11 March 2013

07 June 2012


I took advantage of a visit from an old friend to build a home for a letterbox. For months, I've been planning a cache on an OR beach. In about 3 1/2 hours over the course of two evenings, we set the cache and constructed it's disguise as a beach hut. When it was done, we stood back and noticed that when looking at it from the Jetty, it looked like "Medusa".

Day one was a dark, dreary, rainy, windy, typical OR coast day. Day two was perfect for many of the photos posted on this blog.

I had previously picked out a site where there was a lone piece of driftwood, deeply and securely embedded into the sand, protruding into the air about 8 feet. This would serve as the primary beam, as it had a nice little wedge where we could lay another vertical member across it to form the top of the "teepee" style structure. The site was just inside the dune line, in an area that had no sea grass. It was perfect. I dug the hole for the 10" x 8" x 10" pressure treated cache that I had built in the shop.

We harvested verticals and laid them in, by burying them in the sand about 1 1/2 feet at a minimum. We found a couple of verticals that were very long, but not very straight, and eventually ended up being the head of Medusa.

We put in at least a dozen verticals that would allow us to use shorter horizontals. We placed the verticals at angles that allowed us to shingle the horizontals by leaning in toward the structure.

The structure protected the letterbox location. The cache was buried under 2-3 inches of sand near the back of the hut, next to our primary vertical.

Come to the Coast. Enjoy Medusa!! Hopefully, the structure will remain intact. If not, the cache will still be there, next to the one vertical that will undoubtedly be left behind by the ravages of the winds and seas.

Medusa is a great place for the kids to come play. I think the adults would enjoy it as well :)

16 April 2012

Hobbit house planted

A good friend of mine found a cool spot for the Hobbit house while we were out on a little hike the other day.

Moved nature around a little and...Voila!

Not clearly visible from the trail. There are some unique markers trailside that will make it easy to find.

Once I get my shop set back up in August, I can finish Seven and build another Hobbit house for the west coast.

20 November 2011

The Locks

There will be six locks. Each clue must be solved to unlock the cryptex for each compartment. The answer to the clue will include three letters, numbers, or symbols. Once correctly aligned, the core of the cryptex can be pulled and the drawer will be unlocked.

To get there, we must make the disks first. I glued up five 1x4" clear pine boards. After, I made two passes on the joiner to true up the edges. Next I ripped the glue-up on the table saw to 3 1/4" square. Then, I tipped the blade to 45 degrees and took off the corners to make it easier to turn on the lathe.

Once I found the center, I put the six-sided block on the lathe and turned it. First with the rough gouge, then with a smaller gouge.

3/4 of the block is turned down to a little over a 3" dowel. Lastly, I used 80 grit then 220 grit sandpaper while turning and finish with 220 grit along the grain to take out cross grain sanding marks. The reason I did not turn the entire board is because I need something substantive to hang on to while running the dowel through the chop saw.

Each disk will be chopped off from this 3" dowel. I must finish with 18 disks so I planned for at least 22 cuts. That way, when I make a mistake somewhere down the line, I don't have to go back and start the entire disk making process again. It's got to be a production line concept. Each disk will be 3/4" thick and 3" round and will have a 2 3/8" hole in the middle so it fits around the PVC pipe. More on the lock later.

7 Progress

Just a little more work on the insides.

The larger hole is cut with a 2 3/8" Forstner bit. The smaller hole is cut with a 2 1/8" bit. This will allow the 2" dowel that will serve as the middle of each of the three-disk, wooden crytpex-style lock to go through the center of the PVC sheath. The 2" dowel will eventually lock the thin drawer in place. More on that later.

When you look below you can start to imagine the thin drawer with a center runner. This thin drawer will have a 2 1/8" hole in the center so it will be locked in place until the cryptex lock is open.

Next..the beginning of the locks.

18 November 2011

Seven Takes Shape

Will use very little glue in this project and plywood where I can to keep the project stable and allow for wood movement over the years to come.

Unlike some of my other Secrets, this one will not be moving around. You can see it's starting to look heavy already.

I wonder what that slot in each compartment is for?

A New Batch of Secrets

The Start of Seven.

Good layout in the beginning helps the builder conceptualize the entire project. Got to be accurate or you end up having to make a lot of time consuming and expensive changes as you get near the end.

Evolving diagram as the thoughts of the project flow to the drawing board (literally)

After a little work with the eraser...changing the design in my mind already.

Hopefully this is making you wonder what it is going to be.

02 October 2011

A Hobbit House prototype

So the thought was that I'd build something that would be buried into the ground with about 3/4 of it being subterranean with plants surrounding the opening, eventually concealing it over time. A hobbit lives here.

I had preconceived ideas when I started. The exterior of the hobbit house would have to be waterproof to withstand the elements. It would have to have a degree of nature that protrudes from the earth to showcase the front. Lastly, the front and the door would have to be somewhat misshapen and have round elements. A round door would be ideal, but I was unsure about a single hinge to make that work. The straps would have to look like big black iron. All hardware, screws and black iron work would need to rust over time.

I ripped a number of pressure treated 2" x 2" at about 8 degrees on each edge. End cut them at 14". Chris and I estimated that angle on each side would leave us with about a 6" barrel-round front that would allow us to make a door that you could get your hand into. I predrilled and screwed the "barrel" together then added a flat bottom. In the bottom, I put a secret compartment for the letterbox, accessed by lifting the rug that is attached to the "cellar door".

I covered the external barrel top with a sticky bituthane membrane and roofing felt, stapled both in place. The membrane would make it so the galvanized screws that hold the limbs to the structure would not leak. (self sealing) I cut and screwed some limbs I recently cut from the yard, making sure they extended over the front of the porch.

The front and door was made out of spruce and stained to help keep the bugs and worms from wanting to devour it the moment it got in the ground. I suspect that using the stain and pressure treated wood would help keep the pesky ants away too. I've had problems with ant in untreated projects in the past.

Inside, I put in the felt carpet, a little table, and a fireplace. Soon there will be a chair and a hobbit doll, to finish it off. There will be a 4" x 6" logbook in the main living space for muggles to add their comments after finding this HIPS box. Hopefully, this will prevent them from looking too deeply for the "dirty little secrets" that this Hobbit sweeps under his rug :)

I hope to plan this on a steep side hill at about waist level so folks can stoop down and look inside this little house. Once it's in the ground, I'll start on the next one.

26 March 2011

Nothing new

Over the last three years, I've built several birdhouse which house letterboxes. My latest is no different. It is a functioning bird domain with a false bottom which is completely isolated from the living space. I have found a way to fully contain the lowering mechanism within the post so there are no visible moving parts for those that come upon it while enjoying nature. Of course, I don't want to spoil the find for you so I won't show you that little secret. This letterbox is located about a half mile from trailhead. Doesn't sound like much but imagine moving a 50-lb, 12-foot long, birdhouse to the location with an 80 lb bag of concrete and water to cure it, AND tools to dig and fill in the hole. And my letterboxing partner suspiciously couldn't make it that morning :)