Friday, October 14, 2005

Muy Pesado

Yesterday I finished the subfloor, and measured and cut all the pieces for the stairs. I borrowed a nailgun from my brother-in-law Peter, and with the correct connectors so I could actually use it, I made short work of finishing up the nailing on the flooring.

Today I worked with Edis again. When he called the other morning to see if I had work for him, my brain did a major gear grind. I was out of practice speaking and thinking in Spanish, and add in that I'm not a morning person (those who've been on the Mexico mission trips with me would say that's a major understatement) and I was pleased just to figure out who was calling, never mind about what. But we set up that he'd work today, Friday.

I wasn't totally sure about working with him on the framing, because I wasn't sure if I could keep him busy without slowing myself down. And I like doing the framing. Not just because the walls go up relatively quickly, but I like the thinking, measuring, cutting and hammering that goes into it. So I wasn't that eager to have someone else working on it.

But it turned out to be a good thing. While I started noodling over the layout for the first wall segment, I had Edis assemble the pieces of the steps that I'd measured and cut yesterday. As I started measuring and cutting things and laying out the top and bottom plates, I had Edis bringing the necessary lumber down from the carport.

While this was going on, we had a major bit of excitement. Our neighbor Cynthia is off to Albania for several weeks for work (we'll be helping take care of her cats for a bit), and her somewhat elderly aunt and uncle came to take her to the airport. We said hello, and I went back to what I was working on. The next thing I know, there's a crash and thump, and Cynthia's uncle is rolling down the hill towards out front walk. Aiyeee! There's about a 4' drop off from the walkway back to Cynthia's door before the hill starts at a 30° angle or so. He apparently missed the last step down on the walkway, stumbled and fell, and then rolled off the drop off. Fortunately he only suffered some minor cuts (and doubtless some bruises), but was otherwise OK. We let him catch his breath and I looked for any signs of injury besides the cuts, then helped him to his feet and walked him back next door. He could have easily broken bones or worse had he fallen badly, so it's very fortunate that some minor cuts were the worst of it.

Once that was over, we went back to work. We assembled part of one of the bedroom walls (it's long enough that it needs to be built in two pieces). We went to lift it into place on the higher part of the foundation wall, and over the foundation bolts, and discovered it's very heavy. I ended up getting Katarina to come out and help us lift and balance it. Fortunately I'd pretested the holes for the foundation bolts, so it fit like a charm when it dropped into place. I've only worked on 2x4 walls before at Habitat, and scantily framed 2x4 walls on the Mexico mission trips (ratty 2x4s on 24" centers, and no doubling of studs for anything, separate jack studs for windows and doors, etc.), so I wasn't fully prepared for how much heavier a 2x6 wall would be.

When we built the next section of wall, I decided it would be prudent to leave out the window headers until the wall was in place so it would be lighter and a bit more manageable. As this was the south wall, which has 4 large windows, with a large enough span to require a a 6x8 header (a 4x8 + plywood + a 2x8), that turned out to be a good thing. And I brought Katarina out to help first thing, instead of us trying to lift and balance it with two people. But it was still hecka heavy.

There will be one more really heavy wall segment, and one not so heavy but still pretty heavy one that will require lifting over the plumbing stub-outs, but most of the rest of the walls won't be so bad. Of course, there's also that 4"x12"-16' beam to be lifted 8' into place...

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