alterations will probably suffice.


John, a couple more thoughts on the fireplace.

I wouldn't worry about the lack of a smoke shelf; they are over-rated.

The key is a smooth transition from the firebox into the flue.

I would suggest the following test:  stack up some brick to make a new back wall so that the front face of the new wall is even with the back of the damper opening.

So long as the firebox depth is at least 12", you should be OK.  This will shift the grate out towards the front, but that's where you want it.

Also check the width of the damper opening, front to back; it should be no more than 4".  If is greater than 4" then choke down the damper to create 4".

Some of good fireplace design is counter intiutive, like making the firebox less deep, or the flue smaller.  I talked about the 1:10 or 1:12 ratio in a previous post, but I have read where a 1:15 ratio has worked.

You may also want to build new side walls to angle in making the back wall less wide (refer to the illustration in my previous post)


John, I appologize if I am responding too much on this fireplace thing, but I have done a great deal of research and since I'm not building my own fireplace after all, I want someone to get some benefit out of it.

I have a copy of the '06 International Residential Code, chapter 10 on chimneys and fireplaces for one and two family dwellings.  There was a link for it on

I'm no code expert and don't know if this is the latest but here is some info. from that code.

Conventional fireboxes are required to be 20" deep but there is an exception for the Rumford design requiring only 12" of depth provided the opening width is at least 36", so the code doesn't allow a fireplace less wide than 36".  (short-sighted in my opinion)

Damper and throat should be 8" above the fireplace opening.  The requirement for Rumford design on the throat location is 12" which doesn't exactly make sense to me.

The Rumford throat is allowed to be only 1/20 of the fireplace opening area, which is much less area than the typical flue.


Well I got both stringers dressed down but not without incident.  To start the day off I wanted tio sharpen the drawknife.  Unlike a regular knife there is only one beveled edge and it is usually sharped with a whetstone.  So I placed the knife against a block and while holding it firmly and using the whetstone in the other hand proceeded to sharpen the edge. The knife slipped,  You can guesss what happened.  After I got the bleeding stopped amd got it bandaged up I went about my task.  You don't realize how your fingers work in unison with everything else but when one is injured you soon realize.  To say the least I was working with a handicap most of the day.  I tried to get it bandaged up as soon as possible hoping the skin would graft itself back.  Last year I injured the finger next to it an it has never regained feeling.  This is not the way to test to see if your drawknife is sharp.

Well here is the stringers after they had been sanded and dressed down.  The only thing left is the layout and mortises.  I will wait another day or so until I get some feeling back in my finger first.


Ouch!  Those bleed like a stuck pig at times. I've done three 'good' ones on parts o my left hand over the years.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


Poppy thanks for your research.  With the alterations I will accomplish the majority and see how it goes from there,

Don Yes it did bleed quite well,  The photo was this evening after I cleaned up.  I was more interested in stopping the bleeding when it happened rather than documentation.  Anyway I would have bled all over the camera.    ;D This evening I could not seperate the tip so maybe it will heal. I don't really hate getting hurt it just puts a cramp in my style being able to continue to work.  >:(  Seems like everything I do now bumps the end of my finger.  Ouch.


I know you said Ooo-wee! One of my favorite movie lines "That ain't gonna grow back". Hope it does but if not you'll be able to bend notes on the guitar with the best of em.

Those things can be treacherous to sharpen. The best way i've found is I hold it in my hand bevel up, blade away with the other handle locked in my bicep. With the stone in my other hand with fingers carefully up well on the sides I "fiddle bow" it to sharpen it.

To hold logs and timbers I screw plywood scrap to all 4 sides of my horses legs to strengthen and stabilize them. For round bottomed logs I then screw 2- 2x4's between the horses, usually about 5" apart to make "train tracks" that the curve of the log will sit in. I do much better work when it's at a comfortable height and I can get around it to clamp, etc.


Little late for me to be sharing this now but they make a glove to wear while fileting fish that prevents cuts.  They can be found in the fishing and game department of your local Wally-world. 
Rule #1: "Don't sweat the small stuff"
Rule #2: "It's all small stuff"


John, I would surely not like to see an insert in that good looking fireplace, but it's your project.

It's about time for me to sharpen my draw knife, so maybe I can avoid the blood letting.  ;)

BYW, can't wait to see the finished stair case.


Holy cow.

Do you sleep?

That finger will heal up nicely. 
"Officium Vacuus Auctorita"


 Frank actually  I didn't alot last night.  It just throbed.  Today I must have jabbed it several times.  I was even careful in how I did things.  Like I said before you just don't realize how much you use something until it's disabled. It's my right click finger to boot.  ;D Give it a couple more days and it should be OK. Shoot I was going to cut firewood tomarrow.  Maybe tape it up real good and put a glove on.

Poppy The demensions on the firebox is 32H X 34W X 24D  As is there is only about 2" appron on the front to the damper.  With the additional 6" that will make it 8".  I'll let you know how it turns out.  Maybe picture documentation will make it clearer when I get it done or in the process.

Jim I have seen them but never really thought I would cut it sharpening.  Maybe drawing yes but not sharpening. Might have to add this to my XMas list.


QuotePoppy The demensions on the firebox is 32H X 34W X 24D  As is there is only about 2" appron on the front to the damper.  With the additional 6" that will make it 8".
Boy, that mason really screwed you over.

You probably don't have much choice than to add the 6" to the front making the opening height 26".  That's not a terrible height.

Based on info. from your previous post, the damper is pretty far back and again the lack of a smoke shelf is not the problem.  The excessive depth of the firebox is the problem.

