For those of us not intimately acquainted with the old road (Route 134) and the farmsteads, homesteads, woodlots, and family businesses that can be found along it, signs can come in handy when you are trying to get to your final destination and the GPS wants you to turn into the Bay of Chaleur (It could happen…I’m just sayin’). We sometimes take for granted that people visiting the farm to purchase farm goods do not know where the old green MacCurdy Farm house is precisely situated. Our rural address, 29347, can be hard to locate on our mailbox if a passerby blinks or becomes distracted by the beautiful scenery that adorns the landscape and horizons surrounding Point La Nim, N.B.
After some discussion with family about putting up a sign to welcome visitors to our soon to be landed roadside stand and to our annual pumpkin pick/farm visit weekends in the fall, we decided to try our carpentry skills at a timber framed sign frame. Justin set out with a chainsaw and powerdrill to form the mortise and tenon joints that would tie the two 9′ cedar posts to the 6′ beam and the 7′ bowed cedar log character piece on the top of the sign. It was his first attempt at it so equipped with his helmet, ear protection, and safety goggles he set out to form the joinery that would hold all the pieces together.
Given the absence of any appropriately sized 2″ chisels in our carpentry tools arsenal the tenons are formed by measuring the cut lines to form a 2″ by 6″ by 12″ tenon with an angled end to act as a drip edge. This was done with a framing square and carpentry pencil. Very precise and careful cuts with the chainsaw (Yes, I said chainsaw, not circular saw) were made along the cutlines by idling out the chain along the cut lines and cutting carefully to save the 2″ thickness of the tenon. To form the length of the tenon the 6″ x 6″ post was laid flat on a level area and then sighted by eye for plumb along the cutline. I wasted an old piece of 6″ x 6″ that was meant for firewood to practice the first time around. In all, only two tenons needed to be formed. The difficult task came in cutting the mortise joints, which involved plunging the chainsaw bar into a 6″ by 2″ rectangular hold that was previously bored out with a power drill to form a slot to guide the bar into the mortise. By steadily cutting away both faces of the mortise and plumbing up the narrower face 4 mortises were formed, two in the beam and two in the cedar log. The danger in forming mortises in this manner comes with the high possibility of kickback from the chain saw. Forming mortises in this manner requires every ounce of your attention and a steady downward cutting action. Familiarity around a chainsaw is essential. The saw was filed twice during the whole process and the oil checked regularly given the downward position of the bar.
Joining the pieces together required a little bit of MacGyvering to be done. We didn’t have any hardwood pegs and I didn’t want to make any so my physical restraint brought about mental creativity. An old hardwood broom handle cut to the appropriate 6.5″ lengths would do the trick. I tapered the ends with a belt sander and left the whittling to the boredom of mountain men. With the pieces connected, but not joined, the pegs were gently tapped through the 1.25″ holes through the mortise and tenon. Sign complete? The frame was but we still had to stain and create the “MacCurdy Farm, Point La Nim, NB” sign to go between the posts.
Home Hardware had a great deal on a gallon of cedar stain so we bought that as it would also coat the exterior walls of our roadside stand. Always think ahead when you buy more than you need. With two coats of stain applied only the sign had to be created. An old piece of 3/4″ plywood was laying around the basement and it just happened to be a 4′ by 2.5′ piece that fit the sign opening. Fortuitous discovery! The inscription was formed freehand by using a router with a straight cut 1/4″ router bit. First, the sign was measured out into a grid to properly place the lettering in pencil. The style was borrowed from our MacCurdy Farm facebook profile picture. After some very careful edging and two applied coats of stain the sign was mounted to the insides of the post using small slotted pieces of 2″ x 2″.
Thankfully, through all of this I had a very helping hand from our cousin, Brenda, who was visiting with her mom, Marion, from B.C. Her encouragement and excitement over the project, not to mention the help in erecting the sign, were hugely helpful in bringing the project to fruition. To know the kindness of a loved one is one of life’s greatest treasures. We even had the blessing of having my grandmother, her mother, the kids, Brenda, and myself take a family picture in front of the sign. We hope others do the same when they stop in to visit or sign in to the farm on our facebook page.
Our Directions to the farm can remain the same, “Take exit 397 off of highway 11. Turn North, cross a set of railroad tracks and come to a set of flashing lights. Turn right towards Dalhousie. Travel just under 3 km until you come to 29347 Rte 134 Point La Nim, NB, Canada. The farm is on the South side of the road. Look for a large green farm house next to an old timber frame barn.” Well, we can now add, “Find our MacCurdy Farm Sign at the base of our farm lane.” There is nothing like a sign to welcome newcomers and old friends to our slice of agricultural heaven in Northern, NB. We hope the character of the sign is inviting and welcomes you to our family farm as you drive past it and up the farm lane to a place we lovingly call, the farm.
More to follow…
Next blog, MacCurdy Farm hiking trail and the new bridge.