Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The next-to-last weekend

Friday night, we painted the kitchen Sonoma!

That's a nice orange-yellow, Mediterranean sort of color. We were to realize later that it was not exactly what we thought we were getting-thanks again, Blowe's paint department-but at this stage in the game, there's really zero time to linger over paint choices or regrets of any description. We like it fine.

Saturday morning, I put a second coat on while John went into town for supplies for our porch repair project. He returned and helped me finish up painting along with some caulking, and we broke for what we thought would be an hour and a half of cleaning up before my parents arrived. Just then they called and said they were five miles from the house. We literally ran around cleaning until they pulled into the driveway, our standards of decent living dropping by the second.

They hadn't seen the place since late September when we put in the second beam, so there was a lot to show them. After the long tour and some snacks, we roused ourselves with difficulty: John, Mom and I headed outside to work on porch joists, while Dad started planing the first beam and posts. It was the type of grey, eyes-half-closed winter afternoon-somewhere in the 30s-where you could easily slip into a pleasant coma if you stayed on the couch long enough.

The joist project is sort of a blur in my mind, but I remember Mom holding up joists on her shoulder or back while they got fastened in (you can't quite stand up under the porch), and a general cheeriness as we measured, cut, and nailed. Put in 8 new joists between the old, bowed ones that were pulling away from the center support. We had our circular saw and a bunch of other tools under there in the dirt with us, and when we'd step out from under there was an icy carpet of snow all over the lawn. We worked well past dark. Mom was a good sport when we decided to go for all 8 instead of stopping after 4.



Meanwhile, inside, Dad had done all the power planing on the oak beams, leaving the chisel work for the next day.

We'd been making a tomato sauce all day and now we ate it with pasta and eggplant parmesan. Eagerly to bed.

- Erika

Sunday morning, after some breakfast sandwiches and a third round of coffee, we got back to it. Erika's mom continued the long and tedious task of painting all the white things white in the kitchen with great patience and accuracy, while her dad started securing the oak posts to the wall studs.

I'm too tired to do this bloggins any justice. We did too much. We spent Saturday afternoon/evening through Monday night outside in below freezing weather kicking out the porch project.

Sunday, we removed the old picket railings (Erika accomplished this with the Sawzall), constructed a new porch column from 1x8 planks (matching the original) and a new column base, jacked that corner of the porch roof up, knocked out the old column and installed our new one, and replaced about a half dozen rotted tongue-and-groove floor planks with fresh lumber.

The prob:


Newly constructed:

Raise the roof:

Out with the old:

In with the new:

Originally, we thought we would only replace a couple of planks in the column at the opposite end of the porch, maybe just cut away the rotten sections and splice in some new wood. First we cut with the circular saw, then finished it off with the reciprocating saw:

But after reconstructing and replacing an entire column with relative ease, we figured we'd be better off doing the same thing at the other end. We'd need to get more 1x8s, though.

By the end of the day, all of our kitchen trim had been repainted, as had the kitchen and bathroom doors and trim. It looks awesome.

Also, the posts had not only been bolted to the studs, but Marty had cut eight diamond from a piece of walnut that he had milled decades ago (from the root of a walnut tree), bevelled their edges, and chiseled out around each bolt hole where he set the diamonds. Our posts with diamond-shaped inlays are classy. Quite.

Monday morning, Marty and I left the house before dawn to get some more lumber for the second column. Frigid. Before we got back to work, we feasted on banana walnut pancakes, an amazingly rich yogurt with honey, blood oranges, plums, bacon, coffee, and orange juice. Then back into the below-freezing temps with all our tools to replace the other column.

We knocked out the existing column and replaced a few tongue and groove planks that ran under it. Then we built a new base for the column. The bases are 10"x10" squares with all four top edges bevelled 45 degrees and four 1/2"x1/2" grooves cut to criss cross underneath, for water drainage. We were working quickly.

It was mid afternoon and our family was saying goodbye. With continued luck, we won't have to work so hard the next time they visit - we will actually be able to leave the property and have some fun around this beautiful county. Or maybe we'll just stay in and cook and eat and relax. Who knows what we'll do...but we do expect things to be far less brutal!

Erika and I pushed on, determined to finish building and installing the column and intent on completing the replacement of the remaining rotted floor planks. We ran into some snags while aligning our new assembly with the existing column top plate, but after a few misfires we found the correct positioning. We got the column good and plumb then let the jack down, bringing the porch roof down upon the column with a little creak. Very nice. We nailed the column in place and turned our attention back to the planks.

The plank replacements went smoothly. Chiseled a space on either end so I could drop the Skil Saw blade, run the saw along the seam to the joist, rip out the plank, clean out the old tongue, chisel off the neighboring tongue, cut the new plank to length, line it up and slide it in, nail it down. Etc. Actually, we used our usual carpentry method: Prepare (cut, clean), measure the lengths for all the planks we'd cut, cut 'em all at once, slip 'em all in, nail 'em all down. Assembly line.

It was dusk. Didn't even spend a minute admiring the work. We just started cleaning up all the saws, hand tools, debris, lumber scraps, uncut pieces, and so on. With the porch clean and swept, we removed the ashes from the furnace (a few days overdue), then went inside and cleaned the house and vacuumed stray wood chips, mud clumps, and saw dust.

It was only 6:30 but it felt like 10 o'clock. What a weekend. We're still on track with the unpublished January Challenge, pretty much. Next up: build and install the porch railings and porch stair hand rails. This will be at night. It's still pretty cold (35 degrees) and it's drizzling out.

We'll rest in February.

- John

1 comment:

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