Construction Journal Entry Week of 11/4/12

11/6-8/12 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way I stopped at Maddy's and discussed the problem I had had starting the truck a few days ago. He suspected the fuel pump and I agreed to bring it in later to have him look at it. Then I proceeded on to visit with Claude McVey for a while. I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:00.

I dragged the gate log out of the way in order to drive in. The post the log pivoted on had collapsed the previous week and I have not yet decided whether to fix it this season or wait until spring.

Ernie met me when I parked so he followed me up to the cabin to get a couple of biscuits. He got a lot more hugs than usual because when top dog Bert is around, Ernie gets very few strokes or hugs. After that I started a fire in the stove to warm the place up.

Just as I finished my lunch, Earl showed up and we had a nice long visit. He is getting ready to leave for Palm Springs next week and he wanted to see me before he left. He noticed my cabin model in the loft and we realized that he had never seen it. He had seen pictures of it but not the real thing. We spent some time looking at it and talking about various aspects of log home building.

After Earl left, there was barely enough daylight left to measure for and cut two ceiling boards.

On Wednesday morning I nailed on those two boards. I was just about finished with that when Earl came back to get his jacket that he had forgotten the day before. After he left, I went back to work cutting and nailing ceiling boards. The pair of Canadian Jays visited me for peanuts all during the work.

After lunch and a nap, both Bert and Ernie stopped by for hugs and biscuits. On Maddy's advice I went down and started the truck. He said that if I started it at least once per day it probably would be more likely to start right away. While I was sitting there running the truck, I listened to Rush Limbaugh's explanation for the election results.

Back up on the scaffolds, I made a rope safety net on the Grid A3 end. I was about to start work installing ceiling boards up against the Grid A purlin and it felt a little dangerous reaching up over my head with nothing to lean against and a 25 foot drop to the ground. That rope will give me something to hang onto and it will catch me if I should happen to fall.

Next I enlarged the scaffold at the Grid A1 end. There too I needed to work up against the purlin and my existing scaffold didn't have a deck that would allow me to reach up there. I used one of my long rebar S-hooks hanging from a Grid A1 anchor hook, and I suspended one of the 4x4s with hangers from the S-hook on one end and with the other end resting on the existing scaffold deck. Then I screwed two planks to the 4x4, one extending over to the cliff and the other resting on a rung of a ladder. That will be a start, but I still need to get a better deck on that structure. I'll probably just use a piece of OSB.

Next I spent a lot of time on the anchor hooks at the Grid A3 end. The clinched tops of the anchor hooks were going to interfere with the top ceiling board. I didn't want to cut a notch in the board because then I would have to mouse-proof the notch and that is a chore. Instead I thought I could cut part of the rebar off in order to provide enough clearance for the board without notching it. I decided to try my new Bosch oscillating high-speed cutter to cut the rebar.

I read the instructions and discovered that you can cut mild steel if you have a metal cutting blade and run it at high speed. I strung an extension cord and tried the saw. It was not easy.

After spending a half hour or so trying to cut through the rebar, I was only about halfway through and I gave up. I thought I might be able to bend the rebar out of the way so I got a Stillson wrench and a length of pipe for an extender. This worked well enough on one rebar to give enough clearance to get the ceiling board in, and with just a little chiseling off the surface of the board the other one fit too. The tongue and groove would engage completely and there would be no holes in the boards. Problem solved. I cut and nailed a 4-foot board over the tops of the rebar.

The next problem was what to do about the shimming caused by the bowing of the Grid B purlin. The purlin was bowed because the Grid B2 PSL had been cut and installed even though it was 3/4" too long. I discovered that error only after installing about a third of the rafters, and rather than uninstalling the rafters and shortening the column, I had decided to shim above the Grid A purlin so that the rafters would bear directly on the ridgepole and the bowed Grid B purlin. That gave me a slightly crowned roof at the eaves and some nuisance such as I am facing now.

The rafter at Grid 2 is 3/4" too high in the middle at Grid B2 which makes it 1.5" too high above the purlin at Grid A2. I had shimmed the gap between the purlin and the rafters with scrap wood when I installed the rafters. Now I needed to face the music and pay the piper.

I faced the choice of nailing the ceiling boards directly to the undersides of the rafters, which would leave those scrap shims exposed and vulnerable to rodent and insect invasion unless I sealed it up somehow, or I could mate the ceiling boards to the one that was already attached to the top of the Grid A purlin but then the boards would not be in contact with the rafters.

I decided on the second approach. Now the question was how to nail the boards to the rafters when they were as much as 1.5 inches away at one edge. The solution to that was to make tapered shims to fasten to the undersides of the rafters. The thick end of the shims would match the depth of the shims already on top of the purlin. The thin end of the shim would then bring the ceiling boards in direct contact with the rafter. The shims would all be made at the same angle so that the thicker shims would be longer than the thin ones.

With that decision and plan in place, I was presented with another problem. When I had installed the rafters on the Grid 3 end, I had evidently figured on using the first option. The ceiling board at that end was attached directly to the rafters with the scrap shims underneath. The lowest of those shims was the original ceiling board attached to the purlin. So there is a transition needed between two ceiling boards already in place. What I needed to do was to cut a new groove that would continuously go from the groove of the top board to the groove of the board under it so that the tongue of the new board could be forced into it.

This wouldn't have been so much of a problem except that I had to work overhead with very little room for my head or my hands. I had to use my left hand mostly and a lot of the time there wasn't enough room for a hammer swing so I had to run the chisel by hand. It took a while, but I eventually cut the new transition groove and tested it with a board which fit nicely.

With that done, there was just enough light left to measure for all of the shims I needed to make. Then before I quit for the day, I stacked all the rest of the pine firewood rounds and covered the stack with a tarp.

On Thursday morning I discovered that my shim measurements were undecipherable and useless, so I made another set of measurements using a stiff piece of white cardboard. That worked a lot better. Then I chose some scrap 2x4s, got my respirator, hearing muffs, clamps, extension cord, and Skilsaw, and proceeded to make all the shims. It worked pretty well and didn't take too long. This was a rare occasion in which a table saw might have been useful, but I think I did the job just as quickly and easily with the Skilsaw.

Then I went up on my scaffold and installed the shims. I used a stapler by first driving a staple in each shim about 3 inches from the thin end while the shims were lying on the scaffold deck. Then, since the staples didn't penetrate very deep into the plywood deck, I could pull the shims loose and the staples would only be about halfway into the shims. Then I simply held the shim in place under the rafter and drove the staple in with a hammer. That worked slick. That's all that is needed because when I nail the boards on, the nails will go right through the shims and into the rafter and that will hold them permanently. I took a picture of the shims after they were all in place.

Then I cleaned up all the sawdust mess from the porch, had my lunch, and left for home at 1:15. I dragged the gate log back in position but couldn't lock it. I still haven't decided when to fix the post.

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