Hitting the Wall

Carson hits the wall, literally... to align the bottom edge just right.

Carson hits the wall, literally… to align the bottom edge just right.

The second-floor exterior walls went up real fast. Pretty much everybody has learned how to frame a wall, so all Terry needs to do is layout the stud and header locations on the sill plate and top plate, and the rest of us can build it while he directs his attention elsewhere. (Even so, Terry always seems to recognize when something goes wrong, even if he’s 50 feet away and out of sight, and he’s on hand quickly to solve the problem.) I cut window parts for the 13 rough openings on the second floor, and Carson and Turner assembled the headers. There are enough jobs that anywhere from one to four people can effectively work on the same wall together.

Wall building. A job for everybody.

Wall building. A job for everybody.

Once each wall was framed, we measured the diagonals (high school geometry: a perfect rectangle has diagonals of equal length) and hit the wall with Sluggo as necessary to square it up. Next we did something new: we sheathed the wall while it was still lying on the floor. This strategy made each wall a bit heavier to raise, but it really improved the quality of our sheathing and avoided any heroics of handling full sheets of sheathing 20 feet up a ladder.

Finally, we raised the wall as a team, checked straightness and plumbness (there are so many ways to push, pull, twist, and nudge the wall into perfect alignment without messing up the adjacent walls; I still need lots of guidance to do it right), and nailed and temporary-braced it. Aaaaand on to the next wall.

Many hands make light work!

Many hands make light work!

I promised I’d show how we get the roof trusses upstairs without the help of a crane, so here’s our low-tech system for getting these unwieldy things where we want them. Individually they don’t weigh that much and two of us together can carry one easily. To lift it 12 feet up to the second floor, we place it on a homemade forklift attached to Colin’s tractor bucket. Then, one person steadies the truss while Colin raises the bucket until two more people standing on the second floor can grab it and pull/slide the rest of the way. We find a place up there to store it (not an easy task since of course they’re wide enough to span the walls!) aaaaand on to the next truss.

Creative carpentry: lifting a roof truss with a tractor.

Creative carpentry: lifting a roof truss with a tractor.

We’re thinking carefully about the order in which we hoist trusses and erect them, because we always need enough space to maneuver them around the second floor. So we only bring a few up at a time. Pretty soon you’ll get to see the trusses reach their final resting place as the house tops out.

Reflecting on another day's hard work.

Reflecting on another day’s hard work.

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