Sunday, December 21, 2014

WellHaus The start of something I've always wanted to build

As the morning darkness of Winter Solstice shrouds me, we are embarking on a new building project. I have had small shops, metal buildings, and backyards, but today we start something inspiring in which future creations will arise.  With the short days, dark nights, and wet everythings, I have tarps strewn across the landscape creating a Christo and Jean Claude like refugee camp after a hurricane. At this point, much of the tools I have, the table saw, compound mitre, and others have become sacrificial. I hope that they get me to the finish but they are taking a beating getting there. The workspace expands and contracts like the wood in the stacks as the Summer and Winter ebb and flow.

As this is a design/build, I have a rough idea of the finished design however I am flexible as materials and preferences change. To be able to take advantage of the Summer weather I have started the design and have begun sourcing material. The site is sloped, and the rear facade is lined with cedar. The front facade will face West and there will be a patio to the North. As this is the Western slope of a mountain, my intention is to use the materials around me to blend with the surrounding environs.

To start, we survey the site and catalog what we have. We have rocks, lots of rocks, it's a mountain, it's full of rocks. We have trees, lots of trees, it's a mountain, it's full of trees. Ah, but we have restrictions, it's what we planners call a "Critical Area" and it's exactly the reason we wanted to be here. So what are some of the restrictions? Well lets see, 100 feet from a watershed, check, development of only 30% of the total lot size, check, no significant grading or infill, check, no clear cutting or mass landscape removal and must have a master landscape plan, check, allowance of construction up to 200 sqft without a permit, check.

Ok, I guess I know what we can't do, eh? So let's get on with what we can do. First off, I can harvest all the dead or storm damaged trees for timber. Second, I can start removing invasive english ivy and start reintroducing  native and specimen  plantings. So to start I have sourced several cedar saplings that have taken root in an area that we want a path. So that was a nice way to start, plant a handful of cedars!

Under the cloak of english ivy I have found standing deadwood, one Cottonwood, one Big Leaf Maple, one Hemlock, and several unidentifiables that will be arranged in the landscape to decay. There is a young yet large cedar that has three trunks that has died and is now a hazard. At approximately thirty feet tall I should get several nice timber posts. I already have three 10"x 10"x 6' in cedar that I intend to use for lintels.

Great, so I am going with 12 x 16. It's exactly what I want and keeps me under 200 square feet. This is still building to code and my intention is to over build. We are going to have four corner posts that will be 18" concrete footers with a 6" post rising through the centre of the river rock wrapped pier through a cast stone cap to tie into the girders. There will be six more footers that will be inset on the footprint so as to not be visible.

So today, we'll start in the Northeast corner and begin! OK, actually this photo is the Northwest corner because well, this is the NW! The cornerstone will most certainly go in the Northeast corner.

Jason Kotarski

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Beauty of Big Leaf Maple - Acer Macrophyllum

As I wait for the clouds to part and return to dodging rain drops I thought I'd follow up from the Infinity Loop Inlay with some pictures on using Big Leaf Maple for the top of the Gate-leg Table the "Mrs." I went into some description in a previous post about how the figure is coming so I need to show it and explain my thinking (or perhaps unthinking) on the arrangement. So, like I said before this is my first opportunity with this species and I still recall the day we first discovered Acer MacroPhyllum! It was on the trail on the 65 acres we rented,
Jason Kotarski

Sure, it's a quintessential Big Leaf Maple photograph from the Pacific Northwest but we were just floored. Now, how I came upon working with this wood was pure happenstance. After seeing a Gate Leg table in a few places the Mrs. requested one be built for her. So alas, the challenge began. I enjoy woodworking and my favourite challenge is sourcing, felling, and milling the trees myself. Radiance and Nautalis were sourced from storm damaged trees and some architectural remnants. So I thought I should continue the tradition, at least one more time. It takes alot of time this way and pieces may take months if not years.

Having found what I thought was oak, I started the drying process so I could start planing out a slab and see what I might have found.

Jason Kotarski

Since it looked somewhat like oak, to me at the time, I started shooting photos off to my brother the arborist. Some what cryptically as I already stripped the bark off, so I went back into the woods to find it and send a text that looked like this.
Jason Kotarski

By those two photos, we were perplexed but he narrowed it down to the Acer family. Thankfully, a week later, Spring sprung and I found the little branch growing out of the storm damaged tree! And...... alas the tell tale bloom!

