It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s A Porch!

The dumpster and lumber for our addition showed up in the driveway today, so excuse me while I squeal with delight but also because I know it’s catch up time on the blog. There are going to be a lot of different projects going on at once so I’ll be updating them as they get worked on. I am absolutely positive tomorrow is going to be crazy. Why? Andy told his brother to go to bed because he has to be up early tomorrow. Before the mayhem happens let’s play catch up!

Last weekend while Casey and I were ripping boards off the walls in the living room I happened to glance out the window, and I caught my husband standing in our dirt driveway and looking at the house. Except, I knew he wasn’t looking at the house, he was picturing the porch. Meanwhile, I was just excited our living room looked a little more like this.

The next morning Andy told me he needed the cement mixer from the farm to pour the footings for the porch, and before I knew it I heard the tractor coming down the street with a loud clacking noise behind it. The cement mixer is very old, and looks like it should be at a fair. In other words—it’s pretty cool.

Before anything could be mixed though, it was time to mark out the spots for the sonotubes which are used for the footers. Sonotubes are concrete forms used to make the footers. After the concrete is dry, the forms are removed.

After taking some careful measurements, Andy started stringing up his points just to make sure he dug in the correct spots.

There was some geometry involved in the measurements, and I didn’t want to forget what number he told me so I grabbed the nearest marker and wrote it down. On my hand. Paper? Over rated.

Once all of the measurements were taken, Andy placed the base to the sonotubes down and marked the dig line around them. I asked Andy if the bases were necessary and he said no, but that they helped a lot.

After he completed marking the footings, it was time to dig! You never know what you’ll find around here, including a rusty heavy duty cable.

Time for a test fit.

After spending a while measuring, digging, etc. he finally placing them all in. I didn’t get a photo of the sonotube bases in there before he back filled the holes with dirt. I know, I’m really on top of things. Sidebar: Can you spot the dogs? Can you also spot that they are sneakily eating the rest of the popcorn we left on the steps? Trouble makers.

If you look close in the photo above, you’ll notice there’s a gap in the center where there should be a fifth sonotube. After laying them out, Andy realized he needed another base and sonotube. Because the bases weren’t necessary we decided to use a large square piece of concrete we already had left over from another project. To make the sonotube, and I am not kidding, he cut the extra off the tops of all the other tubes (which I’ll show in a moment) and then adhered and braced them together. That might sound wonky, but I swear it will not compromise the structural integrity of our porch in anyway. Mainer ingenuity at work.

Guilty popcorn eating dog at work.

“Who, me?”

After we shooed the dogs inside, it was time to start mixing the cement into concrete.

Casey pulled out only his best for this activity, including his risky business sunglasses—hence his nickname of Tom Cruise.

The boys tried pouring the concrete from the mixer into the sonotubes, which should have worked. However, it didn’t. They just couldn’t tip it far enough to get all of the concrete out. Instead they put it in the wheel barrel and hand shoveled each tube.

Once they were all complete, Andy finally took a break after hours and hours of working straight. These might look all over the place in terms of height, but I promise they are exactly dead on and correct.

After a short break, Andy graded out around the sonotubes so everything was more or less flat again.

I’ll be back soon with another post on the progress of the actual addition itself, since you can tell in the post above part of the siding is missing!



All Hands On Deck {Part Four}

Update: Last night at dinner Andy informed me of two huge mistakes I made in this post. One, I called construction adhesive ‘caulking’ and two I referred to our belt sander as a ‘band saw’ (wtf?). I would like you all to know that if I get a construction term wrong, and it seems to make him look incompetent—it’s totally me. Not him. He knows what he’s doing. Poor guy. I really should have him proof these kinds of posts first.

This post has taken me a while to get up. As an old professor used to say, “As is life”. She also wore bright nail polish all the time because if she was ever upset all she had to do was look at her nails and laugh. She also used the word flummoxed a lot. She was one of my favorites….and so is this new deck.

Last weekend, after a week of rain and general drizzly weather, Saturday and Sunday turned out to be beautifully sunny so we were able to continue progress on our little piece of heaven security.

