Fun with Sally


We are re-building our back stairs and deck.  Some parts were getting punky, some parts were actually rotting.  It has been ten years.  And they are in the shade – they do not get dried out properly sometimes.  It was time.

No biggy.  We can do this.  And we are almost half way done, actually.  What we could have done in two days before will take us four now but that just means ‘double the pleasure, double the fun’.  Fun with Sally changes meaning as you age. Now it means much more carpentry than it ever did.


But it is our own fault.  We didn’t know what we were doing the first time….the carpentry, I mean.  We know more now but likely not enough to have the assembly stand for more than another decade. There is always another lesson to be learned and we could study and investigate wood and work forever. Better to just get on with it and just plan on doing it again in ten years.  Hopefully it will last a bit longer this time.

But – so that you know – the chore started by first finding someone to buy milled lumber from. That is not easy in the winter.  Most people hibernate. I do, too.  But looking for lumber did not really disturb my winter somnolence.  I did it slowly.

I found some.  But actually getting the lumber did disturb my semi-hibernation.

C is a young man ten or so miles away and he had a mill that needs paying off.  So, he was at the ready.  He delivered four or so loads by way of his small (same as mine) boat. Some deliveries were delayed by winter storms.  We then reloaded it into Sal’s boat and floated the loads under the highline.  We hauled the loads up the hill and stacked them. Then we took the 12 and 16 foot 2×6’s along our irregular path to the worksite near the back of the house.


Funny how muscles seem to wake up from semi-hibernation at a much slower rate than do plans and concepts, don’t you think?

The two decks and stairs are supported by 6 inch logs.  One of them was also rotten. One other was suspect.  So that meant cutting and carrying two logs and adjusting the plan on the fly to accept different posts.  But that was just part of the fun.  Whoopee.

“Geez, Dave!  Why are you only getting ten years from your work?  I thought you built to the 30 year rule!”


Yeah.  Good point.  The main reason was that the back deck was one of our first.  We didn’t know enough to separate the planks by a generous 1/2 inch.  In the rainy season the planks swell up and form a tight surface.  That surface collects the rain and that promotes rot.  We promoted rot right up to the rank of major.  Those deck planks that we did later in other areas (when we knew better) are still good (a couple needed replacement but 90% are fine).  A simple error like plank spacing came back to haunt us.



Also, we don’t use treated lumber.  Partly that is because local fir and cedar is almost as long lasting but mostly because we knew that we would have to re-do what we did the first time. We worked fast ten years ago.  We worked without knowing what we were doing. The only thing we DID know was that we would have to re-do it.

And, so we are.

And we are seriously considering hosting Woofer’s again…………..


9 thoughts on “Fun with Sally

  1. Ah. Nothing like a winter project to get the juices flowing eh?
    Looks good and you have oodles of time before the inevitable “visitors” begin their annual migration OTG.
    Yeah. I built a deck out of treated lumber about 10 years ago and faithfully cleaned and painted it with wood preservative each Spring( those east coast winters can be brutal). Even so, dryrot, carpenter ants and slimey mould take their toll. I replaced the odd plank each year. The posts seemed to be ok. I put sono tubes in the ground and filled them with about 6 inches above the soil and then put metal saddles in them to hold the wooden posts. I visited last summer. The deck is still standing( sold the place about 5 years ago). Wood. The price of enjoying a natural, warm construction material in Canada’s extreme weather.


    • I hope to do a bit better thanks to the now-proper spacing. The west coast is wet but temperate. And we get lots of airflow. Still, the plan is to re-do again when I am 80. Some plan!


    • ‘Cement’ is what they put on the back of postage stamps. Likely you filled your sono tubes with CONCRETE. Its much more durable.


      • Ah actually John.
        If we want to discuss the snobbery of “cement” vs “concrete” .
        I will have to refer to my conversation with a friend who drives the huge concrete trucks. When I erroneously referred to his truck as a “cement truck” He stopped what he was doing and, while giving me a witheringly disgusted look that would have made the Queen of England proud, said, “Cement comes in BAGS! Concrete comes in TRUCKS!”

        Who knew.

        And , silly me, I always though postage stamps had glue on the back and one licked and stuck (cemented) them to an envelope.


        • The last concrete vehicles I saw were at Expo ’86 and they were somewhat immobile. I think the trucks to which you and your friend refer are called ‘ready-mix’ trucks locally.
          ‘Cement’, ‘glue’, whatever. You’ve got the idea. Its the stuff that holds the stamp to paper, or the aggregate components to form concrete. But you knew that all along!


          • I LOVE you guys! Readership is falling but the best of the best are still here and playing in the mud. Gawd! I love you guys!
            Having said that, hardly any topics are resonating lately. I had Trump-the-dickhead, a tragedy heroically dealt with and fun-with-Sally blogs all in a row. ZIP. And that is stuff usually well received and yet the numbers are sadly still slipping.
            I am thinking of doing boobs, booze and guns again just to get my male readership going (how about that new Titan with the Cummins, eh?). And then I’ll do orphans, puppies and gardening for the ladies (maybe something on baby seals, too?). I may even have to stoop to Ravens.
            Isn’t that a sad thing?


          • Oh well, I still think you’re WRONG but who knows or cares. To me cement comes in bags. Concrete comes in trucks, Stamps are for licking and you are for kicking
            I dare you to go give a “cement vs concrete vs mixer(THATS splitting follicles) lesson” to
            the nearest truck driver who is washing out the sluice on his concrete truck……


  2. I like it when you add pictures to your posts. Our float cabin cedar deck is 18 years old. We’ve had to replace the odd board, but it’s still holding up pretty well. About five years we cleaned our deck during the summer dry season and added a coat of opaque stain in a redwood colour. It has really extended the life of the cedar planks, or so it seems. Even on the “dark side.” Wayne gives the deck a hard brushing with a metal broom attachment and then gives it a new coat each year. Because the wood wasn’t fresh the paint didn’t adhere as well and does flake away in places after the winter rains end the the summer dry heat makes it lose its grip. I’m guessing our deck will last 20 years or so. I also think using cedar (untreated) helped us. – Margy


    • Clear cedar with plenty of air is the best, I think. Next best is Fir. A bit of ‘preservative’ on it and it just seems to get harder. But, basically, that is all I kinda know. I don’t know much. So, I just re-do. Easier.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.