Yestermorrow Day #2: From the windows to the walls. 'Til the sweat drips down our sawzalls.

Ahhh yes. The sound of Bob Marley fills my ears and the smell of ripe armpits fills my nose. It must be day #2 of Carpentry for Women.

As I drove to the site I noticed that farmers had baled their hay yesterday evening and every cow I saw was lying down. For you city slickers, those signs mean that rain is on its way.  It's delightfully refreshing to once again get my weather forecast from nature instead of an iPhone app. 

Before I dig into the activities of day #2 I want to tell you some of the cool tips and tricks I learned:

  1. Nails have shear strength because they are made from wire. Screws are poured/molded and do not have shear strength (Some fancy expensive screws do, but your average black sheetrock screws don't).  If you need to hold things together without slippage make a pile of nails your BFF.
  2. There is a term for the act of tossing a banana peel into the woods.  It's "widespread compost," and it's encouraged at Yestermorrow.
  3. A tape measure displays every 12 inches in bold black because people measure things in feet.  A tape measure displays every 16 inches in red because studs are placed 16 inches apart.  There is another special mark on a tape measure and it occurs every 19 3/16 inches. Any idea why?  That's right, it's for government housing!  To cut costs, the feds put studs in every 19 3/16 of an inch, saving one stud per 8 foot section. And seriously, why do poor people need sturdy housing anyhow?  You may as well give them equal rights at that point.  INSANITY!
  4. Studs and joists are essentially the exact same thing except that studs run through walls and joists run through floors.  Also, you can use rough cut lumber for studs, but for joists you will likely want to use pressure treated wood since it's close to the ground and the ground holds moisture. 
  5. Bosch chop saws cost about $525 and make amazing stocking stuffers. I guess you need a jumbo sized stocking though.

Enough is enough. Here's how day #2 shook out:

We kicked off with a lecture on foundations, which quickly turned into a discussion on whether or not one should put a time capsule or a note into the wall of a remodel.  Rebecca and her partner are redoing their kitchen and found a note on some siding that read:


George and Charlie.  

He done the work.  I done the nailing.

We're half-cocked

That little tale led Patti to discuss all of the trinkets/notes/photographs that HER partner leaves in walls when they remodel.  She said, and I quote, "My girlfriend is a bit of a crystal squeezer." And just like that, I have a new favorite word for my new age pals.

From the lecture we moved into field trip mode.  We loaded into the big white van, and off we zoomed to Paul's sawmill. Paul is the owner, manager, and sawyer all in one. He is 74, has had a hardscrabble life, and embodies the spirit of Vermont.  He has a can-do attitude, is tough as tits, and had radiation treatment at 7am but was still at his saw by 10. Did I mention he's 74?  He's 74 and he cuts his own logs, skids them on his skidder, and then moves them on his log truck.  I should BE so amazing at 74. SEVENTY-FOUR, Y'ALL!  Can I get an amen?

Paul showed us how to cut rough cut 2x8s (video to come.  I'm a bit too tired to put it together right now).

Paul's popularity is growing, most likely because he's too damn awesome.  It almost sounds like it's getting bigger than he would like.  He says he only ever intended to do custom jobs, but now people are "finding out" about him and business is non-stop.

From Paul's we took a trip to the hardware store so that we could see how to shop a tool section.

J and I took a break from admiring screwdrivers to rest our California butts outside in the filtered sunshine, but before we could get too comfortable we were loaded back into the van and returned to Yestermorrow for lunch. I had trouble fully enjoying myself because the lowest hen on the pecking order hung out by my feet the whole time, and seeing her naked back made me sad.  No one likes bullies.

I feel sad just looking at the photo.  I wish I had the crying emoji to insert right here.

After lunch we FINALLY got to touch tools.  Building a wall looks something like this:

  1. Make a cut list.  Not everyone is good at carpenter math.  If you struggle then get yourself the Carpenter Master PRO app on your iPhone.  Mischief managed.
  2. Nail the boards together in a frame.  Top plate on top. Sill plate on bottom.  Studs connecting.
  3. Snap a line the width of one of your 2x4s on the floor from day #1. This will ensure your wall is square and level when you pull it up.
  4. Toe nail the wall frame to the line
  5. Square it up.
  6. Saw a diagonal for the bracing (t-bar) and hammer the bracing down.  It should go on the outside.
  7. Lift the wall and hammer in 2 temporary braces (one on each side)
  8. Nail the sill plate to the floor.  You must line it up EXACTLY on your chalk line.
  9. Plumb it all and then nail the rafter plate on top of the top plate.
  10. Build another wall, this time with a window. 

That's the dumbed down version of the process.  I may decide to start an open Google Doc outlining the whole process along with photos for each step so that I don't forget all the little ends, edges, and intricacies.

In the meantime, be good and remember to always shim to the highest point.