Wood and Stone

A site to track our progress as we build our FirstDay Cottage Canadian house kit. Come on in, get a cup of coffee, set a spell and follow along on our journey or join in if you like. Check back for the weekly update (usually by Wednesday when things are going right) to see what we are currently up to!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Driving nails with Miss Daisy

What should we deck today, Ms. Daisy?
This sight of Wendy cause me to think of the title of today's post, so I got a picture to go with it.

Back to decking today. We brought up our watershoes and they worked great for working on the deck - now we need to bring shoes that are easy to slip on and off for trips down from the deck to get something instead of putting on and taking off workboots.

People always hope the weather will be sunny, but after spending half the day up on the deck, I am pretty sure that overcast is perfect decking weather. The deck is pretty rough in direct sun, to the point of heat induced visions of a beach for me. We took turns between connecting 2x6 decking to the frame and finding a 7' board that matches the width of the 14' board it goes next to, in order to cool down and keep sane.

Almost 1/3rd done with the main floor deck

Today, I tried using the nailer to put down the decking instead of a hammer. After a bit of calibration and some mistakes that had to be fixed, I started getting the hang of it. It took until the end of the day to really get consistently good with it. My initial thought was that this method was less effort, though not quicker. After using it all day, I think it is easier and quicker to use the nailer, though you still have the step of tightening the boards down no matter which way to you do it.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Deckathon 2007 starts!

Let the decking begin!

After straightening everything out last week, we thought we would be able to start decking. Instead, Wendy and I played Barbie pasteup Friday night, getting everything set up: making cereal box sleeves for the post inserts, putting them in place, cutting the decking to go around them, etc...

We made it through the setup and this morning we were able to start the decking in earnest. The decking is 2x6 tounge and groove pine boards. It serves as the deck as well as the finished floor surface. It will also comprise the finished ceiling surface, for upstairs at least. In the basement, we will probably eventually finish out the rooms and ceilings in drywall, excepting the south wall in each bedroom, which will be FirstDay wood finish.

First boards
By the end of the day (with Pop's help) we had 7 courses done, enough to stand on comfortably and enough to cause us to have to wrap everything up for the night. We need a better solution for working on the deck, so we don't get our dirty bootprints all over the deck. Pop suggested watershoes, which we both have, maybe we'll try tomorrow.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Braced for action

We weren't planning on working today, as we didn't have a solid plan for child care, but after sleeping in and doing some cleanup around the house, we got itchy about wasting such a plum day. We got Grandpa Tom to watch the kids for the afternoon while we went up to get some work in.

Wendy got out the chop saw and cut about twenty sticks of 14 foot 2x6 decking in half while I finished straightening and bracing the beams in anticipation of starting decking in earnest next weekend.

I continued putting on the 2x6 end pieces and straightening the beam up to it suing the bowrench. Once I figured out how to use it I was so happy. I was able to straighten up the 2x8s, use the tension to keep it straight while i got the nailer and nail it in place by myself. This, along with bracing the beams in each galley, helped to straighten it out even more. We needed a term to use while talking about the three 12 foot by 20 foot areas we have across the house - the bays are the 2 foot 8 inch by 36 foot areas. Galley was Wendy's and it stuck.

Finished up setting bracing

Next week - Decking!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Setting the record straight

Today we needed to get the last beam on across the back wall, brace the beams and start decking. As always, Law #1 of the Owner Builder comes into play - "Everything will take twice as long as you think" Law #2 is the mandatory follow-up and was originally penned by Murphy.

Mimi and Pop came up to help out by watching the kids and help out on-site respectively. We made the last 3 beams and put them up. When we had to notch the beams out for the bolts sticking through the sill plate, Wendy learned to use the sawzall - I guess it is a bayonet saw if you don't have a Milwaukee - and I got a refresher course.

While Pop and I put the beams up, Wendy increased the Feng Shui of the basement by using a pipe wrench and breaking the majority of the concrete snap ties off, reducing our chances of impalement on a daily basis by upwards of 50 percent and making being in the basement much nicer.

After getting the beams up we started checking plumb of the interior walls and found that we were out. After some adjustments, we started measuring in order to put on the bracing and found the 'Scooby Doo Mystery' of the day as Wendy has dubbed them. It seems each weekend, we get near the end of the day and find something horribly out of whack that we need to fix, ala law #2. This directly causes law #1 to occur. This one was that the western interior wall was too far back in the house by 3/4 of an inch, throwing the beams out of whack. You could see by looking down them that they were crooked, but we didn't realize why until we took measurements.

The back beam in place, wall moved and wall connected to sill
In the spirit of getting things right, we opted to fix it correctly by detaching the wall from the floor, moving it and reattaching it with Tapcon screws. This reduced the twistedness of the beams considerably. Next was to brace the interior walls to the back sill (and beam) for stability, and we ended up connecting the front wall too. We also started putting a 2x6 across the bays at the end of the beam, in order to hold the beams straight up while decking. That involved me nailing the 2x6 in place while Pop twisted the beams with the bowrench. There has to be a better way than just using it as a simple lever. We have been putting the bars on the beam to be straightened and pulling up or down. I will figure this tool out yet.

