Category Archives: Walls

A bathroom wall, white paint, table saws and an eclipse…

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I’ve put up my bathroom wall! The first partition! It’s actually the only partition in my floorplan, but that makes it even more exciting 😀

I used 1 x 5 tongue and groove pine screwed into horizontal supports at the top and bottom. I’ll need to put some more bracing in there because it’s a mite wobbly the now, maybe some shelving or something to hold things together and make for some extra storage.

I thought about framing the wall with 2×2’s and insulating before adding 1/4″ wall paneling…but I didn’t. I haven’t much of a good reason other than would have taken slightly more space and perhaps been slightly heavier. Also stronger I suppose, but this is what I’ve got so I’m liking it.

As a rule, I don’t use the table saw by myself and it’s ended up as the last thing my stepdad does actively in the build. It hasn’t been an issue in the past because the whole idea freaks me out, but recently, it’s started bugging that waiting for him to run cuts is preventing progress.

So I’ve convinced him it’s less safe for me to not know how to use it properly, and received a pretty terrifying tutorial with his reluctant agreement. That machine scares the pants off of me, but I gathered a bit of courage from wherever it hides down in my shoes somewhere and have been making my own cuts since.

Actually doing it myself now is not as horrid as I’d feared. I’ve spent so much time watching my dad every time he ran the saw that I almost feel like I’ve done it before and it’s a relief to cut what I need to when I need to. How exciting all the things I’ve learned from this house and my dad since September when I was afraid of the nail gun.

2 more things: I’ve painted my wainscoting white and the eclipse last Sunday was incredible. I went hiking with my mom and dad to the top of our mountain, equipped with little rectangles of welding glass to look at the sun without frying our eyeballs. I guess I didn’t take very many pictures of the bathroom wall or what I’ve painted (i.e. the point of this post) so instead, I will give you all lots of pictures from our eclipse hike last weekend. It was pretty cool 🙂

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Collar joists up for the lofts…

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After conquering the wheel well sheathing yesterday, working with square walls has been almost relaxing in comparison. Also since the plywood was longer on the side sections and the remaining areas were considerably shorter, we practically skipped our way through the bottom layer of sheathing today with the good humour of folk who don’t have to break their heads measuring and cutting patterns of unequally curving wheel wells.

The collar joists and loft floors get tied into the whole thing by the upper layer of sheathing so they need to go in before we can progress plywood wise. This has turned out well because we’ve somehow ended up with 5 of our 13, 3/8″  plywood for the walls being not 3/8″ but 1/2″ so we couldn’t continue with it even if we wanted to without a trip to the hardware store.

The last time we went to Lowes there was some confusion around their stacks of wood and I guess someone put a few sheets back in the wrong place. Of course we probably should have noticed the size difference in the store but I hate large places like that so much that my only objective is to find what is imminently needed and run for the hills. Apparently it is worth finding what is imminently needed, looking at it first and then running for the hills.

My dad wanted to test out his router to cut the window holes in the plywood and it worked so well he made it around the house in a matter of minutes. Ah, the miraculous wonder of power tools 🙂 Our neighbors are becoming increasingly interested in our project since it has sprouted walls and looks more like a house and less like a mutant trailer so we had a record number of visitors to show off to this afternoon.

We normally decide to finish around 5:30 or so but today we plowed onwards and got the collar joists for the lofts in at both ends. I’m excited to be working on something that will be inside of the house and actually visible, and now the door end storage loft joists are in, the structure is really starting to take shape. My dad has tomorrow off as well this week so hopefully we’ll move on to the roof. Holy cows! Because sometimes, one cow just isn’t enough…

Plywood sheathing started…

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Now that the walls are attached, it’s on to putting up the outside plywood. We decided to tackle the hardest part of this process first which would of course bring us back to the wheel wells OF DOOM, but we made it out alive and both sides were covered by the end of the day.

Because of the way our framing is, we ended up with two pieces of plywood over each wheel well so that they would land on an appropriate 2×4 and tie in the walls we’ve bolted together. We also had to put the plywood on horizontally instead of vertically because the 4′ sheets weren’t quite wide enough to reach a solid piece of framing to nail into.

As the project progresses, I continually become aware of just how many nifty tools my dad has stashed away. They serve all kinds of uses and he pulls them out of who knows where. They’re practically coming out of the wallpaper in the garage… Anyway today it was the jigsaw, and what a wonderful little thing it is, too. I got to use it for all of the cutting involved in the wheel well curves and after emerging largely successful and with all 10 fingers, felt very pleased and carpenter-y indeed 🙂

The system is to put glue all along the framing where the plywood lands, wrangle it up then nail the bugger down for all it’s worth. The plans state that screws are a better hold but we’ve got ring shank nails in the nail gun that are supposedly ‘amazing’, here’s hoping that’s true.

We got walls…

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I am pleased to say that we did indeed get drier weather (if not warmer) and we did indeed get the walls on. In fact, I dare say today was a dream day in the world of carpentry.  The walls fit together like a perfect jigsaw puzzle. The sun shone brightly and for a while it even warmed things up enough so we could feel our fingers. We thought ahead for what we’d need and didn’t have to go to the hardware store. Through various tweaking and smacking boards with hammers I think we’ve made the thing remarkably square. The birds sang and the screwdriver never ran out of battery….too far, but this was undeniably our most successful and visually rewarding day of work. 

