Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Barn on the Brain

That's barn, not Bard.

I've been a bit obsessed about this barn, for many reason, some reasonable and other not. Whatever be the case, I've found that it takes a lot of time for one person to accomplish what a team (which could mean just two people) of experienced people could probably do in a day. My biggest constraints working against me are time, lack of experience (in a big way), incompetency, and disorganization. Talk about huge, if not insurmountable, obstacles. Whatever be the case, if you have the time and the wherewithal, you can pretty much accomplish anything. Thanksgiving break was nice because with R home to watch the kids and feed them, I could dedicate my entire day to the barn. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, however. Also caught some huge breaks with the weather, it hasn't snowed/rain so much to stop the flow of progress, and I'm thankful for that.

Case in point, this barn. It has taken me all Fall and into Winter to sheath this things, but it's finally done.. almost. That last little piece is going to kill me, literally. I've managed to get almost 97.3% of that building covered with sheathing, and it's been a challenge on all fronts. First off, just knowing where to get the stuff, then how to handle and cut it. The pieces are huge and heavy, and worst of all, they have to line up with one another, within reason, of course.

Now having never done it before, I didn't know where to begin, so I did what I always do, much to my Mentor's chagrin. I sat around hoping someone else would do it or it would simply go away. No such luck. So with assistance and guidance from my mentor, I jumped in and took it on myself. It wasn't easy, the learning curve was really steep, I hurt myself repeatedly and pulled more splinters out of my hands than I can even count, but it moved along, and there were times when I even enjoyed it.

Framing is fun, you don't need precision, but the sheathing can be a chore, especially when it involves climbing a ladder to new heights in order to fasten a piece. Not only is it precarious holding that piece on a wobbly ladder, but then you have to nail the thing in while holding on for dear life. Believe me, for a real man in training, you're better off not having someone there to see what a wimp you are. It's kind of embarrassing.

Either way, the last few pieces of sheathing on the upper gable were by far the hardest part. It's hard enough to lift a piece of sheathing up to the wall when you're on the ground, but standing on a ladder increases the difficulty by several orders of magnitude. This is not a linear relationship. I had to cheat a little and cut the big piece in half because I couldn't carry the entire piece up the ladder. Oh well, you do the best you can.

I managed to get the top pieces on by standing on the second floor, reaching out the window/door with the piece of sheathing, then sliding it along the top of the piece under it. I then reached out the opening with my hammer and swinging it back towards myself to drive in the nail, almost as if I were pounding it into my face. There were times when I was blindly hitting the nail, along with my fingers holding it, but it worked, and it only took about 75 blows to drive in one nail.

The moment of elation was when I peered out and saw that not only was the piece secured, but it was lined up. Amazing. The apex of the gable was the hardest part because there is nothing directly below it, so I can't slide it in over the section underneath. I have to hold it up and hope it's line up when I nail it in. Best of all, I have to stand on a ladder while leaning out the window/door with my foot on the window frame. Talk about precarious.

The back gable will be even more of a challenge because it has a door for an opening, so there is no window frame to put my foot on. I have to rely completely on the ladder to keep me steady. I am not looking forward to this, but we are so close, I can taste it. Just gotta keep pushing forward because my friend is coming over on Saturday to help me put up the Tyvek, and then we'll be fairly good for the winter.

So I have four things I have to do this week.
I need to get that last piece on the back gable.
I need to finish nailing in all the pieces - I just secured them so they wouldn't fall
I need to put on ice and water shield...

I think that's it. Then I can put on the Tyvek, and we're good to go. Then again, I'm not sure if I need to remove the gable windows before putting on Tyvek. Better look into that one.

Gotta run, there's a piece of sheathing just screaming out to be installed. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

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