Since Andy had already finished everything up through the decking (seen here, here and here) it was time to start the cedar posts, and mahogany rails. The first step was measuring and notching out the post itself. Update: I thought we had bought the cedar posts, Andy informed me he actually made all of those.

Then Andy did a test fit, before cutting the decking itself just to make sure it would fit correctly. Test fits are absolute key, since you don’t want to cut into decking that was a.) free and b.) expensive to replace.

And then he repeated it, eight more times.

Once the cedar posts were set, he grabbed the mahogany railings and set them out so we could see where we wanted them, if we wanted to rip them narrower, and where we were going to overlap them. Also, some of the pieces had channels on the bottom, and some were flat and Andy and Casey (Tom Cruise has a real name) went back and forth over whether they should all have channels or not.

Andy won (pst – this railing is not centered where we were actually attaching it).

Once we figured out the placement, and all of the angles (and by we, I clearly mean just Andy while I took photos) it was time to start assembling them. Andy started with the one corner that required a clear 45 degree on each end piece. First he marked it all and then cut the angles on our portable saw.

Once everything was cut, he assembled them using a mix of construction adhesive, biscuits as well as a few screws with the Kreg jig.  Andy doesn’t usually use of the Kreg jig as a primary way to secure two items (though there are times it works, as you’ll see later in this post), but in this case it worked great as a secondary way to secure the railings in conjunction with the biscuits.

He also used this method to secure the joint on the other side where two boards met. It’s a good overall technique for most similar purposes.

Tip: If your caulking/adhesive seems clogged up use a screw, either putting it in by hand or with your screw gun, and then reverse it and pull. It works just about every time.

After everything was attached, Andy then hand made wood plugs out of mahogany for each hole so it would look nice. Once they were dry he cut them off (I don’t have a photo of

Side Story: Before the boys secured the rail down they had it sitting on posts and it was too long, so it was across the opening. Guess who walked up the stairs full charge and COMPLETELY missed a giant wide piece of mahogany across the opening? This lady right here. I crashed right into it. Andy just put his hand on his forehead and my brother-in-law laughed at me and made fun of me for a solid five minutes.Then I almost did it. Again. And then one more time just for good measure.

This about did it for the work on Saturday/Sunday, and then the rain came. Again. Last night it finally gave us a break (for a little while) and since Andy took the day off work he got to working on the deck some more. When I got in home all of the posts were cut and he was making the hand rail out of mahogany. The key to the hand rail is that it can’t be as wide as the perimeter railing. It needs to be comfortable and narrow enough to get a grip on if you start to take a digger.

Test fit one.

Success! It was comfortable, narrow enough and looked good. To secure it, Andy used the Kreg Jig  on the bottom side into each post, sans (I think) any other needed adhesive. We joked about face nailing it, but I should point out there are a couple things you shouldn’t do with a deck—secure things with nails, and face nail your wood (unless you really like look of screws everywhere…).

Now, I thought he was done for the day since the rain started sprinkling but then I heard this loud noise and looked outside to find this.

Refinishing the railings with a belt sander? You bet! As good of an idea as this is, please wear a mask. Not your shirt pulled over your face like my husband. Why? Because eventually you will be covered in sawdust and look like this. Oh, and the saw dust is actually shooting in front of his hat, it’s not shooting underneath like it looks below. Trickery of photography.

I love how it looks with that old weird sealant off the top and the fresh wood. Over time the mahogany will darken up again, but at least it will look even.

So much better!

When he was done I asked him to stop for a second so I could take a photo of him to prove how much dust gets everywhere.

As you can note by the photo above, he does not ever stop moving. Blurry Andy it is. I need to keep my shutter speed on a million just to keep up with him.

Well, that’s where this part ends. Hopefully (cross your fingers) the next deck post will be the last. In the mean time, let’s play the “let’s see how many errors we can find in this post” game. The fact is I’ve waited way too long to post this.

So I’m going to, without proof reading it first.

What? I’m a risk taker.

Happy Building (and mask wearing),