Because we built the walls in sections, I’ll need to bolt the joints together tomorrow but there are a ton of screws in so it feels pretty sturdy. Hopefully we’ll get a good portion of the plywood sheathing on as well and start the collar joists for the loft. My dad wrangled some 20 x 45, 6mil clear plastic sheeting and while cumbersome to work with, it is now doing a much better job at keeping the water out than our previous tarp-age. 

I feel an unmatched sense of accomplishment walking through the open door framing onto my floor where I can finally see the space I’ve had stuck in my head for so long laid out in front of me. It’s not very waterproof, being roofless, and I suppose the walls will need to get covered at some point but it’s still there; standing real and tangible.  You might say my house looks a bit like a house now 🙂 

Interruptions and 57 2x4s…

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I know I ought to take advantage of all possible days to work on my house but sometimes life intercepts and this weekend was one of those times. For the last 4 years I have been aware of a free bluegrass festival in San Francisco around the start of October and for the last 4 years I have headed several thousand miles away to Scotland the very week before. But this year with my degree all shiny and finished and my attendance unhindered by a continent, ocean or even a full state I packed my bags and galavanted off north. Of course this trip coincided with the first 3 days of my step dad’s week off and perfect building weather (I returned with rain in tow) but I did have a nice time and am glad I went. 

The first thing to do yesterday was to get more lumber. I knew when we bought the last bunch that I’d need to get at least another round for all the framing, roofing and plywood sheathing but I didn’t realize that day had come so soon. My dad had worked on the bay window wall while I was away and finished off the remaining 2×4’s so we gathered the plans and made a list of how many we’d need. Well, we needed 57. Seeing as I’d bought the exact number specified by the materials list last time I am truly bumfuzzled as to how this is possible.

Granted there’s 10 or so that got warped by water damage in the truck, a fair few that got redone for mistakes and the however many extras my dad stuck into the framing to make things ‘really sturdy’ (not so helpful when weight is an issue, but there you go). Even so though, I can’t account for the discrepancy. It is also possible we counted wrong; 57, I mean really…Nonetheless, we made the trip to Lowes and came out $500 later with enough lumber for the remaining door framing, roof, sheathing, and lofts. 

Today the rain continued with a vengance but we finished the last of the framing in the garage and if the weather proves drier we hope to get the walls attached to the trailer tomorrow. Please weather, prove drier…

Weather and walls…

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It has been rainy as of late, the warm, summer type with lots of thunder and lightning so my wee house has been under wraps waiting for the sunshine. Today was dry and beautiful but the afternoon air brought an undeniable chill that signifies fall has made its entrance and aims to proceed with its plans, regardless of mine.

My dad and I have been taking the walls in sections and though we have a good few done now, have opted not to attach them to the floor yet so it’s easier to cover. The tarps on the the trailer did their best but some of the water still sank through, stained the ply sub floor and probably got to the sheep wool below; good thing I didn’t use fiberglass…

Today we plowed onwards with the second back side wall and those over the wheel wells. Said wheel wells aren’t exactly the same dimensions on both sides but by some stroke of miracle, the wall seems to work on either one  just fine. I’m fairly sure I can’t tout this to excellent carpentry or previous planning but at this point we’re just happy it’s playing along.

I have also uncovered a silly mistake. I’m not sure how exactly I managed this, but as I realize it, at least a fair amount of the corner braces should have been used to secure the framing to the trailer boards and not just themselves. It would occur to me after I have neatly screwed all the plywood down so tomorrow’s excitement will be unscrewing them, getting more braces (oi), navigating through the insulation, nailing them in and re-screwing the plywood.

I have a delightful little brown bruise on my thumbnail from last week (courtesy of my careless hammer wielding skills) but I shall hope to have become a marvelously masterful hammer-er in this time so I can avoid a repeat performance 😀

Sheep’s wool insulation…

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I have decided on sheep’s wool insulation for my little house and ordered it from the lovely folks at Oregon Shepherd a while back (thanks for being open on a holiday weekend, guys!). I had gone back and forth over several insulating possibilities for ages but kept coming back to wool before finally settling on it.

Having read wonderful things about sheep’s wool and it’s superior insulating properties, I particularly liked that it is effective at absorbing moisture which can aid in preventing condensation; one of my main worries in a space as small as mine will be. Some wonderful other reasons to use wool can be found at their website, here:

http://www.oregonshepherd.com/why-wool/

I really think that insulation is an important choice that will continue to affect the way I feel about my house and there’s something nice about knowing there wont be anything toxic in there. It was a bit pricey, but this will be my house and I don’t want it makin’ me sick!

Despite a few mishaps with the shipping company, Oregon Shepherd was very helpful and eight 40 pound boxes of wool arrived this morning in a big truck. The driver was one of the least conversationally minded humans I’ve encountered in some time and was entirely more interested in how he’d manage to get his epically large truck out of our cul de sac than my enthusiasm at this fluffy delivery, but you can’t have everything. SHEEP WALLS!!!