Three Walls and Sawdust


I keep dreaming about sawdust.

And in typical dream style, it changes each time. First, I was working with Evan and Drew building a wall, but the shop was now my room and sawdust was getting all over everything. I knew I had to sleep, but I couldn’t find my face mask to keep the sawdust out. So I put my nose under my pillow and tried to breathe as normally as I could.

Another one involved not being able to see across the shop because of all the sawdust in the air, so I couldn’t finish nailing the wall I was working on. Heck, I couldn’t even find the box of nails. Nor my face mask. I was wasting so much time.

Sensing an anxiety theme here?

In real life, we’re doing really well. Drew and his dad Sam teamed up and finished the subfloor in five hours. I’m not kidding, it was incredible. That included all the plywood, siliconing, gluing, stuffing with wool, etc. When Drew told me, I couldn’t believe it. We’re finally caught up!

Nope nope nope nope nope stop this instant.

The next day we were on a roll. We got moving on the walls. We tried to finish the first wall we built, but rain caught us off guard. The weather this week has been horrible. Thunderstorms every day, and the hourly weather forecasts are no help. I was downtown earlier this week when Drew was working on the subfloor, and it started raining. I texted Drew, who was working at the time, and he said it was clear skies where he was (about 10 minutes from downtown).

We’ve been doing this weird dance with the weather. First off, weather always wins. (Weather always winds, too.) That’s one aspect that’s amazing about nature. It’s one thing we humans have yet to control. And while I greatly respect the weather, it can be darn annoying at times. We’ve been trying to finish the first large wall for a few days now, and every time we try it rains about 10-20 minutes into working (and we start in clear skies, too). Which makes for one heck of a hustle to get our five plastic sheets on top of the subfloor. Yes, five. We’re not taking any chances.

Drew in the bay window. The gap on the right is where the door will go.

So yesterday we managed to finish the large wall, which included nailing on the metal strapping to prevent our house from bellowing. Also, over the past few days, we’ve managed to finish the framing for our two smaller walls! Woohoo! It looks really good, too. The strapping was difficult (no matter what I did that stuff did not want to bend into a straight piece), but manageable. The most difficult wall was the one that holds the front door and the bay window, because it needs to be very structurally sound. We cut down the parallam to size and made notches so that the pieces would fit together snugly. That in of itself was a daunting task. Parallam is very dense, large, and difficult to work with. Drew pointed out that our front wall is made of three different types of board: parallam, 2x4s, and a 4×4. We still need to add in an all-thread rod below the bay window for support as well. Hopefully we’ll get started on that today.

Check out the pattern at the end of the parallam board. Gorgeous!

It’s interesting how the house has taken over our lives. I mean, I’ve done a lot of filmmaking, and every time I direct a new project, I obsess over it for months and it’s all I think about. And since Drew is usually my Assistant Director on those projects, he’s sucked into it too. Like those film projects, the house is all we think or talk about. Constantly. If we’re not working, and indulge in the creature comfort of sleeping in, we feel guilty, like we’re wasting time we could, should, be working. It’s been especially hard because of all the rain. If it’s clear outside and we’re not at the shop, we’re losing valuable time and we need to get over there now. Maybe part of it is because we lost so much time (and money) by losing a large part of the subfloor. We feel like we’re in a perpetual rush. Don’t get us wrong, we do enjoy building (and seeing our house come together), but it’d be nice to take a break for a short while. Even an afternoon would be nice. We just don’t have that luxury at the moment.

Testing the end wall to see how the window would fit. Perfect!

So the next step is trying to get all the exterior plywood onto the three walls we’ve built, and perhaps cutting out window holes. The plywood will make the walls heavier when we decide to launch them into place, but we want to prevent them from racking and getting out of square. (Brief deconstruction of construction speak: Square means the walls are 90 degrees at the corners and the diagonal measurements across the structure are equal lengths. This means they’re not racking, meaning they’d be leaning to one side.) We also want to get as much of the work finished inside the shop as we can, so that when the walls are up and we’re racing against the weather, we’ll have a head start.

So here’s to hoping for more clear weather and less sawdust.

Testing the door. It works.

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