Monday, September 16, 2019


While building steadily a new wood's cottage on a rocky ledge since early April and into September (more on that to come), our son Carson and his partner bought a new home north of us and we went to have a look. To get over to their home we had to pass over a Mill Brook, part of their land, and a wooden bridge that looked like it had seen better days. Under the bridge, which is sixteen feet wide and thirty-six feet long, are four massive I-beams. Very good news. The deck of the bridge is a sandwich design of full 2 x 8 rough hemlock planks on edge. Good and rugged, yet abused over the years by grit and gravel wear and some neglect. We thought we could build for the new householders double treads of wide pressure treated planks to carry over the old deck and relieve the worn surface. We began as soon as lumber could be delivered.

First sweep off all the old deck and get a feel for the bridge, there's gravel eating at the old lumber everywhere.

Next, get the layout down and square for the new pressure treated planks, and break those joints!

The bridge is level (miraculously) but the staccato edges of each old plank has to be dealt with one new plank at a time with shims and leveling as the work goes along. It's slow, but you're working together, you can hear the brook washing below you, and your granddaughters are about to visit you any minute.

When done, it's all good, solid, and sweep some more, but also see the bridge and deck would be happiest if the entire deck was renewed. We plan for a second long day of work. Order another load of lumber. Bring enough extension cord to reach 300 feet. Also bring the table saw since this job is going to be a puzzle piece.

The second day on the job is a few days later, plus awaiting another lumber delivery, and it's still 42 degrees at 6:30 AM and this will become a twelve hour work day. Susan says we should have done it in two days but typically we are doing it all in one long day. First in sweat shirts and warm vest and caps which will all be shed by midday when the sun climbs onto the bridge.

Here we are in the puzzle piece hour, and do take your time with shims and clamps and spacers. It will be worth it at day's end when the bridge is tight and sure and smooth. No nail gun here (never been near one) and make sure you have a handsaw for those special cuts around all those side rails. Sharp chisel too.

Nothing feels better than to do something for someone. Our three year old grandchild Ida came running down at day's end to perform three handstands for us. Pay day.

all construction &
photographs by
Susan and Bob Arnold