Notes from Windward: #67


New Counter for the Kitchen

Note: this is a continuation of an article started in Notes Vol. 66.
To link to that article, Click Here

  January 3:

     The reason for the counter's odd design is that it's going to house a cart supporting the huge granite slab that we'll be using to expand our kitchen's capacity to make pies and fudge, two items that figure into our down-the-road plans for income generation for the twenty-something apprentices. The goal is to be able to expand our resources so that people who want to pursue the goal of sustainability will be able to generate income from the work they do here such that they won't need to look to traditional sorts of employment.

the 4x6 legs and the rollers

     The granite slab is massive, and we'll need a serious dolly to support it. The rollers that we'll be mounting that dolly on are too large to mount under a standard 4"x4" so yesterday I picked up a 12' length of 4"x6" to use to make the dolly's four vertical legs.

     Meanwhile, the next step on the counter was to fabricate a notched end-board for the counter to prevent things on the counter from being able to fall off towards the gas range. Notched, glued and screwed in place, it should serve just fine to keep counter things on the counter.

the counter's end board mounted in place

     Also, I'm pleased to report that we're getting positive feedback from the kitchen crew as to the utility of the counter's unusual heighth. It's not a heighth that will serve for all things, but for a number of activities such as chopping, it allows the food preparer to stand up straight and work--much easier on the back.

  January 4:

     Spent this afternoon's work session cutting up the wood for the slab dolly, and then took it up to the kitchen to thaw out. So long as it's dry, wood still cuts well enough when the temps are below freezing, but it needs to warm up to room temperature before being glued and screwed together.


  January 5:

     After enjoying an afternoon of cross-country sking, it was time to head inside by the wood stove and get busy glueing up the slab dolly. Fairly straight forward work; just a matter of attention to detail.


  January 6:

     Time to take the dolly outside and use the router to soften its sharp corners. It's the sort of work that throws off a lot of shavings, and it's never wise to irritate the kitchen crew by getting shavings into everything.


     With that task done, the dolly was moved into Bay 5 of the dining hall. In time Bay 5 will become another entry room similar to the mud room but on the opposite end of the dining hall, but for now it's sort of a utility/storage space. The dolly was turned upside down to receive an initial coat of paint on its underside.


  January 7:

     With the bottom paint sort of dry, it was time to predrill some holes and mount the four swivel rollers to the bottom of the dolly. These are the kind that can turn to go in any direction--which will make it easy to position the dolly where it's needed--and have a lock-down feature that will keep the dolly in place once it's there.


     With the new hardware in place, it was a simple matter to right the dolly, roll it into the kitchen and check the fit again. Lookin' good.


     Nothing quite as exciting as watching paint dry, especially when the weather's cold. Fortunatly, there's room enough on the far side of the woodstove to allow us to put down newspaper and do the rest of the painting there. The main part of the dining hall is warm enough that the oil-based paint we're using will dry in a reasonable amount of time. Now that the dolly is together, we're getting excited about the opportunity to put the granite slab to use in the near future. A batch of sour cream fudge with almonds and cherries should be just right for christening the slab.


  January 8:

     Today was the scary part--hoisting the granite slab high enough that we could roll the dolly underneath it.


     The first step was to rig up one of our heavy-duty "come-alongs" to lift the slab. These are very handy tools, and we have them in three different weight capacities; the small one that are rated for 1,500 pounds, the middle sort (which I'm using here) that are rated for 3,000 pounds, and the type that uses a chain instead of a steel cable--they're rated for 10,000 pounds and are what we use to move the shipping containers with.

     The slab weighs about 180 pounds (about 82 kilograms) so the smaller style of come-along would have been stout enough, but we went with the next step larger since the ratcheting mechanism is more robust and easier to reverse under load. Once we had the slab high enough to roll the dolly underneath it, we would need to slowly lower it back down onto the dolly, and the smoother the better.


     It was slow getting started since we would lift the slab, check it for balance and then lower it back down in order to make small adjustments in the location of the rope holding the slab--the goal was to lift it at the exact middle so that it would balance on the rope. Todd kept a grip on the slab to make sure it stayed level while I slowly and carefully worked the come-along.

     Once it was high enough, we removed the short dolly that the slab had been resting on, and moved the new dolly into place under the slab. Then it was slowly lowered down onto two sections of 4x6 that took the weight of the slab while keeping it high enough that we could remove the rope sling.

  January 9:

     The next step was to lower the slab into the dolly, a trick which involved lifting the slab with a hydraulic jack from underneath near the end so that the 4x6 could be replaced with a 2x4, in effect lowering the slab half way into the dolly's tray.


     That was repeated on the opposite end as the slab was carefully aligned with the tray that was to receive it. Once the slab was where it needed to be, the return valve on the jack was opened a crack and the slab just eased down into position.


     Now back to the other end to remove the 2x4 and slowly lower that end into its final resting place. That accomplished we got to see how well the dolly would travel across the kitchen floor. It has a good deal of mass so it takes a serious push to get it moving, but with the four fully pivoting rollers, the dolly is happy to move in any direction you need it to go.


     For now, it's tucked away under the counter to await the facing of the counter. With the construction work done, it's time to start work on the finishing details. One of the realities of this sort of work is that the finishing work usually takes longer than the actual construction, and all the more so in this case since we'll be doing the facing work on the ovens and the fry counter--might as well get it all done at once.

     Windward started out as raw land, and up to now we've always had to work on a project to the point where it was functional, and then move on in order to get another necessary function up and running. It's very pleasing that we've gotten to the point in Windward's growth where we were can afford the time and resources to stick with a project until the finishing work is done as well.

  January 10:

     Now that the slab dolly can be rolled into place under the counter, it's time to tackle the task of extending the carcase to fit the slab. Since the counter top is the size it is, we'll create a backstop that will move it away from the wall and towards the front so that people won't have to lean over the slab dolly when they're using the counter. That has the nice added benefit of creating a small shelf for keeping spices handy to the stove.


     The above is a shot of the counter with the backstop and the front extension in place.


     That shows how it looks with the counter replaced.


     And that's a close up of the backstop/shelf behind the counter top.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 67