Gimme Shelter

Major progress today on the Barn. We finished erecting the rim joists and all the interior second floor joists. Then we laid out, glued, and nailed down virtually the entire plywood subfloor, leaving only a 2-foot strip at the back to complete tomorrow. Our reward is shelter, for ourselves and our building materials.

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Terry flips plywood into place.

An ever-changing cast of characters pitched in, all very competent in the tasks they endeavored. The morning saw Terry, Colin, Carole, and myself tag-teaming to cut, carry, and lift the final joists into place. Carole was in and out after lunch, and Colin left mid-afternoon, replaced by Cole who proved himself a maverick with the nail gun. Even Terry’s eight-year-old Kiara contributed a few hammer swings. It’s neat how many different people can show up, quickly grasp what’s going on, and find ways to help. Hard work is its own reward… I’m not sure if Terry cultivates that attitude on purpose or if it just comes naturally when people realize they’re capable of doing something cool, like building a house.

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Cole finds his calling with the nail gun.

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Kiara plays hard-to-get.

Throughout the day we checked that the stud walls were vertical and the floor joists square. A quarter inch off in any direction is unacceptable. Whenever we noticed something amiss, Terry stood quiet a minute, then set us to work on a creative solution. We shaved slivers off lateral bracing blocks to make the joists perfectly parallel. We used pieces of lumber as giant levers to push walls plumb. We toed, kicked, hammered, and tack-nailed plywood to align the joists just right.

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“Give me a place to stand, and I will move the Barn.”

Speaking of the plywood, it’s heavy and unwieldy but lots of fun once you get it into place. Positioning enough 4×8 pieces to cover a 40×30 area (that’s about 40 pieces), we got into a groove with the sequence of tasks: Set the plywood next to the desired location, upside down. Lay down a bead of glue on all the joists and blocks the piece will cover. Flip the plywood into position. Use Sluggo to knock it tight, the tongue and groove interlocking with adjacent pieces. Nail ‘er down. Rinse and repeat. Thunderstorms threatened all day but never materialized, and we kept looking at each other and saying “OK, one more row.” That is, until at 6pm we found ourselves with two feet to go… and out of materials. Can’t finish the subfloor until we get two more pieces of plywood.

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Colin on glue.

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