Friday, November 6, 2009

Sill Happenings

I realized that I couldn't look PR in the eye if I took the easy way out on this sill situation. He's a true craftsman and artisan who really believes in the value of the process and the importance of not focusing solely on the end result. This, of course, flies in the face of my approach to building, which is to seek out the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to get things done, preferably in the hands of someone else (actually, this is not completely true). But I am getting better.

Case in point, this darn sill. I made the mistake of asking a half dozen people what I should do, which made it worse, but my bad. The lesson to take from all this is to just do it and not think too much about it. The problem with this approach, at least in the given situation, is that there is a certain permanence to concrete, especially the mistakes. If I screw something up with framing, I can always replace it and cut the wood or whatever. With concrete, however, you can't really go back and do it over again. My sense was that I had to get it right the first time, or the entire world would implode.

I had three options. First, find someone with a nail gun that literally shoots bullet-nails through the wood and into the rock. Funny thing is, I've learned that several of my friends have this gun. Second option, drill holes and screw the sill in with masonry screws. I've heard from a few guys that they work well and it's fairly quick and easy. And finally, the third option, which is the probably the best and most secure, but of course, required the most work - drill holes with a hammer drill, insert anchors, and then bolt the sill down. Naturally, I was leaning to the first option, which meant that I was dependent on not only a contractor (or anyone with the nail gun) agreeing to nail the board for me, but to actually show up. Two strikes.

However, PR strongly recommended the third option, and if her were around, I'm guessing he would have put on his work gloves and helped me with it, but no such luck. I was on my own. I really wrestled with this one, and the unfortunate consequence of all this thinking was that the job just didn't get done. Finally, I decided to take action. I searched for a hammer drill (why do people own these things?) and even toyed with purchasing one since renting was rather pricey. Finally, my good friend GS had one and said I was welcome to use it. I purchased the masonry bit (expensive!) and anchors, where I ran into the usual problem of too many choices, and went to work.

I lucked out with the weather, it was supposed to snow, but all we ended up with was a few sprinkles. With the kids fed and playing inside, I started drilling holes in the foundation, waiting for the bit to break and lodge into my head. I laid the PT board down and actually took the time to measure the distance between the holes. My plan was to drill through the wood and start into the concrete, then remove the board and finish the holes. I'd then insert the anchors, lay the board over, and then be done.

Of course, I screwed a few things up, but nothing major. First off, my holes weren't perfect, and required a little force to fit the board over the bolts, but no problem. Then I (and this is typical of me) laid the board down upside down and backwards. Amazingly, it fit, which is a testament to accurate measuring. The problem is, I had to drill recesses in the wood (I always forget what this is called) so that the top of the bolt would be flush with the top surface of the wood, and these recesses needed to be on top.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. The washer for the anchors were about 1 1/4 inch in diameter, so they required a fairly large drill bit. I looked at my bit selection and the biggest I could find was 1 inch, so I needed a bit. I had just dragged the kids around to Brittons and didn't want to pile them back into the car, but I also wanted to get this job done. Then I remembered that I had a bit in my bag that I'd used in the past, and as luck would it have it, it was 1 1/2 inches. Beautiful.

I positioned the board properly, laid it down, and then started bolting it down when I remembered one more key piece - the sill sealer, or whatever it's called. Once again, I had to pry the board off and measure out the sealer, then lay the board down. The new problem was that I hadn't factored in the little over 1/8 of an inch that the liner took up, so now my threads were too low and the nut wouldn't reach. Could I make this any harder on myself?

I took the board off, drilled deeper recesses, and then it all fell into place. I screwed in the bolts, and they held beautifully, though I need a bigger socket. I ended up using a wrench, but that won't be enough. My plan is to go to Britton's, who BTW have been coming through for me for all of my needs (kudos to them), get the socket, and two more PT boards, then complete this sill. Then I can take off the old boards on the gable end, frame out the kitchen window, and begin sheathing. This will please R to no end to see tangible progress that can be viewed from the house. Happy days will then ensue.

For now, I can bask in the warm glow of manly accomplishment, but there's no room for complacency, because there's so much work to be done. Until then, thanks for reading.

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