Pairoducks

Pairoducks

Monday, April 29, 2013

Kitty Ladder


Patsy Kline's personal kitty ladder was commissioned by my friend Gail.  She was hoping to build a cat ladder entrance to a 16 foot second story window.  Patsy lives with 5 dogs and one of those dogs is a bit of an aggressive wiener dog named Daisy.  Gail wanted to give Patsy access to the outside free from the other dogs, so she could can enjoy the wonder of the world.  She looked online and found lots of examples of cool cat ladders.  She imagined using a treated 4x4 post and I encouraged her to allow me to find a piece of wood that would work for the job.

I went for a visit to the Hoh Rainforest and stayed at my friends homestead near Ruby Beach.  We went to Ruby and found an awesome piece of driftwood.  While walking back on the beach the Ranger informed us that it was illegal to take any wood from the beach.  There are enormous piles of logging remains peppering the beach all over the Olympic Coast.  I found it ironic that we allow logging companies to cut down huge tracts of land, but to pick up pieces of the logs on the beach is prohibited.  My friend Daren and I decided to go to the logging slash fields to pick up there remains more directly. 

With some wedges and sledges we went to a spot that he knew and searched through the fields of old growth stumps.  Crews of people come out and cut the stumps into blocks.  They bring choppers in and fly them out because the old growth wood is so valuable on the market.  Some guys go in and cut the blocks, then split them into shingles on sight and sell them.  There was a split log, that had crashed to the ground and splintered.  We used the wedges to further split out 2 pieces  We hauled the two 17foot pieces to the road, stumbling through the obstacle coarse of logging rubbish.  About 5 weeks later my friend was coming into town and he delivered the two pieces in my front yard.  


Here is a photo of what one looked like when it arrived. 


I used a draw knife and skinned the pieces.  It was the largest pile of the best smelling kindling I've ever made.


With the beams skinned I made all my measurements for the mid level kitty porch.  Gail wanted a spot about 8 feet up where Patsy could hang out above the dogs for a safe vantage.  Next, I sharpened the froe I made a few weeks ago and split out the shakes about an inch thick for stairs. 


I thought a lot (with my consultants Timmy and Austin) about how much room a kitty needs for a stair.  I decided that 6 inches by about a 4 inch width seemed reasonable.


I split the shakes from a block of old growth cedar that I found in the same logging slash field as the beams.  I cut 5 stairs at (5, 6, 7, and 8 inch lengths) twenty total, so the stair length increased from bottom to top.  As the kitty ascends, the stairs get 1 inch bigger in increments of 5 stairs.


I needed to make a knee brace for the mid level kitty platform, so I cut a length of one of the cedar beams.  Next I chiseled out a notch in the beam for the knee brace to fit into.  Then I drilled a whole with the knee brace in place and whittled an an ash peg for the connection.  



I moved the beam out to my shop with help of a friend's pick up and set to work at the braces for the stairs.  I got 25 feet of 5/8" square stock, hot rolled steel.


I cut the steel into 18 15" pieces, drilled all the holes then forged 18 brackets.


I tapped the holes so (1/4 20) stainless screws would attach the cedar shakes to the stair bracket. 


I met with Gail and we connected the shakes to the brackets to make our complete stair then chiseled notches in the beam for the brackets to fit into.


With all the stairs and brackets attached, all that was left was to finish the porches.   


I held the beam up while Gail held the small porch platform on the sill and I took measurements for a connection brace.  I cut out the brace and fit it with a wide gouge.  I screwed it together and heaved it up one last time to connect the porch into the window sill. 


The last touch was a midway support beam.  The cedar had a little wiggle in it, so I wanted to add a support that came from the kitchen window sill.  You can see a good view of the support brace in the top picture.