Monday, December 17, 2007

More nuts and bolts

Friday, our ceiling materials were delivered. We have decided to build our dining room and living room ceilings out of 1/2", cabinet-grade, birch plywood. It looks beautiful just sitting there. 13 4x8 sheets of it.

I can't even remember what we did Friday night. Seriously. Is that bad? We did had to do with getting the dining room ceiling joists ready for the ceiling installation. I know we fired the furnace back up in time for the cold and windy weekend we were expecting. I think we finalized our dining room ceiling design and made a list of everything we needed to get for that project. Oh well, certainly I remember what we did on Saturday.

Saturday morning, grey and cold, snow on the way. I headed over the mountain with a long list of items including a forstner bit, wood plug cutter, fine circular saw blade, standard drill bits, quart of flat black paint, ceiling fan hanger, Christmas gift, Danish oil, a dozen steel L brackets, 4 dozen lag screws, and even some non-items such as "escutcheon research."

Safely back in our warm home and re-coffeed, I set myself to the task of securing the ceiling joists to the living room beam. Ceiling joists from the dining room and living room both rest on this beam and they hadn't been nailed back down since we removed the old top plate and replaced it with that hunk of red oak. These joists, in addition to holding up the attic floor, keep the outer walls from falling out. If they're not nailed down, our outer walls aren't getting the support they need. This has kept me awake on more than one occasion. Of course, with a floor above and all of our joists doubled up, there is no way to swing a hammer, toe nailing several heavy nails into the beam. So, galvanized L brackets and 2" lag screws to the rescue.

This was tedious and tiring. Each hole had to be started by tapping a nail in and pulling it out (difficult, again, with no space to move a hammer). Then I would work on ratcheting the screws in, which wasn't too hard once you get 'em to grab. Ratchet ratchet ratchet, ratchet ratchet...ratchet ratchet ratchet. Yeah. For like three hours. But now we've got those joists tied down good and solid, and at the last minute too; we had some wicked winds blowing through here the day after. I'm sure it would've been fine even if we hadn't secured the joists, but it feels good to not be worrying about this anymore.

I took a quick break to go make some pizza dough and set it in the oven to rise over a pot of steaming water. Mmmm.

Next up, nailers! Sound familiar? Having decided on which of Erika's ceiling panel layouts to go with, it was time to measure up and mark off where the ends of each panel will fall so that we can screw in blocks of wood to nail 'em to. We marked, Erika measured, cut, and started screws in them, and then I went around installing them flush with the bottom of each old joist. I've found that, once I get a nailer lined up, tacking them in with the finish nailer helps keep them from shifting as I sink the screws. Erika followed behind, painting the nailers black. She also put a coat of black paint along the lengths of the joists that will be under panel seams. We plan to keep an eighth inch gap between panels, which is why we're painting the joists and nailers black.

We cleaned up and that was it for the night. I had spent all day on the ladder, looking up, reaching up, ratcheting, nailing, drilling. We laid on the hardwood floor underneath our work and rested our backs, looked up at the black outline, the first full-scale representation of our dining room ceiling.

I could smell the risen dough from the kitchen...let's go crack a beer and make some pizzas!

- John

1 comment:

Chris L said...

I swear that every time I read this blog I have an urge to go and make some coffee.

I'm in awe of what you're both doing; it inspires me to try and get some more renovation done here.