Our house on Noon Road has a new look! After years of looking out the front windows at a rickety railing on the front porch, we have a replacement. The railing has been falling apart almost since the day it was put together back in 1995. Finally, I asked my son Isaac if he’d be interested in a “little summer job.” “Yes!” he said. And the work began.

The easy part took such a short amount of time, I didn’t have time to take a “before” photo before he had the whole thing torn off the deck. A little push here and there, and it was pretty much demolished. But I did take plenty of “during” photos. What you see in the first photos of the slideshow are the posts. We needed five of them. They came from the maple tree next to the one that once held a huge tree house that Barry and I made with help from our kids, Angela and Isaac. Kids and adults alike used to play in it. The maple next to it is huge, and Isaac cut some beautiful wood from it.

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The top and bottom railings were cut from a cedar tree that grows near the northwest corner of our house. I don’t remember how many branches it took, but the tree needed to be cleared from the house anyway. So… maple posts, cedar railings and the slats are either salvaged douglas fir, and also maple. The salvage pieces were trimmed and cleaned up a bit, as were all the new pieces. Then Isaac measured, cut, re-measured, trimmed some more, measured again, and laid it out to fit the parts. That took a bit of time, and a few cuss words, but it all went according to plan.

Building the railing was not an easy job. But in the end, what I wanted was exactly what I got. I consider myself the art director, and Isaac the artist and mathematician. I say “mathematician” because as you’ll notice, the railing uses crooked, bent, and twisted pieces for posts, railings and slats. However, you’ll also notice that the slats are spaced evenly, and placed about as perpendicular as possible. Isaac was out there doing the math on small scraps of paper and chunks of wood to be sure everything would fit. In the photos, you can see some circles and x’s he drew to measure from, and as targets for the drill bits. He also strung baling twine from the top to the bottom rungs in order to measure from here to there with some degree of accuracy. Toward the end, it was real tough putting the whole thing together, but obviously doable, as you can see. There was lots of pounding with Isaac’s homemade truncheon, and sharpening of chisels and knives. The truncheon lasted almost through the whole job, but not quite.

Isaac finished the railing (except for the stairs section, which will be finished soon), and then took off for Evergreen State College, where he’s taking Russian and a class called Motion and Matter that includes physics, chemistry and calculus. Those of you who know Isaac understand that he couldn’t be having a better time right now. Meanwhile, Jim and I have a great piece of art to look at every day. It’s wild and beautiful.

–posted by Anita K. Boyle

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