Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 15 It's Really Getting Good Now.

Today was immensely gratifying.

This was one of those, "I've trained ALL MY LIFE for this moment, and now here it is, and I know just what to do, and I'm doing it, so by God, get the Hell out of my way, because it's happening, and I'm making it happen, and I'm not letting anything stop it."

Fortunately, at this stage of the project, there wasn't a whole lot of stuff getting in the way, and it all flowed relatively well.

The first thing on the agenda was to replace the beam that was already installed, but which didn't meet my quality standards.  (I described the problems with it on Day 8.  Scroll down towards the end to see the pictures.)

The lumber yard had delivered a beam that was of substandard quality.  By whose standards?  Mine.  My job, as the architect, is to design the building and act as the Owner's quality control agent over what gets built.  This beam was not up to snuff.

Today we took it out and replaced it.  This was not insignificant.  That beam got replaced while the whole upper walls and roof were resting on top of, and supported by it.  To remove it, they first cut the nails holding the beam in place:

Then they pulled it out,

and the new beam went in in its place...

and done!

By the way, whoever invented the nail: my hat is off to you.  The existence of the nail may seem completely obvious, and I'm sure that almost everyone out there takes the nail to be the equivalent of a metaphysically given absolute.  Yet, I will remind you that the wheel seems obvious, yet South American civilizations went on for millennia without the wheel, while other civilizations, on other parts of the planet enjoyed its benefits.  (Actually, the real invention was the axle, not the wheel per se.  But I digress.)  Regardless, a big shout out to mister Nail Inventor.

Then the lumber arrived.  Not just lumber.  Big beams.  Timbers.  What I've been waiting for for weeks.  Months even.

Just back it up right there to the front door.

And the view from in the house:

We unloaded the beams (yes, I helped) and they started right in, measuring and cutting things to size (no, I did not help with that gargantuan saw.  There were plenty of other things for me to worry about, and I left the use of that saw to the experts.)

What was I doing then?  I was inspecting each plank as they went, determining which end would face up and how it would all go together.  That stuff is critical at this stage.  It has to be done right, or you'll end up with a mess.  And not a hot mess, either.

They set the first main beam of the mezzanine, one end first:

and the other end...

then the shorter perpendicular beam:

And then it was lunch.  At lunch, P + T got leftover corn on the cob from the night before.


This guy is pulling the wall apart to make room for another beam.  This beam will uphold the kitchen ceiling, and had to be ordered to a custom width.

and now the beam is in place.

That was the bulk of the activity for the day.  Then I opened a beer and went up on the roof deck to take in the view...

The donkeys were massing on the border.  I feared a coup, but it didn't happen, and they dispersed.

I could see 4 hawks in the sky.  I don't think they all came out in the picture.

Here are the two beams we set today, viewed from that roof deck.  They will support the mezzanine floor, come Monday.  That will be the real thrill: standing on that mezzanine floor for the first time.

The first time I get to stand on that floor, and experience it firsthand, in real time and real space, I will have about 1000 times the "this is what I trained all my life for" experience.

And that makes it all worth it.


  1. Two comments:

    1. GORGEOUS work!

    2. MISTER Nail Inventor? Truth is it's invention was probably the result of his wife saying something along the lines of, "Wouldn't it just be easier if you used metal, rather than wood to hold that together?" ;op

  2. I am in awe of your talent! How exciting!

  3. Thanks for continuing these posts on your trip/project, Earl. I’m loving them. And I just discovered I can click the pix to embiggen them. Bonus!

  4. Are the beams Cedar? Are they laminated or just 4x12s?

  5. Thanks for all the great comments!

    Guatemama: Feel free to make up your own version of the invention of the nail :)

    Zip: It is all solid sawn lumber, nothing laminated. We have a variety of sizes - 8x14 being the largest. The two beams I described above are 6x14s, and the post they're framing into is 8x8. We will have 4x6 joists, a couple of 4x12 beams, and a few miscellaneous other pieces.

    All the beams are douglas fir.