Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Sheathing Strategy

Putting up the first row of sheathing on the south facing roof consumed most of my day today. (The rest of it was consumed by harvesting and delivering oysters.) To minimize the odds of falling and breaking a leg, I came up with a new strategy for sheathing the high south side. No pump jacks; they'd be too cumbersome to operate alone. I could have tried to push the sheets 18' up the ladder, but that method, though fine for the shorter haul up to the shed roof, was too sketchy. Then I thought of pulling instead of pushing. I fished a hook out of my tool box, the kind with a screw on the end, and drilled an angled hole in the center of and a few inches down from the top of the sheet of OSB. With a rope through the hook and using the ladder as a ramp of sorts, I could pull the sheet up onto the roof. And I could do all of this from inside the house. This way, if something unexpected happened, I wouldn't be on a ladder underneath an unwieldy sheet of wood; I could just let go of the rope and start over. It worked perfectly. I can use the same method all the way to the top.

There should be a plumber showing up tomorrow. We leave in the afternoon for the long haul to Rhode Island. Block Island on Friday and a wedding on Saturday.

Roof sheathing

Monday, August 25, 2008

Apple Trees, Roof Sheathing, Bruised Knee

Two days ago, in an effort to take it easy, I staked out a small orchard on the west side of our clearing. Ten trees. Seven apples, a peach, a cherry and, maybe a plum. The seven different apple varieties will combine to make fermented apple cider. Some of them will be for fresh eating, but others will be good only for their contribution to the cider press.

Most of today was dedicated to sheathing the north side of the roof. Doing this single-handed is tricky and strenuous. I walk a sheet of OSB up the extension ladder, and at the top it tips onto the shed roof. Then I flip it end over end a few times until it ends up where it needs to go. Once I get up on the more steeply pitched gable roof I have a 2x4 cleat screwed to the first row of sheathing so I have something to stand on. Once today, for reasons unknown, the foot bracing against the cleat slipped off sending the other knee to the deck. I chalked it up to being tired and quit while I was ahead. I have two more rows of sheathing to the peak. I plan to make it to the summit slowly, carefully and without incident.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tapley Finale

I had been calling Lewis Tapley and leaving messages on his cell for a couple weeks pressing him to come fix the disconnected leach field pipe. I was about to call him again when I noticed that the area in question had been dug up and raked. He had come, perhaps under cover of darkness, and made the repair. Somehow, he had managed to avoid me. My anonymous adviser on matters septic suggested I make sure the repair was done properly and check the other connections. This I did yesterday. Everything looks fine; it's ready for topsoil. And that's the last I'll write about Lewis Tapley. Promise.

I've got a plumber scheduled to show on Tuesday. The rough plumbing and gas lines are going in under the slab. I'm ready to sheath the rest of the roof. I'll have to set up the pump jacks on the south side to get the sheathing up there. Pump jacks are unruly contraptions, but they work well enough. We're looking good for our departure at the end of October. It'll be here before we know it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Step Into My Office

Yesterday, in a frenzy of activity, I nailed the sheathing to the shed roof rafters and, in doing so, created a place out of the weather. So when it started to rain this morning, I moved inside. Under the shed roof on the second floor, I set up shop. All the stuff that was under the tarp outside; chop saw, tool box, power tools; is now in my office along with a chair so I can sit and eat lunch in style.

I still have the rest of the roof rafters to put up. I think Michelle's going give me a hand. The rest of the rainy day today I spent getting the utility room ready for pouring a slab. I spoke to a concrete guy yesterday, and he seems to be free whenever I'm ready. I need the plumbers to come before I pour. Hopefully this will happen in the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rafters and Party

View from the top

Putting up the first rafter

From the finger

Celebrating with friends

Friday, August 15, 2008


Yesterday, I managed to suspend an 8' section of ridge beam at what I think (hope) is the correct height. The rafters should meet the beam perfectly in the middle if the height of the beam is exactly 137 inches above the top of the second floor wall. If this doesn't happen, something must be a little wrong with the Pythagorean Theorem. Michelle's going to help set a few rafters this morning. After a few sets hold up each section of ridge beam, the rest should go up quickly.

