Last week was so eventful and full of activities that it is Wednesday of the following week already and I’ve been too exhausted to write a blog post [edit: Saturday night of week 8 now!]. I leave for Alaska in 4 weeks, to work 80-120 hours a week in the office of a salmon cannery, and I’m looking forward to it as a vacation and a rest. We work crazy hours, but the cannery takes care of cooking, cleaning, and laundry and it is a 5 minute walk from my bed to my desk and all I have to do is eat, sleep, and process fish tickets. It sounds decadently relaxing at this point.
But anyway, last week…
I brought the eight 2×6 studs that had been leftover home to Mt. Vernon with me for the pizza-delivery-work-week and stained them in the mornings before work. I sanded them each down with a belt sander, but I think this was unnecessary and I could have just used the 220 grit sandpaper block that I used on later steps. I then wiped them down with tack cloth, applied one layer of wood conditioner to even out the color (soft wood like fir absorbs stain unevenly), two layers of stain and two layers of protective finish (with sanding in between). It took about 6 hours total on three separate mornings and after all that crouching, bending, lifting, and cranking my neck around to get at the boards, I had a pinched nerve in my neck that was torture at work Friday night but hey, those boards look GOOD.
On one of those mornings I also made a trip out to Guemes Island to pick up my door, window and porch light from the Guemes Island Tiny House remodel. Guemes Island is a 5 minute ferry ride from Anacortes. I spent an hour driving around the island (an hour is all it takes) looking at all the cute little houses.
My door is 74″x30″ and adorable. I’ll still have to cut 2-3″ off the height, and paint the outside purple, but otherwise it’s perfect. I’m not going to make it into a Dutch door. I’m already planning my next house. I’ll do it on that one.
Saturday morning my stepdad Jerry had his framer buddy come out to the property and take a look at the framing we’d done so far. I immediately felt comfortable and at home with Randy and when he told me he used to live in Fairbanks, Alaska I was unsurprised. He seemed impressed or at least not horrified by my framing job and gave me just a few suggestions on things to change… most importantly, that I should fill in the headers over my big 5′ wide window and the door.
We had built the headers like this, with a gap in between the pieces. He said that was fine for the small windows, but for these bigger spans I should fill them in.
So I sawzall-ed the framing for the door and the window out of the wall and filled them in with another piece of 2×6 and a 1/2″ piece of plywood. Then placed them back in the wall. I was pretty proud of this.
Randy also said he would have used a 2×8 header over the big window, which I was going to do originally. I’m learning to trust my instincts/research. I’m not an idiot and just because I don’t have experience doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m doing.
I was feeling overwhelmed and a bit hopeless with all of the small tasks left to finish framing the walls. One corner was still a little off square, the second top plates weren’t attached, the strapping needed to go on the outside. Sarah got the brackets screwed in and another few small but time consuming projects done and after an hour of messing around, suddenly it all clicked and the day fell into place and all the small tasks got done. This happens almost every weekend. This happens on any creative project, actually. Sewing, dancing, writing stories… you start out feeling lost and overwhelmed and like there is no way it is going to get done or that you are capable, and then you just pick a spot and dive in and next time you look up, you’re halfway there.
It is one of the deepest and hardest won gifts of my life that I finally understand this.
One of the things I was most stressed about was how to get the corners and the split in the bottom top plates connected before putting the second top plates on, but then I used these rad clamps and it was easy. Thanks to a suggestion by Uncle Mike I also was able to squeeze the walls in to the right width using a ratchet tie-down, rather than a rope, and was able to screw in the rest of the temporary cross bracing where the loft joists will eventually go. The I attached the second top plate which you can see above. I used the clamps to get it flush with the outside of the bottom top plate… the 2x4s were a little wonky and the clamps allowed me to pull them toward or push them away from me as I went down each wall and nailed them down. We decided to use 2×4 on top to save a little on weight.
Randy had also suggested I use Simpson strapping to seal the places where the bottom top plates joined together. I also screwed brackets at the top of the same studs that had them at the bottom. Since we used 2x4s for the second top plate, I was able to bolt these through the top as well without interfering with the roof rafters.
Sunday Mom and I wrapped Simpson 16 gauge strapping around the outside of the house diagonally, wherever we could that wouldn’t interfere with a window or the door, and wrapping around corners when possible.
Mom and Jerry cut out the doorsill with the sawzall.
Then Jerry and I carried out the tedious and draining task of sheathing the walls in 7/16th OSB.
We made sure to take doggie breaks.
We cut out the doorway before we enclosed the house entirely. I ran a small drill bit through each corner of the door from the inside, then we drew a line from hole to hole on the outside and cut along this line with the skilsaw.
Jerry had some other projects to work on, so we tacked each sheet up at the top and sides and then I went through and shot a bazillion nails in after he left. My ears were ringing for days afterwards from the nail gun. We had marked out each stud at the bottom of the trailer with a piece of tape hanging down, but I still managed to shoot a lot of nails… like, a lot… through the OSB into nothing. Oh well. I fixed it.
I was so wired and pumped from seeing my house look like a house that as the sun went down I wanted to keep working, so I drew out a line the width of the trailer onto the floor and measured up 3.5 feet from the centerpoint… this created an actual scale outline of the ends of my roof. I got this idea from this amazing book that has been so helpful during this project…
I tried using the speed square to figure out the angle for my roof cut, but eventually just sort of figured it out by drawing a line on the bottom of the rafter where it met the line that would be the edge of the ridgepole, transferring that line to the top of the rafter, and then connecting that point with the top corner of the rafter. Then using the speed square found that my roof would be at a 10:12 pitch. I was too tired eventually to really finish this project but spoiler alert: we installed the roof rafters today and my angle cut was frickin’ perfect.