about 7 weeks ago i was almost ready to put on the decking on The World’s Most Awesome Treehouse(s) and wrote:
“one big remaining decision – to use pressure treated decking or not? i think i’m leaning towards pressure treated to help prevent decay. i’m thinking that anything i put on unfinished decking to prevent rot is going to be at least as unfriendly as pressure treated lumber. suggestions?”
well, you all did have suggestions and pretty much mostly everyone recommended avoiding pressure treated lumber when kids are going to be in regular contact with bare feet, if for no other reason than following the precautionary principle because there’s not-so-fun chemicals involved in pressure treating lumber. all a good reminder of something i already knew. but what wood to use instead of a pressure treated lumber that wouldn’t require treatment with chemicals to prevent rot?
a bunch of local folks recommended finding an amish sawyer who would mill black locust which is extremely hard and renowned for its resistant to rot. local folks who build decks out of the wood claim you don’t have to do anything to it and it will last decades or longer. perfect! and as an added bonus i would be supporting local sawyers whichy is A Good Thing.
it took a three weeks but i finally found a sawyer who was quite reasonable with price ( $1 per board foot, which is actually cheaper than cedar decking from a big box lumber store ) but originally he was so swamped with orders he wasn’t going to be able to fit me in for “a couple of months”. i must not have done a good job of hiding my disappointment on my face because he immediately said, “well, how much do you need? oh, only enough enough for 14’x16′ deck? well, i think we can try to squeeze you in. see ( with a twinkle in his eye ), this is my downfall, i try to make everyone happy.”
with a handhshake i’d come back in 3 weeks. in the end, because of other obligations they needed 4 weeks to squeeze my order in, which puts me 7 weeks behind but i’m just happy to be making progress and doing it the way i want.
i get ready to go out to the sawyers to pick up the wood with the vague idea that i’ll just make couple of trips in our jetta. i thought if i put the back seats down i could probably fit 8 feet in the car and have 6 feet hanging out the back, but i remembered the sawyer said he’d give me generous 14 foot boards, closer to 15 feet, so i’d have more than enough overhang to trim. right before i left to pick up the wood i thought i’d better measure how much room i had in the car with seats down and was suprised to discover i could only fit about 6 feet in the car.
uh, oh. there was no way i could drive down the road with 9 feet of board hanging out the back of the car. so i quickly tried to procure a trailer or a truck and could only come up with a compact chevy s-10 on short notice which gained me a couple of feet with the gate down, which still meant i was going to have 7 feet hanging out. oh well, it was the best i could come up with so i figured i had to make it work and drove out the sawyer’s place.
with the head sawyer, i loaded thirty two 14 foot boards in the bed of the truck and watched the bed sink lower and lower. because black locust is one of the hardest woods, it’s also veeeeery heavy, expecially when it’s still wet and from a freshly cut tree. the little chevy s-10 was sagging under the strain and the ends of the boards were really close to the ground after the wood were loaded. and even with the truck bed, the wood was teetering precariously. but ever the optimist, i thought i’d give it a test by driving a couple hundred feet from the saw mill to the end of the driveway. driving slowly up from the mill i could hear the boards dragging on the gravel driveway and slowly pulled up to a half dozen amish young sawyer men sitting on a huge hay wagon hitched to a team of very strong work horses. they all had big smiles on their faces. it was clear they they were all wondering if i was really going to try drive all the way back to town. the juxtaposition of me in my little s-10 and they in their big horse-drawn wagon was amusing.
i said, “nope. i guess this isn’t really going to work.”
they all let out hearty laughs. a few said simultaneously, “nope.”
one said, good naturedly, “i think you might need a wagon.”
“yup. i think you’re right.”
they helped me unload half the wood and we rigged some plywood and a spare tire and some logs to weigh down the wood in the bed of the truck that kept the overhanging wood from barely dragging on the road and i set off for town, slowly.
i got lots of looks from folks along the way, but made the two trips without incident 🙂