We got one 2x6 on and it was getting to be 5pm. Pop was ready for a siesta, so we packed it in for the day and went to meet Mimi and the kids for dinner at Garcia's

Pop has the right idea...  What did we do with that hammock?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Playing catch-up

After a lovely weekend in Boulder, Colorado for our friends Toni and Lisa's wedding, we were anxious to get some more work done on the house. If I may say so myself, I think it is going quite well - we have only worked 2 weekends since the sill was down and done and we have a pretty impressive structure already.

Looking over the weather, we decided to work today since the rest of the week looked sketchy and we wanted to get something done. We went up after work, made up the short posts for the front wall and the beams to go with them. We then nailed them in place and called it a day so we could pack it in before sundown.

Here is the front wall, taken saturday 7/21 when it was light

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Beam me up!

My father has been trying to convince me since Christmas that we had to have one. Wendy's uncle was even trying to talk us into buying one while he was up last weekend, and I poo-pooed it. Wendy wants nothing to do with it. I have been wary since FD doesn't recommend them and I have read the statistics on the number of DIYers who get hurt each year with them.

After my injury on our nation's birthday (hopefully we can all party it up for many years to come), and coupled with a shoulder (rotator cuff) strain Wendy has been fighting since the early days of this project when we climbed in and out of the cellar hole without a ladder, I decided to break the taboo and buy a framing nailer. After consulting my experts, I decided on the Porter Cable FR350A, considered to be state of the art.

I won't go on longer except to say two things: Wow. This thing cranks through production - if we didn't have it, we would still be just starting what we got done this weekend. Also, people get hurt on all sorts of tools, mostly because they have no respect for the tool, have little understanding of how to use the tool properly, and are cowboys. Use it properly and safely and nobody should get hurt. At least that is what I have always been taught.

Saturday, Uncle John cut all the lumber for the beams to get us started, while we set about making some saw horses to work on. Getting my toes wet took a little while, but once I got my feet under me, we were able to get 10 of the 21 twelve foot beams we needed assembled and put in place.

Putting up the first bunch of beams with Pop
Today, we finished up 5 more beams and straightened everything out before the threat of weather caused us to pack it in and send my father driving home.

All the middle beams up and secure
Wendy learned to use the chop saw under my father's tutelage today, and has earned herself the title of sawmistress from now on. If I need something cut, Wendy is whom I will go to.

All hail Wendy, the sawmistress!
In return, if the nailing power of the nailer is needed, I will be the go-to guy I guess. What is left to do - get the short wall built, get the beams across the back sill, start decking! We are off next weekend for a wedding in Boulder, CO, but will return with a vengeance the following weekend.

We also had some surprise visitors this weekend. Saturday, our Realtor stopped in to see what kind of progress we have made and she seemed impressed. Today, Wendy's other uncle and aunt dropped by. It was pretty cool to get to give the 2 bit tour to people who hadn't seen it yet.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Don't hit the pink nails

Happy Fourth of July! We got going early and made it up to the site today to try to beat out the weather - rain and thunderstorms were in the forecast for the afternoon. We were there and going by 8:00 AM, so we got a good start.

We fixed the last mini wall we put up for starters. I realized that when we assembled the wall, we turned it the wrong direction while raising it, and put it in backwards, which explained most of why that wall was all out of level. We disconnected the 2x8 braces and used the handtruck to turn the wall around. At that point, everything was a lot closer to being level, though the last post toward the back wall had a piece that was too long by an inch. It's always the simple math that gets me in trouble. Measure A, then subtract 1.5" to get C. Somehow I only subtracted 0.5", and caused things to be out of whack. Since it was still pretty early on a holiday and we didn't have another reason to use the generator yet, I marked it and used a handsaw to trim the inch off.

Once that was fixed, we measured out the stair opening from the back wall, made sure that the walls are plumb and put the bracing back. The walls look much more level. We also tied down the last 2 pieces of sill plate with TapCon screws so that we could measure and build the short posts that will go between the basement windows.

The measuring and cutting went fine. While nailing together the posts, I managed to whack my thumb with my framing hammer though. I literally saw stars when I did it and blood sprayed across the post in the greatest horror movie style.

Luckily my wife documented the blood after patching me up
Luckily, the rain started right about the same time, so we wrapped up for the day and went home. I have been taking it easy since then, but it still smarts quite a bit.

To paraphrase a friend of my parents', "Hit the grey nails, not the pink nails!" Sound advice that I will be sure to heed from now on, though perhaps I should have started earlier. Hopefully I will be back in shape for this weekend, since next weekend we have a wedding to attend to. Assuming everything works out, I think we could be ready to start decking the first floor by the end of this coming weekend.