House Projects: Square

Let’s just say that while we got a lot done on the dog deck today, we didn’t get much done.

To recap, day 1 (Friday) we got the lumber and misc. stuff. Then we had to make a path for the truck to get to the back porch. I probably drive better in reverse than I do forward. We got the truck unloaded and the lumber sorted and stacked.

Sunday was “lay it out and see what works day”. What this also means is that it is “return to Lowes and get what Paula miscalculated”. We got the old ramp taken down (easy since it was about there anyway), the ledger board hung, the two end piers/blocks in place. We also spent a lot of time telling dogs to move (which progressed to move dammit then on to, well, other words), a lot of time trying to keep dogs out of the way, and a lot of time “discussing” what is going where and why.

Today (day 3) we managed to get the frame for the flat section done. Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Ha. It would have been, and boy we were flying high on our sense of accomplishment, except we got to the end board. Then we crashed and burned.

There’s this thing called “square”. It basically means the two pieces are at a perfect 90degree angle from each other yet still lined up properly with the other corners. There’s one method of measuring from corner to corner, diagonally, and making sure the two measurements are the same. Then there’s the 3-4-5 method. Neither one works if the people with the saws and tape and Porter Cable drill have no freakin’ clue what they are doing. At one point, I even called my brother in NJ. Hey, he’s a guy and guys are born knowing this stuff, right? Apparently not. But he does know the 3-4-5 geometry is correct and even sent me a little .jpg of it. My baby bro is such a geek, bless his heart.

[if working with something very very important to make perfectly square, the 3-4-5 method along with batter boards and tons of string and several plumb bobs is the way to go. but if your feet hurt all the way up to your ears, and “close enough for gov’t work” is a valid statement, then the diagonal measurement is cool and groovy]

We eventually got it fairly close. The posts are level, the joists are level, the diagonal measurement is off by less barely an inch. Probably the most squared part in this entire house. We also learned the true purpose of cross braces. By then we were mentally and physically exhausted. We wanted to continue, wanted to get more of the frame work up, but we couldn’t quite figure out how the brackets worked. Our brains were too fogged up with mechanical and mathematical stuff. So we cleaned up the area and hobbled inside.

Lorna’s car is having difficulties (it has over 240,000 miles on it) so she is having to take tomorrow off. It is supposed to rain in the afternoon so we are going to try and get the sloped part figured out and framed. We shall see.

Meanwhile, just to show you how screwy our house is, I present to you the ledger board (which is level) and the back porch. Click the image for a close-up view.

That really freaked us out yesterday. We dug out a second smaller level just to make sure the other one wasn’t broken. Why is the porch sloped so much? No clue. It was re-planked a number of years ago and they were just as freaked as we were. Decades ago, when porches were uncovered, they were sloped to help the rain water drain. But this porch is covered. (shrug)

Below is the first section. The braces need to be replaced (we used scrap 2x4s we had). The short post in the middle of nowhere is the leftover post from the old ramp thing. There used to be two but the other one pissed Lorna off and she ripped it out of the ground. We will probably pull that one out, too. If you look to the right, almost directly under the righthand joist, you’ll see two pieces of wood barely visible. There were longer ones there which I removed then stuck two shorter ones into the holes. We’ll more than likely leave them that way. Oh, and check out the bow in that middle joist! We didn’t see that until it was done. Kinda explains why it was not cooperative.

Now, how to make the next section slope? 16′ x 4ish’. I hate cutting angles.