Jason Kotarski
Jason Kotarski

Great! I start doing some research and terms like quilt, flame, birds eye, spalt, and punky start flowing. Now I'm getting excited, violins and guitars abound during my research and I start getting the itch do build some. I have my requested dimensions for the table, now I need to figure out how to get to them. Having found two split halves I plane down to the heartwood and find some magnificent figure. I decide these two pieces have to be the wings of the Gate Leg and represent the "Heart" so to speak.

Jason Kotarski

Having several large rounds on hand I start splitting more, first halving to find book matches, then quartering for smaller pieces. Towards the outside of the tree I start to find a whole new figure. In my research it appears this is referred to as mineral staining.

Jason Kotarski

This will also most likely be the figure for the frontispiece on the drawers as well. It really gives the wood direction so I separated it from the "Heart" to show that the wood originally came from the outside portion of the tree. I went back into the woods for more and came out with some logs that were just rotten with Tinder Polypore growing on them. I used my machete to hack down to something solid and when I found the solid portion of the heart I shaved a clean area of about nine inches, finding spalted streaks of green and black and red. I figured this would be fitting to be the next section of the table to show off the spalt and the life cycle of the tree.

Jason Kotarski

I took this photo specifically to show the spalt because after I attach the final banding this will not be seen.

Jason Kotarski

I wanted to show off the face grain and spalt on this piece but I wanted to show one more aspect of this wood in the furniture piece as a whole. This band represents both spalt and quarter-sawn figure. By planing the first two sections down I was able to show the quilting and mineral stain patterns in the face grain. By quarter sawing the last section I hope that the flame figure will come forward. Sadly, I have not yet found birds eye or burl for this project. Those two figures would make this a looooooooooooooooonnnnnnggggg conversation piece!

Jason Kotarski
The piece on the left has sanding sealer on it to help show the figure. After the final edge band is installed, the entire piece will be sealed, sanded a ridiculous amount, and finished with several steps of finish.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Updated Website - Jason Michael Kotarski

I have finally updated my website and will be fine tuning sections as the Autumn progresses into Winter and the rains begin to fall. I also hope to add more to this blog as the weather changes.

Without further ado Jason Michael Kotarski !!!  Not much different than before but the portfolio section is about to be reshaped to better display the variety of past projects as well as some "in progress" projects since my projects tend to take years.

Since creating the Nautalis coffee table top, the inlay has worked into my business card, my website, and has slowly become my defacto "logo". Although my logo is actually my signature and I intend to order a brass wood burning stamp with it in the future.

Jason Kotarski, Jason Michael Kotarski 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Woodworking- Inlaying an Isometric Infinity Loop in Big Leaf Maple

I am about to make a shift in the direction of this blog. Most likely to the people who have read this far along, it's for the better. Two marathon training blogs is enough. So I want to change the topic! I have found a very new and interesting species of wood that was previously unavailable to me; Acer Macrophyllum, Big Leaf Maple.

I have worked Maple before, it is hard and it is beautiful. However, Eastern Maple is typically easily identifiable and consistent. Big Leaf Maple on the other hand is wildly variable and takes on multi-dimensions in regards to figure. In the upcoming articles I am going to chart the construction of the Gate Leg Table. Since, I typically name each piece of furniture, this one is going by the working title of The Mrs.

The Mrs. is going to have an Oak frame constructed from a salvaged pallet. No, it is not going to look like a pallet, it is going to look like a piece of furniture. You can follow my youtube channel JKOTAR20  if you want to see how I went about it. The drawer faces are going to be flame figured Big Leaf Maple, just one of the many figures this wood presents. The top of the table is going to be primarily Big Leaf Maple with some inlay decorations. The centre is going to be from the centre of the tree, or the heart. This figure has beautiful grain patterns with streaks of color throughout and amazing quilting. The surround is going to come from the outside of the tree and will display some very interesting flame patterns. These will be shown in later posts, so for now, lets get on with it, shall we?

The centre of the The Mrs. is the main focal point of the table and when the sides are down, the only part that stands out. So to make this even more appealing than the grain already provides, we are going to inlay two things, one is a small, ever so slightly noticeable piece of copper. When all is said and done there will be a very delicate copper line between the three band inlay and the surrounding pieces. On both ends of the table are going to be inlaid infinity loops. And that is what I am about to show!

