Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hans and the Sawyer

Hans Waller finished cutting down the two redwood trees this week, and yesterday, Bob Greer the sawyer came to start cutting the trunks up into lumber.
Elliott standing next to one of the tree trunks

Hans managed to cut down the two large trunks of the redwood tree and lay them neatly in the side yard on 62nd Street. The trees were massive, but not as old as we had thought - by counting the rings, we found that the trees were only about 40 years old.

Then Bob set up his mobile sawmill. The process of sawing up the trees into lumber is pretty amazing. Most of the time is spent positioning the logs so they are stable and in line with the mill. Bob spent a lot of time figuring out what cuts to make, and how to get the most lumber out of the trees. We're using the lumber mostly to build fences, so we wanted 4x4s, some 2x4s and lots of 1x8 planks. Hans had cut the tree down into 16' pieces, so we could get some good lumber, and Bob estimated that we have over 1000 board feet of lumber in the tree.
Once the tree was positioned (or rather, once the portable sawmill was positioned over the tree), the process moves quickly. Bob sets the blade and pulls it back through the tree, making a vertical cut. Then, he flips a lever, and the blade turns horizontal, and as he pushes it forward again, it makes the cut that separates the board from the tree. When he reaches the end of the cut, the board can be removed and stacked.

At the back of the lot, Tom set up a level drying area, and stacked the lumber there. Bob had cut strips of unusable redwood, all the same thickness, and Tom used those to separate the rows of lumber.

The cutting will take several days, but in the end we should have a stack of beautiful redwood, drying in the back yard and waiting to be made into fences. We have two fences to build: a 135' fence along the east side of the lot (replacing the ugly chain link fence) and a 50 foot fence across the front.

The next big job will be dealing with the stump of the two trees. Hans will come back in a week or so and grind them down level with the rest of the yard, so the Cheney Cottage can roll over them and into place. Hans said we will end up with an enormous pile of redwood sawdust (not mulch), which we can spread around the lot to amend the soil. It's nice that the trees are staying on 62nd Street, as fences and in the soil.

Meanwhile, work continued inside the Delaney House. I primed Elliott's bedroom, and hope to paint it today. We also did some additional work on the toilet, rewired a floor lamp, and get a futon and cover to go on Elliott's futon frame/couch in the living room.

The next couple weekends should be less productive. Carol and Carter, Tom's parents, arrive on Thursday, so we'll be spending each Saturday with them. But we still hope to keep moving on some of the work, as we want to move the Delaney House before the end of May.

I've also been having a nice email exchange with Pete Alvarez, our neighbor across the street. Pete's father owned not only the house he lives in ("La Casa Colorada") but also the grey house two houses down. Pete moved into La Casa Colorada in 1980 and has been there ever since. He told me that his cousin was a good friend of Darryl Thomas, who grew up in the Delaney House, and that Darryl and his brother and his parents lived in the basement of the house, while his grandmother lived upstairs.

Because 62nd Street has been part of both Berkeley and Oakland, the records at Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association are not very complete. Pete is going to go over there to do some research on his house, and then I hope to enlist his help in figuring out where in Oakland we can research the houses. Somewhere, there must be more information about the Delaney House - the first record of it existing in Berkeley is from 1904, but the house is clearly an Italianate Victorian cottage, which puts it being built in the 1880s. We assume that when the old 62nd Street (Todd Street) was connected with other streets when the farms in South Berkeley were subdivided, the Delaney House was moved to its present location. Hopefully, we can find some more information in the Oakland records.


  1. Amazing. To change the saw from vertical to horizontal, Hans "flips a letter". Can it be he is actually Tom's sister Vanna?

  2. Okay, okay, I changed it. Clearly, Tom and I are not getting enough sleep. But how did you know that Tom's sister is named Vanna? Except she's his YOUNGER sister.....

  3. How are you planning to stop folks from swiping the lumber?

  4. Hi, Dmitri
    Call the Oakland History Room at the Main Library, 238-3222. Depending on the time period, they have some property records and can help with a search.

  5. Thank you for such a fantastic blog. Where else could one get this kind of info written in such an incite full way?I have a presentation that I am just now working on, and I have been looking for such information.

    public records