I got a quote from the icynene insulation guys. About $9,000 to do the whole house. We're still several months away from insulation. Next spring after we get back from Block Island. Plenty of time to make an informed decision.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Wrong Nail

After driving two hundred pounds of framing nails, I hit the wrong one. A 24 ounce waffle head framing hammer is less than kind when it comes in contact with a finger nail. The unlucky finger, right hand next to the pinky, wasn't even near the intended target. As the hammer was just on the return from the back-swing, it grazed the rafter behind me ever so slightly and sent the swing off to the side a few inches away. The finger nail exploded on contact sending a fine spray of blood onto the stud in front of it. Expletives followed. I didn't even have a band-aid. (Yes, I know; I should have a first aid kit on the job.) The coagulated mess shown in the picture is the accumulation of slow bleeding over the course of a couple hours. The last time I smashed one of my fingers with a hammer was about 8 years ago when I was building the shed on our land in Brooklin. I was due.

Despite the finger I managed to put up the rest of the shed rafters and frame in one of the gable ends. Forty 18' 2x10's arrived in the afternoon along with enough tongue-in-groove sheathing for the roof. The rafter material was boomed up to the loft floor so I wouldn't have to lug it all up there. I finished the day cutting a few of the rafters to size.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2nd floor

More boards on the east wall

North wall shed addition (attic floor joists are in)

South wall

Boards on West wall

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thermal Break(through)

Today, as I sat figuring the length of the roof rafters, a truck pulled up, and two guys with clipboards emerged to say that Clifton had sent them to talk to me about insulation. (I'd been discussing insulation a couple weeks ago with Clifton, a friend/architect.) These guys are installers of the icynene system. I'd read about icynene in a building magazine. It's a blown-in, open cell foam that's mostly water. Like other sprayed-on insulation, it creates a tight house, filling every crack and preventing outside air infiltration. If it has a downside, it's price. Probably double the price of fiberglass. What we're going to choose for insulation is still up in the air at this point. I've been planning to sheath the exterior of the house with sheets of rigid foam to boost R-value and create a thermal break with the outside. I mentioned this to the icynene guys. One of them had done the same thing for his house. He went to his truck and came back with a sample of what looked like a piece of felt weather stripping, one and a half inches wide and about a quarter of an inch thick. It was a high-tech strip of adhesive backed insulation designed to stick to a wall stud and create a thermal break with an R-value of about 4. I called the number on the sample, a distributer in Rhode Island, was quoted a price of 55 cents/ft. So I counted studs and plates and multiplied by 8 and got roughly 2000 ft. At that price it would be about the same as applying foam to the outside. But this would be far easier and faster to apply. Fasteners for the board and batten wouldn't have to be long enough to go through all that foam, and I wouldn't have to pad out the widows and doors with 2x4's to provide a foam-free nailing surface. Though it wouldn't provide the same over-all thermal protection as covering the whole house with sheets of foam, the thermal break is what you're really looking for when you go through the trouble sheathing with foam, and that's what this stuff does.

Tomorrow I'll be putting up the rafters for the shed roof. Big gable end rafters will follow.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


The south and east sides of the house

The view from the second floor

East and north sides of house

Thursday, August 7, 2008

2nd floor walls

The Rain In Maine

After steadily not raining for over a month, our weather pattern seems to have shifted to wet. I was rained out yesterday afternoon, and it's a shame because I was really getting into a groove putting up ceiling joists. I was reluctant to stop, but things were getting slippery. Rain of some sort is forecast for the next three days. This weather is really putting a damper (sorry) on progress. Once the roof goes on there'll be plenty to do on a rainy day, but until then wet weather is only good for sorting oysters.

Monday, August 4, 2008


When I ordered a couple thousand board feet of #4 pine boards (1x12), known around here as boarding boards, Eric at Viking Lumber remarked that there are only a few carpenters still sheathing with boards, and they're a lot older than I am. Before plywood and oriented strand board became standard sheathing materials, there were boarding boards. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when the price of plywood went through the roof, some carpenters briefly went back to sheathing with boards because it was cheaper. Though I doubt it was cheaper if time were factored in; boarding is slow process. But I like it for a few of reasons. It's entirely possible to put up boards working alone. Pine boards don't weigh much, even 16 footers, and they're easy to carry up a ladder and hold with one hand while the other drives a nail. Try that with a sheet of plywood. Also, a sheet a plywood covers 32 square feet, and ties four studs together (2' on center). One 16' board placed diagonally across the wall will tie 5 studs together and extend from the bottom sill to the studs on the second floor. So, even though a 16 foot board covers roughly half the square footage as a sheet of plywood, it does more to improve the strength of the frame. Last but not least, pine boards are a formaldehyde-free, local building product. Cost more, but worth it.

I nailed up boards today until I got rained out. Tomorrow I'll finish framing the load-bearing wall that runs down the middle of the second floor. Then up go the ceiling joists (the floor of the attic).