Jason Michael Kotarski

So this is actually pretty easy once it's all laid out. Let's start with the degrees, 30 and 60. By setting up the table saw with the push block set to 60 degrees, we create the two points of the loop.

Jason Michael Kotarski

Now that the two points are set we can go to the sliding compound mitre saw for the next cuts, at 30 degrees. With the saw set at 0 (90 Degrees), the line should be be right through the centre. 

Jason Michael Kotarski

So, we need to shift this to the 30 degree mark to get the angle we need. 

Jason Michael Kotarski

This is one of those times where the laser is very helpful with double checking the correct angle! This cut will also give us the angle for the next cut which will in effect be like a return. 

Jason Michael Kotarski

  Now all we need is our parallelogram to give us the distance.

Jason Michael Kotarski

Et, voila! Now, time for some good ol' fashion chisel work!

Jason Michael Kotarski

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Running in the rain

There comes a time when you just have to accept the fact that sooner or later it is going to rain on a long run day. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, well.... there comes a time when you just have to accept that one day there will be sun on a long run. Alas, it is Saturday, the morning chores are almost complete and I am just about to go for a run. Last weeks training plan called for a six miler and I was able to hammer out ten before I decided to call it a day. My legs felt great but my blood sugar crashed pretty early and I quickly went through my gels. All that was worked through but what was killing me was the constant down pour in 45 degree weather that had my clothes feeling like an anchor.

So, as I look out the window across the lake I see rain drops. Here we go again. I think I'll take a look at my gear and see what I can offer up. First thing on every marathoners training list should be Body Glide. I use this regularly, but when you plan on being soaked for the next two hours you might want to hit some um.... delicate areas.

I make sure my inner thighs get some anti-chafe protection for sure, depending on how far I plan on going I'll also hit the top of my shoulders and nipples. The next important thing is having the right socks for sloshing around through puddles, I enjoy Balga the most and I prefer them mix matched. Just kidding but they always seem to become mix matched for some reason. I know I can't be the only one but I absolutely love a new pair of socks. I don't know what it is but I really like brand new socks. My pre-race ritual for Marathons and Half Marathons is popping some tags off a new pair of running socks.

The next thing you should consider is what type of tread you want to strap to your feet. This is not about the barefoot debate, I run barefoot sometimes but only for training purposes to correct foot fall and technique. I have ran enough miles to know I don't want my feet stepping in some of the things I have seen out there. I have my old Asic GT 2170 that I use for trainers.  Yes, they are ugly, yes there are holes in the tops of them, yup that's mud on them, and yes they just dried out from last week. I typically rotate through three pairs of shoes while training and I posted a video of them last year, RunShoeRun I like racing flats for short to medium distance races and might use them here or there for short training runs, fartleks, or speed work. I keep the other two rotating out so that I have a dry pair ready to go.

The third important thing to remember about running in the rain is to stay hydrated. It's easy to forget about water when your soaked head to toe but hydration is critical to proper training. Taking in fluids is part of the training, not just for the obvious reasons but for the fact that you need to know how your body is going to react to something when your out there trying to PR. Everyone and every run is different but you should know if you can handle a little water a the 2 mile mark or hold out for the 4 mile mark or somewhere in between. Will you run through an aid station or walk? I personally don't like when I shoot a cup of water up my nose during a race. I typically skip the first water station in hopes I can drop off a few folks who lied about their finishing time to end up in my corral. If its hot I'll try for a cup and squeeze the top flat, get out of the chaos and try for a sip or two further down the course. Around the 18 mile mark I might walk through the aid station to catch my breath, take in some water and electrolytes, and enjoy the run.

For me the most important thing is to stay fueled. I have hypoglycemia and I can crash in the matter of minutes. To counter this I make sure I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before, a couple of gels during, and an energy bar like Larabars Uber.

Well, I have alot of projects to get to  when I finish my run so I better get out there!

Happy Running!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Marathon Training Week 1, Damn Sprained Ankle

So if running has ever been a paralleled metaphor for life this just had to happen. The first week of training started off and sure enough I caught the edge of an office chair and rolled my left ankle again. I can't recall how many this makes it, but my left ankle has taken more than two dozen rolls and sprains. With that said I thought I'd reflect on my approach to training with a sprained ankle and offer some insight on what or what not to do. This is according to me with the DISCLAIMER: damn it I'm a runner not a doctor!

