Angular Momentum

From destruction to construction. Today, Mark and I built the first new walls in Bob’s attic, defining the walk-in closet and the expanded bathroom. With a sloping roof overhead we had to manage some tricky angles, but we figured out each puzzle as it came and we picked up some nice momentum by day’s end.

Things might have been easier if the roof was actually 12-on-12, which would mean 45-degree angles. Instead, it varied – of course – with an average angle more like 35 degrees, corresponding to something weird like an 8½-on-12 pitch. Since we couldn’t count on field conditions matching any pen-and-paper (pencil-and-lumber?) calculation, we basically built the walls in place, installing bottom and top plates first and then measuring every stud to squeeze between.

For the longer west-east wall, we nailed the top plate directly to the new rafters, tilting it with respect to the floor. Every stud therefore needed a miter cut at the top, so Mark measured to the long point and I cut the angles using Hans’s excellent chop saw. We installed the studs flush with the top plate on the bedroom side of the wall. Thanks to the angle, the studs stick out beyond the top plate on the closet side, but there’s enough contact for transfer of loads. (Remember, we designed this wall to hang the ceiling joists from the roof.) The closet side will get finished with plywood, providing further strength and load distribution.

Mark measures stud lengths for the west-east wall.

Mark measures stud lengths for the west-east wall.

The north-south wall runs orthogonal to the axis of the ridge beam, resulting in a different sort of angle: the wall grows from almost nothing at the knee-space to around 8 feet tall near the peak. These studs also got a miter cut at the top, but the other way. We nailed the top plate to lateral blocks we spaced regularly between rafters. The walls intersect atop a ceiling joist, and the north-south wall is completely supported by that joist.

Intersection of the two walls.

Intersection of the two walls.

Later we pulled out more of the old subfloor, and we had a tête-à-tête with Bob about wall configuration at the top of the stairs. The bathroom entry will run diagonally (even more angles!), with a sliding “barn door” hanging from a 4×4 beam. We’ll need to build two more short walls to make this work, as well as a couple of posts to support the hanging beam and frame the doorway. But first, we intend to replace the stairs.

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