It would be nice if you could reduce the depth to 14-15" but with the damper location it appears that 18-19" is the best that you can do without sloping the back wall backwards.  Again, I would recommend a new back wall that goes straight up to the damper.  You really won't help yourself very much by adding the 8" plate, since the firebox would still be 24" deep.

Hopefully there is a gradual transition of about 12" high between the damper and the flue lining.

I would assume that the flue lining is rectangular and should not be any bigger than 8.5" x 18" outside dimensions.  If it's square the size should not be any larger than 12" x 12" outside.  If it's as big as 12" x 16" it may be still OK but there would be more chance for soot buildup.

As a side note, there is a reason that wood stoves don't have things like smoke shelves and large flues.  Whether it is a stove or a fireplace, the goal is for complete combustion and little smoke.


Well a quick trip to Dogtrot to pick up the generator.  The house lights have been flickering all day on and off.  So I would imagine that the power will fail sometime during the night.  Really wasn't that quick as the usual trip takes about 1/2 hour and with the tractor and plowing in and out it was 2 hours.  There is about 2" more snow than at the house at the cabin. It is about 500 feet more elevation but on the mountain range.  I took a few photo's while I was up and apparently I have a little heat loss on  the roof.  Or just enough to make it slide off the 10/12 roof.  Here is a picture

Thesa are about 8" steps in the retaining wall and the snow is about level with the steps.

Anyone in a snow region who is contimplating putting gutters up might take note.  This in only about 8" or so and you can see what it is doing on the eve of the metal roof.  I would imagine with a litttle freezing and some additional snow accumulation and sliding the gutters would be severly damaged or destroyed unless snow birds or some other deflection was installed.


Been watching your posts for a while. Fantastic place you have there.

I used to live in them thar hills, on the VA side. Hot Springs, VA. Those photos brought back some cold memories!

You anywhere near there?


RainDog by the way the crow flys I am only about 10-12 miles other way about 23 miles.  I am 18 miles west of Warm Springs which is just 5 miles north of Hot Springs.  Did you work at the Hotel?  On a clear night I can see the airport beacon light from Hot Springs Airport.  Where did you end up at?


Well I got pretty steady work for the next couple days on the stairway.  And it couldn't come at a better time with the weather forecast. Last night my friend/contractor stopped by and we laid out the stringers for the stairs.  This morning was spent making a baseplate for my router that would except the 1-5/16" bushing.  My router has a 2" opening and it would not work.  And to Special Order the correct size bushing from Bosch would probably take over a week not to mention the cost plus shipping.  So I did the next best thing.  I removed the 1/4" plastic base and made a plywood base. It is nothing pretty but if it holds up for twelve more I've got it made. Next I made a jig to cut the 2" X 4" X 1-1/2"D mortise that will except the stair tread tenon. Again nothing to brag about but it works.

Here is one stringer completed with the 12 mortises needed for the stair.  Twelve more to go.  More time consuming just measuring and transfering the jig from hole to hole.

I don't know whether I had stated previously but the stairs will be open riser and the treads will be 3" X 10" and contain a 2"X4" tenon which will be set into the riser.  I will cut a slight degree releif from the face edge to the tenon.  I will relief the additional 1" on the tenon to the top so that if additional adjustment is needed they can be shimmed from the bottom and will have no visual impact.  I have laid out stringers before but not log stringers.  It definitely was a new and mind bending experience to take the stringers which were different widths, wavy along the edge and attempt to get the stairs centered.  I guess we will find out how I did later.  ;D

Thanks Don_P for your guidance.


you ought to get those things up off the floor.
just spent a few days building a website, and didn't know that it could be so physically taxing to sit and do nothing all day!


They are on planks Jens,  Too heavy for one person to lift. 


Well I finally got the propane tank set and now have gas in the cabin.  I only had one  supply line so I hooked up one of the 20,000 BTU heaters.  Worked great.  I have the remaining 3 heater supply lines ordered and once they are in then heat should not really be a factor.

For those of you that have been watching the stairs construction I managed to get 4 treads cut and dry fitted into the stringers.  They are 3" X 10" X 34"W.  I was surprised that the blanks which originally 10" true had dried ( I thought they already were) and I ended up with anywhere from 9-7/8" to 9-3/4".  Close enough for goverment work.  I used my band saw to cut the tenon and bevel back from the face.  Each step weighs 15#.  Out of curiosity I dry fitted the treads into one section of the stringer and they are just a tad bit snug which is perfect for assembly later.  Here are a few pictures of the process if anyone was interested in how they will appear in a somewhat finished shape.  

Her is my weapon of choice.  The bandsaw made a difficult step to this particular project easy.


   I am in "awe" (admiration) over your abilities . . . Those stairs look pretty stout.

   Sorry about the cut finger!

    . . . said the focus was safety, not filling town coffers with permit money . . .


Quote from: bayview on December 11, 2009, 06:05:07 PM

  I am in "awe" (admiration) over your abilities . . . Those stairs look pretty stout.

  Sorry about the cut finger!


Thanks for the comment.  Yes they will be stout so I shouldn't have any problem carring the Baby Grand up stairs ;).  

The finger is healing up nicely.  The missing portion did not graft back and I had to remove it.  It is still pretty tender but given enough time it should be fine.  As the old saying goes " When working with woodworking tools there are only two kinds of craftsman.  One that has been cut and one that will be cut. "  I hope that this is the most serious injury that I can acquire. So far I still have all my digits so I am thankful.  ;D


Nice stair treads John.   :)
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.

glenn kangiser

Nice tenons, John.  That is Whitlock style building.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.


Glad you're healing up ok - I've done that a few times cutting veggies - just not so deep...

Your stairs are going to look awesome - wonderful craftmanship as usual!

You will know the truth & the truth will set you free