Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rafters And A Rainout

Our goal on Friday was to hang the last two ledger boards (the boards nailed to the house that the porch is attached to) and hang all the rafters.

We hung the ledger boards with no trouble.  (And I forgot to take photos, but it's not really that exciting.)

Then we started in on the rafters. 

With the first three rafters up, you can start to see how the porch roof will tuck in just under the eaves of the house. 

I could never have figured out how to make the slope of the mansard roof just right.  Good thing Mare has built quite a few of these and has it down to a science.  From bottom up, first the ceiling joist, then the "Pat piece" to add a little height, and then the rafter.  Here Mare's marking the edge of the rafter so he knows where to cut it.
Then he marks the angle with an angle tool and one or the other of us (almost always him) cuts the rafter to length and we nail it in.  Repeat as necessary. 

We got about half the rafters done on the front side of the porch.

And about half the rafters done on the east side of the porch.

And then we hung the big hip joist and the hip rafter and stood there on ladders going "Uhhhh...." for longer than we probably should have because we couldn't quite figure out how to cut those two pieces of lumber to length.  That's why they stick way out there at the corner and look dorky.  See, the edges of them have to be lined up with the joists and rafters on both the front and the side of the porch and that has us temporarily stymied.  I said, "I think we should've hung two of 'em and cut one even with the front and the other even with the side so they come together at the end kinda mitered like."  And Mare said, "Something like that is probably gonna happen."  

Then we continued to stand on the ladders and ponder this until my friend Chris walked into the front yard and said, "Are ya gonna stand on them ladders all day?!" and I said, "We're just trying to figure out this stupid hip rafter."

At which point Mare said, "Hip rafter.  That sounds like a country music singer."

And I said, "Hip Rafter, appearing Friday night at the Snorty Horse Saloon."

And Chris said, "Y'all are crazy."

Which everybody already knows, right??

Shortly after that it poured down rain and we retreated to the Mexican restaurant for chimichangas and a good visit with our friend John while we waited out the thunderstorm.

When I got home, I took a couple more photos of the porch.

I might be in love with this porch already.

I mean, really. I think this porch is The One.

Today I'm going to finish priming all the porch posts (we primed them on sawhorses, so there are spots we missed) and go around and get rid of that yellow stripe around the top there, and maybe paint some of that trim if I have time, and then I'm going down to my friend Doug's farm to make some salsa because I have a bumper crop of tomatoes and there are only so many BLTs one woman can eat.

Porch construction resumes on Tuesday afternoon.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Meet Pat

Do you know what this is?
It's not just a pile of lumber.  It's pure potential.

Pure potential that soon became ceiling joists.

Ceiling joists that had angled ends, because they'll eventually be part of the slope of the little mansard roof on the front porch.

Meet Pat.  Pat Tern.
Pat is a great little gal.  She's the Dolly the Clone Sheep of lumber.  Pat is the first, the original, of what Marion described as "somewhere between a gob and a shitload" of small pieces of lumber that also help to make the slope of the mansard roof. Here's Pat hard at work:

And here are Pat's clones nailed into place at the ends of the ceiling joists:
(And a hammer that I left hanging on the header joist.  It's still there.)

See how the angled ends of the ceiling joists and the angled ends of Pat's clones make up the slope of the mansard roof?
(In case you're wondering, "somewhere between a gob and a shitload" turns out to be 20.  Pat plus 19 of her clones.)

Tomorrow, we'll hang rafters.  So.  Excited.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Porch Building, Day One

I promised y'all yesterday that I'd share photos, and I have a lot of photos, so here goes.

This morning when I got home from work, Mare was sitting on the back patio waiting on me.  I grabbed the 1947 photo of the house and he grabbed his tools and we headed for the front porch.  We spent a fair amount of time staring at the photo, then the house, then the photo, then the house.  The witness marks and this photo are the only things we have to tell us what the original porch looked like. 

Finally Mare took a deep breath and said, "Okay, I think I know where to start."  We started with a plumb line from the witness mark at the edge of the original half-post, across the length of the concrete pad, and out to the edge of the pad.  Then we snapped a second plumb line from the edge of the witness mark for the other half-post on the other side of the porch, down the width of the concrete pad, and out again to the edge of the pad.  After that was a terrifying bit where Mare notched out the porch posts so the header joists would rest on the posts.  

I went around to the side of the house before the actual cutting started and primed a half-post so that I wouldn't distract Mare.  Talking to me might cause him to make a bad cut on the posts or chop off his fingers, and either one of those events would cause a big delay in building the porch.  Goodness knows we've had enough delays already! 

Next we figured out the placement of the posts, traced around the mounting blocks for the porch posts (the blocks help protect the posts by raising them off the concrete a bit), drilled holes for studs that we made out of threaded rod, and hammered the studs (which help keep the posts in place) into the concrete pad.  

After that we carefully measured along the plumb line to get the length of the header joist.  Our header joists are two 2x12's that rest on the notched tops of the porch posts.  We assembled the front header joist flat on the ground, all nailed together.

And then we stood behind that header joist with me on one end and Mare on the other and raised the whole contraption upright.  Now is a good time to point out that the porch posts are 9 feet tall, with a 12-inch plank on top of them, and Mare and I are both 5'4".  I'm glad nobody was around to take photos or video of the joist-raising, because it wasn't pretty.  Once we lifted the thing as high as we could above our heads, then we had to "walk" our hands down the posts until the whole shebang was upright, and then we wrestled the mounting blocks onto the studs and screwed the half-post into the side of the house.  It looked like this when we were done:

Looky, the first two and a half posts are up!!

That thing to the right in the photo is a brace that we temporarily nailed to the corner post to keep the header joist from going all whopperjawed when we let go of the posts.  By the way, my rose bush was sacrificed to the Glorious Cause of Porch Building and chopped off nearly to the ground. 

Now if y'all think that the joist-raising sounds difficult (and it kinda was) get a load of what happened next.  We couldn't do the same thing with the header joist going down the side of the porch (for some reason which I don't fully understand, probably due to sleep deprivation) so we had to set all the posts first and then lift the header joist up on top of the posts.  This photo kinda gives you a better idea of that:

See how there's a little shelf on top of the posts?  The header joist rests on that.  There's no room for error here, and again, the posts are 9 feet tall and Mare and I are 5'4".  Plus, I am a weakling.  We discovered that it's about a hundred times more difficult than you might think to pick up a 2x12 that's 15 feet long, climb a ladder, and then lift the thing over your head to precariously balance it on that tiny shelf while the other person runs to get the nail gun and you pray that you won't fall off the ladder, drop the joist on your own head or someone else's, and plummet to the ground in a heap of splinters.  

But after a herculean effort and a long string of profanity, we climbed down and looked at those three posts at the corner of the porch, and I swear that the angels sang.
That's some seriously beautiful lumber, y'all.

And then we realized that we had two more header joists to place (on the "inside" side of the posts) and I nearly bawled.  As we were placing the first of the two joists, my little noodle arms began trembling and I counted up how many hours I'd been awake:  twenty-two.

"Hey, Marion," I croaked.  "I gotta stop for the day."  I hated to do it.  One more joist to place.  Just one more, and all the framing would be done.  But I know that being really tired physically and mentally is a good way to get hurt, so I tapped out.  

And then I walked down the sidewalk, turned around, and saw this.

And I ran out into the street and looked back at the porch framing.

And then I just stood in the front yard all teary-eyed and took a good long look at it.

Five porch posts.  Three grouped together at the corner.  Just exactly like Mr. Kelly would've done it back in 1887.  

I can't wait for tomorrow.