But................Luckily I know someone who is! Dr. Kotarski is a Naturopathic Doctor in Seattle's Ballard District. The first course of action was of course Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Having been down this path before I carry (2) ace bandages, (2) Mueller ankle braces, (1) Mueller knee brace, and several ibuprofen.  The second course was a combination of three prescriptions that I can't pronounce so you'll have to check out her website.

The sprained ankle occurred on Friday with a scheduled 6 miler for Saturday. Nope, no go, I was hobbled. So I set in motion my plans for cross training and core work that did not involve pounding my feet against the pavement. Simple sit-ups, leg lifts from the floor, push-ups, and alot of stretches. I will most likely be adding Yoga which will also be a first for me, but that might have to be another post. I started looking for a new bicycle as well so I could continue working on my leg condition and anaerobic conditioning.

Sunday I actually had full movement of my ankle so all wrapped up we went for a hike up in the hills. Surprisingly I made the 4 mile hike with no problem and was able to enjoy the views I normally pass by on my runs. So by Tuesday I had schemed that I was all patched up and ready to go. I decided after work I would try my regular after work run and see how I could do. I have been using Queen Anne for hill training and I figure two or three miles with those hills will be worthy of a workout and keep the pounding on my ankle to a minimum. I was able to complete my runs but they were short, two on Tuesday and my ankle was sore, four on Wednesday and I felt ok, three on Thursday and felt great so I completed an eight miler on Saturday around Lake Youngs.

This was probably not a recommended approach but I do not sit still very well. This ankle sprain recovery was the fastest I have ever experienced and I thought I should put that out there for anyone trying to recover from that blast of defeat you feel when you fall on your ass in pain hearing ligaments tearing apart in your ankle.  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Coast to Coast

I started blogging without really understanding how to blog. This is my attempt to rectify this and consolidate my posts under one heading. My first was an infrequent posting during training for the my first marathon. I have started training for another and remembered writing about the first when several comparisons struck me. It has been two years since the first marathon and much has changed. In this, I will be more flexible with topics (random as they may be), more attentive to posting, and full of pictures instead of too many words and wit.

Since starting the first blog and training for the Savannah Rock n Roll Marathon we have had several amazing  changes. A successful first marathon is one in which you cross the finish line. For those that followed  the First 26 or went back in time on me, Jessie and I manged to stick it out together and complete the grueling course that put us on the freeway completely exposed to 20 mile per hour head on wind at the 20 mile mark. We crossed with smiles on our face with a 4:15 engraving on the reverse of our finishers medal!

Since that time we have been married, ran many more races and moved across the country. In between this marathon and the last was a very interesting one. Tybee Run Fest! for those of you who have been to Tybee Island and for those of you who haven't, this is a race everyone should attempt. It's 26.2 miles in total broken down into "manageable" chunks. What seemed like a great idea turned out to be be more difficult than the whole 26.  Dividing up 26.2 miles into a 5k night run, a 10k morning run, half marathon just after the 10k, 2.8 mile beach run ( yes if the tide is high you will be in soft shifting sand or up to your knees in water), followed by a 1 mile "sprint" ( I was reduced to shuffling by this point) Check it out for yourself though critztybeerun  .

We married and of course our wedding day centered around what???... a 5k race of course. The Glen Iris 5K, with proceeds going to the local library, which coincidentally was where we met in Savannah. Now this wasn't some bride running in her gown, this is running, we had running shirts made up and the wedding party all ran along with friends and family. No not together, this is RUNNING, we raced. Both mothers took first and the bride took third in respective age groups.

So back to training........ SEATTLE!!!!!!!!! Rock n Roll!! (Today is Super Bowl Sunday by the way so GO HAWKS!!!!)   Once again this is turning into a family gathering and we can't wait! It's definitely a running thing! Whenever we travel we search out a great run or race, it's just a fun way to run on vacation with a bunch of strangers on closed streets and you can't get lost.

Now running in Washington is not like every other place. One mile run may equal one mile rise. But as I intend to document here, this is going to be fun. We trained before in the heat and now there is frost on the ground. I use to get up at 4:45 to beat the heat and now I wait until the temperature has raised above 40F. I'm starting this training schedule with a sprained ankle. Rolled it right at the first weekend of training so lets hope this is a fluke. I had some acupuncture immediately after which was a first for me. Since Washington allows Naturopathic Medicine, I had some needles poked in me and I must say, I have never recovered so well from a sprain. I'm ever the skeptic so I must say I definitely feel the difference.

So, enough with the boring. Lets run this place!