Going Solo

Terry and his family are on vacation for two weeks. Our backup contractor (not yet featured in this blog) couldn’t come today because of an emergency on another project. Colin was away as well; he went down to the Berkshires this weekend for Visiting Day at his kids’ summer camp.

That leaves me. Plus two dogs.

Neo and Freeley say hi. They spent all day at the job site, for moral support.

Neo and Freeley say hi. They spent all day at the job site, for moral support.

Yes, for one day only, I had the inestimable pleasure of working as a solo carpenter. It rained hard today, which added to the fun. Going up on the roof was out of the question. So, after carrying our latest plywood and lumber delivery to a dry spot for storage, I busied myself with building three squat stud walls to bring up the ceiling height of the mudroom to match the rest of the first floor. We should have built the walls the right height to begin with, but at the time we didn’t consider the porch roof. Turns out it needs to sit higher than drawn in the architect’s plans to get a linear roof line wrapping around the house.

The longest mudroom mini-wall, all framed up.

The longest mudroom mini-wall, all framed up.

Boy did I miss having other folks around to divvy up the labor. First I climbed a ladder in several places to measure the length of each mini-wall and puzzle out the stud height. (Vertical difference between adjacent walls minus 4½ inches for two top plates and a bottom plate. There was a discrepancy of 1/8 inch between the stud heights on each end, which I eventually realized was a result of the existing mudroom walls not quite matching.) Then I found enough long straight 2x6s to form the bottom and top plates. I plugged in the chop saw and cut the plate lengths I needed, identifying where I’d build in a splice to complete the 25-foot longest wall. Then I lay the lumber down flat, top and bottom plates side by side, and laid out the stud locations… a pretty simple configuration, 24 inches on center with no openings, but it had to match the walls below so we can nail our sheathing later on.

Next I switched power to the air compressor (the rain left me only one reliable electrical outlet) and filled up the nail gun with framing nails. Holding a stud steady in place with one hand, I fired the gun with the other, three nails through the bottom plate into the stud end. I repeated the bottom-plate nail pattern on each stud, including returns at each corner, and then I secured the top plate the same way. A quick quality check, redid the nails that missed their mark, and whew! Done.

Two mudroom mini-walls raised. (Look at the upper corners of the one-story area.)

Two mudroom mini-walls raised. (Look at the upper corners of the one-story area.)

I didn’t even try to raise the longest wall by myself, but I did install the 4-foot and the 10-foot walls. Aligning each wall with the top plate below, I secured it in place using the nail gun, moving the ladder back and forth for access to nail down the entire length. It doesn’t look impressive, but I view it with satisfaction because it’s 100% my work. Still, I’ll be mighty glad to have company again tomorrow.

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