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Something from Nothing


Saturday, August 23, 2008

I’m amazed at how much we’ve accomplished this week. Tuesday morning I was putting the finishing touches on a ditch in an empty yard and by Friday night the walls were framed. Kari has also begun planting in the back yard – we’ve got a tree fern, an elephant ear (esculant), a bougainvillea and a plum tree. Actually, the plum tree was already there but it seemed unhappy in the shady corner of the yard so Kari moved it to the sunny side. There is also a peach tree and an avocado tree in the back. Both of those trees look like they were cared for by blind lumberjacks, so Kari is working on pruning them so that they look like trees again.

Bert has been over every day, helping a ton and politely informing me of all the mistakes I’m constantly making. I’m like his adopted retarded son. Having people around makes the day and the work go by really quickly. Bert also has some serious skills when it comes to building stuff, so I really appreciate the additional expertise.

Framing is really hard compared to the concrete and floor stuff. Until Friday I thought it was the other way around – that concrete forms were really tricky and that framing would be a breeze. But a framer needs to be good with his tools, consistent, and smart about how, where and when things get nailed together. And it’s not always obvious in what order things should be built. Again, Reggie to the rescue. He’s very, very patient. Bert and I calculated that we were actually slowing Reggie down by being in his way the whole time. And of course I’m constantly pestering him with questions. But he’s a great teacher. Actually, he’s a real professor at San Jose State in the business department, with a doctorate and everything.

It seems like all of my building instincts are wrong. Today I was installing the sill (the board that sits under the window) for a window opening. First I forgot to support the header (the big wood piece that goes above windows and doors) with trimmers (2x4s that don’t reach the full height of the wall). Then I nailed the sill in without trimmers below that to support it. Basically, I’m stupid. But I think I’m getting less stupider. The whole point of building the shack is to learn how to build the rest of the house by starting with a more manageable scope. Still, I have high expectations of myself that I keep not meeting. Dang it!

Reggie brought his 6-year old son, Nathan over on Friday to help out. He found nails in the dirt with a magnet and located all the secret passages on the property, and eventually built a gate between the house and the back yard. He was pretty stoked on doing construction so he came back today and made a Nathan sign (photo below). He’s a really cool kid and based on what I’ve seen him build so far, I think he’s better at construction than I am. 

Also, I bought a nail gun. Don’t tell Kari. Nail guns don’t give you quite the satisfaction of manually hammering a nail in, but they sure make quick work of sticking things together. Too quick sometimes. Already I’ve hastily nailed boards together that shouldn’t have been only to have to pry 45 nails loose afterwards. I’ll try to make a video of the gun in action for all my graphic designer friends who think that a nail gun is some sort of pedicure device. 

One Response to “Something from Nothing”


  1. cohen/moulton Says:

    Wow, you have been busy. The shed looks awesome. I have the sound of your nail gun in my head from construction, it kind of sticks with you huh? Also, you probably shouldn’t put stuff on your BLOG you don’t want kari to find out about…..coco