The Eagle has landed. Our timber frame, having spent a month in the air supported by a pair of bridge trusses, is back on solid footing. The owner, the engineer, and the carpenters all are very relieved.

Whereas assembling the trusses and lifting the timber frame took north of a week, getting it down took only half a day. Clayton avoided a repeat of the Great November Jack Rental Fiasco and bought four bottle jacks of his own. Jacks in hand, we stationed one person at each of the four corners, plus a fifth to check vertical alignment and tighten a come-along if necessary.

We pumped the bottle jacks within half an inch of their highest setting and positioned them inside the cribbing towers below the truss ends. Then, all together, we pumped the jacks a little higher, loading them with the entire weight of the structure.

Each jack has a nifty little dial on the front that releases air pressure. You can control the speed of air release, and therefore the speed at which the jack descends, by how far counterclockwise you turn the dial. (Lefty loosey.) To stay together, we measured the gap between our new floor and the timber frame’s four outer posts. We agreed on the next measurement (i.e. from 7 inches to 6½ inches) and lowered our jacks to that point. We repeated this process until the jacks had fully descended.

The next step was very similar to lifting: we rearranged the cribbing towers and used scrap lumber to support the truss ends at their new elevations. Then we released the jacks, reset them to their highest point, and repositioned them. We iterated until the timber frame landed gently on the floor.


This post didn’t QUITE land where it was supposed to.

Not done yet. Two of the posts had spread while the timber frame was airborne, so they didn’t land in the right place. Using Timberlok screws to pin the rest of the frame and The Persuader (our resident sledgehammer) to move the posts by force, we got the timber frame squared up like it used to be. Now on to actual construction!


Disassembling one of the two trusses, with the timber frame back on solid footing.

Re-siding in Massachusetts

Vinyl siding is durable, but it’s not perfect. Heavy snow this past winter surrounded my parents’ house in Massachusetts and pressed hard against the façades. When it melted in April we observed the damage: about 10 pieces of their vinyl siding had cracks or chips.

Siding removal.

Siding removal: using snips to isolate the broken part.

The damaged pieces were all in the lowest three feet, so I borrowed Terry’s siding tool from Vermont to remove them without disturbing the others. Using the Side Swiper is a struggle. Basically, I needed to hook the bottom edge of the course above the broken piece and then pull down. Starting from an end made the task easier, but I still needed to pull in precisely the right direction to unclip the siding. Once I had one area unclipped, I ran a finger across and the rest of the piece detached readily.

New siding delivery: six 12-foot pieces and one spigot surround.

New siding delivery: six 12-foot pieces and one spigot surround.

I learned a new term while ordering replacement siding: double-4. My parents’ siding comes in pieces that resemble two courses of wooden clapboards (hence “double”), each 4 inches wide. By analogy, Colin’s siding is triple-3. The contrast continues: I could remove Colin’s siding from the wall without disturbing the nails that held it in place. Here the nail slots folded back on themselves, making the piece too stiff to slide on and off existing nails. So I reached under with a cat’s paw and clawed every nail out of the wall.

Time to fill in the void. I cut a new piece of siding (or took an intact portion of an old piece), clipped it into the course below, and hammered the nails back in their old holes. To finish, I made another pass with the Side Swiper to reclip the course above, a few inches at a time. Then I moved to the next damaged piece of siding and repeated the whole process.

Back patio re-siding in progress.

Back patio re-siding in progress.

I’m pleased with the result, and I’m thrilled to save my parents from hiring an outside contractor. They have a few more projects for me in the coming months.

Front façade, re-sided and damage-free.

Front façade, re-sided and damage-free.

Class Dismissed

Oh wow, the Yestermorrow class sure accomplished a lot in one week. The dining room, where it once had a creaky sliding door, now boasts a swinging glass door and a window. The front door and an interior wall received complete overhauls as well. I would have liked more time to meet the students and instructor; they covered a lot of ground in a short course and I’d be fascinated to hear their perspectives.

Front doorway boarded up while the Yestermorrow class replaces it.

Front doorway boarded up while the Yestermorrow class replaces it.

But I rarely found myself working close by the Yestermorrow crew, and it’s hard to justify chitchat when we all have so much to do. The polyurethane coating on the bedroom’s barnboard wall came out so well we decided to repeat the treatment all over. The stair surround got covered, as did the barn-style doors we built for upstairs and all the timber beams that will hold their hardware. I used an angle grinder to cut some hand-forged nails down to one inch long (so they wouldn’t puncture any hidden plumbing or electrical) and then hammered them into the bathroom walls.

A plethora of little tasks took less than a day each, sometimes less than an hour. Bob, wearing his electrician hat, installed cans for ceiling lighting in the bedroom. Mark and I cut another hole through the exterior wall (hideous job for a sawzall, with three layers of solid wood to push through) and slid in the dryer vent. I laid a new subfloor in a corner of the downstairs bathroom and jigsawed out a hole for the new toilet plumbing. I also replaced an outdoor spigot, though I didn’t hook it up to anything.

And Paté removed every mote of dust from the master bedroom floor so she could unroll a cardboard-like protective surface as flat as possible. We want no expanding foam to fall on our finish floor when the insulation guys come to fill in the new roof. They’ll be here Monday, I’m told.

Master bedroom floor protected in preparation for foam insulation.

Master bedroom floor protected in preparation for foam insulation.